Echoes:Onus is on you, Mr President


“Those who can’t stomach the defeat, you can commit suicide,” said President Robert Mugabe in obvious reference to the MDC-T after Zanu PF won, however disputably, the July 31 elections.

Report Conway Tutani

Indeed, there were sufficient grounds to dispute this. But whether the rectification of the deficiencies would have overturned the result is another matter; in fact, it’s doubtful, highly so. It’s now clear with the wisdom of hindsight that Zanu PF — to their immense credit — did their homework and rolled back their defeat in 2008, when — to their eternal discredit — they refused to step down for the MDC-T victors in a virtual coup.

Indeed, to the victors go the spoils as seen in Mugabe appointing an all-Zanu PF Cabinet this week. It was his prerogative, his privilege. No one can take that from him.

The term “spoils” means goods or benefits taken from the loser in a competition, election or military victory. In politics, a spoils system — also known as patronage system — is a practice where a political party, after winning an election, gives government jobs to its voters and top officials as a reward for working towards victory, and as an incentive to keep working for the party — as opposed to a merit system, where offices are awarded on the basis of some measure of merit, independent of political activity. The appointment of Tendai Savanhu as Lands and Rural Resettlement deputy minister leans heavily on the reward side as opposed to merit after he finally delivered the hitherto stubborn Mbare to the party, a real political breakthrough.

By the way, the phenomenon of the spoils system came to the fore in the United States in 1828 after the Democratic Party won the election and moved in fast to place their people in government jobs. Those over-eager to label the raising of this issue pertaining to Zimbabwe as driven by a colonial mentality ought to be reminded that this has a historical precedent and affects all political systems, but the difference is in extent.

Jonathan Moyo’s return as Media minister can also be seen in that light of his gaining from spoils. He lost his parliamentary seat, but has been rewarded for largely masterminding the Zanu PF victory despite Mugabe’s avowal that losers would not be accommodated in Cabinet.

But Moyo ought to rein himself in and not be after retribution and purging.

Journalistic colleagues in the State media are now afraid, very afraid, that Moyo is now their boss again, especially so because of his intrusive micro-management tendencies of the past where he was literally breathing down their necks, putting their jobs on the line, as happened in 2003 when senior editors were summarily dismissed under his watch. Likewise, in the private media there is trepidation that Moyo could also wield an axe through legislation to cripple their operations.

Nevertheless, it is hoped that lessons have been learnt from the past. And that there is now appreciation that differences are good for democracy and progress as opposed to debilitating and stultifying unanimity and complete compliance.

The media needs to speak the truth to power, but within bounds of decency.

One re-appointed minister could be another beneficiary of the spoils system. This is an individual who has been fingered in corruption directly linked to his portfolio, but he somehow survives again and again.

Said Mugabe this week, admitting that corruption is a scourge in government: “People . . . say so-and-so is corrupt, without proving it. People are clever these days; they would say we took loans to acquire these properties. So how do you prove they stole? So the onus to prove this is on you the people that deal with them in these corrupt activities to come and tell me. We cannot victimise people because there is an appearance of a person prospering.”

But, Mr President, only months ago, serious charges were suddenly brought up against Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) officials after they instituted investigations against some ministers, over corruption.

High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe was suddenly placed under probe over his professional conduct after he had issued warrants to ZACC to search the offices of the ministers.

These are but two examples showing that there could be a sordid web of power, greed, corruption and cover-up.

So, it’s grossly unfair to place the burden of proof on the powerless ordinary person.

The subject of corruption is not coming up for open discussion as much as it should going by the extent and escalation of the scourge. What message is being sent? That expression of political loyalty and homage exceeds all? This can’t be right – not at all.

It’s not as if Mugabe doesn’t have alternatives or options. What’s needed is political will. The grounds to act are there and Mugabe has the requisite power to do that as Executive President. For starters, he can set up an independent commission of inquiry to show that there is nothing to hide.

Indeed, no one can deny you the spoils of victory, Mr President, but neither should you deny the nation justice and fairness which are within your hands to deliver.

You need to curb the burning, acquisitive ambitions of greedy ministers. You are well placed to do that conclusively and decisively.

The spoils system has largely been done away because of its propensity for corrupting or installing already corrupt public officials in addition to elevating and retaining the lazy and incompetent.

Not to say that most of your ministers fall into that category of rotten apples, but just a reminder, Mr President, that like the losers should stomach defeat, you ought not to shirk from your responsibility to take action when it is due and proper.


  1. The day Mugabe shall take action against Ignatius Chombo and Obert Mpofu, will be the day that the president shall be taken seriuosly by the nation. For now, it is nothing but mumbo jumbo from a tired but not retired old man. Either Mugabe is benefitting from the spoils or he is so incompetent that he should fire himself!!!

  2. How can he take action when his very wife is grabbing farm after farming the name of children’s home. Action will mean admission that his party is nothing but a bunch of lazy crooks and looters who want to reap where they did not sow

    • I bet you can’t name just one or 2 of the ‘farm after farm’ that you claim the First Lady grabbed, when and where? From whom? You and the opposition make the mistake of dismissing intelligent men and women as a bunch of lazy crooks and looters, you made ridiculous claims and accusations based on pub talk and you wonder why you are a party with a record of losing for 14 years? What and where have you sowed? What have you done for homeless and orphaned children? What have you done for Zimbabwe?

  3. I saw Aaron Ufumeli’s pic of the cabinet line up at State House. The obedient son and his huge pot belly hardly looks like minister. And that’s because he is a businessman sharing the spoils. What was Grace doing there? Was she also sworn in as First Lady or First Wife for next 5 years?

  4. Corruption begins with you, it begins with me, it begins with all of us. We all eradicate it too. RGM is not a God and has never claimed to be one. He cant know everything, see everything and hear everything. But if you cared to understand the man at all, he is a stricter for process, procedure and the law. Zvanzi, “tipei evidence?” unfortunately your opinion is not evidence neither are your observations. The fact that some people have become prosperous does not necessarily imply corruption.

    As for the Hawaii Five O type pre-harmonized elections hatchet job by ZACC on Obert and Saviour. ZACC has been comatose since it’s formation then suddenly something spurs them into action and their first target is suspiciously politically motivated. If they had targeted your “pay for positive coverage colleagues”, ZUJ would be up in arms too. Yet you expect politicians not to push back!

    Some investigative journalism is needed here, opinion pieces and political analyst pieces are becoming tiring.

    • why are you a denialist FARAI ,do you think Mugabe doesn,t know that there is corruption? after all these years he,s been in power.You seem to be in the same gravy train of corruption with these ZANU PF cronnies and sheninigans .Why don,t you have a heart for the weak ,those who are wallowing in the dust of pennury caused by these mal admistrative regime

      • @ warship, which part of present evidence are you not getting? Kana kuAmerica kwacho if you have no evidence hauna nyaya even if you claim that Obama knows about this or that. Why do we lower ourselves to believe that pub talk is as good as actionable evidence? We are better than this.

        • Were ZACC not persecuted for trying to facilitate gathering of evidence? Was Hungwe not fired for trying to prosecute corrupt ministers? Have never had of a president asking for evidence to prosecute his corrupt ministers from ordinary people. He knows the “so and so”. If he is serious, why block attempts to bring them to court? Deep down we all know the truth. It’s only that some of us are benefiting from this rot or are simply pathetic hero worshipers!

          • PRESENT EVIDENCE even here paforum if the police and the courts refuse to act on it, the least you can do is make it available to the general public through Newsday because they would love that scoop! The general public can then see for themselves! Pub talk haibatsire chinhu, I could make up a story that you did this and that just as you can make up a story that so and so was fired for doing this that and the other; we call that makuhwa. Since when are makuhwa evidence?

  5. Mugabe and his gang have just stolen an election and you are asking him to discipline some of his ministers who helped him steal the election in the first place? You cannot call Mugabe an upstanding leader can you? Mugabe himself is very corrupt. He is a bad example to the young in society.
    What you are asking is like expecting the 1963 Great Train Robber, Ronald Biggs, to discipline his two sons who had just been caught stealing at a local shop! Or if a father comes home drunk every night and sometimes urinates in the kitchen you cannot expect that father to discipline his young children for drinking alcohol can you? Mugabe’s record over the years is very bad in some countries he would have be tried for gross misconduct in public office, theft, among other offences.

  6. @warship, labels and calling names is not evidence. Do you honestly think your opinion would stand up to interrogation before a judge? This is not to say there is no corruption but before the law acts, it needs irrefutable evidence of the existence of a crime. Do you have any?

    @musona do you have one leader in mind, dead or alive who can match the leadership qualities of RGM? Back it up with facts, not opinion and observations. As for the stolen election story, haven’t you beaten this one to death already? Have you come up with any new evidence to back that opinion? Lets hear it?

  7. @ Reader. please leave our first lady alone. Tinovada amai vedu vakadaro. she was at the right place at the right time. Remember State house is their official residence and Musha mukadzi. She was the HOST. and above all she is the one taking care of our Dear President. Like it or not.

  8. The onus now is on journalist to thoroughly investgate these claims of corruption and come up with stories that spur Robert into action… some robust investigative journalism will do the trick here… But nhai what more evidence does Robert need when just before the Gweru’s people’s conferencce Thabo Mbeki told him that orbert had asked for 10million bride from a mining consortium that was being led by his wife to invest in our mining… Mr President Sir… plizzz ka… batai vanhu.

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