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Mugabe Should Just Quit

 IT is abundantly clear that President Mugabe is trying by all means to extend his tenure of office despite the fact that he lost the March 29 election to Morgan Tsvangirai.

The president is even willing to risk further humiliation in a runoff election, in the dim hope that a concerted campaign by his henchmen will spring a surprise reversal of the March 29 loss.

That President Mugabe would risk even the little credibility he still has is not surprising. It is common cause that his greatest aspiration would have been to be a life President of Zimbabwe.

Over the 28 years of his rule, the president probably developed the false notion that Zimbabwe was his kingdom rather than the republic that it is supposed to be. As such, the possibility of handing over the reins of power to someone else, particularly to Tsvangirai, who he so much despises, is, therefore, completely unfathomable to the president.

What is most worrying is that he and his henchmen completely fail to see that, even if he were to gain an extension of his mandate, there is virtually nothing good that President Mugabe could do for Zimbabwe in the next five years. 

Two factors, namely, his capacity level to manage national affairs, and the international context in which we live, make President Mugabe completely impotent in solving Zimbabwe’s deepening economic and political crises.

President Mugabe and Zanu PF are fond of emphasising the international context, particularly the so-called sanctions, as the main impediment that has stalled Zimbabwe’s turnaround efforts.

The international context is indeed an impediment to Zimbabwe’s turnaround efforts.

It has to be.

The international community does not owe Zimbabwe anything. By crying about sanctions, Zanu PF is behaving like spoilt brats, who go thumbing their noses at the international community and then expect to be treated with kid gloves.

“Madoda sibili” would not cry, but would effectively implement policies to alleviate the deleterious effects of the so-called sanctions.

Unlike the government of Fidel Castro that has been in a tussle with the world’s superpower for half a century, Zanu PF’s efforts in this regard have been completely ineffective.

If the March 29 election results are manipulated in order to extend Mugabe’s tenure, the situation will get worse.

The country’s pariah image will be exacerbated and Zimbabwe will find itself with fewer and fewer friends, and unable to pull itself out of the current crisis. 

On the issue of capacity, in many respects, the resolution of the crisis that Zimbabwe faces requires organisational and entrepreneurial skills that President Mugabe simply does not have, and cannot possibly muster in this 23rd hour of his life.

Even the contextual issue requires managerial competencies that he and Zanu PF have not exhibited in the last 28 years.

In their lame argument, Zanu PF and President Mugabe cite the year 2000 as the turning point with regard to the economic crisis that we currently face.

This is a convenient way to attribute all the country’s problems to “racist reactions to legitimate efforts to empower the dispossessed majority of Zimbabweans”.

This is complete hogwash.

This explanation is anachronistic and reverses the causal relationship of the two issues.

What started was President Mugabe and Zanu PF’s failure to manage national affairs. If truth be told, the real turning point was in 1997 when our currency collapsed.

At that point, President Mugabe also lost his ability for autonomous action as an executive president.

Extra-state players like the War Veterans Association assumed undue responsibility in deciding and managing the affairs of government.

The ill-planned and haphazardly implemented land reform programme and other empowerment programmes were an attempt to mask the organisational and managerial failures of the Zanu PF government and extend President Mugabe’s stay in power.

The strategy was to shift the spotlight to the emotive issue of ownership in order to absolve the government of its culpability for presiding over a progressively decaying economy, and collapsing physical and social infrastructures and public services.

In the eight years since the year 2000, Zanu PF has continued to overplay the ownership card. In fact, it is the only card they have played.

They even went angling for international enemies in order to legitimise the requisite victim image and hoodwink Zimbabweans into thinking that their misfortunes were caused by foreign enemies. 

Meantime, the country’s economy continued to sink, and the infrastructures continued to decay.

What President Mugabe and Zanu PF failed to realise, and which we hope Zimbabwe’s new government will realise, is that the legitimate issue of ownership needs to be balanced with the equally important issue of organisational and entrepreneurial capacity.

Any attempts to resolve the substantive issues of ownership, will be hollow unless effective organisational and managerial craft kick-in in order to ensure successful effectuation of those substantive issues.

In Zimbabwe, the unfortunate thing is that both issues have not been effectively dealt with.

Patronage was used as the basis for deciding on the empowerment issue, resulting in lopsided programmes that benefited only Mugabe’s henchmen.

To make matters worse, many of those receiving this largesse did not have managerial and entrepreneurial capacity to fully utilise the resources.

So, effectuation has been a total fiasco.

A good example is land ownership.

In this case, Zanu PF has committed capital-cide by allocating valuable national resources to the president’s henchmen who do not have the necessary capacity to effectively use them.

A lot of our prime agricultural land is now a dead asset.

A turnaround will not succeed unless this issue of capacity is successfully resolved.

As with his other programmes, the president did not realise that ultimate success depends on effective management in four main areas, namely, clear articulation of the results to be achieved, definition of the procedural and structural requisites for achieving the results, actual effectuation of the program, and continuous evaluation and innovation to ensure that the programme is on target.

This is not an emotional issue. It is an issue of cold calculation which requires Zimbabwe’s chief executive officer, the president, to have capacities to plan, direct, innovate, and lead the operation.

Clever people in the corporate world, realising that they lack the requisite capacity, farm out this role to experts who posses those skill sets.

Even the contextual issue that Zanu PF has so much harped upon requires effective management.

Many countries in the world have a colonial history similar to that of Zimbabwe. Effective leadership in most of those countries has ensured economic and social prosperity without any compromises on the issue of ownership.

As such, Zanu PF’s tunnel vision in international relations has no other explanation but to mask President Mugabe’s incapacity to manage the affairs of the nation.

lBy Paul Vurayayi Mavima

Professor Paul Vurayayi Mavima leads the US-based financial services company, First Group Investments.

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