via Grace Mugabe populist rants suicidal 12 September 2014
First Lady Grace Mugabe, addressing traditional leaders at her school in Mazowe, promised she would urge government to review and adjust upward the chiefs’ remuneration because, she said, this had not been done for a while and was degrading to their stature.
Without doubt, in the next few days at the most, Local Government, Rural and Urban Development minister Ignatius Chombo will announce new packages for the chiefs.
If he doesn’t, it would amount to sabotage, and, he doesn’t wish to be seen to be standing in the way of Grace’s meteoric rise.
The sycophancy on display in the ruling party is fast reaching a crescendo.
Public buses now have to be emblazoned with Grace’s image. Some ministers have already begun to address her as “The Queen”. Generally, every political player is on a stampede to sing her praises.
Many who have supported Grace’s entry into politics have said they did so because she has her husband President Robert Mugabe’s ready ear. This, they argued, would make their grievances heard and solved quickly.
Obviously Grace is dying to prove this is not mere bluff. Her vow to the chiefs that she would take up the matter of their dignity quickly to the highest office is supposed to be her first show of force.
The chiefs are currently gathered in Gweru for their annual congress. It will be interesting to see how this will go.
But she has set a bad precedent.
The situation is similar to what happened in the run-up to last year’s harmonised elections held on July 31. Minister Chombo threw caution to the wind and urged all local authorities to write off ratepayers’ debts.
Following this example, Vice-President Joice Mujuru ordered power utility Zesa to do the same.
The local authorities and Zesa are still to recover fully from these populist arrangements.
There is a clearly contrived rush by different groups to show their support for the First Lady’s entry into politics. Our greatest fear is that she will want to thank everyone who endorses her by promising all sorts of monetary rewards.
The money will have to be forked out of Treasury and surely Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa should already begin to be having nightmares over this.
Who will be next in line to endorse Grace? The teachers’ union? The nurses’ union? And how will she reward them? She cannot afford to do one thing for one group and a totally different thing for others.
The country’s kitty is virtually empty.
Chinamasa is already struggling to pay civil servants. He is also failing to raise money for different projects the country so desperately needs. The last thing he would wish to have is the adjustment of salaries in all sectors.
When everyone thought efforts by Chinamasa and other members of government to rescue this country from the mess it finds itself in were beginning to bear fruit, in comes another cause of fiscal leakage.
Someone should advise Grace to stem this populism before it sets a dangerous trend.