Guest Column: Thabani Mnyama
ZANU PF has a track record of making false promises to the people, and when Emmerson Mnangagwa became President and promised to get rid of corruption, fix the economy and implement necessary reforms, some took that with a pinch of salt given, he is also Zanu PF. We currently have many Bills being “amended”, while a political dialogue is also taking place without yielding much results, and the fight against corruption still hasn’t resulted in many being prosecuted. This begs the question: Were all the promises by the President all talk and no croc bite, or is he sincere in all his promises?
From the time of former President Robert Mugabe, we have been bombarded with the sanctions rhetoric as the main reason why Zimbabwe is in such a mess. Without undermining the obvious effects the sanctions have had, however, corruption has been the main reason why Zimbabwe’s economy is bleeding.
The fight (or lack thereof) against corruption
Mnangagwa released an externalisations list during his bravado about the fight against corruption, which to date has not been followed through and leaves many questions unanswered. He then proceeded to set up a Special Anti-Corruption Unit headed by Thabani Mpofu (not the fulcrum Advocate), which reports directly to the President’s office. This came as a shock as such is ultra vires his legal mandate as President. This was an anomaly and it contradicted the law in that he had set up a branch of the Judiciary reporting directly to the Executive.
Overlooking the absurdity in the establishment of this special unit, to date it has not achieved its mandate. Magistrate Hosea Mujaya in April, fumed over the blatant disrespect of the courts by the President’s Special Anti-Corruption Unit, which he said seems reluctant to participate in the matters before the courts, as the unit’s head had failed to turn up in court yet again since the beginning of the case against Potraz director general Gift Machengete. There has not been a solid case on corruption relating to the bigwigs, which has actually seen the light of day. Blame for this can be attributed to the failure on the State’s part to prepare their cases and follow through on them. This has shown that the President overplayed his card in the fight against corruption as little to nothing has changed in this regard. It is more worrisome when petty crimes are being prosecuted, while corruption, which I term, a crime against humanity, is not being clamped down on, with the alleged perpetrators not only getting scot-free, but are even living in more luxury.
Section 254 of the Constitution establishes the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, tasked with investigating and exposing cases of corruption, while section 258 establishes the National Prosecuting Authority, tasked with instituting and undertaking criminal prosecutions on behalf of the State. With such constitutionally valid bodies available to curb corruption at all levels, one questions the necessity thereof of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit, especially considering their incompetence and legal invalidity. Without corruption being fought against tenaciously, the President will keep making promises about an economic recovery, which may never come at all under his leadership.
Zanu PF cannot reform itself out of power
The report by the commission of inquiry on the August 1, 2018 deaths, advised the President to pursue reforms in order to avoid such catastrophic events from happening again. To bring to some clarity, the army was deployed by the Defence minister in accordance with the Public Order Security Act (Posa), which gave him the right to deploy the army to assist the police to maintain peace and order, pursuant to civil unrests. During this period, six civilians were shot and lost their lives. However, the Constitution, which is the supreme law, only gives the President such authority as to deploy the army to assist the police. This inconsistency in both laws rendered the provisions in the Posa invalid as they were not consistent with the Constitution. Currently, there is a “reform drive”, as I like to call it, where many bills are being presented before Parliament and public consultations are being held before these are passed. To be fair, the people are not engaging on these as much as they should and the MDC, which is the main opposition, is also not doing enough when it comes to their role as legislators holding a third of the seats in Parliament. This is why we have the Maintenance of Public Order Bill (Mapo), which is an exact replica of the Posa, but with only a few minor changes and the opposition has not raised much alarm to this problem. If this bill is to be passed, then we would have moved backwards in terms of befitting reforms, and we would all be to blame for not playing our part.
The same laws being “amended” will be used in the next election season to inconvenience the opposition parties and not much will be done as doing so would be deemed “legal”. There are many red flags with the bills being presented and little outrage from the people and legislators. As has been said, Zanu PF will not reform itself out of power and to expect otherwise would be naive. If the people tasked with acting do not act, then we will remain under Zanu PF’s grip for much longer than we should. Actual reforms need to take place if the nation is to have an actual chance at recovering and becoming the best it can be.
(Dire)-alogue without Chamisa
There is a dialogue currently underway and it seems many are of the view that without Chamisa as part of this event, nothing much can be accomplished. However, would him being a part of it actually change much?
Chamisa seems to be defiant in not attending the dialogue, which he labels a sham get-together of those who lost the elections. He also boasts about how he has the numbers. As many can predict, his demands will not be met, especially if he does not attend the dialogue. As an important political figure, I believe it would have been wiser to attend the dialogue then air his grievances and disagreements with President Mnangagwa from within, as opposed to snubbing the whole thing, however much of a sham may be. On the other hand, the dialogue has not achieved anything, to the point where the likes of Daniel Shumba, Nkosana Moyo and Noah Manyika decided to pull out, citing lack of seriousness and sincerity in their dialogue. The rest of former presidential hopefuls who have remained a part of the dialogue appear not to be adding any value, save for making President Mnangagwa look “progressive”.
For a meaningful dialogue to take place, there needs to be a neutral mediator, with all parties represented. It should not be for show and optics, but an event where they all get together and acknowledge the problems currently facing the nation and solutions be provided and followed through. This is more the reason for all politicians to put their egos aside and come together and do something meaningful that can benefit the ordinary people.
There are many things going on at once, and a few people are following these events. The unfortunate thing is that these things have a direct effect on each and every citizen. Without participation, engagement and contributions, we will once again be leaving the fate of our future in Zanu PF’s hands, which in times past has proven incapable of bringing positive change. In moments like these, I can’t help but say . . . so help us God . . . Just saying!
Thabani Mnyama is an academic with special interests in international, constitutional & human rights law, diplomacy & public policy. He writes in his own capacity.