Chinamasa not the only problem

There have been increasing calls for Patrick Chinamasa, the Finance and Economic Development Minister, to step down. This has combined with speculation that President Robert Mugabe might do a cabinet reshuffle and replace him, possibly with Gideon Gono.

Tawanda Majoni
Tawanda Majoni

But those who think Chinamasa is failing to shepherd the economy out of the current doldrums only because he lacks the capacity to do so are naïve. They fail to place the economy in the bigger picture. Sure, Chinamasa may not be the best person to be in charge of that vital portfolio, but turning the economy around requires a strategy that goes way beyond one man.

I will put my head on the block and swear that 90 percent of the officials with whom Mugabe has surrounded himself are the major culprits. They don’t want a blooming economy because that would work against their selfish interests.

Take the example provided by Mugabe just last week, naively or otherwise. The president told the world at a luncheon hosted for him by the Public Service Commission that a cabinet minister and a not so honourable MP demanded bribes to facilitate a “done deal”. Here is a minister that Mugabe himself appointed to be part of the team to turn the economy around.

The last thing on the minds of this pair is an economic turnaround. All they want to do is to make as much hay as possible before the sun sinks. They have probably gotten where they are today because of the system of patronage that has become so ensconced in the ruling party. It becomes easy for them to lie that they would bring aspiring investors close to Mugabe and therefore the deals they want because of this culture of patronage.

Praise singers

So, while they have to take the flak and all the wrath that comes with it, their greed is oiled by the system in which they operate, a system that they know simply requires them to sing praises to Mugabe at the highest pitch. The trick has worked with unbelievable accuracy in the past. The ground is littered with praise singers who have become super rich, all because they know that it pays to set their own egos aside and massage those of others, particularly that of Mugabe.

Obert Mpofu is a shining example. He has been signing himself as “Mugabe’s ever-obedient son”. He was the Mines Minister and we all know how big he is now – with massive investments in banking, property and publishing at a time that coincided with him holding the mines portfolio.

Needless to say, more and more exposes of off-shore companies having been formed in the diamond sector keep coming. Walter Chidhakwa, maybe because he is still new in the position he took over from Mpofu, is fuming hoarse about cartels that have been carting away our diamonds under moonlight. Of course, he is falling short of directly blaming his predecessor, but who doesn’t know that is what he is smarting to do?

I would like to believe that the President’s Office has volumes of information on ills that took place during Mpofu’s tenure. What I don’t understand is why no proper action has been taken against those who formed the cartels and stole our diamonds, or why Mpofu is still there as a minister and is not being investigated.

The disease that keeps spreading is that of the tendency to choose public office holders not on the basis of capacity or legitimacy but on political expediency. So instead of looking at how well grounded in a particular position an appointee is, the main question becomes how that person would ensure the political preservation of the powers that be.

Given this, what chances would you give to Chinamasa of turning the economy around? This is a task for the whole cabinet and other public office appointees – who are more concerned about feeding their mouths than pulling us out of the mess we are suffering.

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Post published in: Analysis

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