By Chido Makunike
CHIDO Makunike continues his appraisal of the performance of public officials in 2004.
Jonathan Moyo: Haughty, ar
rogant and embittered Mugabe propagandist who delighted in throwing his weight around, seeming to enjoy spreading his deep-seated misery everywhere.
Began 2004 on a high note, enjoying the catharsis of having a highly placed forum to vomit his generalised anger at anybody and everybody.
Ended the year humiliated by the same Mugabe who had given him enough rope with which to hang himself, in an unprecedented case of political suicide. A man with more pride and a sense of honour and principle would have resigned, but Moyo is an opportunist with so few options now he will have to take anything Mugabe throws at him.
From being the man everybody in the Mugabe regime wanted to be in good books with for his cynical, ruthless abuse of the state media, he has become a pariah no one dares be associated with. What Moyo threw around has come back around rather quickly!
All his silly games and convoluted scheming, his frequent childish temper tantrums were all cries for help from a wounded soul who is desperate to gain some attention and sense of importance at virtually any cost.
A pathetic individual whose folly will provide lessons on foolishness for generations to come.
Sekesai Makwavarara: Politician who has provided an amazing example of the depth of cynicism in Zimbabwean public affairs. Became a Harare ward councillor on an MDC ticket, mouthing all the widely-shared anti-establishment mantras to do so. Then after feeling which way the winds of patronage were blowing, shamelessly did a high-profile Jonathan Moyo-type flip flop into the ruling party.
Pretext for government deposing MDC city council was non-performance, but Makwavarara is conspicuously absent from the frontlines of the innumerable crises bedevilling the council. She has no comments to make about workers not paid their salaries or continuing deterioration of services, preferring to only pretend to be chief executive in lightweight, ceremonial ways. As the municipality stumbles from day to day, the highest point of her tenure so far has been to parcel out donated Christmas presents to various children’s homes. A sad commentary on the depths to which politics has sunk in Zimbabwe.
For agreeing to be used the way she is being done, she now enjoys the use of two luxury official vehicles assigned to her, a built-up expropriated farm given to her and protection from having to be subjected to voter opinion for at least several years. In return for being an obedient figure-head, rarely has a politician “achieved” so much in so short a time on the basis of so little!
Emmerson Mnangagwa: A mixed year for this master schemer. Many point to how he lost the second vice president’s position to Joyce Mujuru in the last few weeks. But it is forgotten that he achieved the amazing feat of even being considered a strong contender for the position when the year began with rumours that he was the main target of the anti-corruption gimmick Mugabe mouthed off so loudly about for a while. Reports of various official bodies sniffing around him circulated, but none of them had enough evidence or guts to bite into this man who knows where all the Mugabe’s regime’s skeletons are tucked away.
Some say being moved from Zanu PF politburo’s administration portfolio to that of legal affairs was a demotion, but seen in the context of the rumours of earlier in the year, it could be said that the fact that he retained a position at all in the politburo is a sign that this cool cat has nine lives, of which he has only used a few! The many efforts within Zanu PF to trip him up will continue, but given this consummate insider’s probable intimate knowledge of the bloody sins of the founding fathers and many others within the regime, I think he is quite safe. His potential to single-handedly do great harm to the ruling regime by what he knows is his greatest protection, so I was somewhat surprised that he recently stooped to uncharacteristic, nauseating boot-licking of Mugabe in an effort to position himself as front runner for the now filled vice-presidency. Is purportedly ruthless master schemer Mnangagwa growing soft and weak?
Obediah Musindo: I am fascinated at how the Mugabe regime likes to have a thin veneer of religious approval for its existence. To this end every year some willing preacher-man is given a lot of exposure and official favour in return for “anointing” the regime as being righteous and fully approved by God, who of course the flavour-of-the-year pastor is thought to have a more special connection to than anyone else.
This year’s such preacher-man is Musindo, whose outfit seems to have done rather well for itself for “blessing” the actions of the ruling regime and singing praises to its head. Is an alarmingly large component of religion in Zimbabwe a shallow, cynical business or am I revealing wicked, “heathen” tendencies by even asking such a rude question?
Gideon Gono. Dominated 2004 as few public officials have done, officially as Reserve Bank governor, but unofficially as virtual prime minister under Mugabe. Became a folk hero for reining in high-flying bankers and others who made overnight fortunes from speculation and rubbed it in the public’s face by arrogantly flaunting it.
Spent most of 2004 basking in the glow of Mugabe’s approval, the state media dutifully, uncritically almost deifying him, which the publicity-loving Gono revelled in. Stepped on many powerful toes in many ways, with many lurking in the wings hoping contradictions between past and present actions, or between words and deeds, may yet bring him down. We have many examples of how high stature under Mugabe can in the long run be a double-edged sword!
Many are sceptical about accuracy of end-of-year inflation figures, but he is widely given credit for indeed reducing the rate of price increases and generally being a breath of fresh air in his conduct as a public official.
But how much further inroads can he make into dealing with the symptoms of economic problems brought about by a repressive, unimaginative and internationally isolated regime?
Tafataona Mahoso: Old-school ideologue who was given the influential-sounding position of keeping tabs on the ethical and professional conduct of the media. Under Jonathan Moyo’s inspiration, some newspapers considered politically incorrect were taken out for very flimsy reasons, with sekuru Mahoso expected to play the difficult role of justifying the closures to a sceptical public.
Began the year looking like a powerful new bureaucrat of the system, but as time went on the hypocrisy of the application of the new laws he operates under merely made him look like another sad example of a willing functionary who does as he is told in order to survive an imploding economy in which the options are few and dwindling. A prolific writer, but being a columnist for the ruling party’s paper while half-heartedly trying to also act as if he were a neutral media-professionalism arbiter has left sekuru Mahoso looking embarrassingly compromised in a way that is not at all in keeping with the ubuntu he is always preaching about!
Morgan Tsvangirai. A good year personally for him because he escaped his ruthless chief opponent’s efforts to dislodge his neck from the rest of his body, using the pretext of thin treason charges.
Went on a long Mugabe-type junket around the world to celebrate escaping the hangman’s noose, causing what sounded like jealous carping about the globe-trotting from the internationally isolated ruler, as well as wider questioning on whether this was the best way to use his time a few months before an election. His party’s coyness about whether or not they will take part in the election increasingly looks like confused indecision rather than a clever ploy to put pressure on an unpopular regime that favours an electoral process stacked against the opposition.
Retains significant sympathy and under-dog support from a large part of the electorate that is tired of a repressive and impoverishing ruling regime, but has mostly failed to transcend the repressive climate to be a truly inspirational leader.
Zimbabwe’s free-fall under Mr Mugabe continues unabated, but the multi-faceted drama is fascinating to watch.
*Chido Makunike is a regular contributor to the Zimbabwe Independent.