Leadership deficit more glaring


Last week’s confusion on the government’s purported revision of the indigenisation law and the furore that this created, points to a government working in discordance and lacking a coherent leadership.


Information minister Jonathan Moyo let the cat among the pigeons by announcing that government was considering new approaches to indigenisation, we hear not so much abandoning the concept, but adjusting it to suit different sector needs and in that attract foreign direct investment.

This created a flurry of debate and support from a cross section of society with as many congratulating Zanu PF for this Damascene moment.

I wrote then that Zanu PF has not necessarily climbed down because the indigenisation policy was never up, but in the pit down and if anything the government had climbed up to see the light and reality on how an economy is managed and that no one owes us a living and we need better relations with the rest.

In that sense, the government had accrued positive media coverage for being realistic and for the first time after the July 31 elections, showing some seriousness in trying to arrest the economic decline.

If this policy revision is carried through, then Zimbabwe will sure start from somewhere, forget the theoretical ideological discussions on what this means for ordinary citizens.

In essence for us to debate on the ideological underpinnings of an economy, whether it is a social welfare state or a full throttle dog-eat-dog capital-driven economy, there should be an economy to talk about in the first place. A primitive and comatose economy like we have right now simply needs resuscitation.

Like a collapsed athlete, the critical thing is to resuscitate and stabilise and develop later. It is this resuscitation that Moyo’s statement should have created and almost did, were it not for the ambivalence of Indigenisation minister Francis Nhema who threw cold water on Moyo saying whatever the Information minister said was his opinion, and that the government is yet to develop anything and on the contrary the indigenisation law is okay as is, and it allows the minister flexibility.

Nhema’s pronouncements are obviously surprising because normally we expect government ministers to speak with one voice, to sing from the same hymnal book as it were.

Moyo and Nhema ordinarily, unless if something has changed, meet at Cabinet every week and in any case should have each other’s landline and mobile phone numbers and therefore expected to speak in sync and not parallel to each other.

The fact that we have a struggling economy is problematic, but worse is having a government without a clue on how to move forward and far worse is having ministers speaking parallel to each other in the media and almost attacking each other.

The expectation is that Nhema would have sought audience with Moyo before countering the latter’s statements through the same medium, mainstream media.

The conclusion is therefore that, Zimbabwe is in trouble not so much because we don’t have natural resources, are uneducated, not so much because we don’t have money, but because we have a deficit in leadership.

It is difficult to trace how far the lack of leadership goes, but since this is a government constituted by President Robert Mugabe, we can only point at the CEO for sleeping on the job.

It is Mugabe and his deputy Joice Mujuru who should oversee coordination of government business and we know nothing major happens in Zanu PF and in government without the President’s blessing or consent. The question becomes: Why is he allowing this public spat and discordance within his Cabinet?

Are we to assume that Mugabe is losing control of the levers of government and essentially leaving matters to run their own course and take a direction of their choice. If that is the case, then we are probably in far more serious trouble than all the troubles stated above.

If the top leadership is failing in ensuring discipline in policy pronouncement and implementation, then Zimbabwe will likely continue suffering as various factions within the Zanu PF government compete for space and compete with each other to control national debates.

In essence we now have a government at war with itself and in that more concerned about factional and personal survival than addressing critical social and economic issues.

If the proposal to change the indigenisation law was not discussed and agreed at in Cabinet, then we ask: What was Moyo’s motivation to speak his opinion and not government policy on such a critical economic policy issue?

And if Moyo is right then we ask why Nhema denied the stated new policies change, and what his intentions are. Mugabe has spoken about changing the indigenisation and he needs to stamp his authority and inform citizens which is which. What this whole saga tells us is that Zanu PF is caught up in power games and not focused on the business of serving the people.

No matter how the party may deny it, this is probably the time for Mugabe to start the process of handing over some key decision-making powers to his juniors, more so decisions to do with economic policy. There is need for clarity on as many issues on the economy and there is no leadership to make pronouncements on such.

As Zanu PF prepares for its congress in December, the leadership question must feature prominently otherwise any outcome of that meeting which does not resolve leadership issues is a betrayal of the people of Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, we hope the Presidency puts an end to whether the indigenisation law is being changed, if so, how and when?