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Editor’s Memo

Call the A Team

“IF you’ve got a problem and no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire…the A Team.” This was the theme statement for Stephen J Cannell&

#8217;s action drama, the A Team.

In the early 1980s as gullible youths we were hooked to this action-packed film. We all admired the leadership and planning of Col John “Hannibal” Smith, the brawn and strength of Sgt Bosco Albert “BA” Baracus, the smoothness of Lt Templeton “Faceman” and the comic relief provided by Capt HM “Howling Mad” Murdock.

They were hired to carry out all sorts of tasks. They never lost or failed. They would emerge out of burning houses unscathed, run through flying bullets and survive helicopter crashes. (Remember Mad Murdock’s flying skills!)

They were portrayed as invincible beings with almost messianic powers. As we were growing up, groups of youngsters would organise themselves into caricatures of the ‘A Team’ and availed themselves to those in distress. It created reverence and invincibility in certain individuals and made many look up to the ‘A Teams’ for salvation and protection.

It created a class of subservient and emasculated youngsters who depended on muscular Mr Ts for assistance. The Mr T hairstyle was at one time a craze among youths. Then the chains and shirts with sleeves severed off. It was crazy.

But then, this was just fiction which Jonathan Moyo made sure our children would never get the opportunity to watch. It is dangerous for youngsters to worship fictitious characters from movies and the small screen. It is also equally dangerous for adults to feel so hopeless that they have to elevate another mortal to the position of a saviour.

I refer here to the fixation with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono as the one-man ‘A Team’ that is the panacea to all our problems. Gono has since his appointment 20 months ago preached economic turnaround and revival. All those responsible for the death of various sectors of the economy expect Gono to come in and breathe life into their entities.

This week, the commission running the city of Harare was “blessed” by the intervention of Gono who has offered a lifeline to revive the city which is decaying by the day.

Gono has asked the commission to draw up a plan before the city can receive funding from the central bank. Good luck, as long as the city is led by the likes of Sekesai Makwavarara. We have seen many turnaround programmes coming out of Town House including the one drawn up in Kadoma at the weekend.

I would like to ask how many strategic plans town clerk Nomutsa Chideya has seen during his eventful stay at Town House and which ones have worked. Gono is calling for another one, perhaps because he sees no plan in place.

But funding alone will not be enough to revive the city. For a city that collects money from ratepayers for refuse collection but fails to collect bins, there is little hope that the RBZ purse would change this brazen attitude. Yes, the city needs new funding but its arrogant administrators are the biggest impediments to any revival. Gono has advised the city fathers and mothers to enter a partnership with the private sector in the envisaged programme.

But is the private sector not constituted by Hararians whose bins are not collected, who do not have water for as long as a week and who receive shocking bills every month? Are these not the same people who chose an MDC mayor because they had seen the city degenerate under Zanu PF mayors and commissioners? They must now work with a Zanu PF commission because the ‘A Team’ is on its way. Give me a break.

Can Gono change the psyche of the current unelected administrators so that they understand the importance of co-operation with ratepayers?

As things stand there is nothing strategic about business entering partnerships with unelected commissioners serving the government instead of ratepayers. The Gono plan should not be designed to force this marriage because it will not work.

We have seen what has happened to sectors that have received funding from the central bank. Nothing much has changed. Remember the billions poured into farming last year. The RBZ-initiated Vision 160 designed to produce 160 million kg of tobacco a year has not worked because farmers are poorly equipped to grow the crop. Parastatals which have been a burden to the fiscus will remain so as long as they are run like the ineffectual central government.

Leaders in key sectors of our economy, especially parastatals, have been strait-jacketed by government so that they can never function independently and effectively. It is the same with the city of Harare. There is no chance in heaven for the new plan Gono is calling on Town House to produce if Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo continues to control commissioners like puppets on a chain.

Chombo and his ministry are not the ‘A Team’. I can only believe his claim that he intervened to save the city if he can produce positives which have come out of this interference.

If no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can hire…Gideon. But can he lift trash cans and go down a sewer? Mr T could. So much for watching too much fiction.

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