We have pointed out before in this column that Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko is not the sharpest mind in Zanu PF’s classroom.
Last week he was telling villagers in Matabeleland South that the next time he visited the province he hoped he wouldn’t see the sort of poverty that forced children out of school.
Mphoko had paid school fees for a number of children to attend school, it transpires. But surely doling out cash is not the answer to poverty. Mphoko however knew what was required of him. He was reported as hailing President Robert Mugabe as a unique leader with the people’s interests at heart.
That’s all Mugabe’s minions have to do! “Vice-President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa and I are just the president’s foot soldiers,” he said.”
“The president has love for the people of Zimbabwe and is concerned about the ordinary person whether they benefitted from the land reform or not. I am not doing this as VP Mphoko but as a task that President Mugabe has sent me to perform.”
So there you have it. There is no independent thinking in the upper echelons of power. Vice-Presidents cannot think for themselves. They wait for their instructions. Can you imagine a powerful apparachik with 35 years service waiting to hear his fate? Is this really as good as it gets? Mphoko must help fix the collapsing economy, not engage in handouts and praise-singing.
We were interested to see a column in NewsDay by Vince Musewe who made the useful point that Zimbabwe was better off than many post-colonial societies.
Many witnessed the theft of resources by the very individuals who claimed to have liberated Africa. The British left us with a functioning infrastructure which we have subsequently done our best to destroy. In other countries such as the Portuguese colonies they even took their light bulbs and taps when they left.
We have a good example of high-level pillage when we examine the list of demands made by Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi who is seeking a golden handshake on his way out. Among the demands are three months salary in lieu of notice; three months salary relocation; Land Cruiser V8; Jeep Cherokee; six months salary severance; six months fuel; commercial stand; Belvedere mansion; three terms for two children — and that’s just the beginning.
This is how the mighty exit. Why are terms so hugely favourable to the recipient?
At least Mahachi escaped the fate of Khaled al-Assad (82), the director of antiquities at Palmyra in Syria’s northern border region. He was executed by Isis after being interrogated for a month. He refused to disclose where valuable artefacts were hidden.
Mahachi is on forced leave for reportedly stalling the city’s succession plan and rationalisation of salaries. He had been on a salary of US$27 000 monthly. The current motor vehicle (Land Cruiser) shall be transfered to him no extra cost.
Mahachi’s position exposes gross structural inequalities that exist in our country, in which one section of the society amasses wealth while on the other lies the impoverished who feel rejected by an inept government to the extent of failing to fend for themself.
The salaries being paid to some company bigwigs are shocking if not irrational. Considering workers have been sacked by employers since the Supreme Court ruling of July 17 without benefits, why should Mahachi be treated as a special case that deserves that lot when others have nothing to take home after termination of their contracts.
The development mirrors the rot and insensitivity bedevilling the country, where a few continuously praise Mugabe’s regime which allows them to loot without fear of arrest.
Still on Mahachi’s exit package. Should an individual pocket US$3 million in a depressed economy such as that of Zimbabwe when others are penniless? Mahachi represents the greedy class of leaders concerned about their own welfare and not the rest of workers in the lower echelons of power.
By the way what happened to those bosses who were fingered by the Comptroller and Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s report on hefty salaries? The hullaballoo on salarygate seems to have died a natural death — why should the powers-that-be care when it hardly affects those in the gravy train.
Remember First Lady Grace Mugabe reaped US$3 million in a month during her birthday last month. Nothing is unique after all — the rich should not worry themselves even when the impoverished are being burnt to ashes. Zimbabwe has been reduced to a jungle — survival of the fittest is the order of the day. Isn’t it normal for the financially muscular to prey on the poor?
Goodness, how good does it get. The BBC carried a documentary a week ago to show us how successful the island state had been.
Clean and efficient and prosperous. And all this since 1960. Compare that with Nigeria, awash in oil but nothing to show for it.
The New York Times last week carried a story headlined; “Obama Plots Life After Presidency”.
Guests who attended a dinner planned by Obama said post-presidency planning was a big topic for conversation for the US president. “He loves those sessions,” a top adviser said, adding that, “They are very nourishing to him.”
This should be a lesson to African leaders who knows not how to leave office. Such a discussion has remained sacrilegious in many parts of the continent, while in Zimbabwe it is really a taboo. Obama is 54 years old while Mugabe is 91. At that age, if he were Mugabe, he would not even dream of quitting the presidency. Are only two terms enough? Definitely not in Zimbabwe. The motive of wanting to become a life-president for Mugabe, contrasted to the democratic belief by Obama that power should be passed on is a revelation in itself that Africa and Zimbabwe, in particular, will remain underdeveloped.
When we need fresh brains to take us forward, archaic thinking championed by old-fashioned politicians glued to history takes precedence.
No wonder some so-called professors declare that term limits are of no significance to African politics. Why shouldn’t they matter when a 91-year-old, frail-looking, retrogressive and unresponsive president is running down the nation’s once vibrant economy?
His state of the nation address presented on Tuesday only makes unnecessary noise in the state-controlled propaganda mouthpieces when it’s well-known nothing will come out of it. Citizens want jobs and they dislike working like slaves in other countries – will Mugabe suddenly manage to deliver on this when he has failed all along?