WHAT did former Health and Child Welfare minister David Parirenyatwa think he was doing when he told the media this week that he was leaving his job â€œa happy manâ€?
This is shocking stuff from someone whose ministry presided over the cholera fiasco in which more than 3 700 people have perished from the treatable disease.
The failure of public health system to contain the cholera epidemic is a huge stain on the ministerâ€™s CV and he will be remembered as the modern-day doctor who was completely overwhelmed by a dark-ages disease.
He will be remembered as the minister who in November last year promised the nation that the outbreak was â€œunder controlâ€.
At the time the death toll from the disease was around 400.
When he left office it was close to 4 000 and still counting.
As he reflects on his tenure at the ministry, is he content with the large number of maternal deaths as a result of poor medical facilities in government hospitals?
Is he also satisfied with the closed operating theatres at Pari and Harare hospitals?
Before he left office, had the dialysis machines in Harare and Bulawayo been repaired?
In societies where public officers are still accountable to the electors, Parirenyatwa should have resigned together with his cabinet colleagues responsible for local government and water.
But over the years, we have seen the development ofÂ a species of politicians who are keen to make capital out of minuscule success and blame bountiful failure on exogenous factors.
It is â€œsanctionsâ€, our â€œdetractorsâ€ and so on.
This pathetic group has resorted to claiming success in containing problems and not preventing them.
Parirenyatwa beamed when musicians produced a CD on cholera awareness.
That, he would like to have on his CV! He will also log in his memoirs as a success and his sojourn to donors -â€” cap in hand -â€” to source basic drugs to treat cholera.
Also in this group, we have ministers who celebrate the arrival of imported grain when a few months earlier they were equally jubilant when they were distributing agricultural inputs.
We have ministers now expounding the virtues of economic liberalisation when only recently they presided over damaging price controls during which they declared that business people were enemies of the state and had them arrested and detained.
But in Zanu PFâ€™s scheme of things, mediocrity is oftentimes rewarded.
It is a virtue to make bonehead decisions and then eventually drop them without showing any contrition.
The frontline ministers President Mugabe chose for his cabinet last week hail from this coterie of tinpot politicians whose respective pasts are blighted by monumental failures and serious errors of judgement.
They happily look forward to Mugabeâ€™s salvage apparatus to fish them out of the scrap yard. Frankly speaking, who else other than Mugabe believes Joseph Made â€“â€“ of the â€œfly past fameâ€ â€” is the most competent man to head the agriculture portfolio?
The appointment has little to do with results but this quest for continuity, whatever the results.
Successive Zanu PF governments have evidently never been crafted as results-driven entities.
Ordinarily, a Justice ministryâ€™s brief should be to deliver justice timeously.
The minister should derive satisfaction in the number of cases handled and concluded by the courts and not the high number of prisoners on remand.
Can the last Justice minister who has been retained in his post in the new cabinet claim
satisfaction that he served government well in this respect?
This failure to deliver has become an acceptable norm in government here. We do not question it because we have been made to believe that government departments move at the speed of a glacier.
Even more, our rulersâ€™ praise of mediocrity creates laziness and puts out that inner fire that we all should have inside us that drives us to achieve results.
Why should someone want to achieve something great if they can be praised for achieving nothing? This is a major challenge facing the new unity government.
The cabinetâ€™s ability to deliver should not be based on the discredited Zanu PF yardsticks.
We need new benchmarks to gauge delivery.
The Agriculture ministerâ€™s success must be based on tonnes of grain delivered to the silos and not the number of sorties over maize fields!
I fear a situation where the new MDC ministers in cabinet are recruited into this damaging practice of indolence because it is rewarding.
American philosopher and author Erich Hoffer once said: â€œIn the republic of mediocrity, genius is dangerous.â€
He added: â€œThose in possession of absolute power cannot only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.â€
We want to be liberated from the republic of mediocrity.
BY VINCENT KAHIYA