By Hopewell Chin’ono
Appointments are meant to instil confidence and not derision. The appointments that are currently being made were meant to help the international community to take Zimbabwe and its government seriously.
A senior western diplomat sent this message to me after I posted about Lumumba’s appointment:
“These people are turning the whole of Zim into a laughing stock. Jesus, how can a whole Government be this incompetent and insensitive to what people think? They are soon surpassing Idi Amin levels of delusion. Sad. He never appointed people with sex tapes to his government.”
Lumumba has had a string of unresolved fraud cases against him from the Star FM case to the Youth Ministry case to a civil case recently.
This is not about whether he has been convicted yet or not. Leadership is about character and integrity, this is man who fabricates his academic qualifications and lied that he was a Harvard graduate when he is not.
This is about the message it sends out to have such a person in the Ministry of Finance. There are many young trained communication graduates, this shows that it is a political appointment in the Ministry of Finance.
To many it is irrelevant because we have normalized the abnormal. That is why many celebrate folks like Wicknell.
The response by the western ambassador might be viewed by some as extreme.
However this is the reality of how these appointments are being viewed by the very partners that we are reaching out to for financial support to help us out of this economic mess.
Only this morning, the UK Guardian newspaper published an article quoting the Deputy Information Minister, Energy Mutodi, who correctly said that Zimbabwe will sink deeper into an economic crisis without international support.
This international support through Aid will not come with these comical appointments such as Lumumba’s.
Perception is everything in politics, and it matters more when you have nothing in your treasury and hoping for help from people who will audit your appointments as a measurement of your seriousness.
The government is wasting precious opportunities with these comical appointments. A couple of days ago, it was Ginimbi who was appointed as a tourism ambassador.
This is simply tragic, it also ends up on the diplomatic cables to western capitals who will decide whether we will get financial help or not. They look at such cowboy appointments and resolve that we are not serious about reforms or building trust.
If I was the President or on his advisory team, I would have focused on making sure that we put our best foot forward.
You reward your foot soldiers with other appointments in other areas and not sensitive portfolios like Finance or Tourism.
I have been told that more shocking appointments on parastatal boards are coming, specifically from the Finance ministry parastatals.
This will simply quicken the international disillusionment on Zimbabwe and shut the door on any meaningful economic support.
We will only have ourselves to blame not sanctions. We are imposing sanctions on ourselves and unlike under the Robert Mugabe era, everybody can see what is happening.
It is like watching a terrible horror movie in slow motion when you have NO ability to switch off the DVD player and not able to leave your seat.
Just the idea of Lumumba and a certain PROFESSOR MTHULI NCUBE having an official picture opportunity is enough to see that the Finance Minister is losing the plot!
Those who defend this comical and yet tragic drama have no understanding of how the world of international finance works.
They don’t understand the relatedness of things, they are just sycophants who will defend anything without applying reason.
Mthuli Ncube is a nerd and super smart, but he evidently lacks emotional and social intelligence or he has simply decided to play party politics for his own survival.
Either way, this has begun the process of receding his standing in the eyes of serious compatriots who once celebrated his imminent arrival on the cabinet scene.
Most of the people who were thinking of joining this government will now look at these sort of appointments and realize that they will taint their careers by association.
People of professional integrity would have come into this government motivated by their patriotic zeal and nothing else, many now privately talk about how they do not want their personal integrity to go up in smoke.
It will take a very tone-deaf supporter to not understand what this means to both the country and its millions of people. It is simply bad.
I do not see what is new about these appointments and many are now asking about what is new about this dispensation. New what?
As Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Sipho Malunga said commenting on Lumumba’s appointment:
“At some point even the staunchest supporters and defenders of the so called “new dispensation” will have to accept that things have gone terribly wrong here. No chasing shadows or blaming so called “critics” will help.”
Time will tell how much this drama will continue to unfold without someone in the cockpit realizing that the plane has lost its compass.
Hopefully it will not have been sucked by the Bermuda triangle when that realization finally happens.
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 looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind, which was launched to critical acclaim.
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