It is probably an understatement to say that Zimbabwe, despite often boasting of being one of the most literate nations in Africa, has suffered a disproportionate share of poor Cabinet teams on the continent over the past 36 years.
It is also little wonder that many long-suffering Zimbabweans who spoke to the Daily News this week justifiably felt — given the pitiful state of the country all round — that the current Cabinet line-up takes the cake when it comes to a lack of political will, capacity and drive.
Indeed, President Robert Mugabe and his government lurched from one crisis to another in 2016, as the country’s dying economy gravitated ever closer to complete implosion despite earlier, but misplaced hopes for a better year.
And instead of tending to the country’s myriad challenges and providing hope to millions of impoverished ordinary Zimbabweans, Mugabe and his colleagues spent most of the time in 2016 fighting over Zanu PF’s unresolved succession question.
As a result, the ruling party’s ugly and seemingly unstoppable tribal, factional and succession wars dominated not just media headlines during the year, but also everything else that our bunch of losers who rule over us tried to do over the past 12 months.
This saw fed up citizens taking to the streets, to protest their ever falling standards of living and the country’s shocking poverty levels that have seen Zimbabweans shamefully becoming way poorer than they were before Uhuru came in April 1980.
For the first time in the history of the country, Mugabe’s stone-broke government is also failing to pay its civil servants, with public sector salary dates now as elastic and as unpredictable as the discarded Zimbabwe dollar.
As it is, some civil servants will only be paid their December 2016 salaries next year!
In this comprehensive end-of-year report, the Daily News once again rates Mugabe and his Cabinet team’s 2016 performance or lack of. And it’s not pretty, despite our best efforts to be generous.
It is a fair observation to say that had the Dear Leader left high office two decades ago, he would still probably be feted in many circles as one of Africa’s greatest leaders ever.
Alas, both his reputation and legacy are now in tatters at home and abroad, with the enduring memory of Gushungo being Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, his much-criticised holding on to power despite his stunning loss to opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the 2008 elections, and growing poverty among Zimbabweans — among the inexhaustibly long list of other ills afflicting the country.
And now acting his age, the increasingly frail nonagenarian appears caught in a time warp and looks terribly out of his depth in terms of the urgent need to extricate the country from its current mess.
Under his watch, corruption has become the favourite sport of his minions, with the soon-to-be 93-year-old himself admitting recently that State resources were being plundered by Zanu PF apparatchiks with reckless abandon, including the looting of a staggering $15 billion (American dollars nogal) from the rich Marange Diamonds fields.
All this notwithstanding, he continued on his many useless foreign trips which gobbled, wittingly or unwittingly, millions of dollars in scarce foreign exchange.
Jarringly, in one of his many major shocking decisions, the nonagenarian reversed necessary austerity measures that had been proposed by under pressure Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, which included retrenching tens of thousands of civil servants, cutting allowances and suspending bonuses.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa
The Midlands godfather was under pressure for most of the year, with his Zanu PF enemies plotting day and night to stymie his mooted presidential aspirations.
But there has been a stunning change in his political fortunes over the past few months, with his supporters managing, somehow, to turn the tables on his many ruling party detractors who, it will be remembered, also foiled him from climbing the political ladder 12 years ago.
Government insiders say it is him who has led the so-called reformist agenda within the ruling elite, including the re-engagement efforts with Western countries.
As a result, even his Zanu PF foes now concede that he is one of the party favourites to succeed Mugabe.
But he has not endeared himself with neutrals lately after leading the current charge to amend Section 180 of the country’s new Constitution as Zanu PF moves to change how senior judiciary officers are appointed.
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko
The former diplomat, who is tasked with leading the National Healing and Reconciliation Organ, has taken some flak for showing an indifferent attitude to his task, which some critics say betrays the government’s insincerity to address thorny issues such as the Gukurahundi massacres of the early 1980s.
He is also seen within some sections of the conflict-ridden Zanu PF as an undeserving beneficiary of Mugabe’s political chess charity.
Lazarus Dokora, Primary and Secondary Education minister
The man who brought the unpopular national pledge continued to divide opinion in 2016.
Seemingly without being sensitive to the diverse nature of Zimbabwe, Dokora forced school children to recite a weird pledge, which is being challenged in court. Some schools have also dropped the pledge altogether.
As if this was not bad enough, he then introduced a new curriculum for schools without proper consultations with educators, banning the Scripture Union along the way, despite the fact that this was a long standing movement in many schools where students and pupils voluntarily took time to learn more about the Bible and Jesus Christ.
And as a “nice” parting shot to 2016, Dokora announced the electronic registration for Form One enrolment, in a move which caused anger and confusion among all concerned.
Up to now, people are still wondering what caused Dokora to make this inexplicable decision in a country where charges for broadband are steep and Internet connectivity is mostly restricted to urban areas.
Psychomotor minister Josiah Hungwe
When his principal Mugabe appointed him to be a minister, many Zimbabweans were perplexed about what he was supposed to do.
True to expectations, he has done absolutely nothing, and his ministry is as good as non-existent.
State security minister Kembo Mohadi
The reclusive Mohadi became the butt of bad jokes among disbelieving citizens after he was filmed receiving a supposedly “protective” handkerchief from self-styled Malawian prophet, Shepherd Bushiri.
While Mohadi is entitled to his religious choices and beliefs, many Zimbabweans were taken aback that a Cabinet minister holding such an import portfolio was not a little bit more circumspect about being seen happily participating in such bizarre rituals.
At a ministry level, his operatives brutalised protesters and other peace-loving Zimbabweans throughout the year.
Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo
The Daily News has a difficult history with the garrulous minister from his first stint at the Information ministry. But love him or hate him, he is one of a very select few bigwigs in Mugabe’s current Cabinet who works hard.
Moyo aggressively pursued the Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) programme meant to promote these areas at schools in the country — and the programme has been well-received.
Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere
The Zanu PF enforcer had many run-ins with MDC-dominated councils. As a result, service delivery suffered in many cases where he suspended key officials, such as in Gweru.
Kasukuwere has also been caught up in claims that he sold land irregularly to prominent local personalities, a charge that Mugabe himself led recently.
But he is not lacking in energy and enterprise.
Youth Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao
It’s difficult not to reach the conclusion that Zhuwao, who is Mugabe’s nephew, has failed dismally to inspire the confidence of Zimbabweans since he was appointed to this ministry.
He initially and erroneously employed militant tactics in pursuing the county’s indigenisation policy, driving away potential investors in the process.
He also clashed publicly and repeatedly with Chinamasa before he was forced to admit, embarrassingly, that he had misinterpreted some of the provisions in the law pertaining to his functions. Ultimately, one cannot say what it is that he has achieved to date, or is even planning to do.
Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo
Chombo is credited in some circles with bringing sanity at the Registrar General’s office, where the new electronic system has weeded out middlemen who made it difficult for Zimbabweans to get birth certificates and passports without paying bribes.
However, Chombo who oversees the police, did little to make sure that cops gained the confidence of ordinary Zimbabweans, ignoring several calls to probe cases of police brutality.
Indeed, on too many occasions, police used excessive force to deal with protests and Chombo even appeared to gloat that his officers would continue to deal savagely with demonstrators, despite the fact that many of the protests were sanctioned by the courts.
Another bloat on his CV is the fact that Itai Dzamara’s family is still to know what happened to the democracy activist who has been missing since March 9, 2015 — when he was abducted in broad day light in the Harare high density suburb of Glen View while having a hair cut.
Information, Technology and Courier Services minister Supa Mandiwanzira
Mandiwanzira has appeared intent on stifling free speech by advocating for draconian pieces of legislation to regulate the Internet.
He also appeared to have been caught off-side after it was reported that he had received a ministerial vehicle worth a whopping $200 000 from a parastatal that falls under his purview.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa
It is probably true that Chinamasa has the most difficult job in government. And his principal, Mugabe, continues to frustrate and embarrass him by reversing his sensible decisions.
Although almost all of his worthy austerity measures have been shot down by the president, Chinamasa has tried his best under the constraints to address the root causes of the country’s problems.
His re-engagement efforts with the IMF and the World Bank have put Zimbabwe back on the radar of key international players — well, almost.
Chinamasa and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya have also persevered with the introduction of bond notes, following the cash crisis which hit the country in April. Although the surrogate currency has so far not proved to be the panacea to the country’s financial problems, things could be worse.
Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha
Under his watch, the Zim industrial rot has continued unabated. There is no solution in sight for Ziscosteel while most industries are either closing down or retrenching workers.
Capacity utilisation also remains low. And while the controversial Statutory Instrument (SI 64) has brought some benefits to a few manufacturers, prices of goods have gone up significantly.
The country is also now said to be witnessing rampant smuggling of the very same goods whose importation was prohibited by SI 64.
Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Jorum Gumbo
Since taking office, and on the positive side, Gumbo has seen the construction or at least the completion of some of the bridges that had been on the cards for decades.
But he has also cast doubts about his ability to turn around Air Zimbabwe, which has remained in financial doldrums. The appointment of Mugabe’s son-in-law, Simba Chikore, as the airline’s chief operating officer, has also been met with serious skepticism.
Public Service Labour and Social Services minister Prisca Mupfumira
The biggest bloat on her CV will remain the fact that civil servants who fall under her purview no longer know their salary dates.
Even though the actual release of money is Chinamasa’s job, she has done little, at least in the public domain, to show that she is fighting for government workers.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made
Is he still even in government? We all wonder.
Very sadly, each and every single agricultural season that he has been in charge has been a disaster.
Water, Environment and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri
Oppah had some highs and lows in the year under review. She managed to strike a cordial working relationship with wildlife experts and conservationists, and took on board most of their suggestions to try and save the country’s endangered species.
The government also appears to finally have a grip on the poaching and poisoning of the country’s wildlife.
But Muchinguri has not really told the nation why the government continues to export elephants to China, especially those that are still in their infancy.
Energy and power Development minister Samuel Undenge
Under Undenge the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) controversially awarded multi-million dollar power generation tenders to businessmen of questionable backgrounds.
And Zimbabwe continues to struggle with power generation. To make matters worse, Zesa has no cash to service its plants and import much-needed power from regional suppliers. Under him, 2017 does not look good.
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa
Zimbabwe’s health service is in near comatose state while many State hospitals have suspended major services due to the shortage of drugs and potable water.
It has not helped the minister that he got a measly budget allocation from Treasury for next year. Thus without donors, Zimbabwe would be reduced to a big, ugly mortuary.
Lands and rural Resettlement minister Douglas Momboshera
Macro Economic Planning and Investment Promotion minister Obert Mpofu
Mines minister Walter Chidakwa
Rural Development and Preservation of Cultural Heritage minister Abednico Ncube
Information minister Christopher Mushohwe
Small Medium Enterprises and Cooperative Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni
Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mmbengegwi
Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane
War Veterans minister, Tshinga Dube
Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi
Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development minister Nyasha Chikwinya
Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi
Source: Daily News