By Moses Chamboko
End of year ministerial appraisals by two independent newspapers made interesting reading. While some ratings sounded correct, others were seemingly way out of sync with general sentiment.
In future, it might be a good idea to consult far and wide before circulating these ratings if they are to be taken seriously. Ostensibly resorting to views of an anonymous “Review Board” smacks of shenanigans.
Subjectivity and inadequacy of process aside, the most outstanding aspect was that younger ministers generally performed way better than their most experienced counterparts.
Of course, spoiling this generalisation was none other than Saviour Kasukuwere who competed with most of career ministers for the bottom position. That this dismal performer belongs to a known party does not come as a surprise at all.
One other observation that came out of the appraisals is that it is probably time to start thinking seriously about merging, phasing out or disbanding some of the ministries. In a country where there is an ICT ministry as well as one for Higher Education, one wonders why we need another full ministry for Science and Technology.
The “T” in ICT actually stands for “Technology” while the science function could be a small department under Higher Education or another ministry. The same applies to the Women’s Affairs ministry. This can easily be a department under the ministry of Public Service and Social Welfare or any other.
That the ministers responsible for these two portfolios which are perfect candidates for a downgrade are said to have performed dismally, may not be a mere coincidence. It appears some ministers don’t even fully understand their mandate.
Consequently, a very good number of them are now part-time ministers with full-time benefits which include luxurious vehicles and multiple farms.
A few who might still be willing to perform may be incapacitated by a lack of political will or unavailability of financial resources. Not because of sanctions or Biti but because of misappropriation, mismanagement and looting, a case in point being Chiadzwa.
Given the prevailing economic climate which is tough by any measure, can somebody please explain what the ministry of Housing and Social Amenities is meant to deliver? Wasn’t this ministry a direct product of the Tsholotsho fiasco, cunningly designed to appease but keep in check the godfather of Dinyane?
In the military, it would be the equivalence of the commissioners’ pool. I would suggest that this be appended as a department to the Local Government ministry, assuming it hasn’t served its purpose. The so-called Review Board either neglected or is unaware of the existence of deputy ministers. Why didn’t we hear anything about these leaders?
Giving the example of only one ministry, one would have been forgiven for thinking that at Justice, Chinamasa was the deputy while visible, energetic and focused Obert Gutu was the full minister.
We only heard of Chinamasa when it was time for the perpetual negotiations or a moment for the SMM saga. Such is the kind of ministers we have!
In parliament, Settlement Chikwinya and Edward Chindori-Chininga were outstanding. These two MPs ensured that the august house was not reduced to a napping room.
Chikwinya reminded us of the good old days of Lazarus Nzarayebani, Sydney Malunga or Hebert Ushewokunze by fearlessly introducing crucial motions such as dismissal of Austin Zvoma as well as reformation of the security sector.
Of course, we did not see a return to the days of the firebrand trio of Eddison Zvobgo, Edgar Tekere and Byron Hove but it was a step in the right direction.
On the other hand, Chindori-Chininga demonstrated that portfolio committees were created for a reason when he presided over the SMM hearings. For this, I’ve no doubt he did not receive a Christmas card nor chocolate fish from Patrick Chinamasa.
While there is no doubt that Henry Madzorera, David Coltart and Walter Mzembi were indeed a cut above the rest, the typically low rating given to Tendai Biti raises some questions.
By clipping Dr. Casino’s long wings, the finance minister brought back some semblance of sanity into the two critical spheres of fiscal and monetary policy management.
It is primarily this bold move coupled with dollarization that became the anchor of economic stabilisation. From that stabilisation, critical sectors such as health, education and tourism were revived. Tendai Biti’s low rating is malicious or at least misplaced.
Some of you will recall that the Finance Ministry was once run like “a funeral parlour” to use Gushungo’s diction when he chided Murerwa at some forum in Botswana. In less than three years, that has now been turned around. We no longer have a president or central bank governor doubling up as finance minister.
As for Goche, unlike Hebert Ushewokunze who once earned the title “Minister of Air Zimbabwe”, courtesy of Byron Hove, this career minister proved that Air Zimbabwe does not need a minister or should be transferred to a different ministry altogether. If I had my way, I would donate it to Tourism if ICT is too distant.
Now that he has set the bar so high despite his youthfulness, our expectation for 2012 is that Nelson “Supersonic” Chamisa will make common but useful documents such as passport forms downloadable online while internet banking is embraced by all financial institutions including POSB.
Every child who passes through our education system should be able to differentiate between a mouse and a keyboard in addition to having other basic skills such as use of the internet and MS Office.
Zimbabweans should not queue to pay utility bills when this can be done at the click of a mouse or on iPhone. Pay days should not be synonymous with long queues at banks when people can use plastic money for most transactions. This will propel us into the global family of technology.
May those rated the worst performers lift their game in 2012, retire, resign or be relieved of their duties before Easter! Let Zimbabwe move forward.
Moses Chamboko can be reached on [email protected]