“Yes, sanctions are in place, but they are not responsible for many of our failures. The greater blame lies on incompetent and corrupt managers.”
Echoes Conway Tutani
Guess who said that? None other than Amai Jukwa, one of the columnists in the State-run media who writes under a pseudonym, did so this week.
This frank, direct and perspicacious observation makes nonsense of the call by Zanu PF MP Joseph Chinotimba that main opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai must be jailed for life for calling upon the West to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe. This reduces to an expensive and gigantic stunt 2011’s anti-sanctions petition drive when over 2,5 million signatures were collected, many forcibly as people were herded to rallies to sign. The biggest enemy has been from within.
Some of the chief executive officers (CEOs), particularly — but not only — at State-run firms don’t add any value to the company whatsoever. All they do is weigh firms down through asset-stripping. Not to mention that some of them, being beneficiaries of political patronage, are clearly out of their depth as CEOs.
This disdain for reality — and expertise — has pervaded the government’s economic approach, and made it impossible for it to react appropriately and rationally to real-world socio-economic problems like grand corruption. That is why some company premises are now looking more like scrapyards.
It’s really exasperating when you read in newspapers that some CEO — whether in the public or private sector — has won some farming award as the Grower of the Year when you know that their farming operations are largely — if not wholly — funded by the firms they head. There is something out of sync, decadent and degenerate about CEOs getting all the plaudits when workers haven’t been paid for months.
“Can we really blame sanctions for the pathetic operations of the Passport Office where our people are forced to suffer an assortment of indignities in pursuit of a document they are constitutionally entitled to?” queried Amai Jukwa.
Indeed, what have Zimbabweans done to deserve this in their own country? The racketeering that goes on outside the entrance to the Harare Passport Office — Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede cannot miss the “action” as he drives in each morning.
There was the spectacle of a CEO clad in party regalia — cap and all — on company premises at an official function in the aftermath of the July harmonised elections like he was at a political rally. This sort of thing is to be avoided.
But then these characters are after ingratiating themselves to the system. Too much is at stake, CEOs have to make sure that their lucrative contracts are constantly renewed, so they have to be seen to be more Catholic than the Pope himself. Some of them behave in a more meretricious manner than prostitutes. The pretense, deception, insincerity and vulgarity seen in prostitutes pervades these CEOs. It’s unbelievable, but they have to do it because they are unemployable elsewhere at the same level with their undistinguished, non-illustrious track records.
As a result, some CEOs at State-controlled firms have become very skilful at ingratiating themselves to the relevant minister at the expense of the workers.
All the minister’s private vehicles are filled up with free fuel every week and other lucrative off-book “perks” are provided through creative accounting. Such fraud occurs outside the financial system and, thus, has no direct audit trail. Once a minister is bribed, he will see no further than the CEO. Their relationship is cemented forever and the workers won’t be the slightest factor in their scheme of things. A pretty toxic mix. This could explain why employees at some parastatals have gone for months without pay with the minister’s full knowledge, but no action at all. Public outrage must be translated into strong action.
So, when ministers go on TV singing the sanctions mantra against the West and the opposition, there will be few, if any, takers. It doesn’t ring true and it doesn’t make sense.
The irony, hypocrisy and cruelty of it all will not be lost on the workers at parastatals under those ministers.
The ministers cannot distance themselves from company collapse; they are very much in the thick of it. That is why State-run firms which have no competition to talk about have been run to the ground despite their unlimited market reach.
Amai Jukwa rightly gave the National Railways of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation as examples of failures which, all things being equal, should be successes.
Wrote Amai Jukwa: “After (Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister) Prof (Jonathan) Moyo dissolved the ZBC board, did he not receive favourable coverage in the very same so-called opposition papers? It is not so much that these papers enjoy being critical for the sake of being critical.”
Hear, hear! The private media is neither genetically nor pathologically against Zanu PF. With the same facts, arriving at the same conclusion is inevitable, not planned.
Indeed, if we are really honest to ourselves, most of the time we should see the same things alike — like doctors who diagnose diabetes as diabetes, not as malaria. Or a football referee who adjudges a corner kick as a corner kick, not a penalty, in concurrence with his assistants and the spectators.
The truth is universal; not circumstantial or situational. It remains the same — whether in the public media or private media.
This is the time for economic realism, not economic nationalism.
The less we hear of sanctions, the better.
Well said, Amai Jukwa!