Yesterday the Council of the European Union made quite some positive conclusions on the Zimbabwean current political and economic situation. This is quite welcome especially given that Zimbabwe is at a place where it needs all the help it can get if it’s to escape the pit it finds itself in.
Point 4 of the 5 points that the EU made in its conclusions is a direct comment on the economic space:
The EU welcomes the stated intention of the Zimbabwean authorities to deliver economic reforms in Zimbabwe, aiming at supporting job creation, growth and sustainable long-term development, and reaffirms its willingness to support the planning and implementation of much-needed structural changes and the promotion of good governance. In this context, the EU will support the authorities in establishing as soon as possible a constructive re-engagement with international financial institutions based on a clear and time-bound economic and political reform programme.
One phrase caught my attention more than any other in the quote above.
The Stated Intention Of Zimbabwean Authorities
The first cliche that comes to mind when I hear the word ‘intention’ is ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ Emmerson Mnangagwa has expressed quite some good intentions from the day of his inauguration as President of the Republic through to his Facebook Live townhall last week. these good intentions were echoed by his brand new second hand Minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa in his 2018 National Budget presentation.
I am not in the camp of those that expected things to change overnight and are thus very despondent to find themselves still in queue at the bank every other morning if they are lucky to have any money in the bank at all. I never expected overnight shifts, these things don’t happen like that.
However, Mnangagwa missed some critical opportunities to demonstrate that his good intentions are not mere passive marble stones on the way to a Mugabe like economic hell. The first one is the issue of corruption. The president has repeatedly spoke about no tolerance to corruption BUT I haven’t heard him share even once what his strategy to tackle this deep sitting cancer is. Without a strategy, pronouncements are nothing but nice sounding words, a daydream that will end in a waking up to a real life nightmare of a luta continua.
The only people we have seen being arrested and having some kind of attempted persecution at law are people who stole or misappropriated a couple of television sets, some bags of sugar beans and a handful of wheelchairs. The Herald even carried a headline that said corruption big wigs had been arrested and the big wigs referred to were Oscar Pambuka and some other guy I never really liked much. Big wigs, really?
A number of people serving in government right now are people who are known to have done much more than TV sets and sugar beans and the president knows them. He can’t not. Good intentions are not enough. The Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission is not resourced to properly investigate corruption cases even if they were allowed to. They need more than good intentions if they are going to do their jobs decently otherwise they themselves will be corrupted.
The second issue that ED failed to read well is the issue of buying vehicles for chiefs. Just a few weeks earlier the recyclable Minister of Finance had announced that these vehicles would not be bought because the government was effecting austerity measures. The president then pulled an asante sana and chose to be cheered by chiefs at the expense of the rest of the population which knows too well how the lack of ambulances, fire trucks and police vehicles has cost the lives of their loved ones.
The president defended his action in an interview with the Financial Times by saying chiefs are civil servants who are entitled to their cars. Entitled? My aunt is a civil service nurse who saves lives for a living but she has to walk dangerous streets at night from night duty regularly, there is no bus for her and co-workers. Health workers died in a terrible accident a few weeks back because they did not have suitable transport and had to be overloaded unto a lorry. Wrong play Mr President.
Am I Saying No To EU Conclusion
No ways! I believe we have a new opportunity right now to build a more enduring Zimbabwe and I do not have enough reason to doubt the current administration yet although it is populated by people who are too familiar and have been in the same positions of influence during the Mugabe era. I still remain an optimist.
My point is that Zimbabwe will not be built on good intention pronouncements. Our leaders have to be more sincere than political. They cannot do this alone, they need you and I to remind them that we are watching their every move not just merely listening to their words.
I wish Zimbabwe and its leadership well…