via Zanu PF lost at sea on the economy – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 11, 2014 by Rashweat Mukundu
So while the media, citizens’ and government’s focus has been fixated on the ongoing corruption scandals, the Zanu PF government needs to address this matter as one among many issues that need urgent attention.
So far Zanu PF is as clueless as the rest of us. The post-July 31 elections have resulted in a decline in economic confidence with as many companies closing and others scaling down.
What is also glaring post-July 31 is the lack of economic leadership beyond the cries over the little funds in State coffers, unfulfilled promises to increase civil servants’ salaries as well as continued confusion on Zanu PF’s economic policy.
One gets a sense that each ministry — from Mines, Tourism, Agriculture, Industry and Commerce and Energy — is a separate entity running its own affairs in the absence of a strategy. There is absolutely no meeting of minds between Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire and Agriculture minister Joseph Made.
How will the winter crop be financed, as an example? How will our insufficient energy be distributed to cater for winter farming? Are farmers interested and preparing for winter farming adequately informed and resourced to prepare and execute their farming plans?
There appears to be no talking going on between Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa on the mining receipts and how Treasury would benefit from mining. This dearth of information is partly blamed on Zanu PF modus operandi characterised more by secrecy and surprises.
Economic policy that affects society is designed in secrecy and the effects, be they positive or negative, are what we see and feel. The Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) which should guide Zanu PF on its economic decisions appears more of a public relations document, more to hoist at the face of citizens and the international community yet there appears to be no reference or utilisation of same on the ground.
Nothing demonstrates this than the discord and divisions within Zanu PF on how to tackle corruption, which in itself is key if
ZimAsset is to succeed.
How does, as an example, the indigenisation policy correspond with the deep diamond mining policy that the Mines ministry is now talking of? This after the theft of alluvial diamonds by the so-called mining companies who are essentially legalised amakorokoza (panners).
One cannot, but notice the leadership crisis as President Robert Mugabe has not defined or talked about the economy in any detailed manner apart from broad policy statements on indigenisation and empowerment made at public rallies and funerals. The economic policy pronouncements by the President have not been made in reference to deliverables; that is, what is it that we should expect Zanu PF to deliver and within what period? Economic policy is talked of by the President in terms of aspirations, and in some instances dreams that Zanu PF has of where we should be in the future.
Unfortunately, society lives for both the present and the future, and those without jobs, those failing to feed their families and send children to school cannot wait for some potential mine or company to take care of their immediate needs.
Zanu PF, right from the President, has skirted detailed economic policy discussion more so on deliverables and timeframes. For this reason almost every other minister is harping on what they see as the urgent issue even as they may have no ideas on what needs to be done. The generality of society is in the dark on where the economy or whatever is left of it is headed. There is no confidence within the Zanu PF leadership on this matter, but more of despondency and desperation, we hear more of sad stories than solutions.
Coming back to Mugabe, there is no doubt that he is firmly politically entrenched after July 31, and while his power is secure, he needs advice and a reminder that he is a 90-year-old man.
No one expects him to have a sharp mind as he had in 1980. He needs to begin to let go, more so on the economic policy decisions and implementation. He has, by his own admission, accepted, that he is being lied to and has gone public with untrue statements, more notable the Godwills Masimirembwa bribery story. One can ask what more is the President missing, being misled or all lied to? Does he still have the stamina to monitor the goings-on in all ministries and other sectors?
It is time for Mugabe and Zanu PF to set up a lead team on the economy, probably made up of government economic ministries that includes agriculture, mining, industry and commerce, infused with some of our best brains from the private sector and civil society.
The mark of a confident political leadership is in its power to accept mistakes as well as willingness to engage and seek help. With senior government leaders and ministries distracted by internal party and leadership contests, Zanu PF is not in a position to extricate this economy. More importantly, no one in Zanu PF is prepared to talk truth to power, that is tell the President the truth on our desperate existence.
While he has all the advisers, and travels the same roads as the rest from time to time, Mugabe is probably not aware that as many of the traffic lights do not work because of electricity shortages, he does not stop at traffic lights.
He does not drive an ex-Jap to feel the potholes, and is treated in Singapore and not Harare Central Hospital. The reality is what his advisers tell him, yet they are afraid of saying the truth, but to sing praises to him as we saw in Marondera at his birthday celebration. In many respects, Zimbabwe is on auto pilot, with as many in our society and the leadership simply fighting for survival by whatever means.
Rashweat Mukundu is a Zimbabwean journalist. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org