VICE President Joice Mujuru last week called on government ministers and other bureaucrats to pull their full weight in the discharge of their duties, warning that the presidency will not tolerate failure when the nation has pinned its hopes on the incoming ZANU-PF administration.
Mujuru made the remarks at a consultative workshop for Cabinet ministers and their deputies, permanent secretaries and officials from the Office of the President and Cabinet last Friday.
The workshop was a contribution gathering platform to enable the refining of the Zimbabwe Programme for Socio-Economic Transformation — an economic blueprint to guide policy formulation and implementation of government plans for the next five years.
Her calls come on the heels of another hard-hitting statement by President Robert Mugabe two weeks ago when he bluntly pulled Goodwills Masimirembwa’s name, as if out of a hat, and “threw” it to an unsuspecting crowd gathered at a State luncheon, as an example of people who have committed the corruption that will not be tolerated this time around.
Increasingly, President Mugabe and his administration are sending signals that seem to suggest that they want to prove their critics wrong.
Ahead of the July 31 elections, not many people believed that President Mugabe was sincere in his peace calls because history had shown that violence had almost become part of ZANU-PF’s DNA.
Yet for the first time ever since independence in 1980, Zimbabwe was able to conduct peaceful elections although questions remain whether the polls qualified to be called free and fair.
His government has also moved to quell fears that the Zimbabwe dollar would be resurrected, with Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and central bank governor, Gideon Gono speaking with one coherent voice on the matter.
After singling out Masimirembwa in a bribery scandal, police have since started sniffing around to establish whether the former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation boss has a case to answer, another welcome development for a nation that had seemed to condone corruption.
Although it is still too early to assess President Mugabe’s sincerity towards rooting out corruption in all its forms, the word is spreading across his entire government like a veld fire that it is no longer business as usual.
That Mujuru last week spoke of performance contracts for government bureaucrats to improve service delivery shows that the presidency has laid the basis for cracking the whip, which was also not the case before.
While it is all well and good that Mujuru has added her own full weight to the call to perform and perform effectively, what makes the nation quizzical about everything is the gap between where the country is currently and where it should be.
Past incidences of gross corruption, mal-administration and outright non delivery on the part of government officials has seen the country drifting further apart from the objectives that underpinned the liberation struggle.
Separating Zimbabwe from the ideal has been the laissez-faire attitudes of government officials towards duty and this has slowly permeated society, resulting in the country’s economy sliding into the intensive care.
The distance between where the country is and where it wants to go can be measured in terms of the rate of unemployment in the country; poverty as expressed by the discrepancies between a living wage and what people are actually earning or not earning. It can also be measured in terms of the number of people not able to access healthcare, including those failing to get HIV treatment; and the number of families unable to feed themselves agricultural season after agricultural season. Other indicators of this distance between where Zimbabwe is and where it wants to be include the number of school dropouts due to failure to pay tuition; the number of people who have left the country to become economic refugees in other countries; as well as the number of factories and industries that have collapsed and closed; not to mention the number of dead bodies that have been laid to rest following political violence borne out of political intolerance.
The above list is not at all exhaustive.
The major challenge for ZANU-PF is that, as a returning party to government, it does not have the benefit of the doubt given to newcomers whom people may believe still haven’t shown them their bad side yet.
Hindsight places in the public conscience the party’s shortcomings, its leanings, indulgencies and indeed its past failure to rein-in corruption and non-performance. The general populace is therefore wary of swallowing hook, line and sinker government’s promises. And with good reason.
Indeed the nation would be well within reason if they find they take the calls with a pinch of salt. Once bitten twice shy, it is said. So indeed the nation is sceptical.
What will be done differently? Will the whip be cracked? Will they walk the talk? Will they deliver? More poignantly we need to ask: Will the ZANU-PF’s manifesto take us to Canaan? Will that blueprint, albeit partisan, deliver the nation? Will the ZANU-PF government dispense with deadwood and other non-performing cells? Is the party feeling the pressure to deliver? And equally intriguing: Is the President raring to go where he has never gone before in this, perhaps, his twilight act?
This may very well be the term that determines his legacy.
In the past, the tendency has been to blame everything on “illegal” economic sanctions imposed by the United States and her allies.
The sanctions line is simply not going to carry the day if ZANU-PF is serious about delivering on its promises. The ‘it is because of sanctions that we are in this’ rhetoric has run its course and is no longer acceptable.
When the ZANU-PF manifesto was drafted and promoted as a blueprint that could help us cross the “Jordan” and take us to “Canaan” eventually, those same sanctions were there. Indeed sanctions are not a new thing; when the ruling party was drafting and promoting the manifesto how was it proposing to beat the sanctions? What was the strategy? Roll out that strategy.
The sanctions line is just that: a line. Sanctions were imposed in 2002, but the economy started free falling well before that. By the end of 1999 and going into 2000, the bottom of the economy had already started coming apart. Now that some of the sanctions have been lifted (we applaud the removing of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation from the sanctions list) will we see a difference in the remittances of diamond revenues into the fiscus? What other changes may we expect? We have heard of the performance contracts for senior government officials; and the quarterly reports by Members of Parliament as measures to enhance performance. But are these measures enough? Where and what will be the whip?
Surely there should be a whip, and cracking it is already overdue. The cracking of a whip will drive the message home more effectively! It will say more than a 1000 words. In fact, it will speak louder than even the manifesto itself.