By Clinton Siniwa
The public statements coming from Zimbabwe’s cabinet ministers are a public relations disaster which is unfortunate for the country. Their statements are lenses by which we obtain an understanding as to the mind-set of those at the helm of the country.
Understandably many Zimbabweans have expressed disappointment over the utterances of Oppah Muchinguri the defence minister of the Government of Zimbabwe.
Her recent statements on Covid-19 revealed her ignorance and incompetence. Covid-19 has dominated global discourse over the past few months. Given that she is responsible for making security decisions over millions of Zimbabweans, she has a duty to know more than just the basics.
The Covid-19 pandemic is an existential threat that has no respect for social class and wealth. It has claimed the lives of many across the world and Zimbabwe’s elites will be no exception.
If she, as defence minister is not aware of the ramifications of this threat, it raises serious questions about national security.
In questioning her suitability for office we must also consider the one who saw it fit to appoint her. Those who serve in cabinet serve at the pleasure of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The appointments are based not on merit but on the President’s personal interests. The country is not led by the best qualified people but rather unsuitable individuals unaware of the modern demands of statecraft.
The United States is one of the western countries being scoffed by the minister. The year 2020 marks the achievement of a 7 year food security programme funded by the US government.
The project which commenced in 2013 is valued at USD 86 million of US aid. Yesteryear in the wake of Cyclone Idai the US donated USD 2.5 million to assist Zimbabwe.
The words of the defence minister ‘ngavasviniwe’ (they must suffer), have no doubt reached the ears of diplomats of western governments. This brings into question whether the government has a policy on foreign relations. It is possible that the incident was mere bootlicking with ignorance of the political implications of her words. Either way it is a cost to the country.
The President publicly celebrated the aid meant for Cyclone Idai stating that ‘kuipa kwezvimwe kunaka kwezvimwe’ (bad things have good outcomes).
Many thought the President’s joke was in very bad taste but they had not witnessed his worst. A new low was reached last week when he boasted of building a particularly cold mortuary in Kwekwe. He laughed about offering a prize to the family that would be first to use the facility.
In all the years that Mnangagwa served in the shadow of Mugabe he never had to give public speeches. This led to many stories circulating about the man who was always in the background.
Some referred to him as the intelligence supremo and others revered him as a calculating ‘crocodile’. His abilities were somewhat shrouded in mystery even as the factional wars with G40 raged towards the end of the first republic.
The unknown about the man did work to his advantage and could explain why some bought into the propaganda about him reforming the economy and politics.
Some even called him the Lee Kuan Yew of the new Zimbabwe. But then of course, Lee Kuan Yew believed in meritocracy the exact opposite of Mnangagwa’s philosophy. Today corruption is now rampant as cartels have taken over key state institutions in the country.
The truth about the man began to unravel a few months into the so called new dispensation. The slogans about endless rule started revealing the dictatorial tendencies in the man.
The economic mismanagement began to show that perhaps the man was not the business virtuoso some had taken him for. To be fair there is but one of his mythical traits which is turning out to be true. The brutality.
The state sponsored violence in Zimbabwe is now worse under his watch. The extra judicial killings of 1 August 2018 marked a turning point in Zimbabwe’s history. Mnangagwa has proved to be even worse than Mugabe because he lacks his predecessor’s ideology. To a certain extent, the ideology that was peddled by Mugabe’s had somewhat a form of coherence.
As Mnangagwa and his ministers open their mouths, the truth about them is becoming apparent. The recent announcements by the Finance minister sent the Zimbabwe dollar plunging.
Their words are becoming their undoing.
Through their words we can see them for the thugs they are. They have no plan to fix the country. And they do not have to. They have the military in their pockets.
‘Power is a mummer’s trick. A shadow on the wall. Yet, shadows can kill. And ofttimes a very small man can cast a very large shadow.’
Clinton Siniwa is a UK based Chartered Certified Accountant. You can engage with him on Twitter @ClintSiniwa