HomeOpinionEconomic illiteracy in govt fuelling implosion

Economic illiteracy in govt fuelling implosion

THE fake official claims of progress on the ease of doing business reforms got a major reality check last week, with revelations by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development that Foreign Direct Investment to Zimbabwe plunged from US$421 million in 2015 to US$319 million last year.

MUCKRAKER: Twitter: @MuckrakerZim

This is despite the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (Zia), whose drab building looks more like a block of derelict flats or a mortuary than the headquarters of an investment promotion hub, approving projects worth billions of dollars annually. The latest statistics show the gap between what is approved on paper by Zia and what actually trickles into the country. The latest stats confirmed yet again the country is an economic backwater run down by years of extended mismanagement and corruption.

However, this is hardly surprising given President Robert Mugabe’s poor leadership, bad governance and toxic policies. No sane investor would want to throw his or her money down a bottomless pit that the country has now become; where policies change like weather. Lack of inclusive politics and institutions, as well as appalling leadership and policy failures — manifested through scandalous economic illiteracy within government — have badly failed this country.

War veterans

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) leader Douglas Mahiya last week told the media the war veterans’ body was demanding the arrest of three ministers, Jonathan Moyo (Higher Education minister) and Saviour Kasukuwere (Local Government) and Indigenisation (Patrick Zhuwao). Their crime: supporting Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi to succeed Mugabe.

While war veterans fought to liberate this country, they must know their limits. They must familiarise themselves with the country’s constitution and laws. By trying to decide how people should exercise their constitutionally enshrined rights on the basis of self-serving political expediency, some war veterans show they are dangerously alienated from the fact that this country is a constitutional democracy, no matter how flawed, in which political and civil liberties are protected.

We have freedoms of expression and association enshrined in the constitution. So Moyo, Kasukuwere and Zhuwao are free to express their succession choice — or is it dream — without intimidation.

While Muckraker does not care who succeeds Mugabe, as long as the successor is competent and capable, ex-combatants’ attempt to manufacture false consent on succession is ridiculous. It is not taboo or treasonous to discuss, wish or dream who should succeed Mugabe. That is precisely one of the reasons the liberation struggle was fought: To ensure freedom and allow people to freely choose their leaders without fear or favour. Those ministers, no matter how self-serving their agenda might be, are free to express their views concerning the country’s political leadership, and Mugabe’s succession in particular, without bullying. A reminder to some war veterans: The liberation war was not fought to glorify Mugabe and his wife First Lady Grace, or to install Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa as his successor, but to give people freedom to choose their leaders. War veterans must be open-minded and progressive. It does not matter who comes in so long as they will rule effectively and successfully in the interests of Zimbabweans, including minorities and those who did not even vote for them. That is what good leaders do in a democracy.

Most war veterans are suffering because of Mugabe’s disastrous failure and the debilitating Zanu PF power struggles. So for that reason, and many others, it is actually important to debate who should succeed Mugabe to eventually get the best candidate available.

Behaving like hitchhikers on Zanu PF’s gravy train, Mahiya and his colleagues, instead of welcoming debate, are constructing a firewall on the succession issue.

Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo, in last week’s interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, was a rare breath of fresh air when he subtly criticised this retrogressive tendency, acknowledging there was general hostility and lack of openness on the succession debate in the ruling party.

Birds of a feather

The trouble with the Zanu PF succession debate is that it is not premised on ideas and issues. What we have so far is not helpful. Instead of assessing the leadership qualities and capabilities of contenders, most Zimbabweans involved have taken positions based on such backward instincts as personal interest, political association, economic gain, region and tribe, among others.

Corruption and bribery are also playing a major role in the succession matrix, confirming money and power, well sometimes sex and fame also, usually dovetail.

Tribalism, the bane of African politics, including in Zimbabwe where a succession discourse is inevitably but primitively framed within an ethnic prism, is poisoning the environment and the debate.

Mugabe, ironically, spoke about it recently. Yet he is one of the architects of the politics of identity and tribe before and after Independence. This has to be addressed because it is inexorably a dangerous path; one which can lead to calamitous ethnic divisions, animosity and collective failure.

Competition for control of the state and public resources has since 1980 been dominated by toxic issues of region and ethnicity at the expense of class interests.

In Africa, Zimbabwe included, the main criterion through which socio-political groups define and identify themselves is rooted in region, ethnicity or religion rather than in class. It is through ethnic or religious identity that competition for influence in the state and allocation of resources takes place. It is less about the “haves” and “have nots”, as might be the case in some industrialised societies.

Anyway, Muckraker would like to ask Mnangagwa and Sekeramayi supporters some quick-fire questions: What really is the difference between the two leaders? Are they not basically cut from the same cloth? Are they not both Mugabe’s hatchet men?

While dictatorships are often unexpected, Mnangagwa and Sekeramayi have learnt from the best. They will surely follow in Mugabe’s footsteps. Tyrants have arisen among poor, prosperous, educated and uneducated societies, including those who seemed safe from a dictatorship — in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. So let’s avoid replacing one dictator with another. Zimbabweans must learn from this Mugabe tragedy, or we will repeat the same mistakes with equally tragic consequences. If only people listened to Rugare Gumbo’s dire warning about Mugabe in 1980, things could well have turned out to be very different.

Reckless youth

As is now common, overzealous Zanu PF youths threatened to take up arms of war to crush pressure group Tajamuka/Sesijikile’s proposed national shutdown set for next week. The party’s Manicaland provincial chairperson, Mubuso Chinguno said last week: “We are ready for them (Tajamuka/Sesijikile). If it means taking up arms of war to defend a constitutionally-elected government led by President Robert Mugabe, we are going to crush them . . . We will deal with them ruthlessly. We will not wait for the police.”

These reckless threats are reminiscent of Zanu PF’s previous campaigns of terror, especially ahead of elections.
The cult of violence ingrained in the party youths’ minds who are ready to shed blood to fortify and sustain Mugabe’s tyranny while also fighting law enforcers, is an indication of the poverty of leadership in the ruling party. Why should the youth want to fight a pressure group marching in the streets in terms of the constitution and the law?

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