HomeCommentMugabe gets his Damascene moment

Mugabe gets his Damascene moment

One of the redeeming features of the GPA and government of national unity is that President Mugabe is unable to get away with his populist claims.

Report by MuckRaker

When he castigated Tendai Biti this week over government’s failure to provide money for agricultural inputs, David Coltart was quick to demand that the president disclose the source of his funding.

Mugabe had raised US$20 million for the agricultural input scheme, US$12 million more than the annual education budget.

The source of the input scheme may be legitimate, Coltart said on Facebook, but Zimbabweans will only know that if the president is candid about its source.

Mugabe’s input scheme came soon after the party bought over 500 vehicles worth around US$14 million for election purposes.

MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora weighed in, according to NewsDay, challenging Mugabe to disclose his donors or risk being accused of benefiting from illegal dealings in Marange diamonds whose exact revenue remains unclear.

It was illogical for Mugabe to ask Biti to borrow money, he said, when it was a Zanu PF administration that destroyed the country’s creditworthiness in the first place.

Lame excuses

Other MDC spokesmen accused Mugabe of grandstanding. MDC leader Welshman Ncube said Mugabe was proffering lame excuses and blaming the wrong people for his own failures as president of the country.

“This is the deliberate uninformed attitude that got us to the worst inflation when Mugabe ordered Gideon Gono to print money,” Ncube said.  ‘It’s untrue that government can have unlimited resources.

“President Mugabe is head of government and whatever happens requires his approval.  He cannot therefore blame anyone.  Minister Biti reports to cabinet and funding priorities are approved at cabinet level, approved by Mugabe. There is no way the president can distance himself from Biti’s budgets.”

So it’s now clear accusing Biti of sabotage was nothing more than political grandstanding.

‘Head of govt’

Ironically, any reference to Mugabe in the state media is prefixed by the “Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces” mantra, with the desired impression being that the president calls the shots in all facets of government. However, when it comes to government’s shortcomings, Mugabe likes to portray himself as a mere spectator.

Mugabe’s remarks confirm that any administration he heads will attempt to borrow its way out of difficulty. That is irresponsible and inflationary. But Zanu PF will do it.

And if Mugabe thinks no government can go bankrupt he should read the history of Weimar Germany or Hungary in the 1920s or post-break-up Yugoslavia in our own era. The problem is he heads an ignorant party which thinks it can print money to escape its obligations. And its followers are told the West is responsible for all our problems as a nation,

This is populism writ large, dishonest and hugely damaging to any economy.  Yet not a single apparatchik has the courage to tell Mugabe he is getting it wrong at every turn.  Instead they are all required to pretend he is all-knowing –– the father of the nation.

Damascene moment

The Herald reports that President Mugabe lashed out at false prophets and “dubious” spirit mediums whom he accused of extorting money from people.

Some people who claimed to see things in advance, Mugabe said, were instead “false prophets”.

“Now the prophets are all over the country. (If they are true prophets) let them tell us where these curses (njodzi) befalling us are coming from. The prophets should tell us how to overcome these?” he said, “leaving mourners in stitches” according to the Herald.
This is clearly a Damascene experience for Mugabe who in 2007 was duped by “diesel n’anga”, Rotina Mavhunga’s claims she had powers to extract diesel from a rock.

Mugabe personally chaired meetings to discuss the issue, setting up a taskforce packed with government ministers to investigate. The taskforce included Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Home affairs co-minister Kembo Mohadi.

The team is reported to have camped in Chinhoyi for close to a fortnight, but strangely they did not detect that Mavhunga, with a Grade three education, was a fraud. They accompanied her to rocks in Chinhoyi to perform rituals hoping refined diesel would pour out of the rocks. Mavhunga was pampered like a true “African Queen” and was allocated a farm, two head of cattle and three buffaloes, a car and received billions of Zimdollars for her upkeep.

Mugabe later ordered her arrest claiming the taskforce had been blinded by Mavhunga’s “beauty”.

Civilian bureaucrat

Retired Col Tshinga Dube says he wants to dispel rumours soldiers are being deployed in most key economic positions in the country. “This is not true,” he said. Contradicting himself he proceeded to ask: “Who is not a soldier and what is wrong with being a soldier? Is the president not a soldier?”

Mugabe led guerrilla warfare during the liberation struggle, he said. “How could you lead guerrilla warfare if you are not a soldier?”

Dube evidently has a short memory. Edgar Tekere in his book A Lifetime of Struggle gives a detailed account of Mugabe’s attempts to lead the struggle in the teeth of resistance from the military commanders in the field.  In Mozambique, Mugabe and Tekere were under virtual house arrest.

“I then taught him how to handle weapons,” Tekere recalls, “and to keep them always within reach. “Yes, up to that time he had not learnt to use a weapon.”

“There were other examples of his lack of appetite for war,” Tekere noted. They had difficulty getting him into uniform. Inspecting the graves after the Chimoio massacre, he was conspicuous without a uniform.

“Here he was, surrounded by the rest of us dressed in our military attire, wearing a suit,” Tekere recounted. “It was most incongruous.”

“Tongogara and I decided he must have a uniform and arranged for one to be made for him but somehow this never happened. He was really a civilian bureaucrat. He would sit in his office waiting to receive military briefings from me and never took the initiative himself unless pushed. He did not know how to salute.” Ndabaningi Sithole described him as a good civil administrator.

So Col Dube there you are. No more misleading claims please!

Partisan military

As for his claim that it is not true that the military are being deployed in key economic  positions in the country, we need to recall the following appointments: Justice George Chiweshe, formerly ZDF Judge Advocate;  Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai , National Railways of Zimbabwe general manager; Albert Mandizha, general manager, GMB and  Brigadier-General Gibson Mashingaidze; not forgetting of course Brigadier-General  Douglas Nyikayaramba, formerly Chief elections officer of the Electoral Supervisory Commission who has expressed a strong commitment to Zanu PF and is among those threatening to block Morgan Tsvangirai’s admission to State House should he win the elections, among others.

As for what is “wrong” with any of this, the obvious point to make is that in a country purporting to be a democracy, the military should not interfere in civilian administration and must reflect the constitution and laws.

This is elementary stuff. How can soldiers say they will block Tsvangirai admission to State House and thereby refuse to recognise the outcome of a democratic election?

What is the point of holding elections if the military supported by the Justice minister and Zanu PF spokesman seek to predetermine the outcome?

‘Youth’ levy

FINALLY Saviour Kasukuwere’s Indigenisation ministry says it is calling for the introduction of a youth levy in the forthcoming national budget despite poorly administering  the disbursement of funds allocated to community share ownership trusts.

We recently carried a story which revealed the wrangle pitting Kasukuwere’s and the Local Government ministries as well as  the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board.

These three, it was revealed, are fighting among themselves and at times conniving to loot funds contributed by companies that have complied with the indigenisation laws, leaving the intended beneficiaries once again out of the equation.

As if Zimbabweans are not being taxed enough, Kasukuwere has forwarded the US$15 million budget proposal to fund “vocational training programmes”.

Forewarned is forearmed!

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