Another, in a long line of shady organizations that have mushroomed over the recent past – all fashioned around President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.
Then, we have all manner of state-funded programs being aligned to Mnangagwa in one form of another- such as, ‘Presidential Input Scheme’, and more ridiculous ones as ‘Presidential Bonus’.
What I find most distasteful and disturbing in all this is the blatant personalization of programs that are funded by every Zimbabwean, through the taxes they pay to the government.
This money is never from Mnangagwa’s own pockets – but, from every Zimbabwean who buys a product and service (via Value Added Tax), who is paid a salary (through Pay As You Earn), or who receives or sends money (Intermediated Money Transfer Tax), or companies that are charged corporate tax.
Why then, is the president’s name attached to our money?
I – as every other Zimbabwean – am buying those goats, pigs and fisheries, fertilizer and seeds, and funding the drilling of those boreholes.
Mnangagwa, as a taxpayer, is only one of 15 million people contributing to these programs!
Of course, as head of state, his office may undertake some special programs targeted for a specific purpose that can bear his office’s seal.
However, that also should never be personalized.
It is the ‘Office of the President’ – not Mnangagwa!
Before I wrote this article, I actually took my time going through websites and material by the US PEPFAR.
This is the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – and the name is clearly self-explanatory, as a special fund aimed at mitigating the effects of HIV/AIDS, and related challenges brought about by the pandemic.
The first picture that greeted me on the Department of State website – which hosts the PEPFAR page – was of beneficiaries of this fund.
It was most interesting noting that nowhere was the name of the sitting or any past US president ever mentioned – neither were there any such related pictures.
Of course, there was the seal of the POTUS (President of the United States).
That absolutely makes a lot of sense – since, this program is by the ‘Office of the President’ – and, not any particular individual, whether past or present.
That is how it should be.
It becomes rather worrisome when we witness ‘Presidential Programs’ now molded in the image of a person – with Mnangagwa’s face pasted on nearly everything, and his name repeatedly associated with whatever is being undertaken.
This can legitimately be branded as a form of state capture!
One of the key elements of good democratic governance is the separation of powers – which, indeed, also includes the person of the president being able to separate himself from the ‘Office of the President’.
As a matter of fact, such unprofessional conduct paints a very dark and unflattering image of the man himself – as it shows an individual with really nothing much to offer the nation, and has to resort to hijacking his office’s programs for personal glory.
It would be laughable and extremely alarming if we were to hear beneficiaries of PEPFAR singing the praises of US President Joe Biden!
Actually, I am positive that most beneficiaries are not even aware what PEPFAR stands for!
Why, then, do we in Zimbabwe find those poverty-stricken and desperate citizens – largely, but certainly not confined to, rural villagers – being made to ululate and glorify Mnangagwa for ‘presidential schemes and programs’?
Does this not actually promote divisions within the country – because national programs should be allowed to retain their national nature – and not be bastardized and perverted to campaign for, and boast the image of, one person.
That only invites scorn and ridicule from those of us who understand how government should function, and who is really funding such programs.
This, then, distracts from the essence of these very good programs – which, under normal circumstances, should be supported.
The promotion of these divisive tendencies also goes further into the ruling ZANU PF itself.
How many in the party are genuinely accepting of the proliferation of all these ‘For ED’ dubious groupings?
Do they not feel this is a brazen attempt at personalizing party structures around an individual – as opposed to ZANU PF as a collective?
There is absolutely nothing progressive about this personalization of state or party programs – as this is only divisive and counter-productive.
It goes without saying that, if, for instance, I do not support or even like Mnangagwa – then, automatically, I will also not support or like any initiatives in his name.
It is even worse when such programs are then based on partisanship – whereby, only those aligned to the ruling party can benefit, at the exclusion of everyone else – as a means of coercion to support ZANU PF.
Yet, if these are purely and distinctly of a national nature, or of the ‘Office of the President’ – I can totally support and like them – since these would be about Zimbabwe, and not any particular person.
If the political establishment sincerely desire to see a united people – who stand together in supporting government programs and successes – they need to ensure that no one, regardless of their position, is permitted to hijack taxpayer-funded national initiatives.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: [email protected]