Tuesday, 8 December 2015


With the 2015 Annual Conference underway, there has been a lot of confusion and speculations regarding the functions of various organs of the party, the purpose of the Conference (which some are confusing with a Congress) and other speculations regarding seniority in the party and succession among others.  An understanding of the ZANU PF Constitution would clear most of the confusion, speculation and controversy.

The new, amended ZANU PF constitution was adopted at the 6th National People’s Congress in 2014. The constitution comprises of 4 Chapters and 29 Articles which describes among others, the Principal Organs and Structure of the Party, the National People’s Congress (Article 5) and the National People’s Conference (Article 6).

The Congress is the supreme organ of the Party, which is held in ordinary session every 5 years. An extraordinary session of the congress may be convened under various conditions as shown in the extract below:

The powers of the National People’s Conference are also clearly laid out in Article 6 (33) among which are to coordinate and implement decisions and programmes of the Congress and Central Committee, and “to declare the President of the Party elected at Congress as the State Presidential Candidate of the Party”. An extract from the constitution clarifying this position is shown below. It is hoped this will clarify any confusion regarding the purpose of the Annual Conference.

In between Congresses, the Central Committee is the Principal Organ of the Party, and consists of 300 members, which includes the President and First Secretary, the two Vice Presidents  and Second Secretaries, The National Chairperson (all appointed by the President), and members from different provinces and organs (including the Secretaries for the Women’s and Youth’s Leagues). An extract from Article 7 is shown below:

Article 8 clarifies the composition of the Political Bureau which is led by the Presidium and comprises of Secretaries of various functionalities, such as administration, finance, commissariat, women’s league and youth league among others. The Politiburo is the administrative organ of the Central Cmmittee.

The Party document also clarifies the hierarchy of the party and the election and appointment process; there are no muddy areas on this one and this is laid out in a crystal clear manner. It is unfortunate that there may be elements within the party who are unclear on certain issues; they are encouraged to read the constitution. Those mischief makers (or simply ignorant individuals) in the media and social circles are also encouraged to download and read a copy of the constitution.

For closure and clarity, the issue of succession which is unnecessarily doing rounds is also clearly covered by the National Constitution - the ZANU PF constitution also clarifies this.

According to Section 26(2) of the ZANU PF constitution as shown in the extract above; an extraordinary session of congress may be convened “in the event of a vacancy occurring in the Office of National President requiring the party to nominate a successor, at the instance of the secretary for administration”. There is no such vacancy at the moment.

The national constitution, states if the president resigns, is incapacitated or dies, the last acting president takes over for 90 days. In this period the party would then hold an extraordinary congress after which the party has to elect a successor for the remainder of the tenure. This successor will be “nominated by at least two provinces and elected nationally by party members” which means the person will be have to be elected in a national “primary election” by card-carrying party members.

Elected unanimously by Congress:
The ZANU PF President and First Secretary
Set to be confirmed as ZANU PF presidential candidate for 2018
The information provided here is for clarity only. The ZANU PF machine continues to roll on; led by the President and First Secretary of the party.

He was elected by Congress and will be confirmed as the 2018 candidate at the Annual Conference

That is the status quo, and any other speculation is misguided.


Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Funding of Political Parties in Zimbabwe

By Nick Mangwana

One wonders why everything involving Zanu PF is turned into a controversy regardless of how straight forward it might be.  Last week this column had to discuss the relationship between churches and politics after a few rich churches were alleged to be involved in funding Zanu PF and this had caused some kind of negative excitement on social media and in the so-called independent press.  Next was the invitation sent out to the corporate world to come and partake in a fundraising dinner. Again there was some brouhaha from the same quarters leading to some getting the feeling or perception that there was some kind of impropriety in the corporate sector funding political parties.  

The fact of the matter is that there is no need for an uproar as everything is quite above board. There is a symbiotic relationship between business and politics.  Whilst those opposed to certain parties would really prefer the relationship between a long term incumbent like Zanu PF and business to be antagonistic they get disappointed  when they discover that it not only genial but in some cases quite affectionate that business is happy to write a few cheques in support of certain political programmes like the hosting of an annual conference.  There is nothing fundamentally corrupt about that.

A lot of Zimbabwean companies have been  listed and sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) because of their association with the State of Zimbabwe or the ruling party. Recently there have been cries of, " boycott this or boycott that business"  again for the same reasons. The source of this clamour is never surprising because once the word "boycott" is uttered there is no price for guessing whose brainchild that is. As said earlier there is no violation of the law or generally accepted standards when companies show sympathy towards certain political parties, ideology or positions. Some decide not only to sympathise but to finance those causes or parties as well.

There has been a persistent rumour over the years that corporate magnates like Mr Strive Masiyiwa
have been sponsoring  certain opposition  politicians and their parties  and even acting as unofficial advisors. This can make one a darling of the opposition.  The opposition is always an underdog when in a dogfight with an incumbent therefore no one bats an eyelid if the opposition gets corporate funding.
The ruling party made a lot of noise a few years ago when one opposition leader had a triumphant smug on their gleeful face as they ogled a big pile of cheques they were receiving from commercial farmers. The ruling party alleged that these were payments to subvert the will of the people in as far as the Land Reform was concerned. At the end of the day whilst the morality and the political wisdom of this could be questioned by everyone searching their own conscience, there was nothing illegal about it.  If there is a nothing illegal about it then there is nothing wrong when it is Zanu PF.

Funding for political parties has always been a contentious issue both in Zimbabwe and abroad. Zimbabwe is guided by the Political Parties Finance Act 2001. This Act was first assented to in 1992, amended in 1997 and re-issued again in 2001. Its primary reason for existence  (which it has dismally failed to do) is to stop foreigners from interfering in Zimbabwe's internal affairs by obligating the State to locally fund any party that garners at least 5% vote in the general election.  Helpful ass this might be this funding is never enough and is never coming on time because of current economic challenges. So this leads to parties having to find another funding stream. The next source is membership through subscriptions and other contributions. There still remain a funding gap even after these.  That is where individuals and business come in.

In every mature democracy, the bulk of funding for political parties comes from business and the corporate world. In India 90% of funding to national parties in the 2013/2014 period was from business houses and corporations. In the United States the figure is 70% for the same period. The Republicans took 59% of the funding and the Democrats took 41%.

In the UK political parties can receive funding from any company or business as long as it is registered in the UK  and it carries business in the UK.  For an individual to donate to a political party both in the UK and the US, they should be on the electoral register and the donation itself should be registered.  The idea is the same as in Zimbabwe. That is not to have foreigners  or foreign corporations with  no local interests influencing  domestic  politics. You see, even the greatest meddlers in other countries' affairs do not want anyone meddling in theirs.

The other point is that if labour unions fund political parties all over the world, why can't business fund those political parties that they believe have an ideology that promote their interests as long as it is done transparently. If one takes the UK model, one would discover that the caveat to all this is that as long as there is a registration of the donation  and it is all transparent who has donated to what political party or what cause.  If in the future there are certain favours or tenders preferences then this can be scrutinised.

In countries like Canada there have been cases of business being so involved in politics that they have had an influence on which candidates participate in what elections.

Any normal business would want to influence broad priorities on any political agenda. So naturally business would want to support the party that has policies that is consistent with their economic interests. Being at the same table and pressing flesh  with a decision maker helps one have a bit of intelligence, be informally heard as well as have some political leverage. Is that wrong?

Reaching out to business for financial support is not corrupt per se. It is just reaching out for corporate interests. It could have been any other special interests grouping. It just so happened in other cases that these have possibly deeper pockets and the feeling is that against a formidable incumbent with big financial backers the playing field will never be "even". In the UK Labour with its Union backing has struggled to financially compete against the Tories' wealthy donors.  

In settings like Zimbabwe where resources are scarce, there is always going to be a disparity between the funding each political party would get, with more funding  probably going mainly to those that are deemed to have the political power than to those that are likely to just be opposing.  Those that are accusing business and corporations are challenged to pick any country whom they believe to have a highly developed democracy and check out where the political funding streams run from. The bulk is from corporations and sometimes small local businesses at provincial levels.

Let us go back to the proviso that was alluded to  earlier. There should be no coercion or extortion. There should also be no backlash to those that decide to back the opposition or those that back a party that loses. Their loss should just be that they backed a loser.  The second issue if the model being used elsewhere is just to have a Register for Political Donations for public scrutiny.  The problem with this approach again there can never be transparency if "boycott brigade" takes a peek in the register and immediately  goes hysterical with the usual mantra, " Boycott this, boycott that because they fund the regime!" . This again can be considered some form of backlash. There should be no consequences against those that choose to fund a party and those that choose not to. There should be no threats veiled or explicit.  Anonymised donations should be very small amounts only.

Businesses have always tried to influence public policy everywhere. Zimbabwean businesses are no exception. As long as there is no extortion involved there should be no problem. If there was a sign today that the opposition was going to be in power then the corporate sector would be hedging their bets with them.  But that sign is not on the horizon and therefore the purse strings also remain tight.

Those that follow British politics are aware of the Media Baron Rupert Murdock's  controversies in its politics. His papers  take partisan political positions so does his company. Through this he has unfettered access to the rulers of the country as well as an influence on their domestic politics.  But let the relationship between the media and politics be a different instalment for another day. This week is about business in general.

So when 6000 or so members of Zanu PF and their guests meet in Victoria Falls in the second week of December, have their Conference and enjoy the accompanying shindig, let it be clear that it is not government money. It is Zanu PF money.  The only price which everyone has to look clearly at is the political price  to pay when one shows too much display of political extravagance.  The electorate may find some of that a vulgarity. But besides that, there is really no argument. 


Violence in Politics is Destructive

 By Nick Mangwana

Recent events in the party are said to have left the community in Chitungwiza in a state of shock.  Yours truly has spoken to a lot of people on the ground to get sense of what actually transpired. It is clear that there is not going to be a trial since the chief suspect took the coward’s way out and committed suicide rather than face up to the responsibilities of what he had done.  This is also quite tragic. You see comrades whenever there is a loss of life in a violent and avoidable way, it is a very heartrending.

It is said that all the deceased had just secured positions within the Zanu PF structures in their areas. It is also said that they had aligned themselves with two different leaderships of the party. It is also reported that there was an argument in which the subject involved the names of two Politburo members and one took strong umbrage towards both the results of the recent restructuring exercise as well as the language used by the other and therefore reacted very violently by hacking his comrades to death. As usual the European Union has already given its own two pence worth. It has already said that it is concerned by the violence “against” political parties. It then alluded to the Hopley Suburb violence by the MDC-T against the police and of course the Chitungwiza incident.

There is a clear distinction between the two incidents here. In the first instant, the violence by the MDC-T is institutional violence. They set out to disturb the peace and hoped that they could ignite something with their provocation which would send Zimbabwe on a pathway of massive violence and destruction. The police responded by arresting them. They responded by attacking the police. That is called institutional violence.

Most people are comfortable defining institutional violence as violence that is employed by an organisation as a means to achieving its objectives.  When such violence happens then the institution or organisation can be labelled “violent”. So here we make the distinction between the incident in Chitungwiza and the Hopley suburb one. In the Chitungwiza incident there was no political objective whatsoever. The subject of the argument could have been politics but the incident was not political. One could replace that subject with any other and the outcome would have been the same. These individuals could have been discussing football with one side supporting Dynamos and the other Caps or Highlanders and there still would have been bloodshed.  This is because in this particular incident it is very clear that we are dealing with someone who was very disturbed.  His psychological instability just manifested in the political realm. This is where part of his passion was. If his passion was women, he would have killed for a woman.  

That violence would have been attributed to him and him alone and not to his amorous liaisons. The same applies to this case. The violence perpetrated by this sick individual who eventually took their own life should be attributed to them and them alone and not Zanu PF.  What political objective would have been advanced by this callousness?  The answer is that there was none.  This was about a bruised ego, misdirected passion or simply pride hurt by a disagreeable outcome. The result was a purely criminal act. There is no affiliated political reason.  Possibly there was alcohol and other illicit substances involved as well. Saka marambadaro (those that can’t handle their alcohol) are not only found in politics.

Now let us compare that to the Hopley Suburb violence. It had all the hallmarks of institutional violence with the MDC-T as the institution. That is political violence.  There were political objectives to be met. That was to try to ignite a fire that would make Zimbabwe ungovernable and therefore effect political change in Zimbabwe through unconstitutional means.  A peaceful society is never achieved through violent means. This is what the MDC-T has to learn.  If they want to live in a democratic country, then democracy is the way that they have to use to achieve their democratic objectives. Subversion of the people’s will is never going to achieve that.

Zanu PF has a violent history. It’s all purely justifiable in the sense of the Liberation Struggle. That was a justifiable cause and it is the type of violence one should be proud of.  But beyond that Zanu PF should win the intellectual argument.  Nobody should be pummelled into submission. Only those people that would have lost the intellectual arguments turn to violence.  But let us face the fact that the right tool has to be used for the right job. If there is a violent confrontation, then if violent is deployed as a weapon that may be understandable. But if the confrontation is intellectual and one wants to win it with violence, then the conclusion is that they are intellectually challenged and therefore resort to animalistic behaviour. 

Where Zimbabwe is now is where the brain is the weapon of choice. It is the heart and mind of the voter that has to be bought in by sound programmes as well as sound arguments. They say you catch more flies by using honey than by using vinegar. It means that the power of charm and persuasion should be deployed to win the heart and mind.

Violence might appear to do good, but the good that comes from violent methods is ephemeral. A wise man once said, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent”, and boy, was he right!


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Churches and Politics In Zimbabwe

 By Nick Mangwana

Christianity is a lifestyle. So are many religions. A thumping 85% of Zimbabweans are said to be Christians in one way or another. At least they profess to be one.  Politics is what it is.  Some define it as the use of intrigue, strategy, gimmickry and strategy to obtain a position of power or control. Imagine then that 85% of Zimbabweans decide not to mix their religion (way of life) and politics and leave themselves to be ruled and governed by their inferiors.  Those ones who just want gain control and power for the sake of it. 

Those who want to gain a position for what it brings to them rather than what it enables them to do for the nation and their people? What disturbing world will that be? Even in the current mix nations are being ruled by terrible people who profess Christianity.  That maybe provides them with a bit of moral check. One of course just hopes.

The other heathendom political world seem to be what  some people and a Newsday  editorial  for the 6th of November  titled  “Keep Churches out of politics” seem to be calling for.  Among other things it alleged that Zanu PF was so desperate for money that it was hoping to raise funds  for its conference from a couple of the most prominent so-called " prophets" Messrs Makandiwa and Magaya. Maybe it's Magaya and Makandiwa as it is alleged that these two are fighting for their own pre-eminence so the order by which they are written down might be a "political" issue.  This columnist’s views on this new movement of Pentecostalism are well documented. Suffice to say that they are unflattering. But that should not detract from the fact that the call for  these two and the rest of the churches to stay out of politics just because they are thought to be associated with Zanu PF is ill-conceived  and very self-serving. It is a fact that this type of a call only comes whenever there is church's association with the Ruling Party involved.  That being said, raises the debate whether as the call to keep churches out of politics is a good call, one just happened to cross the mind at the time when the rich pair was associated with Zanu PF?

 Religion is said to structures one’s way of life, and politics modulates it. The whole Bible is based on

the interaction between politics and religion. There is a whole Land Question which emanates from a People occupying others land based on a religious promise they alleged to having been given to them by God. That is an issue that has absorbed the whole world to this day in what is known as the Palestinian Question.  It is one where religion could not be kept out of politics. In talking of Biblical promises and politics the fact most religious leaders then were political leaders cannot not be ignored.
As one traverses the Bible they come across the Crucifixion whose basis were both a religious and a political accusation.  There was confusion of about Jesus’ declaration that he was King of the Jews. Some felt this was a rebellion against Caesar and the political order of the day while others saw some religious sacrilege somewhere.  The end result was a political leader in Pontius Pilate releasing Jesus to the Jewish religious sects of Pharisees and Sadducees resulting in the most revolting and sadistic from of religious martyrdom.  And we are here today talking of a religion that was founded upon that religio-political martyrdom.

But that happened in far off foreign lands. let's bring it closer to home.  From the days of Father Gonzalo da Silveira all the way to  Robert Moffart  tracking through the Liberation Struggle to this day organised Religion and Politics have always been inseparable in Zimbabwe. The occupation of many African lands had the double edged sword of the Bible and the maxim gun. The infamous 1883 Letter to Imperialist Missionaries by King Leopold II comes to mind in illustrating this inseparable combination.

More positively, during the Liberation Struggle, Catholic periodical known as  Moto Magazine was banned by Ian Smith in 1974 to only emerge in 1980 after Independence because of its position against the Rhodesian  Regime and its perceived support for the Liberation Movements. When it comes to the nationalists themselves (however they ended) the nation had clerics such as Ndabaningi Sithole founng president of Zanu,  Abel Tendekayi Muzorewa  prime minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and  Canaan Sodhindo Banana the first State President of an Independent Zimbabwe. Weren't all these cases an interaction between church  and politics. Isn't just rich (pun intended)  that suddenly there is a voice that says Makandiwa and Magaya stay out of politics? 

How many times has Zimbabwe experienced political rallies packaged as Prayer Meetings? Hoo zvakanaka zvichiitwa navamwe kana zvava zve Zanu PF mavara azara ivhu (Is it only acceptable being done by those opposed to Zanu PF but it becomes foul when the ruling party delves in religion)? Why is the nation not hearing these cries to keep politics out of religion when Bishop Bakare calls for his “Convergence”?

Doesn't  whole outlook  Civic Society in Zimbabwe have a veneer of Christian work?  Is civic service only that which is opposed to the State? Churches  are allowed  and should be allowed to deal with civic issues such as human rights, governance  and justice.  But those that want to rally behind the status quo should also be allowed the same space to advocate and finance such causes without risking demonisation. One can argue that if the State is accused of religious persecution (rightly so) and intolerance when it falls hard on churches it perceives as a  front for certain political parties, then it is naturally the same accusation should go to those demonisation those churches identifying with the status quo.

Churches  be  left alone to be outspoken against political excesses, but by the same token they should
also be allowed  outspoken support of  the status quo and even fund it if they so wish. If churches provides a moral voice, such a voice should not be prescribed by the media or such pseudo-democrats.  Those religious supporting the status quo should not be seen as collaborators/accessories  where as those that oppose are seen as heroes. For religion is an issue of conscience. And everyone has a different one.

When church provides a moral voice in a political discourse, it doesn’t always have to be anti-establishment.  All political parties are aware that churches complement or oppose their work.  And naturally  both politics and religion are divisive and naturally they will always have a strained or complimentary relationship.

If there is nothing wrong with  Levee  Kadenge issuing statements against the government, maybe there is  also nothing wrong with  people like Rev Andrew Wutaunanshe are deemed to hold either Pan Africanist or Nationalistic slant in their life outlook issuing pastoral sermons deemed to identify with the same ideals as Zanu PF?   If there is nothing wrong with Pius Ncube delivering religious edicts against the government, what would be wrong with Mapositori uttering supplication for the health of Zanu PF leadership?

Whether people like it or not, politics and religion will always interact and political parties will deploy them to their own ends. It’s all down to who can do it more creatively and in a more productive way. Churches cannot only be recognised as a  vital force to foster moral conscience oppose the State and be accused of collusion when they work with the government of the day.

The attack of seemingly hostile clergy does not only come from those opposed to the government. Those in power have also  issued what could be deemed to be unholy edicts against religious organisations and  individuals.  If this is unacceptable, then it should go both ways.

On their part religious organisations riding roughshod over politics by choosing when to utter their 2 pence worthy through the so-called pastoral letters, retreat and claim unfettered freedom of worship when politicians return fire.  That is tantamount to them having their cake and eat it. If politicians can be scrutinised and attacked, those religious organisation which rightly get involved in politics should be given their political just deserts like everyone else.  After all who can separate religion from politics? And politicians should also be free to use churches  as fishing ponds, after all that's where 85% of the voters are. Let politics and religion interactively co-exist , after all what actually is the difference between the two?

Religion is both a unifying and a diving element in society. Just the same as politics but generally religion has killed more than politics. And this is not about the current wave of terrorism and the accompanying outrages to extremism. The reality which everyone must live with is one cannot separate religion from politics. And politicians love giving moral authority to their nonsense by quoting religious texts. It is known the most favourite scripture to be quoted by an incumbents in political positions and those that support them is the one that says every leadership or dominion is ordained in heaven. How self-serving!


Tuesday, 3 November 2015

A Case For Parastatal Reform

By Nick Mangwana

"We are not going to hesitate to put some parastatals under the hammer. We should be able to say, you are not performing so please get out. We must be harsh enough to say this because tiri kunyarana.” This statement was said by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Cde Patrick Chinamasa quite recently.  "Putting under the hammer" was widely interpreted as meaning that the government was going to privatise some of its parastatals that are underperforming. 

There has been calls from certain quarters that companies like the GMB, National Railways of Zimbabwe, Air Zimbabwe and ZUPCO and a few others are a drain on the fiscus so should be privatised.  Over the years the government has been giving subsidies to these State Enterprises. But where because of budgetary constraints the government has been unable to do that the enterprises ended up huffing and puffing as most of these are currently doing. So some people have felt that there is a need for government same and place them into private hands.

Accusations of cases of corporate rot in parastatals is no longer headline grabbing. There are cases of abuse of both financial and physical assets of these companies which are owned by the tax payer. Because profit is has never been the major driver one can find that most parastatals in Zimbabwe pay much more than private firms. But these highly paid executives don't seem to have the creativity that is normally called for in the private sector and are inefficiently run. So because when privatisation is done properly it tends to bring micro-economic efficiencies.

But in this clamour for more privatisation one should never forget that most of these firms
were set up with a political perspective in mind. Say the GMB for example; at the heart of its objectives is food security of the country. It is not profit. So in placing it in private hands considerations should be given the original allocative objectives and whether they can still be met.  The answer to this question is likely to be negative. The next issue that must be addressed is the one about retrenchments. In most cases layoffs always follow privatisation. And with the high rate of unemployment at the moment is it the right time to even consider trading efficiencies for unemployment?  But then the counter argument is that in most of its depots there is more wooden pallets than grain anyway. So resources which are being used to keep it afloat could be deployed elsewhere to meet other socio-economic outcomes.

Over the years as much as 25% of the national budget deficit was going towards subsidising our loss making parastatals because they themselves cannot sustain profits. Companies like Zimbabwe Power Company have dominance on the market but that has not allowed them to make profits and if the power cuts and load shedding that is going on is anything to go by then it also very clear that they are  probably is not the most productive asset of the economy.

The ZISCO/Zimsteel saga is over documented that there is no need to dwell on it. The issues of the challenges faced by parastatals is not a new thing. There have been quite a few Commissions of enquiries over the years in these assets to see how they can be turned around. The deficits and inefficiencies have continued unabated. And surely the reader is challenged to name a parastatal that has not suffered from the so called "soft budget constraint". The State has been called upon over and over again to bail them out. Parliament is getting experience in debt assumption debates as the government reaches out to stop some its enterprises going under. So the proponents of privatisation would identify with Minister Chinamasa's call. They argue that privatisation itself raises money in selling off these assets. There is also the point that all the borrowing that was being done to keep the enterprises afloat will be lowered. 

Resources that were being used in the sector will allocated elsewhere. Thus those who are
finding resonance with the minster's warning or is it a threat see macro-economic stability being set in motion and the people's suffering being reduced. They point to examples like the partial privatisation of Kenya Airways where the government owns only 29.8%, KLM 26.7% and the rest in very private hands on the stock exchange. They point how it is an airline that is incomparable to our own Air Zimbabwe.

Some of those opposed to the idea point at the popularity of the re-nationalisation agenda in Britain, especially when it comes to the railway transport industry. This was a sector was initially set up with the commuter in mind and not profit. But since its privatisation and introduction of competition, there has been an escalation of fares and the efficiencies have only been witnessed in the number of profits that being made. So sometimes the introduction of competition does not automatically bring in efficiencies. Another case in point closer to home is the opening up of the urban commuter industry in Zimbabwe and the havoc that followed with the Kombis crowding out ZUPCO and yet the road safety and anarchy  became a nightmare. But those who defend this would point to the lack of regulation rather than the principle of reform itself.

The political establishment seems to have confronted the inevitability of the fact that the public purse is not deep enough to continue to run some of these enterprises the same way. There are of course those highly sensitive and strategic that a small country like ours cannot privatise without compromising national security, those should not be privatised. However the much vaunted "Corporate Governance Reform" should not be just a phrase in season. It should be real. It is about 2 years since the first publication of the ridiculous public sector executive remuneration packages in some of these companies. It is disheartening that there are reports that it has carried on unremittingly. 

There are cases where there has been a general consensus over reform or privatisation and in some cases private public partnerships(PPP) but the management of the process itself has been fraught with inefficiencies, ineptitude and downright incompetence which is highly masked in fogginess. The ZimSteel/ Essar Deal comes to mind. This of course was something that seized the GNU and the current government and simply now ended up with the deal itself seizing up with no alternative on the horizon.

So it appears the journey is much longer than it ever needs to be. Firstly the making of the decision to privatise itself is very protracted and a fingernail pulling processes. When that decision is made the implementing (if it happens) is another challenge. The public confidence is dented and acclamation is now replaced with derision when deals are announced. It shouldn't be kind that, and it doesn't need to be like that.

There is no question that the utility industry in Zimbabwe needs reform. However privatisation is another question altogether. There has been a lot of talk and blaster about bringing in good corporate governance. It's just a sound bite at the moment as after a bit of time everyone is always surprised that those parastatals executive are still earning those ridiculous remunerations.

One thing that can never be ignored is that there are always political ramifications to any privatisation.

People have always argued that there is a lot of money either to be made or saved by privatisation but it's not as straight forward as people would like everyone to believe.

Government divesture in some of the companies in Zimbabwe at the moment may not yield value for money as they are currently undervalued because of the way they are run. The companies seem primed to only benefit the executives and in some cases board members. That has haemorrhaged their worthy. So if a decision to sell off is made, it should be borne in mind that there is a price to pay.

The UK experienced this by selling its utility companies below fair market value but now there is an agitation by the new leader of the opposition to go back to State control because of too much profiteering by these private utility companies. These companies have now made a lot of profits which the public has found too high to accept.

There is no country under the son that will not consider political objectives in the sales or reform of their public sector industry.

Most public enterprises are set up for a mission. That mission is normally to fulfil a certain socio-economic agenda, there has to be a balance in opening up the market, bringing in competition and loosening the degree of control that allows for the meeting of the objectives for which the enterprise was set up for in the first place. That may mean bringing in an independent regulator. What is clear is that the current scenario is unsustainable. The nation cannot afford to have a National Railway that is struggling to stay afloat. A national airline that is now not seen in most G7 cities and a power company whose name is now used by children to curse each other in the play ground. 


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Zanu PF and Residual Faeces

By Nick Mangwana

Continuing this week's theme of Perpetual Cleansing I honestly felt like writing this instalment in Shona my mother tongue. For when one gets emotional, they resort to their vernacular.  

I have a cousin who married a beautiful Ndebele lass. After a few years in that dry Masvingo District where I hail from she became very fluent in Shona. But whenever she was upset the beautiful clicks that make Ndebele so musical would start rolling out.  That's what happens when someone stops using their head but start using their heart.

So I am thinking this in Shona, because it comes from the heart.  I will start by at least asking my first question to the reader in Shona and revert back to English with some translations for those who speak our many other official languages.  Pane akambosvina matumbu kana guru (does everyone know how to clean tripe or cow chitlins?). For the sake of those who have never had the experience or witnessed it I will explain.

Whenever the insides of an animal are turned and cleaned, no matter how hungry it had been before its slaughter there will always be faeces in its gut. If those that are very healthy and shiny with a lustrous sheen, when they die and you turn their insides, you will find faeces.  I want the good reader to catch this point. Even those animals that actually starve to death, they will always have faeces inside them. Hell, even if you slaughter a cow that has just finished relieving itself or defecating, it will always have faeces inside of it. Now, we all know that defecating is a way of self-cleansing. So in short, no matter how much an organism cleans itself it will always what they call in biology residual faeces.  If you insist on draining all the faeces from the system of the animal, the animal may dies. For there is something called "residual faeces" in every living organism.

One may wonder why we have just gone to biology class again. Those with insight have already picked that Zanu PF is a living organism. It will always have residual faeces in its system as in undesirable people no matter how much we purge.  It is not only impossible to get rid of all the residual faeces, but is also quite healthy to have them.

Thus Zanu PF as an organisation is always going to have this residual faeces or stool. These are people that represent undesirable part of its being. We all would like it to be out, to expel and remove it but it is virtually impossible. There are of course people that have pursued these new fads. There is one called colonic irrigation. This is a new fad by many celebrities who feel that they are too posh to have faeces in their system. So, special equipment is used to pump water through the backside into the large intestine or colon.  The other name for this procedure is colonic hydrotherapy. Those people that practise these processes will be trying to remove what they believe to be putrefied faecal matter in their large intestines. Is the good reader surprised? Done be, there are people that obsessed with getting rid of faeces. They try to cleanse themselves of all faecal matter. But here is the thing, after a few meals there will be residual faeces again in their systems.  No matter how much you put this equipment through the back passage and irrigate, there will be faeces in your system.

So what’s the solution? How does one make sure they don’t have residual faeces in their gut? Well, you know what? You can’t.  Some things are just meant to be.

Zanu PF is a party of millions of people. It should try to get rid of unwanted excess baggage in its system. But it should not obsess about it.  Once the annoying ones are gone, that’s it. There is no point in going for purity because that state will never be attained. Some things we have to live with. There will always be those are among us who are not fully with us. If churches can have those, how do we expect a political party to have everyone who is who unwavering? I would like to say that they can but the reader and the writer here know that it’s a utopian notion.

The party should continue to be vigilant against bad elements but vigilance does not meaning burning down your house because it has bed bugs. Hatipise imba nekuti yaita tsikidzi.


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Stop it! Just Respect the Party and the Country!

By Bernard Bwoni

Whilst it is true that social media can be a great asset if managed appropriately and effectively, it is also true that it has the potential to turn into a political disaster if not managed. The ruling party has recently been afflicted by the absence of restraint and control on the conduct and behaviour of some of its members and this has seen indiscipline rooting itself. 

The violation of deep-rooted core values, ideals, directives and regulations governing the behaviour of all party members is the indiscipline that comes with it. The ruling party has a constitution and it is this constitution that guides the behavior and conduct of any of its members. Any departure from these core values, beliefs, principles, rules and regulations must be dealt with decisively and this must be across the board. 

The rules and regulations must be followed accordingly and in line with the ZANU-PF constitution and members who overstep the line as set by the constitution must be directed and redirected so as to bring them under the authority and premises of the constitution of the party. This will enable all party members to work within their individual and collective remits as set out within the party constitution. Any party constitution has a very specific purpose, to regulate, to keep all party members in check and under control so that party objectives, goals and ideology are fulfilled. There must be no exceptions; each and every member of ZANU-PF must stick to rules and regulations as set out by the Constitution. No sacred cows.

President Mugabe is a man of principle and he has stuck to his principles from a very young age since the inception of the ruling party, so what is wrong with some of the party youth who brazenly present an image of disrespect and indiscipline in public forums? President Mugabe recently made it very clear for them when he had this to say, “Let us also respect decisions and procedures of the party. We have witnessed lower organs of the party or cadres heading them challenging superior organs appointed to lead them. Such actions amount to insubordination and indeed a challenge to authority. That is indiscipline at its worst. That has to stop.” The message must have been very loud and clear for those who have been devising their own party constitutions and running wild in media sources and social media.

There is everything wrong with deviating from the core values, rules and regulations as set out by the constitution that directs the ruling party. There is everything wrong with party officials and members posting videos and interviews saying demeaning things about other party officials. The private media in Zimbabwe is indeed having a field day from such indiscipline. This just reflects very badly on the party rather than that individual. As President Mugabe stated,  “…But we were not born yesterday and so we know how to take these jibes, allegations and lies that are manufactured every night and published every morning. We take them for what they are- rubbish for the dustbin”. 

If the party directive is that legislators, party leadership and party members must not publicly engage is media spats, then any departure from such is nothing short of indiscipline and amounts to fermenting instability within the party.  The cases of senior officials running amok on social media and news sources and some youth leadership cadres running their mouth with no restraint has brought a lot of negativity to the party.

These errant individuals must be reined in and refocused on the party direction and agenda. The Party Constitution is not just a display document, it is there to guide and those who ignore constitutional and party direction must face the same fate as those who did not heed the same call in the past. The ruling party is not a celebrity entourage where people throw tantrums and post them as video ‘selfies’ on Facebook. The integrity of the ruling party must never be sacrificed for the egocentric wants of some unstable and reckless individuals at the expense of the majority.  All party members and party officials must be made to account for their own respective responsibilities or recklessness. Each individual is responsible for his or her own doings and must never be allowed to drag the name of the revolutionary party into the mud. Cool heads are often an embodiment of real power focusing on action instead of words, and having the ability to present maturity and develop loyalty in unique ways. These childish social media pranks and associated tantrums are just unacceptable in an ideologically rich and composite structure like the revolutionary ZANU-PF party.

It is that fundamental belief in a cause that separates the real bona-fide heroes in the Robert Mugabe mold from the chaff and debris of the mudslinging youth on social media. Zimbabwe is a country that was founded on the backdrop of the sacrifices of the heroes and heroines who gallantly fought on the side of justice and triumphed. These are the men and women who have shaped Zimbabwe and will forever have the country at heart. They derive satisfaction of their sacrifice not from the achieved victory and glory, but from their totally selfless commitment to the people for the greater good of the country. They only serve to remind us of the higher purpose of self and society. President Mugabe reminded party members this when he told them “We all know from the days of the struggle that when challenges mount, when people face hurdles, this is the time to be with them. That is the ZANU-PF way and the party must go to the village to be at one with the hungry, to be at one with the farmers. We are here to serve our people and we are doing our best despite our limited capacity”. These are such profound and meaningful words from the man of principle who should be emulated.

President Mugabe is the glue that binds the nation and the history that will inspire future generations. All youth and all party members must take cue from this great son of Africa. It is unfortunate that there has been this self-seeking shift towards jostling for positions and power at the expense of real purpose of policy. Zimbabwe is currently facing economic challenges of a magnitude that requires those entrusted into positions of influence to have sleepless nights yet for some the main preoccupation seems to be on personalities rather than real policy. As President Mugabe has articulately put it, this is the time for all party leadership to be ‘at one with the hungry’!

It is a telling sign of misplaced priorities that under the current disabling economic conditions in Zimbabwe that one’s preoccupation is about posting video ‘selfie’ online rather than addressing the immediate challenges facing the ordinary man and woman. When you have youth leadership aspirants mocking each other on public forums about who is gay and who is not, then you know the party is facing genuine challenges of indiscipline. There is an urgent requirement to reorient the youth of the party to rules and guidelines that govern the party. The indiscipline that party youth presents on public forums and social media directly and negatively reflects on the party name. 

There is an urgent need to redefine the construct of politics in Zimbabwe from being a trade (where young people feel overly important and indispensable) to that tireless readiness to serve the people as President Mugabe has done throughout. This cannot be emphasized enough that public office positions are a public duty and with this duty comes responsibilities, accountability and caretaker opportunity to serve those who voted the politicians into power. Your importance is measured on the outcomes the electorate derive from your service as a public official.

Politics is not just a gateway to celebrity status on Facebook or other social media sites, but requires those who enter into this service for the people to have that simple respectful and genuine acknowledgement for the electorate. Public spats between officials and the recent demeaning statements from some youth cadres are not only disrespectful to the party but also the electorate. 

As President Mugabe said, we have a duty and responsibility to the citizens of this country and must address those pressing issues that affect the ordinary person on the street daily. It is that simple and that is why people vote. 

President Mugabe has led by example, our heroes led by example and all these new youth aspirants must learn from them. Now is not the time to seek more followers on Facebook, but the time to hit the ground running and tackle the basics that drive up the nation. Just stop it and respect the party! That simple.


Monday, 19 October 2015

Self-Cleansing or Self-Destruction?

By Nick Mangwana

This October month Zim Asset has reached a two year milestone. Last year at this time, this column covered the hits and misses of this great five year programme of government. So another year on, it would have been the natural thing to review and reflect on the progress made in two years. Remember reader that the quick-wins of Zim Asset were supposed to be gained in 15-18 months. So two years straddles this period and writing about it would have been a no brainer. But this column is not going to do that. Because after a few false starts there seemed not much to write about which would fill the space allocated to the column by the good editor. What would be the point of making the people despondent and dispirited by beaming the light on so many misses. There is enough negative energy in the nation without friendly columnists compounding the people's misery and feelings of despair. It's better the column makes the ruling authorities uncomfortable that torment the masses.

There was a great temptation for this column for a second week in a row to circumvent politics. This was because cadres, activists and functionaries of the party of government are tired of fielding accusations that the major major achievement during the last 2 years were political purges within the ruling party in what has been dubbed "self-cleansing". But this cleansing ritual is knowing no end. 

Now the party is walking the very fine line between self-cleansing and self-destruction maybe somebody has to say the unsaid. For there are cleansing rituals which have been known to be fatal in the Zimbabwean folklore. People have been known to have been covered with a blanket to absorb what is deemed to be cleansing fumes from a red hot stone that is placed in hot water with mysterious herbs and concoctions in the vessel to turn the whole mix into a potent cauldron. The individual being cleansed is then made to kneel with a thick blanket or such material covering their upper body to ensure none of the fumes escape but they are fully taken inhale. 

The problem is when this cleansing ritual is being performed, no fresh air also comes in and the only thing that the "unlucky" individual will be taking in is this concoction and other unclean gases including carbon monoxide. To aggravate a clearly grievous situation, there is a merciless team of the healer's acolytes who act as enforcers to make sure that the individual takes it all in and does not escape. After all they say no pain, no gain. They would normally release when they see no more resistance from the chap who is being cleansed of whatever bad omen. In most cases it's bad luck or munyama. When they remove the blanket they discover that the person's bad luck was so resistant that it ended up killing them. This is what is called fatal cleansing. The whole idea is to cast out bad spells from the midst of the family. In most cases this just ends up reducing the family size, unity and strength. Those families that embark on these exercises unremittedly have experienced what they call in military terms "Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD)". This seems to be an aptly coined acronym. For sometimes there is a lot of madness that comes with all this.

This is because in MAD both the attacker and the attacked end up completely annihilated. This was the concept on which the United Nations Security Council permanent five or the P5 were instituted. At its inception these were the 5 members of the United Nations that had nuclear weapons that gave them the power to obliterate each other and others from the face of the earth. So the P5 were those countries who had capacity for MAD(ness) and the pun here in intended. For how can it not be madness when people become so absorbed by spite and vindictiveness that they would rather lose everything to make sure the person they dislike does not get what they like. I hope this doesn't really get muddled up. An example would possibly help to illustrate the point better than this mumbo jumpo being articulated here.

The nation remembers the country's main opposition party recalling some of its members of parliament because they had said a few unflattering things and written a few poisonous letters to their former leader. Some of those members who were in parliament continued to oppose the ruling party whilst still throwing brickbats at their former comrades and colleagues. In spite of their differences at least there was a bigger voice to stop the ruling party from being complacent and also bring it to account. This is what an opposition is there in parliament for,right? But the hatred within the opposition ranks was more than their combined dislike for ZANU PF. They pursued each other relentlessly. Despite the fact that they were not going to contest elections they still proceeded to recall each other from parliament. ZANU PF said thank you very much. It had struggled to have a foothold in urban areas but the gods of mutual destruction had just smiled upon the Revolutionary Party and on a clean silver platter a dozens of MPs were added to its lot. This was MAD in operation. And normally it always benefits the enemy. The Shonas call it Shaisano.

But that was the opposition. The party to which the writer belongs seem bent to follow the same pathway but of course with a different narrative. At the centre of these shenanigans is the notion that when the moment comes to rally and deliver a victory, the party would always, always never come short. History stands on the side of those that make that argument. But that should never be taken for granted. For taking the people and their vote for granted whilst infighting is embarking on a mutually assured destruction pathway. The infighting seems to have been now franchised to the social media where the body of opinion leaders and analysts is a bottomless pity. Some have outsourced this fighting to the observers as well.

Now self-cleansing is normally a good thing. For one has to cull themselves of excess baggage. Individuals do so after a period of indulging. They call it detoxing. This is just done for a short time and in very sparsely interspaced periods. You see comrades, detoxing is meant to be a period of purification leaving one feeling pure and re-energised. But if overdone it has been shown to leave one feeling very weakened with no energy. A normal healthy body should have a natural self-cleansing system that gets rid of undesired toxins. It is these crash programmes that end up removing needed essentials from the body.

An example of natural purification is that time one spends in the bathroom removing excess or unwanted bowel contents. That is natural self-cleansing and it is very good for the body. It is healthy and people should eat fibre to enable it to happen. But if one starts taking laxatives to increase the frequency they will then spend too much time in the bathroom much to the detriment of all other daily activities that enable a productive and progressive life. This is not only the consequence but with that comes frequent and overdone bowel motion, it doesn't only get messy, It will upset the balance of ions and minerals in the body causing lethargy, in extreme cases death. If this does not happen then the moment one stops this crash cleansing all the rubbish or weight will come back with extra excess. This is the fatality of these crash cleansing programmes. More so if done ad infinitum it's sure case of causing erosion of the stomach lining and other gastric damages. Matumbu anosvuuka.

That's the same with the current cleansing within the ruling party. Zanu PF should not spend too much time in the bathroom cleansing itself when there is Zim Asset to implement. It shouldn't spend too much time absorbed in its own purity that it ends up losing essential people and that essential mojo or feel good factor, energy and vigour needed to make the country which gave it a mandate to superintendent its affairs to to develop.

This column has said this before, if you take all the credit, then prepared to take all the blame too. If the party to which this columnist belongs wants to claim all the good things that happened to Zimbabwe since independence, then it should be prepared to absorb all the blame for the bad things that happened when they are thrown at it by its detractors.

This leads to a suggestion that the type of cleansing the party needs is not so much based on purging itself of members that hold a different view. Of course the party needs its members to be disciplined. And that has to start from the top to the bottom. Those who break disciplinary codes should go through disciplinary processes. However the efficacy of mass culling of members is questionable. The self cleansing which the party needs should be based upon introspection and reflection. There is a need for the party to recalibrate its ideological underpinnings. The party has always been a leftist socialist mass organisation. But there are too many accusations of oligarchy levelled against the party which in the grand scheme of things do not appear to be way off the mark. It is the cleansing that comes with reflection and intellectual catharsis that seem to be so much needed. Not that of removing dissenting voices. Those voices add value because of the plurality of thought they bring. Even Roman Catholic cardinals have someone representing the devil when they condemn him, hence the term "devil's advocate". Plurality of thought and views is always enriching.

Where were we? Oh yes, intellectual catharsis. That one is definitely needed. What with some members of the Central Committee bragging that they want certain leadership to just make money! Who forgets the Central Committee of the '80s whose sole goal and focus was to liberate and empower the masses. How can the nobility of the ideas in the "Leadership Code" be so lost on today's Members of that Organ that they are now made to appear utopian? What the party pronounce in terms of ideology seem to be at tangency with what most of the leadership pursue in real life.There is nothing wrong with pursuing prosperity as a leader. But it is incongruous when one leads is a member of the central committee of an organisation like the one this columnist belong to, and that pursuit is to the detriment of mass empowerment which is actually the raison deter of such an organisation. There is something to be said about the disempowering that comes with dolling out consumable perishables to a hungry people year after year. It's the proverbial provision of fish to the needy instead of showing them the  pond and giving them the fishing line.

A party founded and built on grassroots commissariat work as well as mass mobilisation and social movement should never allow itself to be a tool for the elite. A tool for oligarchy to the neglect of those very masses. A revolutionary movement should continue to be based in the civilian population. Not with the civilians as a means to a self-fulfilment agenda of a few. But to the attainment of the total freedom and empowerment of the common person. That is a clean organisation that has cleansed itself without the fatality of self-cleansing. Because empowerment means self-actualisation of the individual person at a mass scale. It is the provision of opportunities to the grassroots, the removal of impediments that detract the individual from attaining that self-actualisation. 


People Can Differ but Should not Have Factions

By Nick Mangwana

The drama in our party continues unabated and it’s catching the imagination of the international media. Only last week I had 1 radio interview and 2 radio discussions. At the centre of all this was the notion that Zanu PF was imploding. As the party representative on this continent,  I kept the party narrative given to outsiders;  there are no factions in Zanu PF. But dear Cde Reader, you and I know better.  However we will continue to completely deny the existence of factions even if it makes us look silly and sound ridiculous.

 The defence is always to say that Zanu PF like every organisation has no homogeneity of ideas.  You cannot have an organisation which is over 50 years old, and has a membership of millions of people and you have all these people thinking the same, holding the same value system and having the same vision. That would be clearly a lie. Now those keen to tell or hear lies can go to another column to look for such. Here we are frank. We tell it as it is.

If twins who have pretty much the same genetic structure, are raised eating the same food and even wearing the same type of clothes can fight, how about millions of people with different genetical compositions and raised under different domestic value system who went to different schools and have different life experiences, how much more should there be a plurality of thought and diversity of ideas? I think if people tell you that they agree with everything a leader does they are a bunch of either liars or numpties.  Damn, I never agreed with everything my father did and yet he taught me most of the things I know today. I view the world through the prism of his value system yet there are things we could never see eye to eye on.  So if I cannot agree 100% with my father how much more should be expected that people in the same party would view things differently?

What keeps families and organisations together regardless of this plurality of visions or ideas is respect and discipline. That’s what brings order.  I am no hired gun for any of the so-called factions. The leader is President Mugabe. After him is a brilliant team that has contesting views and my take on those views is eclectic. This means there are things from either side which find resonance with my own views.  I am also on good terms with my leaders and those around them regardless of their own differences.  I am proud of some of the things a lot of them do and so if it was my choice I would keep them that way.

For starters I identify with the current commissariat. Some of my reasons are quite selfish. For example, the reason that for the first time in the history of the party bar 1980, this commissariat has put two Diasporans in parliament.  It is selfish view because I consider the Diaspora my constituency. This is a progressive approach and one I will ever be so grateful.  And I think this would have probably struggled to find traction with the old team. It is dynamism of this nature that can only take the country forward. So am I a member of an imaginary faction? No way.

The President in the abundance of his wisdom chose people whom he knew would be safe to assist him run the country. He felt comfortable with those he chose himself this time round after he had been subjected to treachery. These are people he saw fit to act in his position when he is not around.  If the President can trust his deputies that much and I trust my President,  then because I trust his judgement, I give my full backing to my vice presidents. But do I then belong to a faction now? Hell, no. I belong to Zanu PF. Like the President said, even he also simply belongs to Zanu PF.

What our party needs is to be able to pull together despite these varying views. Just like a country. In regular democracy, if one is voted in by 51% of those that vote he becomes a leader including of those 49% who voted against him and those that did not bother to go vote.  The leader represents them all. They are obliged to pull together with that leader despite their  divergent views. Now a party cannot pull together if it is divided into contesting factions.  Warring factions cannot walk in unison. There should be a difference between having different sides to a debate in a political party to having factions.  Factions create contra powers. People spend too  much time trying to counteract and create a Zero sum situation on each other’s moves instead of supporting the President to fulfil his mandate.  When this happens, the people suffer and the party suffers.

Zanu PF is a vibrant party, but factionalism is a sign of ill-health. Zanu PF is a party built on the ideology of empowering the masses. Factionalism disempowers the masses and empowers faction leaders.  Empowerment emboldens the youth to chase their dreams whilst never sacking the ethos of the Liberation Struggle which is the founding pillar of our nation. This also cannot happen without acknowledging and giving deference to those that made it happen. Now for me there is no contradiction between these views. They are in tandem and therefore any counter-force gravitation around those ideas should build the party and not cause fissures.