Lack of patriotic youths killing Zim’s economy

SUNDAY Mail political editor Munyaradzi Huni had a long interview with Vice-President Joseph Msika this week.

Despite strenuous attempts by Msika to claim that much has been achieved since Indep

endence, it was hard to demonstrate that people are better off now. Instead it was a litany of “challenges” throughout.

What we found most startling of course were the contradictions in the VP’s responses to these challenges. He said the youths should not expect government to give them jobs but learn to be self-reliant. Which we thought was a sensible statement.

But then Huni didn’t ask why government embarked on Operation Murambatsvina which destroyed informal businesses, which were set up by the youths in response to the shrinking job market in the formal sector.

Asked why previous government policies had failed, Msika said he could not rule out cases of human error in such failures. But the biggest problem, came Msika’s revelation, was that our people did not love their country. “Our people are not patriots,” he declared universally. “We don’t have young people who can say we are patriots.”

In other words there is nothing wrong with those who fought in the liberation war and are today responsible for formulating wrong policies. It is the youths who are to blame for government’s policy failures.

Asked why President Mugabe couldn’t fire non-performing ministers in his government, and why those engaged in corrupt activities were not arrested, Msika said this would be foolish. His solution is that such people should be “conscientised”, including “making them do things properly. Firing them is the last resort.”

Does somebody recall anyone being fired in the past 26 years? And where is the incentive to perform when you know the worst that could happen to you if you fail to deliver is to be conscientised?

While most observers of the Zimbabwe economic scene are understandably sceptical about the prospects of the latest panacea, the National Economic Development Priority Programme, that is not true of Herald reporters who are convinced that it is just what the doctor ordered.

“Could this be just one of those ill-fated economic blueprints that have been launched with so much fanfare in the past but failed to yield the desired results?” Herald reporter Martin Kadzere asked himself.

But no, after listening to Minister Rugare Gumbo’s outline he had “good reason to believe Zimbabwe was on the threshold of a new era”.

Kadzere could barely contain his excitement.

“As he went through the document all faces were filled with great enthusiasm. One couldn’t help feeling that the new plan would completely change the face of the economy,” Kadzere gushed.

“I was filled with renewed hope that our economy can be revived within a very short space of time…The perceptions that I had before have completely vanished.”

Kadzere felt up until that point he had not been playing his role either as a patriotic Zimbabwean or as a journalist in reviving the economy.

“Forget about foreign currency shortages or inflation hovering over 900%,” he wrote, “our economy is still vibrant and requires a little push to bring it back to its former glory.”

Kadzere is evidently more than a little push. He is a complete push-over. After watching Esap, Zimprest, Merp and Nerp disappear down the tubes, he is perfectly prepared to believe that this latest effort, NEDPP, from the same team, is going to succeed where all the others failed!

Just to illustrate the delusional thinking behind this latest scheme, President Mugabe says he thinks the economy will grow this year between 1%-2%. In other words the economy will recover in one year the 35% it has lost over the past six years! Has he considered for one moment where this growth will come from in the absence of any investment?

And in the same speech in which he announced this growth, he confirmed the state’s intention to take an unearned stake in the mining sector which will send every potential punter heading for the exits.

Then the Herald is instructed to write something helpful about this Mission Impossible! So we end up with business journalists saying it’s all goin’ to be fine and dandy because those responsible for driving the programme “will be held accountable and have promised not to let us down”.
It is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry!

Which brings us to Nathaniel Manheru who, while claiming the Zimbabwe Independent is wholly unimportant, devotes endless column inches to denouncing it every week. Any newspaper should be grateful for this free publicity even if it does involve a good measure of abuse and wading through paragraph after paragraph of pretentious literary verbiage designed to showcase the writer’s brief British education which evidently included words like “shat” and “phat”.

It is extraordinary that at a time when government policies have condemned 80% of the workforce to unemployment, completely sabotaged agricultural production, scared off investors and stoked inflation of 1 000%, the Herald’s Goebellian inquisitor seeks to take us on a wild goose chase to “prove” the Rhodesian ancestry of people working at a local newspaper. And in the best racist tradition, he assumes blacks working at the paper have no minds of their own. Long-since departed Rhodesian ghosts guide their word-processors, we are led to believe. And he has an abiding dislike of news editor Dumisani Muleya over what appears to be inconvenient disclosures of Manheru’s role in the Tsholotsho Declaration.

Meanwhile, we hope he will disclose the circulation figures for the Southern Times. We have heard sales of 1 500 copies tops. Nobody, it seems, wants to buy the dreary state-owned publication. Instead of trying to intimidate our staff, Manheru should improve the appeal of a declining paper for which he is directly responsible. And we all had a good laugh over the theory that the rooster had become a national symbol “both by association and semantic reach”.

Very convenient but definitely a case of over-reach, we felt!

What’s in a road you may ask? The Sunday Mail led with a funny little story on Malawi, the European Union and Robert Mugabe. And then five million Malawians.

The story: the Europeans built their road in Malawi. It is not clear what they wanted the road called. But Malawi is a sovereign state and it has decided to name this European road “Robert Mugabe Road”.

Now, you and Muckraker know very well that Robert Mugabe and the Europeans do not see eye to eye as they say. Put differently, there is no love lost between the two over human rights and “illegal” sanctions. To then turn their money into a Robert Mugabe is the ultimate ingratitude and they have made this known to their hosts in Lilongwe. It is, to borrow an expression by another European in Kenya, to vomit on the shoes of your benefactors.
But who said dictators don’t have admirers?

Well, for the Malawians it is not admiration without cause. There is a lot of self-interest in naming the road after our leader. He is taking care of their kith and kin to the tune of five million. Malawi’s Information minister Sister Patricia Kaliati did not mince her words when challenged on the inappropriateness of naming European money Robert Mugabe. She said if some countries had problems with Mugabe that was their funeral. Malawi, she declared, had every right to choose its friends. “Zimbabwe has been a friend of Malawi for a long time, and it is playing host to over five million Malawians,” she disclosed. “If we quarrel with Mugabe where will these Malawians go?”

It makes political sense doesn’t it for a poor country like Malawi to have us feed part of its population?

Then we were also interested in the statistics. At Independence Zimbabwe’s population was claimed to be 7,5 million. It rose to about 12,5 or 13 million in 1992. Come 2002, it was down to about 11 million. Now subtract five million Malawians. That leaves you with about six million Zimbabweans. Subtract the three million or so said to be in the diaspora, and that leaves you with three million. Aids is said to be stealing at least 3 000 Zimbabweans a week. Could you possibly be the last man standing?

Muckraker was touched by a notice in the Herald from the family of Enos Chikowore marking the first anniversary of his death. It was placed by four of his children. Of these, two were in Spain and one in the UK.

This, we can be sure, is part of a wider pattern. So why do ministers and other chefs never disclose to the public how many of their children are not studying or working in the paradise they have created for us at home and for what reason?

Our ambassador to South Africa, SK Moyo, is a personable and not unintelligent man. But, like so many others in his position, he has been reduced to mouthing unintelligent twaddle.

Here he was interviewed by Moky Makura on M-Net’s Carte Blanche on Sunday.

Moky: “You have just mentioned tourism there. Zimbabweans themselves are leaving the country in their droves. Are you expecting tourists to come into Zimbabwe now?”

SK: “I don’t know where that notion came from. In their droves. Who has been going all over the world? Zimbabwe is a country where people still come in, in great numbers as well, and this is not mentioned either.”

Moky: “Well it is fair to say that at least a thousand Zimbabweans have been crossing the border into South Africa on a monthly basis. About 600 of them are deported every single month. So there is a huge influx of Zimbabweans into South Africa.”

SK: “Of course, that is not denied. But the point is that if you go to the repatriation centre here called Lindela, and see how many Mozambicans are there, see how many Malawians are there, those are not mentioned. See how many Nigerians are there — they are not mentioned. It is only Zimbabweans. I don’t understand why?”

Moky: “There is a Methodist church in town. Apparently there are hundreds of Zimbabweans sleeping on the floor because they need to leave Zimbabwe. They would rather come to South Africa and sleep on the floor of a church than stay in Zimbabwe. What do you think about that?”

SK: “Are there only Zimbabweans sleeping on the floor of this church?”

Moky: “Yes.”

SK: “Are you sure? You go and see how many foreigners are in this country from other countries. I don’t see why Zimbabwe is singled out.”

On the same level, Vice-President Msika, in the interview referred to earlier, was asked what was being done to win back the confidence of the younger generation.

 “We need to organise more seminars,” was the response.

Told the people were asking when all the hardships would come to an end, the VP was clear.

“Why do they need to ask us when will this end? They should fight to try and bring it to an end.”

Isn’t that what Morgan said?

Caesar Zvayi was on Tuesday waving his much-used fists at Tsvangirai. “Treason in Zimbabwe is punishable by death,” he threatened in response to proposals by the MDC leader for mass action. Tsvangirai “does not have a monopoly of violence”, Zvayi warned, as if we didn’t know who is responsible for most of the violence in this country!

“Most importantly Zanu PF is in power and commands the security agencies that have already made their position clear.”

Indeed they have. But does Zvayi really think anybody is impressed by the partisan and unprofessional stance taken by suborned military leaders? One of the first tasks of a democratic government will be to ensure military, intelligence and police personnel fulfil their constitutional obligations, not prescribe to Zimbabweans who they should vote for or manipulate the outcome.

And in this context, why doesn’t Zvayi tell us who is hiding Joseph Mwale? They appear to have much in common.

Finally, who is President Mugabe’s speechwriter? At the National Stadium on Independence Day Mugabe recognised Mrs Makwavarara and Mr Makwavarara among the assembled dignitaries. Alas, Mrs Makwavarara’s husband is not Mr Makwavarara. He is Mr Shito.

We can understand why the president preferred to get it wrong!