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Who will pay for this merry-go-round?

PRESIDENT Mugabe in January told us 2005 was a year of investment. Four months into the year, it is becoming clear that this was yet another presidential ruse meant to galvanise the hard-to-believe notion that the coun

try is going forward.

There was more subterfuge last week when Mugabe appointed a capacious cabinet which he has tried to sell to the nation as an agent of development. He called his gargantuan all-in team a development cabinet.

At a time when government is being implored to streamline operations and cut back on expenditure, Mugabe has decided to invite more of his comrades to partake at the feeding trough. There has never been a positive correlation between a large cabinet team and service delivery. The enlarged team is another layer of bureaucracy to be funded by the taxpayer.

Last year we recall central bank governor Gideon Gono applauding the government for living within its means. We recall him urging government not to make extraordinary payments to any given sector as this would upset the apple cart. A few days later the government announced large payouts to mujibhas, chimbwidos and ex-detainees.

What will Gono say to this latest spendfest? As he did with the pay-outs, that it was a noble cause and he could live with it?

That is the tragedy of our situation. We simply watch while Mugabe drives a coach and horses through the few positive developments in our economy.

Development is not suddenly going to arrive on Zimbabwe’s frontiers because there are now more fingers in the pie. The men and women whom Mugabe has entrusted with developing the nation are directly responsible for the current quagmire that we find ourselves in. The nation will not be fooled into believing that Finance minister Herbert Murerwa can suddenly produce a blueprint that will turn around this economy when he has been unable to at any point in the past and was only recently predicting a 28% recovery in agriculture!

We do not believe that Aeneas Chigwedere can develop the country’s education system after his well-documented attempt to ruin private schools so that they resemble dilapidated government institutions.

Joseph Made, the architect of hunger and manufacturer of fictitious harvest statistics will not suddenly metamorphose into a pundit of prudent agricultural principles.

What can the new Industry and International Trade minister do to restore confidence in the manufacturing sector and among investors when populist policies bereft of business sense are the fuel of the regime?

The president on Independence Day told us our problems had been caused by IMF-imposed structural adjustment. He told us that after 25 years of unbroken rule, he was a “lot wiser”.

We saw the nature of his wisdom — the enlarged cabinet with the creation of comical portfolios like the Ministry of State for Public and Interactive Affairs. Where was the wisdom in appointing fading party bigwig Emmerson Mnangagwa — rescued from the political scrapyard (again) — Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities?

These, together with two dozen others, will need new limousines which cost at least $1 billion each. They will need offices, furniture, support staff, computers, houses and other executive perks. That will create a huge hole in the current budget that forecast reduced government spending.

But Mugabe’s government, with its history of underachievement, would like the world to believe that it is fostering development. No amount of posturing or sloganeering will mask the fact that there is nothing visible to talk about here. The evidence of our “development” is there for all to see in resettled areas where tobacco barns have become classrooms and oxcarts have replaced ambulances. This is because Mugabe is a lot wiser!

What became of the winter maize project which we were told the whole region was emulating? When will government start to put up basic infrastructure in resettled areas? Kunzvi Dam, Tokwe Mukosi Dam, Arda farming in the Democratic Republic of Congo…?

The development theme attached to the current crop of ministerial failures is an illusion and a tired cliché to gloss over the shortcomings of the current regime. There are always reasons for the failures. It is the West and its sanctions. It is Tony Blair and the opposition MDC. It is the IMF and structural adjustment. It is everyone except the real culprits.

But who will pay for this latest comfort zone, this merry-go-round of the intellectually lame and undeserving? Presumably those who voted against this gang in the first place!