The year 2016 was bad for Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government, while the ruling Zanu PF’s factional fights spilled into government operations as seen by sharp differences of policy issues among cabinet ministers. Most ministries were under-funded resulting in them failing to meet targets, while corruption remained a problem. Below the Independent assesses the performance of some ministries.
Higher and Tertiary Education
The year 2016 started on a high note for the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, which offered free education for all students in public schools who registered for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects.
Stem was popular and an initiative welcomed by parents, whose burden of paying school fees was lifted in a tough economic environment. However, there were others who thought government should have also focused on other subjects, with some pointing out that there was not enough research done before introducing the initiative.
To date the Ministry has managed to fulfil its obligation and promise to pay full school and boarding fees for the Stem students.
However, just when the ministry appeared to have hit a purple patch, the Stem story became obscured when Moyo and his deputy Godfrey Gandawa made headlines over allegations of abusing the Zimbabwe Development Fund (Zimdef) funds administered by the ministry.
Zimdef funds are contributions from tax payers and the fund was created to benefit students from tertiary institutions across the country. The fund is also being used to pay school fees for STEM.
Moyo is accused of misusing US$430 000 of the funds in a case that has been marred by accusations and counter-accusations. He said he used the money, among other purposes, for the development of Tsholotsho constituency. He also said some of the money was used to fund Zanu PF activities. The allegations against Moyo and his deputy came to the fore when the anti-corruption body attempted to arrest the minister over the saga.
However, President Robert Mugabe blocked the arrest. Moyo has said the allegations against him are a smear campaign driven by factionalism and tribalism, adding that some of his colleagues are guilty of abusing funds but had not been apprehended. Overall the ministry performed well in terms of fulfilling its , but seemingly prejudiced the beneficiaries of the Zimdef fund through misuse and in this regard it has done poorly.
This year just like the year before there has not been much news on Josiah Hungwe’s largely unknown Psychomotor ministry, which was formed in 2013. The only headlines we saw this year related to that ministry were in February when Hungwe was upgraded to a full cabinet minister by Mugabe. After being sworn in, nothing came out of his ministry.
Ever since the portfolio was announced many Zimbabweans have expressed ignorance about the existence and functions of the Psychomotor ministry. Psychomotor education refers to learning demonstrated through physical skills.
Behavioural examples include driving a vehicle or playing a musical instrument.
The new arrangement is supposed to see schoolchildren receive vocational, technical and entrepreneurial lessons on top of academic learning. In 2014, Hungwe announced that his ministry had completed consultations with stakeholders especially from vocational training centres, ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education on how to introduce vocational skills to school children as early as possible.
However, since then there has not been any update on the introduction of vocational skills.
The Ministry of ICT this year tightened its grip on cyberspace through various legislation while facilitating spying on its citizens. The drafting of Zimbabwe’s new ICT Policy was concluded, wrapping up a process that had dragged for over four years and the policy was adopted by cabinet. The policy proposed amongst other things establishment of a quasi-government entity to monitor internet traffic. It states that all internet gateways and infrastructure will be controlled by a single company, while a National Data Centre “to support both public and high security services and information” will be set up.
The data centre will also allow government “to centralise information storage, management and protection”. The policy, alongside the Data Protection Bill, Computer and Cybercrime Bill, which will allow government to install a remote forensic tool (spying tool) onto citizens’ communication devices such as phones, will enable government to effectively spy on citizens.
Other than facilitating spying of citizens the Ministry of ICT Ministry on a positive note has this year been sending engineers from their telecommunications parastatals to different countries to have them equipped with the latest technologies to help the organisations in countering the latest technological trends in the market. The Ministry has sent hundreds of engineers to India, China and Belgium to get technical training and this has been seen as a positive move. The ICT Ministry fairly fulfilled its mandate although it still has to be more vigorous in engaging the public to give their views on the ICT bills and explain the complex ICT language.
During the same year, the ICT ministry also commissioned a forensic audit at the state-owned mobile phone operator, NetOne, which unearthed corporate rot that prejudiced taxpayers millions of dollars. It must be commended for trying to root out corruption.
THE Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Ministry was part of the ministerial delegation which visited China in July this year and managed to source a US$5 billion financial rescue package for Zimbabwe to fund agriculture and housing projects. That begging bowl remains empty as our so-called all-weather friends, the Chinese demand bankable projects.
The ministry managed to implement the Zimbabwe diaspora policy ever since its launch by engaging the diaspora formally for the first time.
The ministry met with the diaspora representatives in South Africa in September to initiate dialogue with a view to enhance their participation in the national development process. It was also to hear diaspora needs and expectations to enable them to play an effective role in Zimbabwe’s economic and social development. At the meeting, the diasporans raised their concerns, including the need to come up with bankable projects tailor-made specifically for them.
It also has to attract investment, which the country desperately needs.
To do that government needs to create a conducive environment for investors. This requires it to deal with its toxic policies, including the indigenisation policy, which compels all foreign owned companies to give away 51% of their shares to locals.
This Ministry fairly performed its duties although it needs to be more hands on to ensure that the business delegations which visit the country invest significantly in the country. It also needs to plan on how to improve the economy and map a strategic way forward.
Environment and Climate
This has been a bad year for most Zimbabweans in terms of water supply. Many Zimbabweans in urban areas, for example Chitungwiza, went for months without clean drinking water. This forced them to drink water from unprotected sources.
Muchinguri did not push enough to have the water crisis declared a national disaster despite promising the nation after most major dams nationwide recorded low storage levels due to below normal rainfall during the 2015/16 season.
While efforts have been made to minimise poaching of wildlife, the year saw many animals dying due to cyanide poisoning in Matabeleland North. A number of wild animals in particular elephants, were destined for China at however little or no benefit to locals. However, it was later revealed that the wild animals were being exported to China in inhabitable conditions.
Muchinguri announced recently Zimbabwe will get US$300 000 from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help the country cope with climate change by funding projects that cut emissions, improve access to renewable energies, food security and others.
We just hope that the money will be put to good use and not end up funding Zanu PF projects.
Muchinguri said she was going to deal effectively with the pollution and dirtiness in the once sunshine city, Harare, and also deal with illegal settlements that were being built on wetlands destroying the country’s flora.
Though Muchinguri established a six-member inter-ministerial taskforce to investigate the construction of properties on wetlands and take possible action, a lot of wetlands continue to be destroyed.
The ministry fairly did well in pushing for policies to protect and preserve the country’s environment.
Primary and Secondary Education
The ministry of Education made the headlines for the wrong reasons this year. It caused mayhem among parents and even primary and secondary schools — from the proposed dissolution of the School Development Association system after an audit revealed some headmasters, bursars and other SDA officials were dipping into development levies to the Ministry Application Platform.
Questions have been raised on how government was going to introduce the school services fund when the Zimstat 2013 Education report showed that 76% of primary schools and 72% of secondary schools are owned by rural district councils, 13% by churches/missions, and just 9% by government.
A debate arose as to why government with only 9% school ownership would want to interfere or meddle in SDA funds where parents are major stakeholders and contributors.
However, the biggest confusion that angered most parents as 2016 closed was the introduction of a Ministry Application Platform (eMAP) as a “last minute measure” for parents to use for Form 1 enrolment. Parents described the system as complex and inaccessible to most parents, particularly those in rural areas.
On the upside, the ministry received a major boost after the Global Partnership for Education approved a US$20,6 million grant for primary and secondary education that is expected to improve access to quality education.
However, the ministry needs to ensure that every child accesses education as it is a constitutional right, rather than spend time bickering on less important issues.
Industry and Commerce
This ministry was a mixed bag.
In June this year, Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha promulgated Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, which has drawn criticism from South Africa saying it is a protectionist policy.
This policy reversed the deflationary trend resulting in hard-pressed consumers bearing the brunt of this decision. While the policy was meant to improve local production, its aftermath has not stimulated economic growth. In fact consumers now have to tighten their belts.
Public resistance of this policy led to violent protests at the Beitbridge border post with traders saying the import restrictions would destroy their livelihoods.
Besides the bilateral engagements going on between Zimbabwe and South Africa, it is understood that South Africa has approached Sadc structures claiming that SI 64 is against regional trade protocols.
The gazetting of SI 64 of 2016 in June saw the removal of 43 products from the Open General Import Licence.
Besides the backlash, Bimha said SI 64 has recorded considerable success in the cooking oil industry, dairy sector, yeast, biscuit, cement, and battery manufacturing industries. While the SI has been credited for the increase in capacity utilisation from 34% to 47%, the survey did not take into account the number of companies that has shut done during the year.
Ease of doing business, Zimbabwe has slipped four places to 161 on the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking despite the country undertaking a number of reforms, a new report has shown. Last year, the country was ranked 157 out of 190 countries. With such a badge of shame, prospects for Zimbabwe to meet its reform agenda and increase investment opportunities in industry remain elusive.
Energy and Power Development
A litany of scandals that turned convicts into millionaires remain the highlights of this ministry. The awarding of multi-million dollar tenders to shady and incompetent businessmen prejudiced shareholders and also mirrored government’s lethargy and lack of political will to deal with corruption.
The ministry was marred with allegations of massive corruption and underhand dealings.
In June the Zimbabwe Independent reported that Undenge and his wife Letina received substantial suspicious cash payments of about US$200 000 from a shadowy depositor at a time the minister is entangled in energy scandals involving hundreds of millions of dollars, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
A senior commercial banking executive told the Independent that on January 15 this year, Letina received a US$136 000 payment, while US$50 000 was deposited into Undenge’s Standard Chartered Bank account on February 3. The US$136 000 to his wife was deposited into her Standard Chartered Bank account, although it ended up in an Old Mutual unit trust.
Bank executives said after the suspicious payments to Undenge and his wife in January and February the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which combats illicit financial flows, money-laundering and financing of terrorism, moved in to investigate the minister. The investigation came after an official report was made to the RBZ.
Undenge made headlines for wrong reasons this year when he was accused of ordering Zesa to hire Fruitful Communications, a firm linked to Zanu PF Highfield West MP Psychology Maziwisa and former ZBC anchorman Oscar Pambuka, to carry out a media campaign despite the company having an internal public relations department.
As reported by the Independent Undenge neglected or ignored technical expert advice that the US$194 million-a-year Dema diesel power plant deal would leave the struggling ZPC and Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), another Zesa subsidiary, in deeper dire straits.
President Robert Mugabe’s in-law, Derrick Chikore, brother to Simba who is married to the president’s daughter Bona, has an interest in the dodgy deal which was initially pegged at US$194 million-a-year.
The cost of the corrupt Dema Power Plant project — which has raised controversy — has escalated to US$250 million over three years as the country faces power cuts over a US$734 million debt to electricity suppliers.
This comes as government has waived duty on fuel in a bid to contain costs of the extortionist deal pushed by Zanu PF cronies under Sakunda Holdings’ rubric.
Electricity generated at Kariba costs US4,11c/kWh, while that from Hwange Thermal Station costs US6,97c/kWh.
Engineers at ZPC have argued that it would have been cheaper to expand capacity at existing power stations rather than setting up the costly Dema Power Plant.
The corrupt deal, given to President Robert Mugabe’s in-law Derick Chikore, elder brother to Simba who is married to the president’s daughter Bona, and Sakunda Energy boss Kuda Tagwirei, was later revised down by about 50% to US$83 million due to pressure. Monthly payments have gone down from US$16 million to nearly US$8 million. The minister also inherited dubious deals in which the country’s energy projects were given to shady businessmen with criminal records, ranging from fraud to drug trafficking.
Undenge irregularly authorised a US$5 million advance payment to convicted fraudster Wicknell Chivayo’s Intratek for the US$200 million 100-megawatt Gwanda Solar Power Project, shortly before receiving the suspicious payments.
State power utility company — Zesa Holdings (Zesa) — is struggling to attract funding owing to unsustainably high gearing levels and antiquated equipment that have made operations inefficient, the company’s 2015 annual report shows.
Total foreign loans owed by Zesa to institutions such as the Commonwealth Development Corporation, Lloyds Bank plc, Barclays plc, Afreximbank, ZTE, Huawei, India Exim Bank, China Exim Bank, Standard Bank and the European Investment Bank amounted to US$583,6 million while interest accrued on all loans stood at US$253,7 million, bringing the total foreign and local loans to a figure of US$1,1 billion.
Zimbabwe remains with a power deficit and it remains to be known whether the power shortages will ease in 2017.
Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
Despite several calls by investors scoping for opportunities demanding clarity indigenisation or amending the Act, his ministry has done little to deal with the contentious indigenisation law so as to attract the much needed investment in the country. Many have called it the elephant in the living room but movement to reform has been slow.
Reforms on this law attracted fierce clashes between Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and line minister Patrick Zhuwao. Chinamasa who clearly has the economic dashboard wanted the law to be toned down to attract investment but Zhuwao was hawkish.
Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Patrick Zhuwao announced cabinet had resolved to enforce the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act Chapter 14:33 which provides for the cancellation of non-compliant companies, operating licences across all sectors of the economy.
He gave April 1 deadline.
Zhuwao said President Robert Mugabe’s cabinet had ordered that ministers from next month invoke section 5 of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act against all non-compliant businesses.
“On Tuesday 22 March 2016 cabinet unanimously passed a resolution directing that from 1 April 2016 all line ministries proceed to issues orders to licensing authority to cancel licences of non-compliant business within their respective sectors of the economy,” Zhuwao said
Ministry of Small-to-Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives Development (Smes)
The proliferation of the informal sector and running battles between authorities and traders in most cities and towns was one of the highlights of this ministry. But the line minister was conspicuous by her silence
The ministry did nothing to address smes and informal plight as they continue fail to access as lack of capital , market continue to affect them.
Small-to-Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni in September said Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) should give SMEs a grace period before taxing their businesses after registering new companies.
Nyoni in September said Zimra should conduct a study to be able to know what they are dealing with and avoid squeezing SMEs.
Instead, she said, the revenue collector should encourage SMEs to formalise their businesses.
“Zimra really needs to do a study so that they don’t squeeze the SMEs. The study will enable them to know what they are dealing with and not chase away the goose that lays the golden egg,” she said.
Nyoni said the number of SMEs in the country were now more than 3,8 million and a lot needed to be done to formalise the sector.
Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare
FOR the ministry superintended by Priscah Mupfumira, the year 2016 has been a mixed bag. The agreement with social partners business and labour over the wholesale amendments to the Labour Act was a major positive for the ministry.
Another plus was the significant steps taken to make the decisions taken at the Tripartite Negotiating Forum legally binding, a move which was long overdue. However the failure by the ministry to resolve the impasse with business over the clause that mandates employers to compensate workers they dismissed legally as a result of the July 17 Supreme Court ruling last year is a major blot on the ministry’s copybook. Employers took government to court last year over the retrospective application of the law with the case yet to be heard. Although a civil service audit was carried out by the ministry in a bid to rationalise the civil service, the situation has worsened. The civil servants’ wage bill has increased substantially from gobbling just over 80% last year to taking 97% of revenue this year. Despite all the talk about ghost workers, there has been no significant movement over the issue as the spooks continue to be huge drain on the fiscus. Another negative is the passing of the principles of the National Health Service scheme by cabinet and sponsored by the ministry which will be administered by the National Social Security Authority without agreeing with business and labour.
Social security nets remained elusive during the year but the ministry has been aggressive in its scheme to feed those affected by drought. However the food distribution exercise has been marred by allegations of partial food distribution based on party lines, an allegation Mupfumira strongly denied during a recent question and answer session in Parliament. Although the ministry managed to execute part of its mandate, it has a long way to go in fully fulfilling its objectives.
The Ministry of Justice and Parliamentary Affairs
The ministry of Justice and Parliamentary Affairs superintended by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has had a year to forget given the delays and boobs that have characterised the ministry in 2016. The alignment of the country’s laws to the new constitution which was promulgated in 2013 remains uncompleted as the year draws to a close. The glacial pace at which the process is moving has caused national anxiety and concern.
The failure by the ministry to demiltarise the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) remains a major concern.
Military officials constitute 75% of the staff complement at the NPA. Despite the comments by the ministry’s permanent secretary Virginia Mabiza that they will demilitarise the NPA eventually, it fails to explain why the authority has been stuffed by soldiers to such an extent in the first place. The appointment of acting prosecutor general Ray Goba despite being convicted in a court of law for trying to defeat the course of justice has raised a stink within legal circles.
This is evidenced by the impending court challenge to his appointment by a private citizen Majoni Mdudzi Utete. The NPA has been rocked by scandals with the suspension of PG Johannes Tomana for criminal abuse of office after he allegedly dropped charges against suspects accused of bombing President Robert Mugabe’s Gushungo Dairy, among other charges brought against him. The NPA is grossly underfunded as evidenced by its failure to pay rentals and the deluge of resignations from the authority with low staff morale. He has been indicted to appear at the High Court in February next year. The revelation by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that they are registering voters due to lack of funds has also reflected negatively on the ministry. Probably the most controversial move by the ministry was the move to amend the Constitution to allow President Robert Mugabe to appoint the chief justice and deputy chief justice and discard the procedure where interviews for the positions are held by the Judicial Services Commission. It was a move that has caused national outrage. All in all, the year 2016 has been a monumental disaster for the ministry.
Ministry Of Welfare Services For War Veterans Collaborators, Former Political Detainees and Restrictees
FOR the War Veterans ministry, 2016 has been a year of squabbles, arrests and dismissals. The year was marked by the dismissal of the first minister to be appointed to the post, Chris Mutsvangwa after organizing what President Robert Mugabe called an unsanctioned meeting. The meeting which was scheduled to take place at the City Sports Centre in Harare never took place after elderly war veterans were teargassed by police on the way to the meeting. Such was the furore that Mugabe took the unusual step of addressing the nation on national television and radio over the issue where he castigated Mutsvangwa. The nonagenarian leader then appointed current minister Tshinga Dube to replace Mutsvangwa. This was however just the tip of the iceberg.
The war veterans under the leadership of Mutsvangwa unleashed a scathing communique that called for Mugabe to step down accusing him of failed leadership causing panic within Zanu PF. The communique led to the arrest of war veteran leaders Victor Matemadanda, Headman Moyo, Douglas Mahiya, Hoyini Samuel Bhila and Francis Nhando. Attempts by a