There were wild celebrations in the corridors of parliament and government offices this week, after Finance minister Mthuli Ncube finally delivered some rare good news for the nation.
After months of talking about belt tightening, saving money and all that, Mthuli told the nation that the period of austerity was finally over. To celebrate, the first thing he will do? Buy cars for all our leaders.
“I think they have been patient enough,” Mthuli said in a public conversation with our publisher, Trevor Ncube.
Not surprisingly, news that the months of austerity are over will bring much cheer. And what better way to announce the end of austerity than to reward our leaders first. Now that our austerity has given us surpluses, which are the envy of a world where deficits are the norm, we can now flush our cash at big cars for chefs and planes that fly from Harare to Gweru via Dubai.
As soon as our leaders are fully fed, then we will see what we can spare for the 6,7 million people that we hear are going hungry this year. Besides, surely, we can’t have our leaders visiting all these hungry people using old cars.
It is always good to see a government that has all its priorities in order.
Like everyone else across the country, Muckraker was distracted this week from the daily struggle of power cuts, fuel shortages and rising inflation by the more pressing national matter of a leaked audio.
In the audio, there is much talk of private parts and spying and shooting and so forth, that one would think this was a rehearsal for the vibrant Chamakava beerhall drama club in Mwenezi. Yet, if what we hear is true, this may or may not have been the First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa speaking to some top badge in the military, accusing him of spying on her.
Well, it would appear, at least judging only by this audio, that all is not well behind the scenes in the Second Republic. Besides, we all thought that, for all the cluelessness of the new dispensation, at least we had survived the era of unhinged first ladies. But it seems the heavens have declared that we must forever be cursed with this type.
Somewhere in Singapore or over there behind those high blue walls in Borrowdale, Dr Amai must be seething. Not only did another woman steal her job as First Lady, she is also working overtime to break her record for wanton verbal destruction.
After all the jokes over the audio, and after excited journalists filled their pages with news of the salacious audio, the nation was surprised to wake up to news that none of it had any bearing on Zanu PF’s rule.
In fact, just days earlier, the ruling party had won council by-elections in Bikita, and taken a seat from the opposition in Nyanga.
The scandal broke just days after the MDC launched its new policy position, called the “Road to Economic Recovery, Legitimacy, Openness and Democracy” (Reload). One had expected the MDC to deploy its oversized ranks of lawyers and intellectuals and social media influencers to unpack this new blueprint for the masses.
Instead, it is telling that they spent the greater part of the week not discussing their own policy, but exchanging banter on maize fields and the audios with the rest of us povo.
There is nothing that excites an MDC official more than a chance to be distracted by Zanu PF shenanigans.
Speaking of Zanu PF and by-elections, the country was once again reminded why and how the ruling party continues to retain power.
The strategy is simple: create as much poverty as possible, and then fly in with token acts of charity, using taxpayer resources, just so you can look good in the eyes of the voting population. This plan has taken many forms. For example, destroy agriculture just enough so that people will depend on food aid, then hijack that food aid for your own selfish ends.
Lately, it has taken a new insidious turn. Ahead of the Lupane by-election in August, a whole Minister of Health decided it was clever to write a letter telling one of his bureaucrats to release medication to clinics in Lupane, at the request of Zanu PF.
“I have instructed the permanent secretary Dr Mahomva to activate NatPharm to supply the clinics mentioned with medicines,” Obadiah Moyo, the Health minister who may or may not be a real doctor, said.
That such vote-buying is now down in the open, and done so brazenly that it is written down on government letterheads shows how little Zanu PF cares about what Zimbabweans, and the opposition exactly, think.
At last, we now know what is needed to have drugs in our clinics. Just hold an election.
Chasi’s half story
Energy minister Fortune Chasi has been telling all who care to listen (and even those who do not) about the failure by consumers to pay Zesa bills on time.
“We have been irresponsible, we have not paid our debts. When you do not pay your debts, you lose the moral high ground to criticise Zesa,” Chasi told business leaders this week. “We are the authors of its insolvency.”
The Energy minister’s remarks only tell half the story. He does not mention that those who fail to pay are the victims of atrocious governance and incompetence by the Zanu PF government that has resulted in company closures and significant job losses which has incapacitated them from putting food on the table never mind paying utility bills.
Chasi fails to tell the nation what he is doing about senior government officials some of whom are his colleagues in cabinet who have never paid an electricity bill in their lives with huge bills not only from using electricity in their households but also on their multiple farms which are used more as holiday homes than for agriculture. He should probably look at the sickening levels of corruption at Zesa Holdings where more than US$9 million has been spent on transformers that have not been delivered nine years later and giving an ex-convict US$5 million for a solar project with very little to show in terms of results among other shocking acts of malfeasance.
Chasi should probably tell his boss President Emmerson Mnangagwa about the importance of prioritising paying off the country’s debts to regional suppliers of more than US$70 million than rushing to buy weapons including more than 58 000 grenades for a country not at war. Muckraker hopes that this enlightens (no pun intended) Chasi.
With an increasing number of companies reducing production or closing shop altogether as a result of 18-hour power cuts, it is difficult to disagree with former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo when he calls this government “the new dispensation of darkness”.
Chaibva: Nothing secret anymore at Zacc
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission was finally announced this week. Among the new crime busters was one Gabriel Chaibva, known less for his prudence than he is for loud quarrels on the first-floor bar of Ambassador Hotel.
He was, obviously, elated at finally getting a job. Obviously, aware that the whole nation was laughing into its armpits at his appointment, Chaibva told The Herald: “Technically, academically, morally and intellectually, I am highly qualified.”
He went on: “I have no skeletons in the cupboard; I am a person of undisputable integrity. I am my own man. I am a jack of all trades, whatever assignment that I might be given by the commission I will be able to carry it out.”
And then the clincher: “There is not a single day have I been accused by anybody of anything.”
This is true. Nobody has ever accused Chaibva of being a man of principle. Nobody could also accuse him of being able to keep secrets to himself either.
Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo says she will only arrest after investigation. Well, we have news for you, Cde Justice. Now that Chaibva is in the commission, best believe that every investigation will be known in all the bars in Harare, and in all newsrooms across the city, before our investigators have even left the Zacc offices.
The man is a leaking sieve.