DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa,
Your Excellency, as I see it, it is now the norm for the festive season to be without merriment.
Yet, be that as it may, convention and courtesy nonetheless warrant me to extend to you hearty seasonal greetings.
It is on the backdrop of national despondency that methinks the utterance by a Zanu PF bigwig that his party does not view land barons as its members was as stale as yesterday’s newspaper.
His attempt to disown them was a futile act of denial of the known.
It is my earnest conviction that he laboured in vain. His expression that land barons parcelling out State land should be jailed is commonplace within Zanu PF.
There have been many likewise renditions following the shibboleth you regurgitated at your inauguration.
Since then, it has oftentimes been repeated, rendering the statement a platitude. With all due respect, it is now devoid of substance owing to its excessive recycling.
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His endeavour to disown them was too menial and apparent to give substance to his utterance.
Your Excellency, the party guru who was recently quoted saying his party does not support the practice of land barons knew that his sentiments had been made previously, over and over again.
He was obviously fully aware, in his heart of hearts, that there has never been concerted action by both party and government to follow through the assertions.
Actually, it is well known that the party heavyweights, who were pivotal to the shady land parcelling deals have been enjoying immunity.
Granted, if ever there was anyone outside of Zanu PF parcelling out land, police could have hit the ground running to arrest them.
His attempt to disown the land barons was a wilful case of hiding in plain sight.
His declaration: “We do not support such behaviour and we do not allow such in the party. We do not view these elements as party people. They are people who are using the name of the party for their criminal enterprises. In fact, the President made it clear that government will pursue them,” he said.
Your Excellency, immunity of land barons from prosecution is a public secret.
Despite being a social menace, they seem oblivious of the threat to pursue them you made during your inaugural speech.
And, the few who get arrested are guaranteed the catch and release lease of life.
None of them are subjected to lengthy pretrial detentions coupled with serial bail refusals.
They are characteristically treated in high esteem. Save for the one who died in remand prison, owing to a chronic ailment, the generality of them merely make ceremonial remand court appearances.
Duly, there could not have been an easier deliverable among your inaugural promises than the prosecution of land barons.
Given the confidence you exuded when you pledged to round them up in your inaugural speech, coupled with your declaration that you knew most of them, methinks the nuisance could have been a closed chapter by now.
For those that got arrested, the courts should have handed down deterrent sentences.
Had it not been that most of the land barons are active participants in the ruling Zanu PF party, the long arm of the law would have long caught up with them.
Hence, in the absence of prosecution and jailing, illegal settlements, most of them in wetlands, have continued to sprout.
In fact, they continued even when you had just been inaugurated.
Your Excellency, the parcelling of State land by barons created a threat to your party’s power retention bid.
With a number of households living in squalor, on unserviced stands, your prospects of power retention hang in the balance.
All urban centres around the country have been villagised.
It is a blemish on the governing party that independence has culminated in citizenry residing on stands allocated by land barons in apparent violation of urban planning laws.
Indeed, it is inconceivable that multitudes of households are without the basic amenities of an urban setting. Yet, our colleges produce rural and urban planning graduates.
As we countdown to the 2023 harmonised elections, methinks the fate of the populace residing on settlements that were allocated by the land barons is bound to have negative consequences on your bid to retain power.
It is a big ask to expect them to vote for you.
Your Excellency, your promise to issue title deeds to households who live on undesignated settlements had all the elements of a social contract.
Methinks your reneging on the promise set you on a collision course with the populace.
As I see it, you deprived yourself of trust and bankability by backtracking.
With the National Housing and Social Amenities ministry struggling to justify its formation, the prospects of regularisation of the indiscriminately parcelled out residential stands is all but a remote dream.
It is worthy my elaboration that failure to keep your promise spells doom for your electoral showing.
History abounds with leaders whose demise was attributable to failure to keep their promises. It is a trait that the electorate rightly equates to deceitfulness.
With the First Lady now sitting in the politburo, contrary to your promise that she will not be in politics, methinks commitment to promises is foundational to considerate leadership.
Duly, the keeping of promises, or otherwise, is the yardstick with which ethics and integrity are measured.
Your Excellency, circumspection is indispensable to Statesmanship. Meanwhile, as an opposition parliamentarian languishes in pretrial incarceration, the profundity of the ancient words: “A kindness done to someone sad will make your own heart twice as glad,” are bound to rouse your conscience.
Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public-speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist.