By Dr Masimba Mavaza| Widespread corruption in the Zimbabwean government got to a little slow-down after the army intervened to restore order and stability. Zimbabwean politics was riddled with corruption as the then president awarded government positions to political supporters through the patronage or thank you system. This gave incompetent and known criminals positions which they used to drain more from the already drained government and the already bleeding economy. The country was being milked to death and nobody could stand up to say a word. All the people except a few in the new government were cheer leaders of the corrupt system which rendered most Zimbabweans poor and destitute. The dramatic change they made in embracing Emmerson Mnangagwa was from the other world. Zimbabwe cannot forget the dancing Obert Mpofu Cde Chinos and many more did when they were expelling ED. All provinces declared him a goner with the First lady calling him a snake.
Although no one made efforts toward reforming the patronage system, it was not until disappointed officers sought to bring order that voices were heard from unlikely quarters that indeed there was corruption which was not acted upon.
The amnesty by the new president to those who externalised funds to return it with no questions asked was the first significant piece of anti-patronage action. The president in his inauguration speech created a limit patronage positions when he said he will not give positions to please his friends and that he was afraid many will be disappointed but he has to hit the ground running. The cabinet which was appointed left a lot to be desired but maybe it needs to be given a chance. There are known corrupt figures in the cabinet and we pray that Murambatsvina Chiwenga might not be forced to target those corrupt around the new president again.
Corruption, shady political compromises, and backroom deals were political hallmarks of the past regime. We can only hope that ED’s ascendancy to the presidency does not create political corruption in the nation’s capital, it must not set the stage for politically-motivated agendas and widespread inefficiency in the State House for the next years. It is clear that the populace seem to prefer the devil they do not know to the one they did they are not expecting to be let-down.
Once in power presidents have barely enough power to repay the political favours they owe to the individuals who ensured their victories the country. It will be a disaster for ED to spend years in office trying repaying favours and managing the powerful relationships that had put them in the State House. So we must never as a country is held under siege by our liberators. We need top respect them for the job well done but we must never be slaves of our liberators again. The demands by the war vets should not be taken as given; they should be our liberators for a free Zimbabwe and not substitutes of the previous oppressors.
Among the political issues that president must routinely address during this period should be that of patronage, tariffs, and the nation’s monetary system. Patronage must be treated as corruption and must never be entertained.
At the heart of the president’s administration must be Zimbabwe and not the power of the president to practice widespread political patronage. Patronage, in this case, took the form of the president naming his friends and supporters to various political posts. Given the closeness to elections the maintenance of political machinery and repaying favours with patronage is particularly important for presidents, regardless of their party affiliation but it must never be the norm. Elections or no elections a president must be sworn to serve his country not his peers and those who spring tackle him to the top.
The president must never allow the spoils system to allow those with political influence to ascend to powerful positions within the government, regardless of their level of experience or skill, thus compounding both the inefficiency of government as well as enhancing the opportunities for corruption.
Zimbabwe is for all of us and not those close to the President, the reason to remove the previous system was to stamp out corruption which was openly blessed and anointed in public by the First Lady. Largely she was a victim of her ignorance or simply failure to listen to advice. She took the advantage of the age of his excellence the former president and she surrounded herself with morons and power hungry vengeful vampires who sucked all blood out of ZANU PF prompting the gun to roll in.
The politics of Zimbabwe’s governing ZANU PF may be hogging today’s headlines, but they are a symptom of the economic decay over the past two decades. They are unlikely to offer a cure. But they could help decide whether a remedy will be possible.
The ZANU PF drama reached new heights late in November when the army the people and the parliamentarians of all parties and some Cabinet ministers and some senior officials called for the removal of President Robert Mugabe and the criminals around him. The First criminal was The First Lady who benefitted heavily from the immunity granted and the other two found their way out of the country. The unlucky Chombo slept at home that night to face the music.
It is common to reduce the politics of ZANU PF to a battle between personalities: more specifically, to one in which the future depends on whether the president stays or goes. In reality, it is a fight between two factions, both of them products of trends in the economy. The battle’s outcome will have important implications for the economy but, without other changes, they will not be as dramatic as we are sometimes led to believe.
This insider-outsider divide explains the division within the ZANU PF Many of the ills which are associated with Mugabe’s presidency were in reality, the work of a faction which relies on using public office and the First Lady to acquire resources which it uses to buy support. The youth was bribed and they were turned to be the praise singers and their songs borders on the lines of blasphemy.
Because many youth are still excluded from the national cake, they cannot rely on formal jobs to make ends meet. If they can, they therefore attach themselves to politicians, giving them support in exchange for (some) resources. This opens the way to patronage politics, in which private and public interests get together to use public resources for their benefit and, if they are politicians, to build their power base. If the president fails to unite the party now the battle between the factions is likely to continue next year despite the dramatic developments in Zimbabwe this past month. The earliest this battle is likely to be settled is at the Congress. ZANU PF has just got a chance to come back very strong and the President must represent the strong ones in this case. Already new factions are building within the party and they must be stamped out sooner than later. Whether you are Murambwi or Mhofu we need to share the national cake equally.
We must not allow the law of patronage to spoil Zimbabwe once more. There are people out there who are waiting for Zimbabwe to stumble and fall. Can you imagine how the former First Lady will feel if Zimbabwe fails this hurdle. we are in this together, the tribal cards must not be used, the country belongs to us all and we must all benefit.
It is therefore imperative that we give the president a chance to make a complete turnaround. The president must deal away with the pompous loud for nothing and settle for less showing off cadres who wish to see the country prosper.
Politics of patronage will erode the market economy. Wins for their opponents would strengthen it. If the patronage faction loses the battle for control of the party the economy in its current form will be insulated from attack by politicians and their private partners who want to turn it into their property.
Zimbabwe must be allowed to flourish the president must be given a chance to do that and the thank you system must not be used. We must never be held at ransom by those who liberated us nor must we allow that to happen.
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