“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second-best time is now” – African Proverb
It’s only been six months since Zimbabwe held its harmonised elections. And for the better part of the last six months the new dispensation appears to be struggling in governing. Things seem to be falling apart, from fuel and cooking oil shortages, industrial action by medical doctors, currency issues, teachers you name it. For a newly elected government to be firefighting so early into a fresh mandate is not only senseless, but raises more questions than answers.
By Lloyd Msipa
In this piece I offer my opinion on what has gone wrong and what needs to be done in order to salvage the ‘new dispensation dream’ and the goodwill it wielded post November 2017.
Disclaimer, this piece is inspired by the 48 Laws of power by Robert Greene
The new dispensation is a victim of its own piecemeal approach in the review and reform of key institutions in terms of policy and human resources. Whatever the strategy that underpinned the approach, it seems to have backfired spectacularly.
The historical context
The problem that bedevilled Zimbabwe as a country in 1980 was not the economy to begin with, it was the land question. When we took back our land that’s when it dawned on us that one man one vote was merely political independence. Economically we were still under the direction and control of our former colonial masters. Why is the cartel that is controlling our fuel procurement is headed by white men, simple, they have never relinquished economic control since 1980, the State capture, the political party capture, capture of key economic players is not a consequence of managing or mismanaging the economy. It’s a colonial hangover. South Africa is on the brink of seeking to shake off the shackles of economic slavery. We merely tried to do that in year 2000.
Clearly, we failed. In America the country is run by big business interests behind the scenes, tobacco, guns the list is endless. We are no different. An incumbent President is irrelevant to these big business interests. He either plays ball or he is removed by hook or crook. The question we must ask ourselves is, how did Robert Mugabe manage to secure the confidence and support of the real power behind his throne while appearing to be a champion of Pan Africanism. I ask not because that should be repeated but in interrogating that so that a solution to the current problem might be gleamed. Robert Mugabe was a master at the laws of power principally Divide and Rule. It is not about firing people. Its about controlling them. Including that all powerful cartel.
Breaking the monopoly
Emmerson Mnangagwa (hereafter referred to as number one) needs to create a rival cartel which has more money and influence which owes its allegiance to him. The proposal put forward by Christopher Mutsvangwa at some point was brilliant. Break the monopoly, not by bumping heads, but by pitting them against a different entity with more power, money and influence than them.
That is the bigger picture.
Similarly, at party level, government level, department by department, ministry by ministry. Corridor whispers suggest that number one has loyalty issues in the Office of the President and Cabinet. (hereafter OPC) He needs to be less trusting of his allies at OPC. He needs to clean up and man State House with handpicked loyalists having done strict background checks. The current crop inherited from the Robert Mugabe administration are largely responsible for the contradictions in the governance we see today.
The overhaul has to extend to the protocol department and remove the stranglehold that the current OPC cats have on him and his office and his diary. He must remove the gravy train of influence peddling around access to his person, including the brown envelope to get an appointment and so on. He can potentially create three protocol secretaries, one diary at OPC, one at State House, one with the Intelligence, a kwekwe diary and a personal issue diary.
There is a need for number one to turn to people at permanent secretary level, they do all the work anyway, give them sufficient incentives to work and report back on what the ministers and heads are really doing. This would be good for implementation and by-passing heads captured by powerful cats. He shouldn’t be wary of retiring, firing, shuffling them and replacing them with loyalists.
Robert Mugabe was a master at keeping an eye on all detractors in all departments. Equally, number one needs to create a synchronised honey pot system of spying on and keeping an eye on all detractors. They are many. Tsvangirayi was kept busy with beautiful women Robert Mugabe achitonga. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Use tried and tested intelligence gathering methods. Pillow talk has brought down many powerful men.
After Robert Mugabe there was always going to be a need for a clear change management strategy as people used to firm control were bound to control number one’s resolve to change course. He needs to divide and rule stakeholders preventing him from implementing far reaching changes.
Divide and rule is a principle used to turn key personal to report secretly, directly and implemented by bypassing compromised heads. At party level, the same must be done. Not high-level party functionaries, but loyalists must be able to speak directly to number one. The women, the youth, he must capture control and drop the tainted ones. He needs to break the monopolies in the G40, In the MDCA, In the judiciary. In the military. In the economy.
The process of re-configuring the bureaucracy is not as easy as people would want it and as a lawyer number one knows that some people like the Reserve Bank Governors and key staffers are protected by labour laws from arbitrary firing. The bureaucracy is carrying a lot of people in sensitive positions like Directors and Permanent Secretaries who are still loyal to the old administration and don’t necessary support the new dispensation. Number one needs a strong performance monitoring and management team in the OPC that should constantly review contracts. In the same breath it is important for number one to be cognisant of the fact that power in government is shared as you cannot do everything yourself.
The Finance Minister needs help.
The finance minister is under heavy bombardment and is being blamed for everything that is wrong with Zimbabwe’s economy today. It is a truism that no matter how fantastic the policies Mthuli Ncube can come up with, it is the political environment that will ultimately determine the effectiveness of those policies. A toxic political environment will render the brilliant ideas he may have ineffective. He needs help. He among other things needs a newspaper or media outlet dedicated to articulating his vision which is not the herald. A radio show, a TV Channel for someone like Ruvheneko to carry out his instructions without being fettered. This can be done on a contract basis and be paid on a similar basis. After all, it is high time a third media force emerges to compete with pro ZANU and pro MDC media houses.
Is the Magistrates Court captured?
The suspension of the Chief Magistrate, Mishrod Guvamombe for granting internship work to known G40 loyalists confirms the whispers in the corridors of the Judicial Services Commission that he has always been a political functionary and the bulk of his decisions at the court of first instance were tempered with political considerations. Perhaps, this is an opportunity for number one to restructure the secretariat in the Judicial Services Commission. There is a need to bring in a technocrat with a PHD in administration to do administration work and not get involved in political-quasi legal issues. The Chief Justice is there to guide the secretariat. An outside would break the monopoly and corrupt withdrawals from the Court retention fund will come to an end. A new dispensation should mean new ways of doing things.
Ministry of Mines: the goose that lays the golden eggs
This is the goose that lays the golden eggs, literally, if the ministry of mines brings in a lot more gold and the country creates more gold reserves at the central bank that is our way of re-introducing our own currency. It then begs the question why would the budget allocation be a mere sixteen million dollars. As someone privy to how mining and investment work, it is common knowledge that those that seek to invest in mining especially from outside the country generally want full documentation that include geological maps, exploration information quantifying the resource at that particular claim. It is no secret that the bulk of Zimbabwean claims or prospects upward of 80 percent are unexplored. No amount of conferencing with investors will dilute this reality. The government has to play an active role on raising venture capital funds to make exploration possible. Armed with real geological information, the investors will come. Capital does not like risk.
Number one must speak to the people
Zimbabwe held its election barely six months ago as I indicated above. That means the current administration has in excess of 4 years to sort himself out. The discussion to be held now is how to make things right. I know that number one has counter intelligence training. He knows what is wrong and how it went wrong. He needs help in coming up with strategies. In what needs to be done, he knows what needs to be done. It’s the how. The devil is in the details. Is he ready to cauterise the wound and help his country move forward? His message should be, mistakes were made in the past. I was part of it and I am collectively responsible. I accept that, I am now saying its time to rectify the mistakes. To right those wrongs that are stopping our country from moving forward. STAND WITH ME ZIMBABWE. Give me a chance. We can make our country great again.
Will the real crocodile please stand up?
In trying to create his idea of a new dispensation, number one has allowed himself to be perceived as an indecisive and weak leader. Like a baby that has lost its bottle. There is no room for mercy in this fight if he intends to come out on top. It is very well to sell yourself as being soft as wool as long as you don’t hypnotise yourself into believing that this acting for the cameras will do the job.
A lot of us loved him more when he was the beloved Ngwena (crocodile) who was supposed to be cunning, ruthless, crafty and always two steps ahead of every mortal man. I don’t think Tsuro Magen’a was as clever as he is made to be in our folklore. But every generation needs a super hero. Someone to emulate and believe in. Someone to make us dream big again. Dream about a land of milk and honey. A land with different minerals in excess of sixty-six. Where is the crocodile that led the people in November 2017?
For me its that simple. Break the monopoly. Divide and rule in all key institutions. Insulation from machinations at OPC. Create new look protocol structures. Separate personal engagements and confine those to new look State House. Honey pot intel operation to divide and distract naysayers including the opposition. Protect the cash cows. Finance, ZIMRA and Mines. Create a new centre of power using raking loyalists in the party particularly women’s league and the youth league in both central committee and politiburo. It’s time to ensure that there are no parallel structures. It’s the law of the jungle. Number one should remove soft as wool cobwebs from his head. It’s affecting how he carries himself and how he is perceived. He should project the Ngwena image and behave accordingly.