COLUMN: MARY REVESAI
Regime resorts to more ploys to buy time
By Mary Revesai
ROBERT Mugabe bristles with indignation whenever Zimbabwe is referred to as a failed state but the actions of his regime demonstrate even to the most politically unaware person that he has run out of ideas and does not have a clue how to tackle the crisis.
All that he and his lieutenants are interested in is to ensure that Zanu PF survives to misrule another day. They now shamelessly resort to all forms of subterfuge to buy time while pretending to tackle problems so as to keep the masses hoping that things will improve when they are actually getting worse.
This deceitful type of propaganda, which Karl Marx described as the ‘opium of the people', is designed to divert attention away from the deteriorating political and economic crisis. These attempts to bamboozle the people of Zimbabwe into believing that the regime is still on top of the situation have included countless operations such as the controversial Operation Murambatsvina and its stillborn successor Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle under which the government has failed dismally to honour its pledges to build decent housing for the millions it displaced through its cruel and vindictive clean-up exercise a year ago.
Other red herrings that Mugabe has resorted to ensure his political survivals have included Operation Maguta, under which the army was supposed to revolutionise agricultural production and cover up the failure of the land reform programme. This has proved to be a damp squib because of corruption involving Zanu PF heavyweights such as those who pillaged equipment from Kondozi Farm in Manicaland. The farm was supposed to be a showcase for the Maguta initiative but with large-scale mechanised farming rendered impossible because of the looting of tractors and other machinery the project has flopped.
Vice- President Joice Mujuru breathed fire and brimstone
over the looted equipment during a visit to the farm earlier this year,
demanding to be told who the culprits were. Despite being given this
information, nothing has happened to the looters and the equipment has
not been returned.
Nevertheless, do-as- I-say-and -not-as-I-do hypocrisy has made it possible for ministers to stand in public with straight faces to hawk time-buying Mugabe ploys such as the National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) and its numerous predecessors, which they knew had no chance of succeeding. The culture of deception for purposes of self-preservation is so pervasive among the actors in the Mugabe regime that some ministers are prepared to sacrifice others at the altar of expediency for the sake of being seen to doing something.
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa’s attempt during his presentation of the annual budget to make Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono; carry the cane for the printing of money for quasi-fiscal spending when Murerwa was the one who authorized the practice is a case in point. Despite his posturing, Murerwa met his match when Gono released documentary evidence to prove the minister’s role in the matter. Zimbabweans cannot be blamed for wondering how many sacrificial lambs have been taken to the slaughter by ministers and officials fighting to serve their own skins by lying through their teeth. They make these personal shenanigans to please their master a priority when they should be trying to find solutions to the many crises bedeviling the country.
Mujuru, who has been implicated in a number of incidents involving impropriety over the last few months, including abusing a trip to China for the alleged benefit of companies linked to her family and diverting petrol for her fleet of taxis, announced a clampdown on parastatals at the weekend. These loss-making outfits have been a drain on the fescues for many years because of corruption and inefficiency.
From now on, decreed Mujuru, who chairs the cabinet committee on parastatals, the government will introduce performance-linked contracts for chief executives of state enterprises. This sounds like a big deal but it is in fact one of those diversionary strategies the Mugabe regime has become adept at numerous commissions of inquiry have reported that one of the main reasons parastatals have performed so dismally since independence is nepotism which has resulted in the flooding of state enterprises with inept relatives and cronies of the influential and powerful.
The government has had an extremely poor track record of tackling nepotism at parastatals since independence. The debacle that is Air Zimbabwe, the airline with possibly the highest turnover of chief executive officers in the world, illustrates what role political interference can play in bankrupting a once viable enterprise.
It means therefore that unless the issue of people being thrust into top positions at parastatals on the basis of political connections rather than merit is addressed, inefficiency and corruption will continue to be rampant. Signing performance – related contracts will just be an academic exercise for most of the inept incumbents serving as chief executive officers at these concerns, who have run them to the ground.
As the pillaging at ZISCO has shown, most managers at these parastatals and state companies are severely compromised because they owe their jobs to political patronage. They, therefore, cannot put up a fight to uphold professional ethics and to safeguard the assets they oversee on behalf of all Zimbabweans when confronted with the personal demands of political heavyweights. ZISCOSTEEL bowed to pressure to give Mujuru and other ministers what they wanted before she was Vice-President. It is doubtful that despite the talk of tightening the screws, any current parastatal heads would have enough spine to say no to the demands of the big chefs.
Pretending to be dealing with the problems at parastatals is certain to turn out to be one more attempt to pull wool over the people’s eyes in the same manner the government has tried to do by setting up the toothless Anti-Corruption Commission.
All that has been achieved in more than three years since the introduction of an Anti-Corruption Ministry is to further inflate the government wage bill by paying and buying vehicles for armies of people doing nothing apart from promoting the charade of fighting graft. Mujuru spoke with great passion about putting things right at parastatals but alas, her moral authority is severely undermined by the allegations of her involvement in the ZISCO scandal on which she has not bothered to comment to clear the air.
Mary Revesai is a New Zimbabwe.com columnist and writes from Harare. Her column will appear here every Tuesday
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