Events of the past week were pregnant with both surprises and lessons. One of the key surprises was that the unthinkable can happen and can be executed unflinchingly by those who wield the power to decide.
By Tapiwa Gomo
On the other hand, one of the major lessons drawn from last week’s events was that loyalty does not always guarantee safety and security and again, because power decides.
In the midst of all this is the painful realisation that things are not always what they appear to be (zizi harina nyanga).
And with that realisation comes the disappointment over the time we lost fearing situations and individuals who were actually easy push-overs.
We feared the system and some individuals who were or are part of the system.
Last week taught us that everything in the system is for the centre of power and everyone else is a servant in it. And that may be an important lesson to take into the 2018 elections.
The constitutional, political and social implications of the dismissal of Emmerson Mnangagwa as Vice-President have been addressed by others.
Here, I attempt to discuss part of the cost implications of the process that led to firing an African Vice-President.
Losing a job is painful, and sadly, millions of Zimbabweans have had to endure such situations for nearly two decades, due to bad policies by those who have been fired and those who fired.
But for the ordinary Zimbabwean, they did not have the privileged opportunity to issue statements of sour grapes.
So, Mr Former Vice-President, we safely welcome you to the world of pain, deceit and failed promises.
Apart from the terminal benefits, the process and decision to fire an ordinary employee would not be as costly.
It is a matter of constructing the case and handing over the dismissal letter and parting ways. Life moves on. But the demise of our Vice-President was a costly venture.
On the programme, it required 10 presidential youth interface rallies across the country, which, together, costed an estimated $25 million.
A couple more millions of dollars would be required to host a special interface for the tertiary students with the President.
To cap the rallies, there will be the congress in December, which will cost another $8 million.
This cost estimation only refer to the money directly used for the rallies. It does not include other overhead costs such as security for high-profile people and how much time the rallies have taken away from government business activities.
If it were not for the premature ejection of Mnangagwa in November, the congress was going to be the final nail to his political career as a member of the ruling party.
Nonetheless, the congress will go ahead as planned, perhaps with a much easier and lighter agenda of ensuring substantive appointments ahead of the elections in 2018.
The 2018 elections will be the first ones for Mnangagwa sitting in the political terraces unless he has something big on his sleeves.
The Mnangagwa brouhaha indeed robbed us of the opportunity to hear from the new ministers after the Cabinet reshuffle a month ago.
We have been deprived of that opportunity to hear what they think about their ministries and engage them on their policy ideas.
The whole month was clouded by the narrative of how bad Mnangagwa suddenly was.
Or they, too, were busy trekking the interface trail to avoid being associated with the political outcast. It is understandable, though not justified, given that the current situation in Zanu PF is reminiscent of former United States President George W Bush’s address to a joint session of Congress on 20 September, 2001 when said, “either you are with us, or against us”, referring to the fight against terrorism.
Whatever the case may be, the country remains neglected and bleeding.
Back to the cost implications of the process that led to the firing of the Vice-President.
Assuming we put the estimated cost of rallies and the congress to around $40 million, how many jobs would that amount have created or saved?
It is not an easy question to answer, but we can draw from what certain sectors such as the Health ministry pay their junior nurses to make a basic estimation.
A junior nurse is supposed to earn approximately $6 370 per year, including the 13th cheque.
More than 6 280 junior nurses would be paid per year at $490 per month including their bonus.
Put differently, the cost of the rallies plus the congress took away more than 6 280 nurses from our public health system and robbed the same number of nurses of employment.
In January this year, it was estimated that 4 250 trained nurses were roaming the streets due to unemployment, despite that our public health institutions require nurses.
In 2016, Health minister David Parirenyatwa stated that “our country needs between 7 000 and 8 000 nurses”, which simply meant he needed somewhere around $40 million.
Our lack of human resources in the health sector, and maybe other sectors, is not for lack of resources, but misplaced priorities.
Similarly, our poverty is not for lack of resources, but a manufactured problem.