HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsEchoes: Its not about location, but attitude

Echoes: Its not about location, but attitude


A problem clearly stated is a problem half solved, wrote American writer and editor Dorothea Brande (1893-1948).

This week NewsDay reported that Matabeleleland North police chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Edmore Veterai had been transferred to Harare on promotion as chief staff officer in charge of administration at the Police General Headquarters.

From the tone of the various party spokespersons approached to comment on the development, Veterai will not be missed in Matabeleland.

In fact, the move was welcomed by the two MDC formations and Zapu because Veterai courted controversy for regularly banning Zanu PF opponents from holding rallies in the province.

Commented Zapu Matabeleland North spokesperson provincial spokesperson Methuseli Moyo: Veterai had rebranded himself from a law enforcer to a Zanu PF agent. It is not in our culture to be criticising police officers, but when they behave in the manner Veterai did, they can be open to criticism.

Said MDC-T deputy national organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe: Professionally, if you read the United Nations human rights report, Matabeleland North under the command of Veterai was among the top violators of human rights.

Welshman Ncube-led MDC spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube went further and brought out the essential elements of the implications of Veterais transfer, saying it was not about his location, but attitude.

If the change of location brings a change of approach from one of being partisan to one of being a protector of all citizens, then the transfer is welcome, he said.

That those whose instructions he has been following, evidently with utmost dexterity, are in Harare is a cause for concern for our party activities in the capital city. Yes, Dube expanded the whole issue from a provincial matter into one of national proportions.

He was vindicated because during the same week NewsDay had a story headlined Ministers banned, to the effect that MDC-T-affiliated ministers and other MPs from the party had resorted to night-time door-to-door campaigning in Harare because a Zanu PF-aligned militia was violently prohibiting them from holding public meetings and rallies.

As one can see, Dube showed an intelligent and intelligible grasp of the issue. He has expanded his horizons well aware there are still residual tribal issues.

All these three party spokespersons made trenchant distinctions between right and wrong without stereotyping or mocking Veterai. They stuck to the facts in measured, precise language without taking this as an opportunity to exaggerate for political capital.

The comments they made, especially Dubes, are strong contenders for political sayings of the year as opposed to noisemakers.

Which brings me to the next point. MDC secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga last Saturday claimed the evil hand of tribalism as being the main cause of the delays in the disbursement of the Distressed Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf) meant mainly to revive industry in Bulawayo.

Its tribalism, the thinking is that Ndebeles should get nothing, she said. We can punch many holes in that assertion.

How many economic blueprints have gathered dust on shelves since the Economic Structural Adjustment Policy of 1991? Or since the Gideon Gono era beginning in 2000 when turnaround was the buzzword in each and every one of the Reserve Bank governors monetary policy statements?

While not condoning such delays, lets pinpoint the true reasons for this as some funds established long before Dimaf are still to be disbursed and many projects are still to take off.

The CEO of CABS, which has been mandated to make Dimaf disbursements, said as much this week, pointing out that many things were still not in place.

We have a Finance minister without money as the purse strings are pulled by those with access to the Chiadzwa diamonds and other precious minerals. Otherwise, Treasury would have chipped in with its $20 million obligation to make Dimaf come to life. So, this is more of a systemic issue rather than a tribal one.

Otherwise SMM Holdings would not have been run down, turning communities in the two towns of Zvishavane and Mashava into complete destitutes.

Yes, the most important part of a stimulus is getting money into the economy fast, where it can replace lost business spending and keep people employed, but its just as important to maintain investor confidence through prudential business practices, as the CABS boss implied.

Otherwise the Essar deal spearheaded on the government side by MDC leader Ncube as Industry minister to revive the former Ziscosteel in Midlands Province, whose collapse has reduced Redcliff to a ghost town, would be up and running by now, but has been stalled again like Dimaf.

Moreover, its known globally that stimulus packages can be notoriously difficult to implement. Operating under a single piece of legislation, are many different projects to be catered for.

So, disbursing millions of dollars on hundreds of those projects through different agencies can create opportunities for waste and corruption on an unprecedented scale. The United States foresaw problems of a similar nature in 2009 when it unveiled a $787 billion stimulus package following the global financial meltdown.

Here, we saw this between 2007 and 2009 during Bacossi, which was supposed to be a stimulus package, but actually led to economic collapse. So, until things are in place, Dimaf, as a public-private undertaking, wont have much to disburse.

Yes, Dimaf is an issue near and dear to the Matabeleland region, but an emotional or paranoid response wont solve the problem. The unforgivable failing when tackling such a subject is to lie and exaggerate.

One wonders what Misihairabwi-Mushongas reaction would have been had the killing of a civilian by the rampaging police in Shamva, Mashonaland Central, two weeks ago taken place in Matabeleland.

The spokespersons for the MDC formations and Zapu succeeded in contextualising Veterais transfer. This high quality of discussing and dissecting issues is commendable.

They really showed political mastery and political maturity. Bravo to them! People need to be truth-oriented; there is need to expose untruths on all sides.

As Dube aptly said, its not the
location, but the attitude.

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