Toxic patronage system feeds Mafia economy

via Toxic patronage system feeds Mafia economy – The Zimbabwean 18 February 2015 by Vince Musewe

Zimbabwe’s predatory economy, presided over by Zanu (PF) and its toxic patronage system, will not turn around until Mugabe goes.

In my opinion, the ordinary Zimbabwean, or the Zanu (PF) member who naïvely remonstrates at the idea of Mugabe going, has no idea of the rot the party has created over the last 25 years robbing this country of its future.

It is estimated that we are losing about $800 million every month in smuggled gold. Economist Eddie Cross estimated that we have lost close to $12 billion in diamond revenues since the discovery of alluvial gems in Chiadzwa.

The army is in mining and other sectors, while even the CIO has its own business interests. Cigarette smuggling is a huge mafia business. The commodity trading and import licences issued to Zanu (PF) cronies, who put a premium on prices, create serious profiteering on the economic shortages they create. This ranges from food and agricultural inputs, to building materials, medicines and anything you can think of. The informal sector is also being sucked dry. Rents are paid to Zanu (PF) touts for providing space and imported goods are brought in without paying duties. It’s plunder by all as party minions continue to extort fees from poor vendors and kombi drivers.

I am reliably told that the government has spent a whopping $600 million on motor vehicles alone in the last year and, of course, these are sourced from car dealers connected to Zanu (PF) – who are doing very well despite the fact that this economy is on the edge.

In addition, a number of projects are being stalled because some Ministers want a share of the spoils for doing nothing. Mystery also shrouds the recent Russian and Chinese mining and infrastructure deals. It’s a feeding frenzy by the unscrupulous, corrupt and greedy.

The Godfather himself, President Mugabe, has an annual budget of $200 million approved by parliament, including our opposition legislators by the way. Of course he spends it at his pleasure with no accountability at all. He is above the law.

Our state enterprises are loaded with parasites who collect salaries each month for doing nothing but pay homage to the supreme leader and place adverts of their undying loyalty at any given chance. Others even confess publicly that they fear him so that they can keep their jobs.

Amongst all this, someone has the audacity to suggest that Gideon Gono saved the country. That is truly laughable and assumes that we are all idiots. If anything Gono saved Zanu (PF) by entrenching a mafia economy and now we are expected to fund the RBZ debt he created. Don’t forget how he wiped out the wealth of a generation of Zimbabweans through printing Zimbabwe dollars. It’s a crime against humanity.

The truth is that the lucrative mafia-style secret economy is feeding off the general collapse of the formal economy and the now burgeoning informal economy. I suspect that our GDP is actually much more than the formal numbers of $14billion as suggested by Patrick Chinamasa.

As I sit and contemplate on the future we want, and how we can break this system, I am persuaded that our only means is through a united front that demands the immediate stepping down of this government and its replacement by a National Transitional Technical Body as proposed by Elton Mangoma. Such a body would take over the day-to-day management of the country as we move towards reforms and new elections as soon as possible. Nothing else will work.

We must be united in purpose, and action and reject any election without reforms. We must encourage peaceful mass protest by every sane Zimbabwean on all issues we face. Make no mistake, we cannot do this if we protect own our little turfs in political parties in the fear of losing our positions.

The battle is bigger than any one of us. I therefore fully support the Bakare initiative, but let the results of that be action and not another gathering of victims, analysts and academics. – Vince Musewe is an economist, author and President of Zimbabwe First! You can contact him directly on


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    Vince you are telling it as you see it. This situation is much more complex than it seems. Not that I disagree with any of what you have said here. On the contrary it is a lot of sense. The only thing that is missing is the the community of purpose. In other words people who are going through the same process or are trying to achieve a similar objective. This is lacking in our Politicians. Everybody is trying to look for the best possible way they can position themselves just to have that little bit extra power. The current crop of Politicians have strayed from the basics and provide lip service which is not backed by actions to benefit those that they hope to lead.They talk the talk but don’t walk the talk. That is why those that continue to make our lives hard are able to wiggle out of situations because those that oppose also have dirty cupboards. They get offered a carrot once in a while and they just cannot refuse. They need to clean up their act and start listening to the voices that are crying out for help.

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    Rwendo 6 years ago

    For sure, we are now living in a cynical society where corruption has percolated throughout the system; from the civil servant abusing his/her office, to the man in the street evading taxes and excise duty, electricity bills and council rates, to the more obvious theft on a grand scale (including grossly inflated salaries) by political, business and other leaders that we read of daily – not excluding what has become a lucrative industry for some amongst the new churches.

    Mugabe’s inevitable departure will for sure change the dynamics of our political system. But I doubt it will wake us up from our political slumber and each man/woman for himself attitude, or put an end to the economic cannibalism that now extends beyond ZANU PF.

    For now, we are mostly “Gone for lunch” – resigned to our lot and focused on the challenges of day to day existence and survival in our dog-eat-dog Zimbabwe. Only we can free ourselves. But there is also no denying the impact of a few good men and women in catalyzing change in a society.