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Mnangagwa's SONA was empty promises and murderous defence of status quo – antithesis of what nation dying for

11 Aug 2019 at 16:21hrs | Views
"Mnangagwa ndiChomugore!" (Mnangagwa is Chomugore!) was my instinctive response to President Mnangagwa's State Of Nation Address (SONA) yesterday.

Chomugore was a mean old man who would ask you to do him a favour, typically help him look after his cattle for a day or fetch water; he would promise to give you mangoes. Instead of giving you the one or two mangoes when you have completed the chore, he would say "Come tomorrow, I will give your bowl full!"

You would return the following day bushy-tailed and enthusiastic. Chimugore would have another favour to ask of you and when you remind him of his promise he would ask "What did I say?" It will finally dawn on you that Chomugore's tomorrow is always a day away!

Ever since Zimbabwe gained her independence nearly 40 years ago Zanu-PF first under the leadership of Robert Mugabe and the last two years under one Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised freedom, liberty, justice, peace and economic prosperity.

Who can ever forget Mugabe's "Gutsa ruzhinji!" (Mass prosperity!) and "scientific Socialism" promises of the 1980s! When Mugabe came up with his free education, hefty annual wage increases for the workers, price controls, etc., etc. many people did not doubt for one minute that here was mass prosperity. The nation's attention was focused on policies to benefit the ordinary people, very few people even noticed the parallel extravagant policies to benefit the ruling elite; the genesis of Zanu-PF's patronage system which is in turn gave rise to the mismanagement and corrupt.

Mugabe's scientific socialism was doomed to fail because it was all about spending and economic prosperity comes from producing not spending; that is common sense. After just one decade of the reckless spending, price controls, a boated public sector soaking up the resources like a sponge, criminal waste of human and material resource by Zanu-PF ruling elite, etc. it was clear Zimbabwe's economy was in serious trouble.
In 1990 Zanu-PF introduced its first of two five-year IMF and WB sponsored Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) in which the socialist policies benefiting the masses, such as free health care, price controls, wage increases, etc. were all cut back or abandoned. The program also called for the cuts in the bloated public sector, the mismanagement, corruption, etc. which would have hurt the ruling elite and the patronage system. Zanu-PF never implemented these latter cuts. It is no wonder the expected economic recovery never occurred.

The second ESAP was a repeat of the first and it too failed for the same reason – Zanu-PF implemented the reforms affecting the masses but did nothing to end the criminal waste of resources by the bloated ruling elite whose greed for wealth was insatiable.

So, the 1990s was the period when the masses were asked to "tighten their belts" as part of ESAP only that they have never loosened their belts again as the expected economic recoveries never materialised. Mass prosperity turned into mass poverty and ever since things have got from bad to worse.

When Emmerson Mnangagwa ousted his former boss, Robert Mugabe, in the military coup in November 2017 the Zimbabwe economy was in total ruins and the majority lived in abject poverty. Unemployment had soared to 90%, ¾ of the population lived on US$30 or less, basic services such as health care and supply of clean water had all but collapsed, etc. Mnangagwa hit the ground running with his "Zimbabwe is open for business!" Sadly, it was all bark no bite, just like Mugabe's "Gutsa ruzhinji!"

The biggest mistake the people of Zimbabwe have made is to focus on how Zanu-PF has failed to deliver economic prosperity, important thou this might be. After 39 years of Zanu-PF misrule resulting in the economic meltdown we are witnessing today it should have been obvious that not only that Zanu-PF has corrupt and incompetent and hence the economic ruins but more significantly why was it that the party was allowed to remain in power all these years.

It was one thing for Chomugore short-changing the children with his promise of mangoes tomorrow; the dirty old man never ever tried any of those dirty tricks on any of adults. But even the children, they soon learned that Chomugore was not one to be trusted to keep his promises. There is therefore something sickening that Zanu-PF has successful managed to stay in power for 39 years and dragged the nation deeper and deeper into economic poverty and despair.

The genesis of Zanu-PF's political strangle hold on the nation dates back to the years of our struggle for independence. Although the clarion call before independence was "One man, one vote!" but by the time the black majority had the chance to vote in the 1980, Zanu-PF made it clear the civil war would continue if the party lost the elections.

So, in 1980 the people voted to end the civil war but ipso facto also voted for the one-party dictatorship because Zanu-PF went on to ruthless impose the de facto one-party dictatorship we have to this day. For the last 39 years, Zanu-PF has rigged the elections to stay in power regardless of the party's checked performance record as corrupt and incompetent to rule.

For the last 20 years, at least, Zimbabwe confirmed its status as a pariah state ruled by corrupt, incompetent and vote rigging thugs. The country's economy has suffered because no one likes to do business with thugs and as long as the country remains a pariah state there will be no meaningful economic recovery. None!

Zanu-PF has rigged elections, quickly seized the instruments of government and presented the nation with a fait accompli of a Zanu-PF government. Time and time again the nation has had to make do with that political reality and do whatever the nation can to revive the economy within the diktats of the regime. This has not worked hence the reason the economy has sunk deeper and deeper into the abyss.

By rigging last year's election Mnangagwa confirmed Zimbabwe is still a pariah state and per se ruled out any meaningful economic recovery and it is therefore no surprise that the economic too has continued on its trajectory of sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss. The subtle difference is the heart-breaking economic hardship are causing so much suffering and deaths it is morally, socially and political unacceptable. There is a real danger of the long-suffering masses venting their bottled anger in violent street protests or worse.

As much as Mnangagwa would wish the nation would accept last year's rigged elections as water under the bridge and now work with the regime to try revive the economy; this will not happen. Not this time; because the economy has sunk to deep for the consequences to be ignored. The need to revive the country's comatose economy is urgent. And the only sure way to revive the economy is by ending Zimbabwe's pariah state curse and for that Zanu-PF must step down.

The suggestion that Zanu-PF can go into some power sharing arrangement with MDC is not going to change the reality of Zimbabwe being a pariah state because MDC leaders will be nothing more than window dressing.

Mnangagwa's SONA was about making more empty promises of a more peaceful and prosperous tomorrow. After 39 years of waiting for, it is clear Zanu-PF is incapable of delivering peace and prosperity and the focus should be on ending the party's carte blanche powers to rig elections. Mnangagwa's whole SONA was about more empty promises and maintaining the status quo, the very antithesis of what the country is dying for - meaningful change!

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