THE Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) — a grouping of political rejects — has been added as the latest burden for the taxpayer, with revelations that its members who are travelling to Western capitals on an international re-engagement drive will gobble US$4,5million.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has already splurged millions of United States dollars on public relations consultants, has shown perplexing desperation by roping in this band of political nonenties to spruce up the country’s image.
Just what this grouping, constituting less than 3% of the total votes in the 2018 harmonised elections, will do differently from what Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo and his team have done in vain — in trumpeting the government as a paragon of virtue — is beyond Muckraker’s fathom.
It seems to have escaped the clueless Mnangagwa that Western capitals are not interested in meeting political opportunists sadistically clamouring for relevance.
They have spelt it out that they want to see reforms and not reforms spouted by word of mouth not from some podium, but reforms which are actually implemented.
Western leaders will, for example, be more interested in government implementing the recommendations of the commission which was chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, set up to investigate the killing of civilians by soldiers on August 1, 2018 during protests over the delay in the announcement of results of that year’s harmonised elections.
To waste millions of dollars, sending politicians with virtually no mandate from the electorate — at the expense of funding dire national needs — portrays the warped thinking of those in the corridors of power.
The desperation of politicians in Polad for relevance and the levels they will sink to was epitomised by the Thokozani Khupe-led MDC-T legislator (proportional representation) Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.
Khupe is part of Polad. Speaking after meeting visiting Norwegian leader of the Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs and Defence Anniken Huitfeldt, Misihairabwi-Mushonga called Mnangagwa a reformer, adding that the international community was hostile to Zimbabwe because they did not like the former late president Robert Mugabe.
The laughable remarks by Misihairabwi-Mushonga must have amazed Huitfeldt. Mnangagwa has been slated for failure to implement reforms, ranging from the failure to implement recommendations of the Mothlante Commission to the failure to open up democratic space, as epitomised by repeated banning of demonstrations by the opposition, civil society and frustrated underpaid civil servants, as well as the continued biased reporting by the state media.
Yet Misihairabwi-Mushonga ignores all this in her attempt to brownnose the septugeanrain leader. It is a sad indictment of what some firebrand politicians have been reduced to, just to enjoy crumbs from the table.
The shameful pandering to Mnangagwa by MDC-T members was laid bare by its former party spokesperson Linda Masarira, who alleged that during her time at the party, she discovered that Zanu PF was funding activities of the party through Khupe, adding that the MDC-T was, in her words, “not a real opposition party”.
Despite denials by Zanu PF and MDC-T, the curious pronouncements by Misihairabwi- Mushonga seems to lend credence to Masarira’s allegations.
Minister from Mars
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has always seemed to live in his own world. From declaring that year-on-year inflation will be reduced to two-digit figures by the end of last year before it eventually ended at more than 500%, to banning the publication of the embarrassing statistics to widespread disbelief and derision.
This week Ncube told state media that businesses selling goods and services in foreign currency face stiff penalties for defying government’s unrealistic directive.
“Of course, as government, we are forcing compliance. We will be introducing penalties for those who deviate. We recognise that we are in a transition. We will get there. Our objective is to achieve mono-currency. We will make sure the US dollar is pulled back. They are violating the law. We want to enforce the Zimbabwe dollar,” he said in an interview with sate media this week.
It would be comical if it was not so tragic. Here is a Finance minister who has refused to charge duty for imported vehicles in the local currency that he hankers for preferring to charge in foreign currency, but huffs and puffs that businesses are not using that same currency that is rapidly losing value.
This is stinking hypocrisy from the nutty professor!
In a briefing to journalists soon after he was appointed to head Treasury, Ncube said: “My preference is a fiscal shock; there is what you call the political collar or the politics of policymaking, which then slows you down.”
From his conduct since then, it seems the collar has not only slowed him down, but has brought any form of common sense he used to have to a screeching halt.
Prosecutor-General (PG) Kumbirai Hodzi made astonishing remarks that dealing with cartels in the country is a daunting task due to protection from the media, political parties and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.
He added that cartels have also captured the judiciary and police. The admission by the country’s PG rubbishes Mnangagwa’s declaration that his government is primed to fight the scourge.
Indeed, Mnangagwa’s failure to deal decisively with cartels is a damning indictment on his feeble fight against the vice and is reminiscent of his predecessor, Mugabe, who always used to bellow about ending corruption, but taking no concrete action to fight it.
It actually became more entrenched with every declaration that he made to fight corruption. Hodzi better be careful about such declarations for he could meet the same fate as Zanu PF youth league members Godfrey Tsenengamu and Lewis Matutu, suspended for talking about cartels and corruption.
For avoidance of doubt, Zanu PF acting secretary for administration Patrick Chinamasa said the ruling party had no policy of naming and shaming individuals in their personal capacities, instead demanding that different opinions to that of the party are expressed only at home.
Chinamasa’s utterances exposed the double standards that have become the hallmark of the moribund Zanu PF. For it is none other than the party’s first secretary Mnangagwa, who named and shamed corporates and individuals who failed to return nearly US$1 billion they externalised despite being given a three-month moratorium in March 2018.
The only constant is that like now, Mnangagwa has done nothing about these culprits two years on.