EDITORIAL COMMENT: Machiavellian politics imperil fragile economy

EDITORIAL COMMENT: Machiavellian politics imperil fragile economy
President Robert Mugabe flanked by his deputies Emmerson Mnangagwa, left, Phelekezela Mphoko right, and new ministers Chiratidzo Mabuwa of Youth Development, Indigenisation & Economic Employment seated far left, Thokozile Mathuthu Minister of State for Matabeleland North Province seated far right, standing from left Edgar Mbwembwe Tourism, Environment and Hospitality Industry, Happyton Bonyongwe Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Webster Shamu Minister of State for Mashonaland West, Paul Chimedza Minister of State for Masvingo and Misheck Sibanda Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet pose for a group picture after the swearing ceremony at State House in Harare on Tuesday. Picture by Freedom Mashava

President Robert Mugabe flanked by his deputies Emmerson Mnangagwa, left, Phelekezela Mphoko right, and new ministers Chiratidzo Mabuwa of Youth Development, Indigenisation & Economic Employment seated far left, Thokozile Mathuthu Minister of State for Matabeleland North Province seated far right, standing from left Edgar Mbwembwe Tourism, Environment and Hospitality Industry, Happyton Bonyongwe Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Webster Shamu Minister of State for Mashonaland West, Paul Chimedza Minister of State for Masvingo and Misheck Sibanda Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet pose for a group picture after the swearing ceremony at State House in Harare on Tuesday. Picture by Freedom Mashava

ON Monday night, President Robert Mugabe reshuffled his Cabinet for the fourth time since December 2014.
As in all the previous reshuffles in his current term, the latest exercise was driven more by the president’s obsession with preserving his power and less by any concerns about individual ministers’ performance.
Mugabe’s biggest move, this week, was the removal of Patrick Chinamasa from Treasury, to be replaced by ultra loyalist Ignatius Chombo.
That Mugabe chose to cut Chinamasa’s legs while he was in Washington for the annual World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund meetings is indicative of the president’s utter disregard for Zimbabwe’s relationship with the global lenders.
Zimbabwe’s relationship with the Bretton Woods institutions, which was restored when opposition politician Tendai Biti headed Treasury during the 2009-2013 coalition government, grew surprisingly stronger under Chinamasa.
With Chinamasa at Treasury, Zimbabwe somehow stayed the course and completed its staff monitored programme with the IMF. It also pursued some important reforms.
But Zimbabwe’s commitment to the reform path was always questionable without Mugabe’s categorical backing.
Tellingly, Mugabe has held back any public endorsement of the October 2015 Lima agreement with the World Bank, IMF and African Development Bank for the clearance of Zimbabwe’s $1,8 billion arrears.
At a time of great economic anxiety, a worsening foreign currency crisis, resurgent inflation and bank note shortages, Mugabe has, once again, demonstrated that he places his own political survival ahead of the well-being of the nation.
Mugabe’s suggestion, last weekend, that the latest reshuffle would be informed by considerations of performance, fools no one.
It is about his poorly managed succession which has rendered the ZANU-PF government dysfunctional from the very day it began its current term.
Inordinate time, resources and energy have been spent on the intensifying battle to succeed Mugabe.
This is grossly irresponsible when one considers the magnitude of Zimbabwe’s socio-economic problems.
Chinamasa’s redeployment to the new Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation portfolio is as worrying as his removal from Treasury just over a month before the 2018 national budget presentation.
This is because the move not only portends a crackdown on citizens’ digital liberty, but also provides proof of the creeping paranoia in government.
Mugabe, who in his nearly four decades in power has never taken responsibility for the dystopia that Zimbabwe is today, has found a new scapegoat — cyber attacks.
The president has refused to acknowledge his government’s role, through its unrestrained consumptive spending, in triggering inflation.
Instead, he blames a “cyber warfare” being waged against his government by imaginary foes.
Worse still, Mugabe refuses to accept that the sovereign aspirations and well-being of this nation supersede anyone’s personal interests. Including his.

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