Hopewell Chin’ono: A time to put hands on the wheel and look ahead

By Hopewell Chin’ono

Many have asked me to write about the cabinet appointments sharing my views and insights. I too had promised to do that and was on tenterhooks and high with so much anticipation like every Zimbabwean and all those with an interest in the affairs of our country.

Hopewell Chin'ono
Hopewell Chin’ono

But ladies and gentlemen, there are times when you just have to say, thank God we have crossed the first bridge safely and with that, give a round of applause to the driver. I truly have nothing more to say about this ministerial cabinet without sounding unnecessarily pedantic and wordy.

The cabinet is very good and a welcome point of departure with the past cowboy appointments of the last two decades. Let us wish them well and let us pray for them to get the all-important political will to deliver on their ministerial mandates.

They have a big job ahead of them undoing a legacy of incompetence, corruption, patronage, theft and fraud.

I might have not wanted to see two or three people in that cabinet, but look, we can’t get all our wishes fulfilled in one take.

I would imagine that there were political and regional balances to be made, what is important is that the good people in there will pull the not so great talents along with them.

Cabinet is about collective responsibility and helping each other with direction and taking the credit or condemnation that comes with it.

The real focus should now be on their permanent secretaries who are the Chief Executive Officers of those government ministries.

We have a lot of dead wood there that Dr Vincent Hungwe, the Public Service Commission Chair needs to retire with the buy in of course of the President.

We have over 100 permanent secretaries with only 20 ministries. This is part of Robert Mugabe’s terrible legacy of patronage.

There is an urgent need to trim the unnecessarily bulk and yet incompetent, hopeless and archaic government bureaucracy as part of cost cutting and creating an efficient civil service.

I hear from my sources that there will be a clean up in that sector, it is long overdue and that is the only way those ministers can function optimally.

These folks must retire and put those farms they got to good use.

The Emmerson Mnangagwa administration also needs to clean up parastatal board members where folks like Supa Mandiwanzira were putting their cronies on the feeding trough.

All this needs to end if our economy is going to really work and recover from years of Mugabe’s corrupt and nepotistic rule.

State Enterprises board and executive appointments must be transparent and preferably done through public interviews.

This will instill confidence in these once well functioning organizations that are all on their knees or already on the floor.

We need a new era where skill and hard are rewarded and the likes of Wicknell Chivhayo are not seen anywhere near state enterprises or government projects.

Many compatriots have said to me that Emmerson Mnangagwa is part of Mugabe’s legacy, I have argued that it is partly true but that Mugabe was his own man too.

That argument was answered yesterday, Robert Mugabe would never have appointed such a cabinet with flair, skill and experience.

We would have had another 5 year dosage of Joseph Made who doubled as his farm manager, the likes of Patrick Chinamasa, Josiah Hungwe and even Didymus Mutasa if they had not fell out.

It shows that as human beings, we can work under someone and still do things differently when given a chance to prove ourselves.

ZANUPF should give these new Ministers a chance to do their work and not allow its politburo to impose crazy ideas as happened under Mugabe’s rule.

Recently, ZANUPF’s Legal Secretary mentioned that the party is supreme to government, these reckless statements must be stopped because they instill bouts of doubt and political cynism.

They also give away the political and directional contradictions in ZANUPF because change is not an event but a process.

Zimbabwe now needs many of its qualified citizens who are home and abroad to really get into government service and serve diligently.

You can’t complain and yet not want to serve but expect change to miraculously happen.

We have 20 cabinet ministers and a nation of 15 million people, government is smaller than government hence the need for skilled patriots to put their hands on the wheel and help rebuild this beautiful and yet battered nation.

Where a competent person doesn’t take up a post, be assured that a mediocre talent will be hired.

Opportunities don’t knock on your door anymore, you have to go out there and grab them.

There are doomsday folks who were chanting “Junta, Junta, Junta” from the terraces, I wonder whether they will consider Kirsty Coventry and Mthuli Ncube to be part of a Junta.

These two capable patriots will not stick around and have their names tainted by being part of a terrible government.

The President would have known this before appointing them, he wouldn’t want a Nkosana Moyo type of departure because it would also collapse the confidence needed to spur on the economy and attract investors and skilled compatriots back home.

That to me points towards someone who is serious about change and success.

What happened in November 2017 is now part of our eternal history. Let us move on and stop delegitimizing the very government that is meant to help us get out of the woods.

Let us judge Emmerson Mnangagwa on the basis of delivery and not get in the way of that delivery by being negative and contributing nothing except tales of doom and despair.

There is a huge market for that on social media, but is this what we want to contribute at this crucial point in time in the history of our nation?

The media has an important role to play and power to shine lights in dark corners and holding the political elites to account for their public service commissions and omissions.

That power comes with a responsibility to report, build and not help people tear each other up as often happens on social media.

Nigerian writer Ben Okri puts it succinctly, “…to poison a nation, poison its stories.
A demoralized nation tells demoralized stories to itself.

Beware of the story-tellers who are not fully conscious of the importance of their gifts, and who are irresponsible in the application of their art.

They could unwittingly help along the psychic destruction of their people.”

Emmerson Mnangagwa and his team have put together a very good diverse cabinet to run the affairs of our country, if we applaud this good move, they will be encouraged to do more.

That is just how things work, nobody in a position of authority will listen to mindless and at times personal attacks that we see on platforms like twitter.

So instead of ceaselessly insulting each other, let us come together and contribute towards the big task ahead.

Dennis Brown sang that No man is an Island, this is the very situation we find ourselves in, we really need each other to succeed as a nation.

In this article I argued that the ministerial cabinet that the President picks will either kill or awaken Zimbabwe’s hopes once more. http://nehandaradio.com/2018/08/17/hopewell-chinono-mnangagwas-new-cabinet-will-either-kill-or-awaken-zimbabwes-economic-prospects/

This cabinet has given us a reason to hope again and look forward to better economic fortunes for Zimbabwe and its people.

Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean international Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker. He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a CNN African Journalist of the year.
He is also a Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Africa leadership Institute.

Hopewell has a new documentary film coming out which is looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind. State of Mind has been nominated for a top award in Kenya.

You can watch the documentary trailer below.

Hopewell can be contacted at [email protected] or on twitter @daddyhope