Mugabe’s 2013-2018 presidential mandate


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ZIMBABWE – In the ruling party’s factional wars, Youth Minister Patrick Zhuwao has been vocal. Now and again he finds he has to come to the defence of his aged, iconic uncle, President Robert Mugabe. In a recent article in the press, he came out swinging, both gloves off. 

The nephew believes some people were pushing succession politics. He takes umbrage against suggestions that his uncle must announce a successor when he has not even completed half of his term. “Such ‘successionists’ seek to hijack and steal President Mugabe’s mandate, perhaps because of the realisation that their succession candidates are unelectable”, he is reputed to have huffed.

Some strong, bitter words indeed, with a touch of contempt directed at his uncle’s own ruling party colleagues. The taunt about being “unelectable” and wanting to seize the national and party presidency by stealth, via the back door, riding on someone’s mandate must be galling to those perceived opportunists.

But Zhuwao was not finished with the taunt. He went on to attack such internal politicking as “attacks on the First Lady, questioning the president’s decision-making capacity by attacking his appointments (which ones Zhuwao?), and such fiascos as the occurrence at the official opening of parliament.” And on that fiasco, the nation is still owed an explanation.

Zhuwao concluded his tirade through a letter to his Mashonaland West home province by reminding all that every appointed senior government official, politburo and cabinet member owes their appointments to the one with the mandate, the president. Their loyalty should therefore be beyond doubt.

He is right of course. Those who feel otherwise should resign, or call for an extraordinary elective congress to openly challenge for the presidency. That is how people behave in mature democracies. But democratic maturity is missing in Zimbabwe, both at the political party and national levels. Intolerance, cheating and violence give the Zimbabwe political landscape its toxic narrative. Lies and corruption also abound.

Unsurprisingly, Nathaniel Manheru, a self-proclaimed party activist, in his column in the State media felt that the party and the country have no big idea to husband cohesion. Ironically, in looking for “big ideas”, he was running away from the president’s mandate, whose delivery has not lived up to the hype.

Indigenisation seems to be doing the opposite as property owned by party big wigs, no less, is seized by the Sheriff of the High Court before being auctioned to recover debts. Empowerment too has suffered with funding for, and the quality of education and healthcare, both deteriorating.

Hunger stalks millions and there have been net job losses as opposed to the promised creation of a highly inflated and unrealistic 2,2 million jobs. China, whose economy is pumping, at 7% growth a year, creates around 10 million jobs annually from a population 100 times that of Zimbabwe. At best, Zimbabwe’s economy, growing at no less than 7% per year, would create 100 000 jobs per year by the fifth year and certainly no more than a tenth of the proclaimed in the first five years. The mandate secured was unfortunately stillborn. The authors failed to understand the lessons from the Chinese economic miracle their leader had instructed them to study.

Delivery of the mandate as encapsulated in the ZimAsset document is now openly confessed to be in the hands of the “Chinese as underwriters”. The problem is they did not volunteer for the role and expect Zimbabwe to mobilise its own resources as well.

Nonetheless, they have done their part — more as a gesture of solidarity and good will, if not for humanitarian reasons. well, knowing Zimbabwe’s broken economy will struggle to pay back the loans advanced — as it has done before in the absence of fiscal and monetary discipline — resolving the crisis calls for significant structural reforms for which the Zimbabwean authorities may have no appetite.

A new honest mandate for the leadership is thus required as soon as possible to give hope to the country and bankable guidance to the Chinese. A new bold idea is needed to replace tired lies. A new honest rallying cry is required.

At this point, it may be necessary to look east and re-visit the Chinese miracle for guidance. Li Keqiang, China’s Prime Minister, writing in The Economist’s special edition (The World in 2016) had this to say: “For the Chinese economy, 2016 is a year of reform, openness and international co-operation. These three priorities may sound surprisingly familiar to Chinese watchers (such as Zimbabweans). Their potent combination has been instrumental to China’s growth story over decades. We are taking them further”.

Zimbabwe needs to adopt priorities that work. That is:

l Reforms of a structural nature to embrace quality regulations, the rule of law, innovation, increased productivity and to attract investment;

l Openness and transparency in all dealings. Making corruption public enemy number one and abandoning the trap of oligarchic aspirations that has seized the political elite;

l International co-operation is needed to ensure access to markets and goodwill — the latter an intangible but vital asset;

l The president’s recent 10- point scheme recognises the three priorities above. They were the backbone of Build, People First’s manifesto. They appear in many an opposition’s position papers.

Those who aspire for Zanu PF leadership must openly embrace them and walk away, if the party does not endorse and abide by them.

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