HomeOpinionMugabe's yes-men

Mugabe’s yes-men

By Chido Makunike

HOW have our rulers been administering Zimbabwe this year? Let’s take a look at the performance of some of the main actors.

erdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Largely clueless at problem-solving, pays more attention to growing dissension in his party caused by overstaying in his position. Seems enraged British prime minister Tony Blair completely ignores his rantings and insults.

Thought he was using Jonathan Moyo, not knowing Moyo also fooled and used him for his own ends.

Increasingly despotic, out of step with regional leaders and democratic trends. Seems incapable of taking responsibility for anything, has a long list of people and causes to blame for everything.

Increasing cases of citizens dragged to court for making disparaging remarks about him indicative of reduced respect, and paranoia and pettiness of the system to even prosecute such cases. Hardships continue under him but he is so out of touch he thinks the nation is thriving instead. Sound and fury about corruption was nothing but a gimmick to steer attention away from his failures. Zero.

* Joseph Msika, vice-president. Really doesn’t do anything that makes any difference to the nation. Spends all his time trying to sound and act tough to compensate for how he lost face and influence when Mugabe undermined him earlier this year by allowing some youngish ministers to humiliate him over policy issues, confirming his powerlessness. Zero.

* Samuel Mumbengegwi, Industry and International Trade. Thinks the way to carry oneself as a minister is to try to intimidate everybody by glaring and always looking glum. Old-school bureaucrat from whom no new ideas can be expected, just sort of sits there in his position. Zero.

* Jonathan Moyo, propaganda. Brilliantly ran rings around Mugabe for the last several years, gaining unprecedented power to almost rival Mugabe’s before his characteristic overzealousness tripped him up in the last few months.

But was able to make the isolated and poorly informed Mugabe a hostage to his world view, not seeing that bludgeoning and silencing opponents did not mean winning them over. Is so much like Mugabe it was inevitable they would eventually fall out. Dangerous and full of hate but also a real comic.

Needs help of several kinds. Two out of 10 for his entertainment value and for sheer nerve.

* Chris Mushohwe, Transport and Communication.

Made a lot of noise about reforming struggling parastatals under his ministry when first appointed but predictably nothing happened. Believes in parcelling out money to maintain voter loyalty. Not much sign of leadership qualities, but sheepishly led to possible slaughter in Tsholotsho by the crafty and ambitious Jonathan Moyo.

Rambling explanation in the Herald of why he went to the infamous Tsholotsho meeting was fatuous and embarrassing, he should have found other ways of grovelling to Mugabe for his political life. Zero.

* Paul Mangwana, Labour and Social Welfare. Rough around the edges, has none of the finesse one would hope for in a minister but under Mugabe that is not necessarily a disadvantage. No ministerial achievements associated with him. Zero.

* Patrick Chinamasa, Justice. Rule of law continues to take a hard knock under him, being applied so selectively the expression is almost meaningless. Considers his job to be to limit citizens’ freedoms. A Mugabe yes-man, no dangerous independent thoughts can be expected from him.

Some Zanu PF provinces played a practical joke by proposing him as a candidate for party chairmanship, a move that was predictably scorned by the rest of the party. Likes to talk and act tough but wilts under strong challenge. Weak, hopeless. Zero.

* David Parirenyatwa, Health. One of the few ministers who have remained largely professional despite strong peer pressure to spew polemics.

Health services continue to suffer like everything else from the widespread destruction of the country but Parirenyatwa is active and hands-on, making the best of a bad situation. Six.

* Herbert Murerwa, Higher Education. Safe sort of minister who does not get involved in any major scandals but no major innovations either. One of the few ministers who generally personally conduct themselves like gentlemen in a regime over-run with hooligans from top to bottom, may have to eventually account for how he justified being a long-serving member of such a government. Four.

* Didymus Mutasa, Anti-corruption. Notorious old warlord greatly feared in the Makoni area for terrorism against political opponents, recently rewarded for it with a briefcase ministry by his long-term pal Mugabe. Made a few tough sounding statements soon after appointment then disappeared from view.

Washed up, a spent force who only leads a do-nothing “ministry” by virtue of being a Mugabe crony. Highly-placed crooks in government and elsewhere can rest quite easy knowing nothing will happen to them. Zero.

* Kembo Mohadi, Home Affairs. Non-achiever now given to making threats against political opponents in his panic at the possibility of being dislodged from the sweet gravy train. Has failed to be an advocate for more resources for the police force that falls under him and to make them an enlightened modern protection force for all citizens, rather than a tool of the ruling party. Zero.

* Ignatious Chombo, Local Government. Spent all his time the last few years thwarting the will of Harare residents by undermining overwhelmingly elected MDC city council in countless crude ways. In his spare time he threatens chiefs to put pressure on their people to vote “correctly”.

Crudely unsubtle for a minister, but enthusiastic and obedient; assured of long tenure and prosperity under Mugabe. Zero.

I could go on but I am getting increasingly depressed as I write this. There really aren’t any brilliant performers in Mugabe’s cabinet and I would merely be repeating myself to bother to rate the others. There is talk of another cabinet reshuffle soon but as long as Mugabe is at the head of any new-look cabinet, get set for more decline, more fear, more hate, more repression and more misery!

*Chido Makunike is a Harare-based writer.

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