Hefty perks for fired old guard

By Fungi Kwaramba

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has thrown a lifeline to his fellow comrades-in-arms whom he dropped from his Cabinet more than a week ago by giving them plum jobs at the Zanu PF headquarters, complete with perks similar to those enjoyed by his ministers.

Emmerson Mnangagwa and Obert Mpofu
Emmerson Mnangagwa and Obert Mpofu

The Daily News on Sunday can report that during a politburo meeting held at the ruling party’s main office in Harare on Monday, Mnangagwa promised to give a golden parachute to those left out of his Cabinet.

Instead of leaving them out in the cold, these would be given full time employment at the so-called “Shake-Shake Building”, where they are expected to work towards the rejuvenation of Zanu PF, while also playing an oversight role on government.

As part of their perks, the Zanu PF functionaries are tipped to get top-of-the-range vehicles similar to those given to Cabinet ministers, a driver, an aide, a monthly salary and other featherbeddings that cement their superior status to full Cabinet ministers.

While addressing the media after the ad hoc politburo meeting, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the decision to employ full time party bigwigs was meant to ensure that the ruling party remains strong while those in Cabinet focus on government issues.

“The politburo has reassigned some comrades to work full time at the party headquarters to ensure that the party continues to function smoothly as others concentrate on government business,” Khaya Moyo said.

Mnangagwa’s Cabinet is noticeably free of the majority of old guard that had dominated government for decades.

The more familiar names from former president Robert Mugabe’s era that could not make the grade includes Obert Mpofu, Patrick Chinamasa, Khaya Moyo, Josaya Hungwe, David Parirenyatwa and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi.

Zanu PF honchos such as Mpofu (secretary for administration), Khaya Moyo, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana (legal secretary), Mumbengegwi (secretary for foreign affairs), Christopher Mushohwe, Douglas Mahiya (Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association spokesperson) and Lewis Mathuthu (youth league deputy secretary) will now work full time at the party, joining national political commissar, Engelbert Rugeje.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa with Zanu PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo at State House
President Emmerson Mnangagwa with Zanu PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo at State House

An admirer of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Mnangagwa seems to be taking a leaf from the nearly century old East Asian party founded by Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao.

CCP has inspired most liberation movements on the African continent, including South Africa’s ruling African National Congress which adopted a similar model at Luthuli House.

In China, the CCP leads the work of government although it remains distinct from government.

An elite membership-driven organisation about 48 million members — which is less than five percent of China’s total population — CCP employs party members on a part-time basis.

At the apex of the CCP is the national party organisation headed by a standing committee of its politburo, the politburo, and the central committee, which are served by a secretariat and other departments.

At provincial, municipal, and county levels there are similar leadership bodies and staff offices.

Every agency of CCP’s national, provincial, and county governments has within it a party committee.

Although some members of these party oversight bodies play two roles, as both government and party officials, these bodies are clearly defined as part of the CCP.

While liberation movements in Africa admire the CCP model, they remain torn between their former colonial masters in the western world who would want them to embrace democracy, and the Leninist political system does not measure up to the western values.

Zanu PF insiders told the Daily News on Sunday that the ruling party was banking on donations extended to it by well-wishers in the run-up to the July 30 polls to fund the bureaucracy.

They said Zanu PF still has more than $15 million remaining in its coffers after running a well-funded campaign that exposed its rivals’ poverty.

While Zanu PF owns a number of businesses, these have been haemorrhaging owing to the difficult operating environment.

On their own, these businesses are unable to fund the party’s operations.

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the deployment of deadwood at the Zanu PF headquarters, also known as the Shake-Shake Building because of its resemblance to Delta Beverages’ Chibuku Shake Shake — a type of sorghum beer sold in cartons — was a clear testimony that deep down Mnangagwa was still a student of patronage which kept his predecessor in power for 37 years.

“This shows that the issue is complex and taking these out from government was just a facade, a veneer of a transformed Cabinet while underneath the old form holds,” said Saungweme.

“With party-State conflation, there is no doubt that these guys will be paid from the public purse. This may also weaken the party as the old guys have no new ideas for the party, but a weak Zanu PF is good for the country”.

Professor of World Politics at the London School of Oriental and African Studies Stephen Chan said there was a danger that such a setup would create confusion as the party might end up meddling in government and thus creating confusion.

Chan said Zimbabwe must avoid creating a dominant party state, where the ruling party will begin to direct the government, especially if there are parallel portfolios in the party.

“This happened in Kenneth Kaunda’s Zambia and governmental decision-making was always ponderous and ineffectual as a result,” he said.

He said if the bigwigs are going to occupy parallel positions to the Cabinet positions, this would be a bad omen for efficient and transparent public administration.

“If they are doing something else, that is not something of great concern to the general public, although it might be to other party members who might see a bloated party headquarters as not addressing their needs,” said Chan.

Namibia-based scholar and researcher Admire Mare said the new Zanu PF style was just another method the ruling party is using to loot the State.

“Zanu PF has transplanted the Chinese Communist Party of the two centred cabinet system…one based at the HQ and the national one which does the national duty.

“We have the latent and manifest cabinet system essentially. This tells us that Zanu PF is planning to entrench its rule for a long time to come. They are already planning for future elections and the rejuvenation of the party,” said Mare. Daily News