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What's the point of 'performance contracts' when the regime always blames sanctions for its failures?

15 Mar 2023 at 10:16hrs | Views
How do you measure a cabinet minister's performance over a particular period?

How does one judge whether a local government CEO (chief executive officer) has done a good or terrible job?

How can anyone tell if the head of a state-owned enterprise is meeting expected targets?

These are questions that have vexed me since the introduction of so-called 'Performance Contracts ' by President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa in 2021.

In actually fact, which minister, permanent secretary, local authority CEO, or parastatal head has ever been held to account for his or her failures over the past two years of these contracts' existence?

How has this colossal failure in managing our economy resulted in finance minister Mthuli Ncube being made to answer, and held to his own 'Performance Contract'?

Yet, Zimbabwe's economy continues in its nosedive - in spite of the occasional short stints of supposed 'stability' - with the local currency now trading at over ZW$1,200 to the US dollar, with prices of goods and services skyrocketing on a daily basis, and out of the reach of two thirds of the workforce (who earn below the poverty datum line)?

In the same breath, what do these contracts expect of the labor minister Paul Mavima, and his finance counterpart Ncube - considering that the average teacher earns around US$100 a month, and Zimbabwe losing thousands of nurses each year, mostly to the UK, on account of unlivable wages?

As a matter of fact, only two days ago I received a desperate phone call from a distraught nurse - enraged over the government's delay in issuing them (health care workers) their 'verification letters', in spite of paying a staggering US$300 per document, and satisfying bonding requirements - so that they could apply for jobs overseas.

This, after also forking out US$400 to open a job application portal, which expires after a year - and, most of these nurses forced to find another elusive US$400 so as to keep their portals open, as they reach 12 months without having received the promised 'verification letters' from the government.

How does this reflect on the minister of health, vice president Constantino Chiwenga - who has presided over the embarrassing deterioration of standards in our health delivery system - which lacks trained specialists who are migrating en masse, operating theaters that do not have the requisite tools, cancer patients who have no access to radiotherapy machines, and our clinics and hospitals suffering from the shortage of bare basics as antibiotics, paracetamol, antiseptic protective gloves, and anesthetic?

What about the education minister Evelyn Ndlovu - with most schools without essential learning material (as text and exercise books), whilst pupils, predominantly in rural areas, still studying under trees or in ramshackle structures lacking desks and chairs - and, at the same time, being denied science and technology facilities?

What about the minister in charge of industries, Sekai Nzenza?

Is Mnangagwa happy, when most companies in the country are consistently choked in their operations by laws that discourage borrowing (at an interest rate of 150 per cent), inaccessible foreign currency (largely available to dodgy cartels funding the parallel market), thereby forced to trade using official exchange rates despite only obtaining the much-needed US dollars on the streets?

There is no way I can sign-off without mentioning the minister of mines Winston Chitando.

Is he doing alright with his performance contract - taking into account numerous questionable mining deals being awarded to mostly Chinese companies - some, as in the Dande area, being given carte blanche, in typical Rudd Concession style, to do whatever the mining entities pretty much feel, over local communities?

Which is the same plight faced by the people of Marange, Hwange, and Binga - as Chinese mining companies are permitted to evict local people from their ancestral lands - with neither their approval, nor any direct benefits from their own natural resources.

The best they can hope for are low paying jobs, and some mediocre 'development' - yet, these companies reaping billions of dollars from their areas.

In fact, the country is already losing over US$100 million each month to gold smuggling, as well as an estimated US$25 billion in diamond revenue not having been accounted for over the past 15 years.

We move on to our local authorities.

With most towns and cities having gone without potable water in their homes for months at a time, or even years (as in my own Redcliff) - how does this show in the performance contracts of the minister responsible, July Moyo, and the respective town clerks (CEOs)?

Who is to be held answerable for the uncollected refuse, unrepaired roads, and filthy disease-riddled sewage flowing on our streets?

We then have parastals and other state entities that have been nothing but parasites, not only on the fiscus, but also the citizenry - as they have been turned into cash cows by the ruling elite  

Of late, the NSSA (National Social Security Authority) has been making news headlines for all the wrong reasons - with reports of labor minister Mavima's alleged US$400,000 housing deal - despite the intended beneficiaries only getting a paltry US$30 a month!

On top of this, other state-owned enterprises have been notorious for their perennial loss making - yet, their board members, directors, and executives taking home hefty salaries, allowances and other benefits.

How have all these things affected the mentioned ministers, permanent secretaries, local authority CEOs, and heads of state-owned enterprises vis-à-vis their performance contracts?

Or, are we to assume these issues were never a part of the said contracts?

Surely, if they were - then, heads should have rolled ever since the first contracts were signed in 2021.

Yet, I do not recall even a single one being fired for these catastrophic failures.

Possibly, there could be a reason.

Here we have a government that survives on making excuses for their shortcomings, and hardly known for taking any responsibility for their own actions.

These are people who will readily clutch at anything to justify why they are failing - from saboteurs, and regime change agents, to global trends (as Russia's war on Ukraine), and the targeted travel and financial restrictions imposed by the US on only 171 individuals in Zimbabwe.

Of course, the most favorite being the last.

They will blame anything and everything that has ever gone wrong, is currently going wrong, and could go wrong in the country on supposed sanctions.

No one in the political establishment will ever acknowledge their own weaknesses and failings - but, always find scapegoats to fault.

So, why are they made to sign these documents in the first place, if such glaring shameful dereliction of duty can easily be explainable through sanctions?

Why go to all these lengths merely to pull wool over the eyes of Zimbabweans - with this whole charade and presence that the Mnangagwa administration is serious about developing the country, and improving the livelihoods of ordinary Zimbabweans?

We all know what will be the outcome.

If all these goals and 'visions' are not attained - there are always sanctions to blame!

However, the biggest question of them all is - why does the president himself also sign a performance contract?

Are we to conclude that nothing is expected from him, and can not be held accountable to the nation?

If so, then why should we expect anything to come out of these performance contracts - when the person who makes these officials sign them is, himself, not answerable to anyone?

- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283985, or email:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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