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Party loyalty comes before national interest

The issues of corruption, greed and self-interest at political level are universal causes of state failure in Africa.

Vince Museve

There must be no doubt in our minds that the recent Zanu PF purges that we have seen have nothing to do with national interest.

Even those appointed have unashamedly pledged to be loyal to the party first. What this means is that the interest and needs of Zimbabweans will always come secondary to those of Zanu PF and yet they want to claim to be the patriots and the liberators who gave all for country. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The lie that those who fought in our struggle are a special breed to hold onto political power to their graves will continue to haunt us.

Those who genuinely fought for our freedom still want all us to be free and unfortunately today they see the transformation of Zanu PF from a liberation political party that forgot its founding principles to a dynasty usurped by Mugabe and his wife.

This, of course, should not surprise anyone as it is evident that Mugabe’s rule has been only about him. I chuckled at a recent interesting conversation about Russia’s Putin that he has only three interests; These are Putin, Putin and Putin and I dare say the same applies to Mugabe.

On the other hand, we need not be remorseful for those that have been purged. They have been complicit in propping up this tyranny that has destroyed our country. Their demise will not cost us anything.

I however think that accusations of treason will not stick but I do not doubt that at some stage they all have taken advantage of their positions in government for personal benefit, this is the culture within Zanu PF so there is nothing new about that.

It is very difficult to be excited about the recent changes in government and the appointment of a new politburo since these new appointments have absolutely nothing to with competence or their ability to take Zimbabwe forward. The only criteria have been loyalty to Mugabe and his wishes to elevate his wife to be the next President of Zimbabwe.

The fundamentals of a vibrant and successful country in addition to leadership integrity and accountability are the efficient allocation and use of resources including human capital. All these are sorely missing and the recent changes within Zanu PF do not reflect the appreciation of the urgency of changing the way we do business as a country.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa recently aptly put it for me when he said that despite Zimbabwe having a strong balance sheet, we are failing to unlock its value. That is not only true when it comes to our natural endowments but also when it comes to our human capital.

In any country where there is political exclusion on any basis, that country will never leave up to its full potential because it minimises the talents that it can apply to its development.

Zimbabweans, black and white are a talented lot and I dare say we probably are the most talented African country. It’s time we stopped all forms of discrimination and value our human capital as an asset.

With regard to the two new Vice Presidents, Mnangagwa and Mphoko, I hold serious reservations with regard to their ability to fundamentally change our politics from the politics of exclusion and non-accountability to the politics of inclusion, consensus building and service.

My first worry is VP Mnangagwa’s statement that he will hold the party line that has been in place for the last 52 years. That is a preposterous proposition given that this party line of racism, non-accountability, violence and rule by fear and stealth has created the very circumstances that we now face.

The narrative on Zimbabwe must change and if his approach is that our future will be guided by the past, then I doubt very much whether we shall see the change we want to see from him.

Secondly, I don’t know whether VP Mphoko who claimed that he will meet our expectations, really understands our expectations and whether he will have the power to act outside President Mugabe’s narrative that sees the West as the enemy and anyone who dares oppose his views as an agent of the West.

His narrative sees the masses as simple minded while he feels entitled to power because of the past. That is totally unacceptable.

The political system that has been promoted by Zanu PF has marginalised a significant part of our country’s talent and we will continue to suffer for that. The myth that all wisdom can only be found within the politburo must be rejected as its results are evident. Zimbabwe is failing to rise not because of the lack of resources or talent but because of bad leadership and management.

Predator states such as ours can only transform through political and economic inclusion and we can see that this not about to happen. The issues of corruption, greed and self-interest at political level are universal causes of state failure in Africa. We cannot expect new results by merely shifting chairs among the same personalities.

In addition to a fundamental paradigm shift on leadership we also need to be very clear on what our country must do in order to revive our economy. The issue of private property rights is an economic principle that cannot be broken.

Any country that wishes to grow must protect the private ownership of assets by law and the state must not have the discretion to dispossess citizens for any reason whatsoever. Without such protection there is no incentive to invest for the future and without a local vibrant business sector, foreigners will not be attracted to invest in Zimbabwe.

I just don’t know why we should be having this conversation now because the results of the politics of dispossession are evident. Clearly there is reluctance at the highest level in opening up our economy and creating equal opportunity and free enterprise.

We are still far off from creating better social and economic conditions in Zimbabwe. The leadership that we have cannot create the future we desire and unfortunately as long as loyalty to the party comes first, the needs of the poor masses will always be secondary.

Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. These articles are coordinated by Lovemore Kadenge, president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society (ZES) Email kadenge.zes@gmail.com cell +263 772 382 852

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