MOST of us are familiar with the maxim that doing the same thing the same way will get you the same results. This axiom is proverbial in politics where a continuance of poor decisions
and policies by governments will invariably produce negative results in the form of poverty, privation, oppression and so on.
A different approach to a problem may bring positive change and alter the ingrained attitudes of critics and opponents. Politicians want to be seen to be doing things differently and at the same time maintaining gwara, the traditions and rituals of their political organisations.
It is also a truism that doing it differently doesn’t necessarily mean doing it better. In some instances it simply means removing certain negativities and replacing them with fresh equally harmful ones. To do things differently to achieve positive results, it is therefore important for a system to be first disconnected to the energy source that provides fuel to negative impulses and lifestyle.
Put simply, one cannot start talking or doing things differently to achieve positive change unless they are inspired by a different form of energy and in politics this can entail a serious policy shift by a party, a revolutionary change in its leadership or both.
On Friday new Information minister Tichaona Jokonya and his deputy Bright Matonga at a meeting with editors pledged to do things differently. That is always sweet music to ears which had become inured to hateful and anachronistic bluster by then Information sub-monarch Jonathan Moyo. The inventory of promises include fair treatment of all media houses in accessing government information and greater interaction between the ministry and the media.
They do not want to see journalists arrested and harassed. They pledged to look at the contentious clauses of Aippa. They believe Aippa is still a good law but there could have been problems with its application. Foreign media should not be barred from coming into the country. “We do not have anything to hide,” said Matonga.
The Herald last Friday also carried an important little piece on a meeting Mashonaland East governor Ray Kaukonde had with traditional leaders in the province. The new governor does not seem to share the tired party mantras that the land reform exercise has been a huge success (even though he is arguably the most successful black farmer in the country at the moment). This is what happening in his province: “Those who are failing to reimburse the loans should know that they will go to jail and those who are misusing the land are saboteurs.”
He also said: “We want to be accountable to the people who voted us into power. We used to have a total of 156 dairy farms in the province but now I hear there are only 10 dairy farms functioning. What is that? How do you explain that? It is unacceptable.”
Jokonya, Matonga and Kaukonde want to see positive change in government as a result of their actions but they need positive energy to drive their new plans. They are part of a government that has remained caught in a war of Independence time-warp, where change is considered reactionary and a negation of gwara remusangano. They are part of a government that has not admitted failure but is quick to blame others for all the things that have gone wrong in the past 25 years. They are part of a government built around layers of patronage and resultantly a strict adherence to the values and notions exuded by their infallible leader— something akin to the Papal Bull of 1870.
This unfortunately is the power source the three — Jokonya, Matonga and Kaukonde — are plugged into. It would be unfortunate — after displaying such positive zeal — if they were to be reminded by their bosses that they are still plugged into that power point and hence they have to proceed with caution.
I believe Mugabe’s government today is in great need of new positive energy if it is to do things differently and ultimately influence change. Last week our attempt to seek a comment from Grain Marketing Board boss Samuel Muvuti on food imports provoked a curt and hostile response. He made all sorts of silly and frankly childish accusations against this paper which were inappropriate for the head of a public entity.
But sadly this is the script many government and parastatal bosses readily use when asked important questions of national interest.
Jokonya and Matonga have the unenviable task of exorcising this ghost from government. For a start, they need to tell their colleagues that it is not clever to be rude. It is only a sign of the negative energy flowing in the sclerotic arteries of government. The country is where it is today partly because our rulers believe criticism of their actions must be met with a militant counter-offensive. We are never wrong because we liberated this country!
After the pronouncements by Jokonya, Matonga and Kaukonde many would like to see these translate into positive action that will detoxify the government tongue in its public relations drive here and abroad. We would like to see real “saboteurs” of the land reform removed from the farms and productivity restored.
We hope this positive line rubs off on the new (and old) ministers — some of whom have already started to advertise their negativity. Did I hear Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere threatening schools again and the deputy minister of Industry and International Trade Phineas Chihota making threatening noises to industry?
This is counter-productive. Tell them Bright.