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Will Mugabe's ghost haunt Mnangagwa? Part 1

14 Mar 2018 at 06:27hrs | Views
The saying same witch different broom seems to sum up perceptions concerning President Emmerson Mnangagwa among some of my colleagues. Conversations centring on Zimbabwe's trajectory in the post Mugabe era provides a mixed bag of reactions. There are those with hopes that President Mnangagwa will take a different road than that travelled by his predecessor, and mend relations with the outside world. There are some who have become so used to their misery and misfortunes they believe nothing good or new can come out of this new dispensation. Furthermore, some are not amused by the Mnangagwa dispensation because to put in my mother's language, "vakatorerwa chingwa pamuromo". Some were ‘eating' while others were on the verge of ‘eating', so Operation Restore Legacy disrupted their places at the feeding trough.

President Mnangagwa faces a mountain and how he navigates the dark waters that are Zimbabwe's political and economic landscape will determine which side of the history book his name will appear years from now. Zimbabweans have become used to a culture of politics that is corrosive and is unsustainable in a world that has been changing in most sphere of life, while it remained stuck in the 90s due to a cocktail of challenges that included sanctions, mismanagement, and poor policies among others.

Populist policies that are not in tandem with the country's economic fortunes have hurt Zimbabwe and there is no running away from that. While sanctions played their part, I have always highlighted that Cuba which has been under sanctions far longer than Zimbabwe has managed to thrive despite its isolation. Why? Because unlike Zimbabwe, the political elite in that country did not abuse the sanctions mantra to enrich themselves at the expense of the masses.

The notion that anything from Government is for free and should not be paid back or be maintained has become a demon which should be exorcised out of our people. It is not just the masses that want a free ride, but the politicians who have inculcated this culture are the chief culprits in helping themselves to State resources at the expense of the country's betterment. Community Development Funds, agricultural inputs, loans, vehicles, scholarships, you name it, these are but some of the many goodies that have been making their way into the pockets and hands of undeserving individuals.

This idea that when its election season politicians go about dishing out freebies should become a thing of the past; the rural communities are the main targets of these freebies, and despite our claims of over 90 percent literacy, our people continue to be bought by bags of rice, oversized shoes, raincoats and ice cream. Freebies have created a dependency syndrome which was fine for the old regime, but as a people we need to grow and talk about practical policies that grow the economy and bring about development. I pity President Mnangagwa because his trajectory on reviving the economy is most likely to be met with discontent from key ZANU PF supporters in the rural areas. They are use to Baba VaMugabe whose brand of gutsaruzhinji made them dependent on freebies at the expense of developing themselves and their communities. That is a key difference between the rural electorate and the youth voter which both ZANU PF and the MDCs are fighting to woo. The youth do not want freebies that are dished out at rallies, they want jobs, and they want politicians that enunciate policies that are practical and most importantly a voice in the running of the country. The grandmother in Muzarabani does not want to hear about the IMF, GDP, all they want are promises that ZANU PF will give her maize seed, fertiliser and drought relief. If she gets the Party T-Shirt, cap and Zambia, she is content. ZANU PF's Commissariat Department has its work cut out for it.

The Commissariat together with other key politicians, especially Ministers and senior Party officials have to signal that indeed ZANU PF and Zimbabwe has entered into a new dispensation, and one away with the cohesion, intimidation and abuse of Government resources for ZANU PF business. The politics of the Mugabe era cannot work at a time when the new leader has to prove that indeed it is out with the old and in with the new. Threatening opponents, intimidating supporters, forced donations, bussing people to rallies, these are all indicators of a Party that had lost support and as a political creature it had to survive by any means necessary. However, should the new political dispensation pick up from where the Mugabe type of politics left off, not only does it risk being painted by the same negative brush that tainted the revolution post Independence, but it provides the country's naysers with more ammunition against ZANU PF. Speaking of picking up from the Mugabe type of politics, the political hanger-ons must go. Cars plastered with "misoro yavakuru", the selfies, the bandanas, all these had become hallmarks of thieves, con artists and corrupt individuals who used they perceived closeness to the leadership to make money. Some of the usual suspects have hit the ground running, a selfie posted on social media here and there; in a bid to remain at the feeding trough. The new look ZANU PF cannot afford to associate itself with such individuals. Corrupt deals that are the result of such relationships deny the regular folk on the street bare necessities such as electricity, water, roads, and money in the bank.

This culture of seeking to please the President and painting the wrong picture about the situation on the ground has become ingrown in some of our civil servants. I remember some years back reading an article in one of the country's weeklies, were the writer poked fun at those civil servants who "get angry on behalf of the country's leadership and ancestors". Various ‘human rights lawyers" have made it as a result of these individuals who get angry on behalf of the President. The plethora of cases that tied up the courts over "insulting the President" made a mockery of the highest office in the land, and provided an avenue for President Mugabe's continue ridicule. Instead of policing real criminals our law enforcement agents were seized with arresting citizens who were exercising their freedoms. In this era of the ever growing use and reach of social media, is the new Government going to pursue this absurd course?

If America had an insult law, three quarters of the country and most of Europe would be in prison right now. President Trump is a bad as they get, and yet for all his attempts to muzzle criticism he is yet to have anyone arrested, fired yes, but arrested not yet.

To be continued...

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Source - Tafadzwa Masango
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