Source: Could this be Zimbabwe’s Kairos moment? | The Financial Gazette June 23, 2016
EDITOR — This letter is in response to CZ. It shall be a longish letter to you CZ and I ask for your indulgence.
“GOVERNMENT is not producing much for export. Industry is not moving according to plan and this means low revenue. Government has been trying to borrow money to pay people without productivity. Government is trying at least to pay workers, it might be delayed, but it will be paid.”
This was Prisca Mupfumira, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare talking tough this week after representatives of government workers boycotted a meeting with a high-powered government delegation that had wanted to sweet-talk the civil servants to bear with their beleaguered employer who is searching high and low for their salaries.
When a whole minister, who is supposed to build and keep harmonious relations between the government and its work-force suddenly resorts to insults, hectoring, brow-beating and veiled threats because it is becoming increasingly difficult for government to keep its side of the bargain, the situation would have deteriorated to crisis levels.
This is the proverbial rock and hard place situation that the government of President Robert Mugabe now finds itself in. After winning the 2013 elections that brought an end to a coalition government that had brought about a semblance of stability to the country, politically and economically, both detractors and analysts predicted that the economy would be the new government’s Achilles’ heel.
“If (President) Mugabe really won the election, he should deliver what he promised the people,” MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai told his supporters in Mutare a few days after the announcement of the results of the July 31, 2013 election that gave President Mugabe a healthy 62 percent of the vote. “If he succeeds, I will shake his hand and tell him that he really won the election, (but) the truth of the matter is that he can rig the elections, but he can’t rig the economy.”
This was after President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party coasted to victory on the back of their economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset), under which the party promised to unlock a US$1,8 trillion economy that was to create 2,2 million new jobs.
However, barely three years later, Tsvangirai’s prediction seems to be coming to pass as everything that should never happen to an economy appears to be happening.
Since the 2013 election, the economy has been slowly, but surely, drifting South. Companies started closing one by one before the trend turned into an avalanche, while those that have remained operating are limping, a majority of them struggling to pay their workers on time, all signs of a collapsing economy.
Economist, John Robertson, told the Financial Gazette last week: “In some respects, we have experienced collapse already in specific areas, such as food security, the textiles industry, pharmaceutical production, vehicle assembly, city centre property development, employment creation, consumer goods exports, education standards, medical aid society payments … I am sure many more could be added to the list.”
With the economy on the slide, it is inevitably dragging with it the government, as there are signs everywhere that the government — which has now resorted to pushing back pay dates of the civil service — might actually fail to pay the salaries at all in the next few months, which would be the climax of the crisis.
While things are going horribly wrong on the economic front for President Mugabe, they are not getting any better on the political side.
Barely two weeks after members of the ruling ZANU-PF party’s Youth League had flooded the streets of the capital, Harare, to thank President Mugabe for what they called his “iconic” leadership qualities, the same President Mugabe had to use the strongest possible language to rebuke marauding war veterans who are now questioning the wisdom of his continued stay at the helm of the ruling party and government with no definite succession plan in place despite his well advanced age.
Two months previously, President Mugabe’s government had — in an unprecedented move — unleashed riot police to disperse an angry crowd of the same war veterans who had gathered in Harare for a protest march over their general ill-treatment in the party. He had to organise a meeting with the war veterans to try and mollify them with a whole cornucopia of promises, but this did not stop the former freedom fighters — until now President Mugabe’s trusted battle-axes — from wading deeper into the feral succession politics that is tearing ZANU-PF apart.
Just like a genie out of a bottle, the vicious succession war raging in the ruling party has spiralled out of control. While the party has resorted to descending heavily on those suspected of harbouring vaulting political ambitions by suspending and even dismissing them, this has not killed the devilry in the so-called “successionists”.
Just like an eight-headed monster that once you cut off one head, two grow in its place, the more the party has tried to deal decisively with the dissidents, the more of them it created resulting in a recent situation where President Mugabe himself had to put a stop to the suspensions and dismissals to save the party from self-destruction. Cynics feared that at the breathtaking rate at which members were being suspended and dismissed from ZANU-PF, it was not long before President Mugabe was left alone!
Dissent has not only been confined to those in ZANU-PF, as even those outside, as more and more citizens — spurred by unforgiving economic pressures highlighted by blighting cash shortages — have been increasingly becoming bold as to stand up to question the state of things.
In December last year, during the ZANU-PF annual conference held in Victoria Falls, a pastor from Kariba got himself into trouble after staging a one-man protest, by holding a banner that appeared to admonish the country’s leadership against being indifferent to the plight of the suffering masses.
Since then, the protest movement has been growing, with the latest railing going under the #ThisFlag and the Occupy Africa Unity Square campaigns, both of which protests are primarily centred on the deteriorating socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe.
As the situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate, it is becoming impossible to predict what it would be like next week, let alone next month, making one wonder how the year is going to end.
Kenneth Mufuka, a Zimbabwean who is a History professor at Lander University in the United States, told this writer during a recent encounter that from his experience, when a government mismanages its own affairs so much that it ends up with no money to pay its workers, the consequences have been dire for the ruling elite.
He said this is what happened in other African countries such as Zambia, Malawi, Kenya and others where long-ruling parties ended up discrediting themselves in the eyes of even their most loyal of supporters, making it easy for political change to take place.
Could Zimbabwe be approaching this stage, a stage where unpredictable things just happen without anyone being able to predict or control it… the Kairotic moment? Could it be that moment that many believers have been waiting for when in their frustration they professed leaving everything, including hope to God and the gods?
To those who believe in God’s time, Kairos time is a period of opportunity. It is often chaotic, a time of crisis.
However, it is through the chaos and crisis that God is fully present, disrupting things and providing an opening to a new future — to God’s future.
Kairos time is a time bursting forth with God’s call to a new relationship with our very history and sense of self, and thus a new relationship with one another, and even with God.