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Nothing new in ‘new govt focus’

IT should hardly pass for news but given Zanu PF’s calamitous economic record under President Robert Mugabe, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s announcement — in the absence of any tangible evidence — that his party was now focusing on developing the country, came as something of a surprise.

Editor’s Memo with Stewart Chabwinja

In a recent farewell address to party supporters in his Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe constituency as his ascent to the vice-presidency precludes him from representing a constituency, Mnangagwa said after achieving political stability, government’s new thrust was to resuscitate the country’s agro-based economy.

“Now we are focusing on developing our country. Political stability in our country, this, as Zanu PF, we guarantee … Our challenge as a nation, as a country is to develop and make sure each family has food on the table.”

The “stability” bit is rather presumptuous. How does a ruling party presiding over a deepening economic crisis manifest in unprecedented company closures and redundancies, widespread poverty and decaying infrastructure, among other testimonies, guarantee the country would remain stable? Is this because it enjoys total control of instruments of the state to suppress any dissent should the people be moved to revolt?

As far as patronising statements go, this is right up there with Mugabe’s frequent praise of long-suffering Zimbabweans’ “resilience”, which many people take to mean supineness.

Commonly, it should be the core business, or rather, the raison d’être, of government to develop the country, moreso when the ruling party customarily dangles the development carrot to entice votes in the run-up to elections.

No one expects government in a “stable” country to announce it has started working on developing the country, as it is assumed that from its first day in office it is pre-occupied with that defining endeavour. Maybe Mnangagwa and Co would care to tell us what they have been doing all these years besides making the country stable.

And Zimbabweans could do with a simple explanation of how this development would be achieved seeing that previous such attempts have spectacularly failed, and instead the economy has been in a tailspin for well over a decade.

Hopefully, it is not this development thrust which informed Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene last week to order diamond mining firms’ executives in Chiadzwa not to employ opposition supporters as they were a “high security threat”. Or her other project to set up a shadow council comprising war veterans to play an oversight role at the opposition MDC-T-led Mutare City Council which she says has failed, with herself as acting mayor in the proposed structure.

As for putting food on the table, the current muddle and policy inconsistency over land reform, as indeed other key policies including indigenisation, is unlikely to help. While white farms were a few weeks ago allowed to go into joint ventures and contract farming, according to Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora, Mnangagwa has since vowed the land grab would intensify.

This week Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs minister Joel Matiza announced a new land policy in which more whites would be evicted and land given to more people including its “custodians”, chiefs.

This is a government that evidently thrives on confusion and insanity, in which it and does the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

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