ZIMBABWE held general elections on July 31, in which nearly 3,5 million voters took part. President Robert Mugabe won the election with 61,09%, while his bitter rival MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai got 33,94% of the total votes cast.
Mugabe’s Zanu PF, which had lost the 2008 elections, dramatically bounced back, winning a two thirds majority, with 159 seats in the House of Assembly out of 210 seats. The MDC-T won 49 seats in the House of Assembly. There were two independent candidates who won seats.
Mugabe took his oath of office on August 22. Newly elected MPs were sworn in on September 3, while the first session of parliament opened on September 10.
Later that same day, Mugabe announced a 26- member cabinet, which included three female ministers, 25 deputy ministers as well as 10 provincial ministers.
However, since Mugabe and his party formed the new government in the aftermath of controversial and disputed elections, the social and economic situation has been deteriorating amid fears the country is sliding back to an economic meltdown reminiscent of the pre-2009 era.
Despite government coming up with yet another economic blue-print, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) to resuscitate the economy, the situation continues to worsen as companies close and retrenchments exacerbate. Social service delivery is also now worse, with water and power supplies getting shoddier.
After over US$1 billion was lost before and after elections due to capital flight, Zimbabwe is now gripped by a serious liquidity crunch manifesting itself through the current parlous state of some indigenous banks and customers storming banks demanding their money. Below the Zimbabwe Independent runs the rule over the performances of key ministers thus far to see how they are faring.
President Robert Mugabe
After his re-election on the basis of a manifesto anchored on indigenisation and jobs, it was widely expected Mugabe and his government would seriously focus on tackling economic problems confronting the nation which include downside risks in agriculture; lingering political uncertainty before and after elections resulting in low business confidence; liquidity challenges and very high real interest rates on short-term credit; ballooning and unsustainable wage bill in the public sector; crumbling infrastructure; water and power problems; possible compression of exports on the back of the fragile and slowdown of the global economy; potential destabilising effects of the indigenisation programme on the economy; and disorderly unwinding of vulnerabilities in the banking sector.
However, Mugabe’s government only came up with ZimAsset, a document full of wishful thinking and daydreaming against serious public expectations of better economic prospects.
Since his re-election, Mugabe and his ministers sound clueless on how to deal with the problems facing the country. They have so far failed to secure funding for the economy, even from their Chinese allies.
To make matters, Mugabe has been sounding belligerent as he stepped up his anti-Western rhetoric, while his ministers tried to pursue re-engagement with the international community.
He has been making inconsistent and contradictory remarks, sometimes indicating left when turning right on key issues.
Mugabe recycled the same old faces in his cabinet, some of whom are actually culprits in running down the economy and the country, while admitting his appointments were largely based on loyalty and rewarding those who contributed to Zanu PF’s victory. This shows he has run out of steam and ideas.
On indigenisation, Mugabe remains inconsistent, hence renewed uncertainty.
His words cannot be trusted, for instance, he told Implats CEO David Brown to “go and tell your shareholders that we don’t intend to take over (Zimplats).”
“We don’t want to steal or rob that which does not belong to us,” he said. However, a few months later Zimplats was under siege to relinquish its majority shareholding to government. The deal, like all others, however stalled.
Mugabe and his party made extravagant promises during election campaigns but after that nothing has been fulfilled. He is still pussyfooting around problems like corruption as well, despite his claims it would not be tolerated.
While Mugabe was commended for appointing Francis Nhema to the Indigenisation ministry, which courted plenty of controversy under the combative Saviour Kasukuwere, it seems he is not fully backing the minister’s to tone down the rhetoric and adopt a structured and gradual approach to empowerment.
Mugabe’s unhelpful “Look East” policy appears dead in the water. So really nothing much is coming from him, except perhaps more rhetoric and promises.
Vice-President Joice Mujuru
Mujuru has been very visible. She has hosted foreign dignitaries but her public pronouncements on bilateral issues are short on substance but long on rhetoric.
She has however been instrumental in engaging Middle East investors, particularly from United Arab Emirates which culminated in signing of Memoranda of Understanding in mining and agriculture.
She has been trying hard to show people she can run the country by actively contributing in different sectors, be it in business, gender-related issues or agriculture. Mujuru has also spoken strongly against corruption, recently lambasting traffic police officers for demanding bribes.
At a time when Zimbabwe was combative in its approach on indigenising the economy, Mujuru pointed out that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to different sectors of the economy needed rethinking, saying there was need to “be practical and flexible enough to know when to emphasise one or the other without compromising the broad thrust of the revolutionary initiative.”
However, most of her energies seem to have been concentrated on Zanu PF factionalism and her battle with internal rival, Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. Although her faction won recent Zanu PF provincial elections, it did so at the expense of tackling urgent economic issues and service delivery.
Patrick Chinamasa — Finance
Chinamasa is credited with introducing the multicurrency regime in 2009 as acting Finance minister even though the reality is he had no choice and the market had shifted to that anyway. After being appointed as Finance minister this year, his office has the toughest job of rescuing a sinking economy.
Since his appointment, he has been running around trying to re-engage, having had meetings with the African Development bank, International Monetary Fund and World Bank, as well as the local business community and MPs over the budget which he delivered yesterday after a false start.
Chinamasa has been to Kuwait and South Korea, among others countries, looking for money but it was not clear whether he got anything. He has done well to assure the markets the multicurrency system is there to stay (he repeated this yesterday during his budget presentation) and the defunct Zimbabwe dollar is not coming back anything time soon. He is also continuing with IMF staff monitoring programme started during former Finance minister Tendai Biti’s tenure.
He has also ensured that the government farming inputs scheme for the 2013/14 agricultural season is funded.
However, he needs to tone down his indigenisation and sanctions rhetoric which is poisonous.
Walter Chidhakwa –– Mines and Mining Development
Chidhakwa has been one of the most active and visible ministers trying to clean up his ministry associated with corruption on mining activities, concessions and diamond revenues. He has endeared himself to many Zimbabweans by assuring the nation he would bring about transparency in the mining sector and ensure diamond remittances are accounted for and used properly.
Although it is still early days, Chidhakwa’s statements and vision for the mining industry are encouraging. He must now walk the talk. His decision to dissolve the boards of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and Marange Resources as part of his clean-up campaign is welcome.
He has also read the riot act to companies not paying royalties on time to ensure greater remittance to Treasury.
Zimbabwe’s diamond marketing options have been widened as its gems are now being sold in Antwerp, Belgium, the centre of the global diamond trade. Chidhakwa appears serious and on the right track.
Mike Bimha — Ministry of Industry and Commerce
Bimha was deputy minister of industry during the inclusive government and the experience should have honed his skills to run the portfolio. But save for promising to push for flexibility in terms of indigenisation, Bimha has simply repeated the same re-industrialisation and value addition rhetoric without tabling new concrete policy proposals.
Capacity utilisation remains low at below 39% with more companies shutting down and thousands losing their jobs. Industry has actually predicted 2014 will be worse if government does not act fast. He has however held consultations with various stakeholders and it remains to be seen whether he will deliver.
Joseph Made — Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation
Made returns to the ministry against the background of grain shortages and the onset of the planting season.
To his credit, Made has led attempts to import grain to alleviate shortages but he appears to be failing to manage the grain deficit as by his own admission a fortnight ago only 19 425 tonnes of maize have been delivered from Zambia out of the 150 000 tonnes that were sourced recently on a government-to-government agreement.
But the country needs more than just food hand-outs or imports; it has to grow its own food. Made, whose record is bad, must focus on reviving agriculture to restore food security and self-sufficiency.
Francis Nhema -—Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
Nhema came in with a different approach to the belligerent Kasukuwere. Investors welcomed this and were relieved to hear him say that empowerment would be more or less sector-specific. But he must also come up with a policy blueprint on indigenisation because there is actually none other than the legislative framework.
Dzikamai Mavhaire – Energy and Power Development
There is not much to write about him; the increased load-shedding since his appointment as energy minister says it all. He has a tall order to improve the power situation which had drastically improved before he came in. His ministry is critical to industry and economic recovery. But he appears clueless.
Obert Mpofu — Transport and Infrastructural Development
Mpofu came into office at a time when the joint venture between the Zimbabwe National Road Administration and a South African company, Group Five Limited to rehabilitate the Plumtree-Bulawayo-Harare-Mutare highway had hit a snag due to funding problems after the Development Bank of Southern Africa withheld money in May this year. This was after Zinara failed to meet its payment obligations.
Mpofu has however acted to ensure work resumes albeit partially. During his tenure so far the Joshua Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo finally became operational, although most of the work was done before him.
His decision to review license fees to ensure bigger vehicles which cause more damage to roads pay more was welcomed. However, his attempt to introduce urban tollgates was very unpopular and widely dismissed as impractical.
Jonathan Moyo – Information, Media and Broadcasting Services
Moyo seems to have bounced a changed man. Straightaway, he hit the ground running embarking on a whirlwind tour of both public and private media houses in pursuit of a re-engagement process which has helped to de-polarise the poisoned media environment.
So far his process has been helpful and it seems the media environment is changing fast for the better. Besides his reset of government and media relations, Moyo has acted the ZBC rot, kicking out CEO Happison Muchechetere, his lieutenants – who were earning shocking five figure salaries – and the board to ensure a clean-up operation. He also, albeit indirectly, reassigned top managers at Zimpapers, including appointing new editors. Herald editor Caesar Zvayi, appointed recently, was suspended on Wednesday over a false story, with Moyo issuing a stinging statement condemning his unprofessional and unethical conduct.
Moyo has also been pushing the broadcasting digitalisation programme to meet the 2015 deadline.
He has brought hope in the sector, saying there will be new television and radio stations with various and different ownership structures, including public, commercial, and community stations. He has also promised media law reforms, including the repeal of the criminal defamation statute.
However, there are fears he has been interfering in Zimpapers’ affairs in a way which ensured its titles become partisan in the current Zanu PF factional fights as shown by the Zvayi debacle. Senior Zanu PF officials have insinuated and openly complained about that, although Moyo has brushed them aside. Moyo’s critics are wondering whether his xprojects and reforms are genuine and will bring change on the media landscape.
Emmerson Mnangagwa — Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
His main duty so far has been realigning the statutes to the new constitution, Mnangagwa has done very little except defend insult laws to protect Mugabe. Like his rival Mujuru, he seems to have been concentrating on internal Zanu PF power struggles.
Prison conditions are deteriorating with reports that since January 100 prisoners died due to hunger, although Mnangagwa has since dismissed the claims.
However, the fact remains Zimbabwe’s prisons need rehabilitation and reform to stem hunger, disease and deaths.