Candid Comment: Stop fiddling while Rome burns

Greek mythology has it that Roman Emperor Nero, probably one of the wealthiest rulers in ancient times, played music when Rome was facing one of its worst crisis. Hence, he was infamously known for fiddling while Rome was burning.


All and sundry know Zimbabwe is in a socio-political and economic crisis and that our leaders are fiddling cannot be further from the truth.

Currently facing one of the worst humanitarian crisis in two decades, a government on autopilot does not only portray the level of lethargy but exposes a paralysing leadership crisis.

President Robert Mugabe left for his annual sabbatical after a Zanu PF annual conference after the cash-strapped party flew in all central committee members for the indaba.

Mugabe’s lieutenants predictably assured him of an economic recovery despite an unprecedented deindustrialisation that has thrown thousands on the streets. Public hospitals are also faced with drug shortages.

The impact of a slowdown in economic activity resulted in the en-masse exodus of economically active Zimbabweans.

Many economists agree that a weakening rand, falling commodity prices and weakening aggregate demand can only point to more economic woes for resources-driven economies like ours.

After gallivanting the length and breath of this world wearing two caps — one as head of state and the other as African Union chair, Mugabe’s jet-setting government overran its budget by 25% in the eight months to August last year.

Foreign travel expenses exceeded budget by nearly 240% while employment costs and capital works overshot the target by 16% and 23%, respectively.

With Mugabe missing in action, two of his vice-presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, have also become drivers of government’s foreign travel expenditure after they visited Mugabe in Dubai to exchange notes, we are told. At whose and what expense? The already downtrodden taxpayer is keenly waiting for answers not announcements of sojourns made by the executive.

Mnangagwa, who reportedly took his family to the oil-rich country that has already begun rolling out its plans to sustain economic development blueprint in the wake of the green revolution calling for cleaner and environment friendly energy sources, came back home a fortnight ago with no clear direction on how government intends to tackle the crises.

As if not to be outdone by Mnangagwa, Mphoko, who had been acting president since Mugabe left, has also left for Dubai with his family to appraise Mugabe on the state of the nation.

Academic Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni in a book titled Mugabeism? — History, Politics and Power in Zimbabwe described Mugabe’s leadership style or Mugabeism as a “multi-faceted phenomenon requiring a multi-pronged approached to decipher its various meanings”.

He said thus Mugabeism seems everything and nothing in particular as it does not have its own distinct character, but seems to be an amalgam of various ideas and practices. We can’t keep guessing on what the sojourns will bring on the table.


Twitter: @mpofu_ben


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