THE political rejects that make up the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) found out this week that they have nothing more than ornamental value when President Emmerson Mnangagwa ploughed ahead to gazette amendments to the constitution.
This is despite promises from the septuagenarian leader that he would debate with the motley crew of losers the proposed changes before they are gazetted and taken to Parliament.
“During the last meeting of Polad, one of the resolutions read out was that the proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill should not be gazetted, but instead brought to Polad where it would be discussed and other parties input,” one of the hangers-on, a member of the totally irrelevant grouping and lifetime National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leader Lovemore Madhuku whined.
One of the paradoxes of Zimbabwean politics is that the Professor Madhuku you see in a university lecture theatre is totally different from the Cde Madhuku you see rummaging for scraps of food in Zimbabwe’s God-forsaken political dustbins.
“It was agreed that a Bill would then be brought to Parliament with amendments also from other political parties and, instead of focussing on the Zanu PF needs, we will have an omnibus Bill, but that was not followed. But they went ahead and gazetted the Bill.”
In a further demonstration of just how useless the impact of the grouping is, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi swatted away their concerns, as one would an irritating fly, pointing out that the government has no obligation to take bills to Polad. It is laughable that the leaders of parties that garnered less than 2% of total votes cast in the 2018 elections were demanding cars and allowances.
These opportunists, who have already burdened the taxpayer through their meetings which add nothing to the nation’s wellbeing, are shamelessly driven by self-interest. Any self-respecting political leader would have quit the grouping after such a monumental snub, but it is probably asking too much from those who list “visiting Cyclone Idai” — whatever that means — as one of their achievements in 2019.
That one member of this group, Bryan Mteki, has actually rejoined Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF shows just how much of a joke this platform is. They are truly shameful, greedy and pathetic political opportunists.
It is the beginning of a new year and it would be remiss not to reflect on what has been the worst of the muck gathered in 2019.l Most Bizarre Comment: 2019 has had its fair share of remarks that have been jaw dropping in their sheer absurdity.
Defence deputy minister Victor Matemadanda’s justification of soldiers who shot and killed innocent civilians in January last year was a major contender for this category.
Who can forget Health minister Obadiah Moyo saying that striking doctors will get free food if they return to work? Mnangagwa’s assertion that Cyclone Idai, which devastated the eastern parts of the country, claiming the lives of scores of people and displacing thousands, was a blessing in disguise for opening the country’s lines of communication with hostile Western countries also comes in with a strong shout.
However, the winner in this category has to be Joram Gumbo who, as transport minister then, claimed that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had paid for enough fuel supplies to last the next two years. The current long, winding fuel queues show what a load of hogwash this was. Muckraker still wonders up to today what toxic weed Gumbo had smoked when he made this mind-boggling statement.
l Most Outrageous Appointment: The additional appointment of deputy ministers and the creation of another ministry of Housing Amenities headed by Daniel Garwe by Mnangagwa at a time he claimed his government was implementing austerity measures caused widespread consternation.
However, the appointment of Sydney Gata as Zesa executive chairman by Energy minister Fortune Chasi takes the cup in this category. Gata’s previous stint at Zesa left the parastatal in a sorry mess. The regurgitation of Gata was a far cry from Chasi’s promise to bring vibrancy back to the troubled power utility and a mockery of corporate governance tenets.
The appointment dissipated the excitement brought about by Chasi’s appointment as minister.
l Worst-Performing Ministry: Most ministries performed dismally during the year. However, some ministries stood out among the dross. The Finance ministry’s ban of the multi-currency regime, making the local unit the sole legal tender, further eroded wages and pensions and stoked year-on-year inflation to more than 480%.
In a desperate attempt to hide the astounding level of failure, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube banned the publication of year-on-year inflation figures when it stood at 175%,66, a decision that drew widespread criticism and derision. In the supplementary budget, he announced a surplus of ZW$803,6 million, but most citizens have not felt the benefits of this extra income by Treasury.
Another low was the Finance ministry’s failure to meet the International Monetary Fund’s Staff-Monitored Programme (SMP) targets, particularly on expenditure where it channelled cash at preferential rates to Sakunda under Mnangagwa’s command agriculture programme, which has failed dismally to ensure food security. As a result, the SMP remains in limbo.
Ncube’s announcement in the 2020 budget that he will remove subsidies on maize in the new year was reversed by Mnangagwa who pointed out that he had not been consulted on the issue, making the Finance ministry’s performance in 2019 a dog’s breakfast and a major contender for the worst performing ministry.
The energy ministry’s failure to address the power cuts, as well as the mind-numbing recycling of Gata also makes a strong case for the award of shame.
However, the award goes to the Defence ministry for it was a year soldiers shot and killed civilians after protests over the announcement by Mnangagwa of a 150% hike in the price of fuel in January.
They also randomly beat up scores of citizens, particularly those who reside in the high-density areas and were also accused of raping women. To make it worse, their actions were justified by Matemadanda whose remarks caused outrage. Undoubtedly, the ministry was the face of the incompetent and unaccountable regime.
l Blunder of the Year: There have been a number of boobs in 2019. The attempt by government to give Mnangagwa the face of a President who is down to earth and is very much like the common man through tweeting a picture of him aboard a private plane preparing to tuck into a plate of cow hooves backfired spectacularly.
Instead, it brought about derision and outrage as he was widely criticised for wasting taxpayers’ money hiring a private plane at a time the country’s economic crisis is deepening. Mnangagwa also became a figure of contempt for attempting to eat cow hooves with fork and knife instead of just using his hands as is normally done.
That however pales in comparison to the failed march against so-called Western sanctions as Mnangagwa was made to address swathes of empty slabs at the National Sports Stadium, as citizens largely ignored the march meant to show the world that the country was united in the belief that sanctions are the major cause of the country’s economic crisis.
The embarrassment was amplified by Western ambassadors who pointed out the government’s failings through examples of greed, theft and corruption through highly charged tweets throughout the day. What was supposed to be a day to drive the point home that sanctions are the country’s number one enemy, turned out to be an indictment of the government’s failures which makes it by far the Blunder of the Year 2019.