By Chenayi Mutambasere
What an odd couple of weeks Zimbabweans have gone through, the most anticipated event of the last 10 years finally came to pass in something of an anti-climax.
The chilling coincidence of Mugabe’s death and the xenophobic attacks in South Africa perhaps spelling out his legacy more than any Zimblogger could possibly put in words.
Being born free named especially after independence Chenayimoyo Zimbabweyauya – my diaspora living parents named me as a resounding message to family left behind in the former colony, ‘Be of good cheer Zimbabwe has returned – we are coming home’.
Alas the tale of the last 39 years being a far cry from the positivity laid out in 1980. In my exposure to the world of politics in the West a Chief Whip once said to me when they get assigned the job they always ask their candidate ‘What is your legacy – What would you want to be remembered most for?’ From there he explained a policy is written.
So what then of the departed how shall we spell his legacy, what parting gift has he left to the present and future generations of Zimbabwe?
To answer this I started to examine the historic socio-economic policies of Mugabe’s regime but short of boring myself to death I was reminded a legacy is not in the past, it is predicated on the past but experienced in the now and the later. I do therefore present to you –
LAST WILL AND STATEMENT
ROBERT GABRIEL MUGABE
ITEM 1: NO CREDIBLE OR CAPABLE SUCCESSOR FROM WITHIN
I had been President of Zimbabwe and Leader of the ZANU PF for 37 years. To the time of my death I never publicly appointed or even acknowledged a successor from ZANU PF. In fact no one from my immediate juniors ever showed any willingness to take the post.
Every election up to 2017 I remained uncontested as leader. At times my ailing age meant I got important details mixed up while I was speaking or indeed fell asleep right through important international conferences, but this seemed okay with my party.
The only other leader I announced as being possibly credible to lead the nation was the late Richard Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC party, I did in fact unwittingly confess that he did win the election of 2008. As I openly acknowledged I would have stepped down but my deputies insisted I stay in power and that they would fix the election result and announce a different one.
Having said all this I was then surprised when the same people who wanted me to remain in power usurped power from me in coup style manor. Infact in my last public interview I confirmed that it was indeed a coup and I never accepted the new Zanu PF leadership.
I confirm in this item that I did not teach or appoint any successors in Zanu PF infact as far as I was concerned, I was the only man capable to lead. This being something Zanu PF party members endorsed for the best of 37 years.
ITEM 2: ZANU PF SELF IMPOSED DEMIGOD STATUS
From the start of my office in 1980 I and those close to me knew that it was ZANU PF above all else. Being a ZANU PF member promoted you above other citizens giving you an automatic entitlement to the country’s wealth wherever you could find it.
Well I did start of with good intentions in so far as health and education where concerned. My government invested heavily in both these in the early 80s. But paying homage to Zanu PF and increasing investment in the country became something of a conflict of interest.
Therefore I decided it was far more important that I and my ZANU PF old guard comrades take over most of the country’s wealth in mining, farming, property development etc. I also made sure that by 1989 I had trebled the central government expenses to being 44.6% of GDP. My former friend and comrade said it well “kana ukabuda muZanu PF wotoziva kuti mudzimu yakurasha!”
ITEM3: INCREASED ECONOMIC INEQUALITY/ZERO SOCIAL MOBILITY
When I took over power in the early 80’s I increased the education budget which meant that social mobility increased. The availability of tertiary education coupled by access to employment meant even economic inequality decreased.
But my cabinet and I had never been good with the economics. As we continued to spend more than we were bringing in the budget deficit increased. To service the deficit in the absence of investment we increased tax on employees and businesses.
Further, government owned companies continued to receive huge subsidies at the expense of the budget hole. In the eventuality interest rates increased which increased the cost of borrowing and reduced investment, employment started to decrease by the late 90s.
Foreign exchange currencies also started coming into short supply. I tried my best to keep printing more money but apparently that’s not the right way of doing things by 2008 I gave you a hyperinflation of 11.2million percent.
Of course by 2009 I had to call in for help from a more capable government i.e. MDC. They helped turn things around I am sure you all remember the successful turnaround that was. But I made sure to return to the normalcy of ZANU PF ways of doing things.
In 2013, I and my comrades further destroyed the agriculture economy and engaged in corrupt deeds. I must say I was slightly disappointed that others went as far as taking USD$15billion from the mining sector.
That certainly sealed the deal in ensuring that a poor child grows up to be an even poorer adult unless they have the means to leave the country. By 2017 I presented you with 90% of the economy being in the informal sector mostly defined as unemployed.
ITEM 4: A POWERFUL RIGGING MACHINE
I have made sure that ZANU PF is a rigging machine whether through fear, bribery or just outright changing of electoral numbers. In 2008 I learnt the hard way that a formidable opposition party is enough for the people to vote Zanu PF out.
So to thwart that I have made sure that Zanu PF knows how to never ‘lose’ an election. Starve the masses and during the election turn up with sacks of beans and as they munch on these remind them that ZANU PF is all seeing and all powerful.
In fact those that remain unbelievers inflict violence upon them until they are either too scared to stray or too scared to bother voting. In fact I want to remind you not to mourn for me if the machine I have set up is still working I will be back amongst the voters on the voters roll in 2023 look out for me.
ITEM 5: CASH CRISIS
I think we have established by now that economics was not mine or my party’s strong point. Instead of thinking economics it was easier just to print money – remember Zanu PF can do anything I created it. If we needed money we printed it . We needed money to go to war in DRC the army generals and officials – its expensive stuff fighting a war that is not yours.
Combined with institutional corruption (currently ranked 156 out of 176 in the world) means that there just isn’t enough cash to go round. In fact the only time things ever worked slightly properly was during the coalition, the Tendai Biti era certainly made it difficult for myself and my usual partners in crime to continue to double dip into the national purse.
Corruption makes things uncomfortable for would be financially viable investors so continued harvesting where nothing had been sown eventually resulted in the cash crisis. Those long queues at the banks were quite embarrassing I did catch a glimpse of them whenever I was awake in the car.
I asked the governor to get rid of that embarrassment and he loyally gave me bond notes- many including myself don’t or didn’t quite understand it. A wrong answer it turned out to be as it didn’t take very long before the cash crisis reformed and returned in worser form.
ITEM 5: AILING PUBLIC SERVICES
The thing with money is there is never enough for everyone, institutional corruption which included payment for my expensive medical trips for to the east meant that something had to give. I never cared much for the transparency in the financial management of public services because caring would mean exposing the party’s and my own misdemeanours.
The government privatised most of the income generating parastatals such as Zisco Steel, Dairy Marketing Board, meaning that there was no government revenue that could be used to finance or support public services.
Indeed when these were parastatals they became unsustainable again due to financial mismanagement. The exposure faced by NSSA today to the tune of USD$60million culminating from gross mismanagement influenced by corrupt activity explains clearly how the public services find themselves in financial jeopardy.
Doctors trained in Zimbabwe will in a high number of cases leave to practice elsewhere in search of more preferable income. At some point in 2019 a junior doctor was being paid USD$33 basic monthly salary with an on-call allowance of USD$83.
A lack of materials plague the state hospital with doctors lacking in basic equipment such as gloves. Patients have to acquire their own basic materials such as drips to facilitate their hospital stay. Several needless deaths including infant mortality amongst others are caused by the dire state of public services.
Other public services such as water and sanitation have also suffered and are in crisis. The state of the water and its cleanliness is currently at its lowest. Zimbabwean water is said to ‘not contain life but life threatening diseases.’
A badly regulated mining industry with a lot of small scale mining has meant that some origins of water pollution are coming from mining residues such as zinc, iron, nickel, copper and cobalt metals of which an excessive amounts have an adverse impact on the consumer’s immune function. Needless to say the recurring cycles of cholera, typhoid and infectious hepatitis.
ITEM 6: UNDOCUMENTED ALIEN STATUS IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES
As president of the ruling party our intentions for good education where not seen through such that the Chenayimoyo Zimbabweyauya’s of the born free era could not reinvest their education in the development of Zimbabwe.
From the mid to late 90s Zimbabweans went into self imposed economic exile leaving for greener pastures. At times green pastures mean or meant anything but staying in Zimbabwe. As quite a number of these Zimbabweans are undocumented it is difficult to have an accurate number but it is approximated that 4,000,000 Zimbabweans are living abroad.
The Zimbabweans abroad are mostly very well educated but lack of documentation finds them doing any sort of work offered to them. This has also meant that for some families are living thousands of miles apart for a minimum of 5 years which has had adverse effect on the families’ social construct with dire effects mostly felt by the children.
As I said there isn’t enough money to go round for everyone I have allowed the ruling party to double dip in the national purse and so resources are challenging.
ITEM 7: LAND REDISTRIBUTION WITH NO AGRARIAN REFORM
Part of my conditions to independence in the Lancaster House Agreement was that I would ensure that Zimbabwe’s farming land would be redistributed from the minority white farmers so that all Zimbabweans could have equal equitable access to land.
The British government signed up to supporting the country in achieving this endeavour. Unfortunately, in the late 1990s Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair terminated the offer of support from the British government. At this time, mine and my party’s popularity was very low.
The war veterans also seemed very disenfranchised with regards to what was agreed. To gain their support I released unbudgeted gratuities that saw the country’s currency fall in value by 70%. I also supported the Jambanja raids for land redistribution but failed to back these up with agrarian reform. I ensured that Zanu PF elite (including myself) had a share of the acquired farms.
Lack of agrarian reform meant that the new farmers did not have access to the right resources to maximise utilisation of their land. By 2013 Zimbabwe produced only 800,000 tonnes where 1.7 million tonnes were required. Its fair to say I failed to recover the agriculture sector of Zimbabwe and the agriculture sector continues to produce less than 50% of what is required by Zimbabweans to attain food security.
ITEM 8: LASTING POVERTY LEGACY
As this will clearly spells out the Zimbabwe I influenced will always benefit only the elite of the Zanu PF demigod and not everyone else. I am proud to have influenced such a legacy for all of 37 years. It is likely that this legacy will continue millions will live below the poverty line for many generations unless an intentional overhaul of government takes place.
Finally, for the last 10 years or so I have died in the media networks many times so many citizens waited in anticipation of my death well now that it has finally happened I AM GONE. My parting words to you are ‘SO WHAT, do you accept or reject my legacy’. If you reject then urgent reform is a must otherwise see you on the other side.
Chenayi Mutambasere (Msc Development Economics and Policy) is the MDC UK and Ireland Province Secretary for Industry and Commerce. You can follow her on Twitter: @ChenayiM