Who’s been Zimbabwe’s best and worst minister?


Zimbabwe has had more than its fair share of bad leaders.

The contenders are power-hungry cliquests Ignatius Chombo, Nicholas Goche and Emmerson Mnangagwa; sleepers Stan Mudenge, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Didymus Mutasa; the partly hidden Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Gorden Moyo, Welshman Ncube, Joseph Made, Sekai Holland, John Nkomo and Moses Mzila-Ndlovu; and the simply misguided Obert Mpofu, Theresa Makone/Kembo Mohadi, Giles Mutsekwa and Samuel Sipepa Nkomo.

Then there are the partisan tyrants Webster Shamu, Patrick Chinamasa and Saviour Kasukuwere among others.

The scams, mis-governance and impotence of the shaky inclusive government have evoked suggestions that some ministers could be the worst ever.

It is time to take stock of the men and women who have “served” us. Who’s been the best minister Zimbabwe has had in 2011, and who’s been the worst?

NewsDay has tried to be objective, and mentioned both the faults and the shortcomings of ministers on both sides of the House.

But we are sure some of our readers will vehemently disagree with our opinion, which, of course, is their democratic right. So, let the debate begin!

Patrick Chinamasa; Webster Shamu; Simbarashe Mumbengegwi; Saviour Kasukuwere: Zimbabwe suffered heavily because of their misplaced sense of idealism and sovereignty.

Their failure to uphold media freedom and civil rights was a blot on the nation’s copybook.

They botched indigenisation, media reforms, human rights, rule of law and the strike by prosecutors, resulting in problems that trouble us to this day.

There was also their naivety over China. But the fact is that much that is good about Zimbabwe today, the improving economic situation — among others, is the result of the unstable inclusive government.

Unlike many other colonised countries that got freedom at the same time as us and promptly became vibrant democracies, Zimbabwe is sliding backwards to a tinpot dictatorship.

Chinamasa, the Justice minister, concentrated more on issues that had nothing to do with his ministry leaving the justice delivery system at the mercy of Attorney-General, Johannes Tomana, who reportedly failed to secure a single conviction in high-profile cases brought before the courts.

Ignatius Chombo; Nicholas Goche; Obert Mpofu; Emmerson Mnangagwa: Many of the ills that plague our politics, including corruption, criminalisation and the degradation of local authorities across the country and other State institutions flourished in their tenure.

They have effectively killed inner-party democracy in Zanu PF and set the stage for the kind of cliques that are today the bane of Zimbabwean political parties.

Mpofu, however, fought hard to convince the Kimberley Processing Certification Scheme to allow Zimbabwe to sell its gems.

However, he should have done more to set up a diamond centre for purposes of accounting and management of the gems, which process would create more players in the diamond industry and create employment.

Mpofu’s fight with Finance minister Tendai Biti over the handling of diamond proceeds has dented his image as a public official who has no respect for proper accounting systems.

Goche has dismally failed to rescue Air Zimbabwe, which is teetering on the brink of collapse, and one wonders whether he still has the energy for anything better, while Mnangagwa is busy building a military castle to fortify his ambitions.

Theresa Makone/Kembo Mohadi: The political violence that took place during the year will always remain blots on their record.

So will Makone’s clumsy efforts to protect criminal suspects by accompanying fellow minister Didymus Mutasa to a police station to release his arrested son when she has not helped her party activists languishing in prisons on trumped-up charges simply because they support Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party.

She has struggled to get on the right side of various issues emerging as more a party bureaucrat than a national figure.

Her handling of Tsvangirai’s lover Locardia Karimatsenga Tembo and MDC-T Women’s Assembly issues has been less than suave.

Together with conjoined twin Kembo Mohadi, Makone failed to rein in Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri resulting in the force failing to arrest political activists aligned to the former ruling Zanu PF.

Elton Mangoma: Slumbered through the demolition of Noczim and Zesa, and was plagued with charges of graft and buying support in Parliament.

But he played an important role in trying to resuscitate the ailing institutions and Zimbabwe’s much-needed economic reforms.

Gorden Moyo; Samuel Sipepa Nkomo; Gabuza Joel Gabbuza: Their failure to do anything as parastatals disintegrated, public institutions failed to perform and water shortages persisted is a negative mark against them.

Also, even though the MDC-T flaunts its party of excellence credentials, the fact remains that these ministers presided over one of the most humiliating episodes in Zimbabwean history.

Tendai Biti; Tapuwa Mashakada: Despite gloomy predictions to the contrary, Biti has helped the economy to grow marginally.

The economy almost collapsed under the weight of Zanu PF’s skewed policies. Ultimately, international partners came around to Zimbabwe’s MTP programme and the economy picked up during the year.

The economy didn’t do as spectacularly well under Biti as compared to last year that gave the nation so much hope.

It however stayed on an even keel till it hit the speed-breaker of the global recession.

His biggest failure, perhaps, was that his government seemed to be a mute spectator as Zimbabwe reeled under a string of internal squabbles.

Biti’s failure to ensure diamond revenue was accounted for is his major weakness as well as failing to bring sanity to the RBZ and the banking sector.

Welshman Ncube; Paurina Mpariwa; Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga; Heneri Dzinotyiwei: Their critics deride them as Zimbabwe’s weakest ministers.

But the way Ncube pushed through the Essar-Zisco deal in the face of overwhelming political opposition would seem to belie that charge.

Mpariwa, Dzinotyiwei and Misihairabwi-Mushonga have largely failed to account for anything outstanding under their ministries.

The handling of the GMO issue, strikes by civil servants and technology matters remained closely guarded.

Joseph Made; Herbert Murerwa; Sekai Holland; John Nkomo; Moses Mzila-Ndlovu: Where are these ministers?

Do they still have the energy to serve our beloved country?

One wonders because they do not seem to appreciate their positions of authority save to think they are there just to serve their masters – those that appointed them to these posts.

They spent most of the last 12 months travelling out of the country – probably for official business and collecting travelling allowances instead.

Never heard of them really — no serious programme they have undertaken except Mzila Ndlovu, who was arrested for discussing Gukurahundi in Matabeleland.

Francis Nhema; Walter Mzembi; David Coltart, Nelson Chamisa: These young Turks proved they still have the energy to work for the country.

Mzembi criss-crossed the world hoisting the country’s flag high resulting in Zimbabwe winning tourism accolades and a bid to co-host with Zambia, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly in 2013 at Victoria Falls.

Tourism also picked up as shown by the increased tourist arrivals. Mzembi also relaunched a tourism brand: “Zimbabwe – a world of wonders”.

But half his job could possibly have been done by his predecessor Nhema.

The unassuming Nhema also managed to kick-start a re-greening programme in the face of increased deforestation across the country.

With the land reform programme, shifting cultivation is at an increased rate, hence the establishment of the Environmental Management Agency has come in handy in trying to curb the effects of land degradation, while the Parks and Wildlife Authority has instituted an anti-poaching campaign leading to the arrest of poachers from neighbouring Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa.

Kudos for Chamisa for ensuring ICT is evenly spread across the country by donating computers.

He’s also one of the few young ministers able to direct his programmes across the political divide by forging alliances with other political parties.

Stan Mudenge: Despite being a history professor, Mudenge has not done much to improve tertiary education in the country. Instead he has presided over students being sent to South Africa.

David Coltart: A football indaba between his ministry and Zifa did not yield any financial support for the national association’s programmes because Zifa is still carrying a lot of baggage “donation” from DRC football club TP Mazembe, among other corporate governance issues.

But a lot of minority sports from softball to volleyball and basketball failed to meet their assignments due to lack of funding.

Coltart managed to source $1 million for the refurbishment of Khumalo Hockey Stadium in Bulawayo which then hosted the Africa Olympic qualifiers.

Through the SRC, Fifa president Sepp Blatter made a historic visit to the country on July 4 and pushed the New Zealand cricket team into making a tour of the country. He’s not done anything much to promote sports.

But Coltart is what Zimbabwean schools need at the moment for revamping the education sector. He has distributed 13 million textbooks to schools nationwide.

This was a great initiative after the deterioration of education, health and SMEs sectors at the hands of retrogressive policies by the Zanu PF government over the last 10 years.