Some things never change

WHEN Xi Jinping became Chinese president in March as part of the country’s once-a-decade power transfer, he came in with a cabinet which included technocrats tasked with tackling a decelerating economy, among other things.

Zimbabwe Independent Editorial

At the time, China’s annual growth was slowing down. It dropped to 7,5% in the second quarter, down from 7,7% in the three months ending March 31 –– the ninth such drift in the past 10 quarters.

However, since Xi came in the economy has been showing signs of recovery, sustaining the positive momentum on course to meet growth targets.

This is partly because China’s new political leadership appointed veteran technocrats, many with vast international experience, to the new cabinet.

Xi and his performance-driven team promised efficiency. “In face of the mighty trend of the times and earnest expectations of the people for a better life, we cannot have the slightest complacency, or get the slightest slack at work,” he said.

“We must resolutely reject formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance, and resolutely fight against corruption and other misconduct in all manifestations.”

Compare Xi’s approach to what President Robert Mugabe is doing. While Xi (60) came in with technocrats and skilled performers with traceable records of delivery, Mugabe (89) simply recycled the same old faces, mainly inept cronies. Instead of sending a clear message against corruption, he was apologetic saying there is no evidence.

At a time when the nation was expecting serious changes in cabinet to stabilise and consolidate economic recovery, Mugabe appointed another unreconstructed team –– which includes dyed-in-the-wool populists –– showing either he has no clue and is stuck, or is stubbornly clinging to failure for patronage reasons.

The latter seems to be true, as he said he mainly considers first if you are Zanu PF, how loyal you are and for how long you have been there, besides education. Meritocracy doesn’t feature.

Well, there is no problem with him appointing Zanu PF ministers who won but the issue is what calibre of ministers did he appoint? Bringing back Emmerson Mnangagwa and Sydney Sekeramayi, ministers for 33 years, Didymus Mutasa, Ignatius Chombo, Joseph Made, Olivia Muchena, Sithembiso Nyoni, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Webster Shamu, for instance, surely will not take us anywhere. What can they really do to take us forward? Patrick Chinamasa may be competent in executing Mugabe’s political survival projects, but is he suitable at Finance?

Besides incompetence, the trouble is some of these ministers are just corrupt. It’s not our job to give Mugabe the evidence. That’s why the police are there.

Mugabe, if it’s not too late, must learn from his Chinese benefactors how Deng Xiaoping did it. He reformed the party and the state, adopting progressive market policies within a developmental state framework, thus enabling rapid and sustained economic growth.So why can’t Mugabe, with his “Look East” policy, do the same?