ZIMBABWE – The Zanu PF government scored many successes during the first 10 years of independence because it had adopted former Rhodesian leader Ian Smith’s “lock-stock-and-barrel” management style, former Cabinet minister Fay Chung has said.
Addressing delegates at a public discussion forum organised by the Southern African Political Economy Series Trust in Harare on Thursday, Chung said President Robert Mugabe then lost the plot after he adopted the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-sponsored Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) in the early to mid-90s.
Chung, who served under Mugabe’s administration as Education minister during the period, said the governance system included use of subsidies to prevent possible upheavals.
“We followed Smith’s policies. We were faithful students of the high level of central control. The food subsidies were meant to suppress social upheaval. The relative success on the economic front not withstanding what we did in my sector — education — was
because we kept Smith’s systems,” she said.
Mugabe has never publicly hidden his disdain for colonialism and Smith, in particular, but most of his critics have argued his actions seem to indicate the veteran leader has been a willing disciple of Rhodesia’s last white ruler’s polices.
“A lot of the problems that befell us were because we disobeyed Smith and accepted the economic structural adjustment programmes and abandoned the subsidies and this led to the food riots,” she said.
While IMF’s representative to Harare, Christian Beddies, insisted that there is a possibility that Zimbabwe might begin to receive balance of payments support as early as next year, Chung argued the problem lay in that major donors such as the United States could scupper the move.
“The US government will not allow the IMF to lend money to Zimbabwe unless certain democratic reforms are met. We all know that this has not happened,” Chung said.
Biddies declined to comment on Chung’s claims.
Esap prescribed the dumping of food subsidies and towards the turn of the millennium, the country witnessed unprecedented food riots lead by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, leading to the formation of the MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai.