THE post of deputy minister has always been widely seen as a job for the boys and a drain on the parlous national purse.
Deputies can neither act on behalf of the minister in their respective portfolios nor attend cabinet meetings, as they are restricted to reading speeches on behalf of the ministers, among other menial tasks.
In the court of public opinion, deputy ministers are of no use and the position only serves as a feeding trough for loyalists of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Defence deputy minister Victor Matemadanda’s recent utterances have done nothing to change that belief. Matemadanda claimed that the July 31 anti-corruption protest led by politician Jacob Ngarivhume is being sponsored by the United States, bizarrely adding that the protestors will use coronavirus canisters.
Matemadanda’s daft comments are emblematic of the country’s poverty of leadership, characterised by paranoia and cluelessness.
The Zanu PF national commissar — who distinguished himself by driving taxis during the liberation war — provides a constant reminder that deputy ministers are totally unnecessary.
Matemadanda, sadly, is not the only deputy minister, whose crass stupidity has confounded the nation. Former deputy Information minister Energy Mutodi made a number of reckless, offensive and utterly brainless comments.
They range from suggesting that people of Ndebele origin are not Zimbabweans to calling MDC activist Sekai Marashe a prostitute after she was abducted and brutally assaulted by suspected State security agents and Zanu PF militia in Kwekwe.
The failed rhumba musician bit more than he could chew after engaging in a spat with Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo. Moyo distanced the government from Mutodi’s unfavourable comparison between Mnangagwa and Tanzanian President John Magufuli in the way they had tackled the containment of the coronavirus scourge.
Mutodi responded by reminding Moyo that he was not the prime minister.
This proved too much, even for Mnangagwa, who is no stranger to making absurd remarks, resulting in Mutodi being booted out of government.
Who can forget former deputy finance minister Terrence Mukupe, who was accused of manhandling a senior government official over travel allowances and before the 2018 harmonised elections declared that the military would not accept an opposition victory?
Muckraker wonders: Where does Mnangagwa recruit such dismal talent? Deputy ministers are enjoying a free meal ticket on the gravy train. They must stop freeloading. Fire the lot and let them get proper jobs like everyone else.
Mnangagwa has been going on, ad nauseam, about how he is the doyen of free speech and democracy since being catapulted to power on the back of guns and tanks. Even the Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana has been at pains to tout his boss’s threadbare democratic credentials.
However, Zimbabwe Republic Police officer Milton Murairwa might not agree. The 31-year-old Murairwa, stationed at Harare Central Police Station in the administration department, appeared in court facing accusations of undermining the authority of the President through a WhatsApp message he allegedly posted in a group comprising his workmates.
Allegations against him are that on July 7, at about 6pm, he posted a message for a WhatsApp group of police officers stationed at ZRP Mbare and is named Mbare Family.
According to the state, Murairwa posted that: “ED neteam yake must go, ndini Murairwa ndadaro, udzai vanhu vePI kana asingade kuenda ndoda kumuona (ED and his government must resign, tell that to the PI. If he does not want to go, I will see him in person).”
For these utterances, he is alleged to have publicly and unlawfully intended to engender feelings of hostility among the 46 members, who are also police officers, on the Mbare Family WhatsApp group against the President in person or in respect of his office.
So much for championing free speech!
Murairwa joins more than 20 other individuals who have been collared for criticising Mnangagwa for being a failure, laying bare the septuagenarian’s aversion to free speech and democracy.
Muckraker spluttered in his tea when he read the remarks of Tanzanian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Professor Emmanuel Mbennah in the state-run The Herald.
Under a laughable headline Economy on Track: Envoy, Mbennah claimed that Mnangagwa “will deliver Zimbabwe to the promised land because of his clear economic vision, his tough anti-corruption stance and his sound re-engagement drive”.
This drivel will be news to the majority of dejected Zimbabweans whose poverty levels have worsened since Mnangagwa rode to power on the back of army tanks.
Skyrocketing prices, low capacity utilisation, dwindling investment inflows, suspension of the stock market, and runaway inflation of 800% hardly constitute a “clear economic vision” as espoused by the ambassador who is clearly seeing things through rose-tinted glasses.
Even the beleaguered Mnangagwa admitted last month that Zimbabweans deserve better than the economic ruins the country has been reduced to.
The failure to address the numerous cases of malfeasance pointed out by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri in her annual reports, as well as the Covid-19 public procurement scandal, paint a starkly different picture to the ambassador’s cheap propaganda about Mnangagwa’s “tough anti-corruption” stance.
Eyebrows will also be raised over the ambassador’s claim that Mnangagwa has an impressive international re-engagement programme.
The civilised world has repeatedly criticised Mnangagwa’s government for beating up, abducting and jailing opposition and civil society activists including comedians.
The European Union has urged Mnangagwa to implement the recommendations of the commission, which was tasked with investigating the brutal killing of six citizens during protests to demand the announcement of the general elections in 2018 on August 1 that year.
Mnangagwa is yet to implement the recommendations by the commission, which was led by former South Africa president Kgalema Motlanthe that soldiers responsible for the killings are bought to book.
It is understandable that Mbennah is guided by the need to promote ties between his country and Zimbabwe, but that is no excuse for spewing deluded claptrap that has no semblance whatsoever to the reality on the ground.
Detrimental notes to sink a captainless titanic
Any doubt that Zanu PF is a party that belongs to the Stone Age was dispelled this week by the doddering old men who are way past their prime at Zanu PF headquarters.
The party demanded the de-listing of financial services group Old Mutual from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and proposed that a new bourse be opened to trade only in United States dollars. The party’s acting spokesperson and former minister of finance Patrick Chinamasa said the party was of the view that setting up a forex-denominated stock exchange would be an appropriate institution for raising and attracting foreign direct investment into Zimbabwe. This is at a time government has indefinitely suspended trading on the local bourse, scaring away the very investors Chinamasa barks about.
To have such recommendations from the likes of Chinamasa, who are used to commissioning dustbins and are desperate for relevance after being shunted from first-class seats to the economy-class benches on the gravy train, illustrates why the country has become an economic backwater and an embarrassment to the Sadc region.