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Unitary state hegemonic

THE recent confirmation by Local government minister Ignatius Chombo that Zvimba district in Mashonaland West province — where President Robert Mugabe and himself come from — will play host to the new seat of government is an important disclosure in various ways.

Since 1980, there have been growing complaints, now intensifying as evidence of systematic regional hegemony and resultant marginalisation mounts, that the unitary state arrangement in Zimbabwe is being abused by those in power to entrench an unequal distribution of national resources and development patterns.

That is besides ensuring the state virtually becomes a colony of one regional expanse which has benefitted more than other areas in terms of development projects, tenders, licences, official appointments and investment.

In that regard, Chombo’s recent remarks that the new seat of government project, including a new parliament building, will go to Mt Hampden Kopje — which falls under Zvimba district and curiously where colonialists wanted to build their capital — instead of other areas, raises a lot of issues.

The first and rather obvious one is that it confirms Mugabe’s grand strategy of developing his home province at the expense of others, while consolidating the plan that Mashonaland West, which has controlled the executive for over three decades and is now even shifting parliament to within its boundaries, should remain hegemonic.

The second observation is that it confirms the current skewed patterns of development are a result of deliberate strategies to use national resources to serve the interests of a narrow section of the society and the country, not the wider population.

The third one shows Mugabe and his cronies now think that Zimbabwe is Mashonaland West and that Mashonaland West is Zimbabwe and therefore calls for equitable development must be ignored.

Professor Welshman Ncube, among other leaders, has urged government to relocate parliament to Bulawayo or any other place to ensure state institutions are situated around the country to help national cohesion and unity. National institutions must capture and reflect the diversity of society to identify with the people in their collectivity.

Fourth, it shows the current leaders are hopeless regionalists who have no national interests at heart at all, except villagising government operations. This balkanisation process has polarised and divided the country, while explaining why Zimbabwe is failing to manage its socio-political diversity.

Lastly, these moves to shift the capital to Mashonaland West — from where the executive has been controlled for 32 years without a break — shows why Zimbabwe needs devolution of power. In fact, this is the clearest substantiation of complaints of lopsided development and why this country needs devolution to address the anomalies.

The reason why calls for devolution are growing louder across the country is that it has become evident there is a clique in power and at the helm of the national leadership abusing the state to perpetuate inequitable and even discriminatory development policies.

Mugabe and his cronies have not only failed to manage the country and the economy but are also fuelling divisions through their regional agendas. What is coming out is that the clique in power is supported by a security cabal which has interests in maintaining the status quo as it is benefitting from such nakedly misaligned development policies.

Also linked to that same clique is a coterie of business people who are monopolising economic opportunities for the collective benefit of those in political leadership; those protecting the establishment with guns and those occupying the commanding heights of the economy in a system geared to protect regional and ethnic control of power, politics, security and the economy. And now they want to normalise the abnormal by pretending their attempts to shift the capital to their Mashonaland West backyard is merely an attempt to decongest Harare.

The question is why Zvimba district? Are there no other places outside Zvimba that could host the seat of government? What message is Mugabe and his cronies sending to other regions by doing this?
Also picture this situation of monopolisation of national wealth; the biggest diamond fields are in Marange in the Manicaland province yet the diamond polishing company is in Zvimba district.

Simple logic dictates that the economic proceeds from natural resources of a particular area should be used first and foremost for the benefit of those communities and then cascade to other areas. This means the diamond polishing company should have been located in Mutare or somewhere in Manicaland.

There is no logical explanation on why the Zvimba district was chosen to be the site for government and the diamond polishing project except that it is part of the grand plan to monopolise national resources and then use the resultant economic muscle to exert political control over other regions.

That is the problem with unitary states. They are usually hegemonic. And this further explains why Mugabe and Chombo have come out openly opposing devolution.

The truth is that in the same manner the people of Mashonaland West should benefit from their rich soils and the agricultural produce that comes from there, people from Manicaland must benefit from their diamonds. The same applies to other regions.

During the recent diamond conference in Victoria Falls, Mugabe said there should be local beneficiation of at least 10% of the diamonds. This means Mugabe and his Zvimba crew want to make their area the economic hub of the country. Shifting the seat of government there is part of the plan.

This whole Zvimba project feeds into Mugabe’s personality cult crusade and a bid to salvage his wretched legacy.

Chombo confirmed this. Against this backdrop, it is time for Zimbabweans to stop Mugabe’s abuse of power and national resources.
Moyo is the director of policy and research in the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube. E-mail: mdcpolicyguru@yahoo.co.uk

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