Chipanga is right about ministers but Mugabe is also a farmer and businessman

Malvern Mkudu

During President Mugabe’s birthday celebrations,  leader of ZANU PF’s youth league Kudzai Chipanga accused ministers of not doing enough to help Mugabe with delivering on the economic promises made by the party. He said that the ministers are ‘too political’ and that President Mugabe needs to appoint ministers who  who will help him improve the economic situation.

Chipanga repeated the accusations in an interview in the state controlled Sunday Mail and went further to accuse ministers of having divided attention. He said most ministers are members of parliament as well as business people and farmers which made it difficult for them to channel all their energy in their ministerial duties. He called for the appointment of technocrats as ministers.

It seems this was an attempt by Chipanga to place the blame of the poorly performing economy on the doors of the ZANU PF ministers.  Mugabe neither defended his ministers nor reprimanded Chipanga which means the veteran politician agrees that he is being let down by his ministers. While Chipanga might have been trying to please his master, these latest outbursts succeeded in exposing the master. Maybe this is Mugabe’s way of trying to keep his ministers in check but most of them will just laugh at the dear leader’s hypocrisy.

Firstly the youth league leader is right that Ministers are farmers as well as business people. Who doesn’t know that Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa also runs surgeries, or that Walter Mzembi owns travel agencies? Saviour Kasukuwere has interests in Comoil while Supa Mandiwanzira has business interests in various media companies.

Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao is a farmer and has been known to pursue interests in telecoms company Telecel and the matter has spilled into the media. Several ministers are also said to have an interest in Brainworks, a company that has several interests in many companies.

Mugabe’s deputy Phelekezela Mphoko is the chairman of retail giant Choppies while Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has admitted to being a farmer.

Mugabe himself is a farmer owning several farms and dairy company, Gushungo Diaries. His own wife thanked the military for keeping the company afloat by giving them tenders to supply milk to the military. One wonders if the military does the same for all dairy farmers.

So Chipanga is right the President and his ministers are not fully focused on the task at hand. Their attention is divided but most importantly they are making policy to benefit their businesses. The Debt Assumption Bill for example passed in parliament in 2015 benefited government officials who had benefited from the Reserve Bank inputs scheme.

They got tractors , vehicles and other equipment which they did not pay for. Despite getting all this state support most of them were unproductive.

Funding has continued to be poured into agriculture despite the farmers being unproductive. Only last year when the bond notes were introduced tobacco farmers were allowed to make huge cash withdrawals at their banks when everyone else had to adhere to a strict withdrawal limits. We have ministers and senior government officials operating as tobacco farmers.

In the last week at least 4 ministers have had their properties auctioned or taken to court for defaulting on bank loans.  Most of them use their political muscle to obtain bank loans which do not perform.

Others have been accused of stealing business ideas from private citizens. Minister of Education Lazarus Dokora has been taken to court for stealing software from a citizen. One wonders the motivation behind Ministers Dokora theft of intellectual property if he did not intend to personally benefit from it.

At ZIMDEF, Fuzzy Technologies a company owned by Deputy Minister Godfrey Gandawa was given a tender to supply computers to the government department.

Public officials are in government with one eye on their business interests. They make policy to advance or protect their private business interests. These incestuous relationships have flourished under the stewardship of President Mugabe who Chipanga seeks to absolve and portray as some sort of victim. Why has Mugabe kept the same ministers since 1980 if they are under performing?

Mugabe has not taken any action arguing that there is no evidence that his ministers are involved in corrupt dealings. President Mugabe’s government has carried out a land audit and he knows exactly which of his ministers are multiple farm owners and involved in which businesses.

The President himself is a dairy farmer and one wonders if his energies are being channeled into improving the fortunes of this country. He lacks the moral high ground to reprimand his ministers for the sins that Chipanga correctly identifies.

Ultimately the country needs more stringent rules to regulate the conduct of public officials who may have business interests. The companies’ registry must become more transparent and open to scrutiny by the public while those sworn to public office must declare their economic interests.



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