The politics of entitlement and Chegumi

phil_matibeZimbabwe needs an agrarian reform programme that transfers technologies, imparts skills, and economically empowers real farmersboth smallholder and commercialin an equitable manner that reduces poverty, corrects a colonial wrong, creates food self-sufficiency and security of tenure.

In July 2009, a five-member Presidential Land Resettlement Committee appointed by Mugabe completed its land allocation audit and once again unearthed widespread evidence of corrupt allocations and the use of violence by senior politicians and military officers to evict landless smallholder farmers, the very people Mugabe claimed the fast track land policy sought to assist. The 2010 land audit is essential if as a nation, we are to bring to a close the contentious issue of land reform that must not be allowed to become a burden for future generations. Zimbabwe must attract investment and focus on other means of production and infrastructure development with land ownership being the cornerstone for such national endeavours.

Chegumi means ten percent in the vernacular and is a religious term referring to tithing, which has unfortunately been selfishly bastardised and converted into corrupt Zanu (PF) vocabulary. As part of its well-oiled propaganda machinery, church hymns, and other religious passages, have also fallen foul to manipulation and Mugabe is equated to the son of God by his partys politburo. It is only those with a total lack of conscience and insatiable greed who demand chegumi for performing their duties as civil servants. This alien culture of dishonesty has gone unchecked in government since independence and has now morphed into a more primitive and sinister policy of entitlement within the ruling class.

Self enrichment

The current fast track land acquisition programme2000 to presentis the fourth land allocation programme since independence; the same persons and their families who have been looting national assets all along are raiding the farms again for self enrichment. The poor are getting poorer while the robbery on productive farms has made Zimbabwes food security precarious.? On 10 January 2010, war veterans announced that, We fought the armed struggle to gain political power and economic power and we believe we have a right to this twenty percent we are asking for. War vets are some of the poorest people around despite the work that they have done for this country.?

Compounded with the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, which proposes the transfer of fifty-one percent of all ownership into the hands of a few handpicked shareholders, state theft of businesses becomes law in Zimbabwe. War veterans now feel entitled to owning twenty percent of all national assets, which includes all land, minerals, natural resources, dams, schools, government jobs and taxes.?The war veterans entitlement statement is tired and lacks honour.

What do the millions of villagers who gave logistical and moral support to freedom fighters during the war get? Do they not deserve a share of the national cake? Did Zanu (PF) go to war only to hold the whole country at ransom and demand to be paid for our liberation??What kind of a society are we creating if ownership of land or property in Zimbabwe requires war credentials??

Ulcers and a scar

Herewith, a plethora of self-enrichment and war veteran payment schemes since independence: VIP Housing Scheme, VIP Farm Leases, VIP Car Scheme, Scholarship Fund, Farm Input Scheme, Tractor Schemes, Hunting Concessions, Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs); created by like-minded revolutionaries for their own benefit for participating in the war of liberation. The War Victims Compensation Fund?in 1997 which was looted to the tune of Z$450 million (US$44 million at the time), by senior officials in Zanu (PF).

Government, for the benefit of former war combatants, whose military service between December 23 1972 and February 29 1980 had resulted in physical disabilities, set up the compensation fund for what officials called post-traumatic stress disorder. Reward Marufu, Grace Mugabes brother, who cited ulcers and a scar on the left knee became a beneficiary. He was rendered one hundred percent disabled through injuries sustained during the war of liberation. He was awarded ZW$822 668 (at the time US$70 000.00) for his injuries, the highest single claim ever disbursed under the fund.

In 1996, Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri was listed among those who allegedly defrauded the War Victims Compensation Fund and assessed to be ninety percent disabled after being diagnosed with dermatitis of both feet. Air Marshal Perence Shiri, the Commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe was paid ZW$90 249 for poly-arthritis and mental stress disorder. Vice President Joyce Mujuru also qualified for compensation on account of alleged poor eye-sight and mental stress. By the time the massive fraud was exposed, seventy thousand applicants had defrauded the Ministry of Labour and Social Services of more than ZW$450 million, a staggering figure in 1996.

Dollar collapse


(Pictured: Tobacco auction floors Agriculture output has plummeted since President Robert Mugabe began his fats track land reforms in 2000)

On 14 November 1997, some war veterans protested upon discovery that the War Victims Compensation Fund had been looted by Zanu (PF) leaders and their acolytes. Mugabe, cornered by his lieutenants, was forced to commit to giving every war veteran a once?off payment of Z$50,000 and a monthly pension of ZW$2000. This act of awarding unbudgeted gratuities was involuntary as much as the land reform was not a priority for Zanu (PF) until after the referendum. Dhora radonha the Zimbabwe dollar fell against the US dollar to 40:1 and thus began the precipitous decline of our economy without any sanctions. The government, which did not have money for the payments, introduced a five percent War Veterans Levy and work stoppages and strikes ensued.

Zimbabweans were already reeling from drought, fuel and other levies, over and above the highest income and corporate taxation in sub-Saharan Africa. Instead, Zanu (PF) started printing money, began a military adventure in the Congo, and embarked on farm evictions to appease its agitated supporters. In 1995, the Cabinet overrode the government Tender Board and gave the Harare International Airport contract to AHT, even though their price was Z$300 million higher than the others. Leo Mugabe, Mugabes nephew, had closely ties to AHT.

Where did all this money go? Do we need an audit?

In 1997, the drought levy was converted into a permanent development levy. The government introduced a ten percent levy on tobacco earnings and a tax on people using company cars. Government ministers that year bought themselves new Mercedes Benz vehicles under the pretext that these were to be used by foreign heads of state during the World Solar Summit held in Harare in September 1996. The same ministers then bought their old Mercedes Benz cars from the government for between ZW$6 000 and ZW$10 000, yet the market value of these cars was around ZW$250 000. Today, greasing the palms of the Minister of Lands now produces an offer letter that gives a member of the party ownership rights to an agricultural business whose shareholdersnot being Zanu (PF)are evicted. To expedite allocation of fertiliser, tractors and fuel ministry officials are paid a percentage; this has become so much the standard that Zimbabweans now call it chegumi (10%).

Father of Zimbabwe

Recently, the BBC news reported that one cabinet minister, who did not want to be named, defended the presidents conduct of owning twelve farms as follows: If its true that Mugabe owned more than one farm, we mustnt forget he is the father of the nation. He spent over a decade in jail fighting for your freedom. Dont compare yourself, or even me, with him.

This statement exposes the core of ZANU (PF)s thinking which renders every person outside of Mugabes party mere mortals who are not entitled to a share of national assets and must only be happy with what he gives us. Creating a persona that makes him the father of Zimbabwe subconsciously carries psychological and cultural symbolism that reduces everyone else to childlike beings and unable to challenge the father. It explains why there is a dearth of men without the fortitude to challenge Mugabe in Zanu (PF): they are all children or those that are as old as he is, behave in bizarre acts of submission, and tremble before him in scenes reminiscent of prehistoric ritualistic cult worship.

Mugabe is but one of the nationalists who spent time in prison for political activities and is in no way the father of Zimbabwean nationalism. This blatant distortion of history is located in Zanu (PF)s incessant spin, which waxes the image of their demigod, Mugabe, as an upright revolutionary untainted by sleaze and possessing no bone of corruption in his body.

Getting richer

The present day Zanu (PF) is a far cry from the original revolutionary party of the 60s, which was one of the custodians of our liberation. Since independence in 1980, Mugabe and Zanu (PF) have arrested, detained without trial, tortured, raped, murdered and killed more innocent civilians than those killed during one hundred years of colonial rule. Furthermore, they have stolen from national coffers funds earmarked for the poor and for Zimbabwes development. The original ZANU led by Ndabaningi Sitholeand not Mugabewas ideologically different to the den of thieves and congregation of looting barons known as Zanu (PF) today. The Chidyausiku Commission of Inquiry was set up by President Mugabe to investigate massive fraud connected with the War Victims Compensation Fund. Where is the report? The same clique in Zanu (PF) is getting richer whilst the rest of the populace and rural folk now face another year of food shortages. It is an oxymoron to have integrity and fairness in the same sentence with Mugabe and Zanu (PF).

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