Taking Stock Kudzanai Sharara
South Africans have been hungry for some good news emanating from Government and politicians for a long time. They have been emotionally battered, socially polarised and, in many poor communities across the country, selfishly deprived of crucial services because the money that could have paid for such services was stolen, used for other things, discouraged from being paid to SARS for fear instilled in some taxpayers that their contributions would only benefit political thieves and their enablers in the private sector, or simply allowed to get away with not being paid into the tax system by politically connected tax dodgers who managed to extract lucrative favours from state capture enablers.
There is a paragraph from South African columnist Solly Moeng’s latest opinion article titled, “But can you be ruthless, Mr President?
I can simply change two words from that paragraph and replace South Africa with Zimbabwe, and SARS with ZIMRA and the description will be a perfect fit for what Zimbabweans have also endured over the years.
I mean haven’t Zimbabweans been hungry for some good news emanating from Government and politicians for a long time.
Just like in South Africa, where there has been an avalanche of positive hype brought about by President Ramaphosa’s approach to economic issues, Zimbabwe has also witnessed the same, with President Mnangagwa spending most of his time focusing on economic issues than those political.
But that is simply not enough it seems, the same positivity that we have felt when President Mnangagwa speaks has not cascaded to most of his ministers in Government.
Though it’s debatable, there hasn’t been much good news coming from Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube’s. Despite burdening the generality of the public with a 2 cents tax per every dollar transaction (with a few exemptions) Zimbabweans would have appreciated an immediate review of ministerial perks for example.
The minister has been travelling abroad a number of times since coming into office, just flying economy class can easily convince most that we are enduring this pain together.
Croatia’s first female president did the same, when she flew economy class to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
While her desire was to demonstrate that she is a football fan “like everyone else”, it is the same message that Minister Ncube or any other travelling minister would send to the generality of Zimbabweans to say I am taking the pain “like everyone else”.
President Mnangagwa did the same in his early days, when in December last year, he flew in a low cost scheduled flight from Harare to Johannesburg, more of that would be welcome news.
Another area of concerns, where more should be done is the fight against corruption, which for long seemed like lip service.
However, this week’s developments where former ministers and other prominent people were being arrested and brought before the courts of law, is exactly what Zimbabweans have been looking forward to. We have to be ruthless with criminals if we are to eradicate corruption.
President Mnangagwa has spoken against crime and in his inauguration speech, identified corruption as one of the main impediments to the country’s economic growth. He even established a Special Anti-Corruption Unit housed in the Office of the President and Cabinet to improve efficiency in the fight against all forms of graft and to strengthen the effectiveness of national mechanisms for the prevention of corruption.
This is in addition to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and other such institutions that were established to fight against corruption. The move seems to be now bearing fruit as the corrupt are now being brought to book.
While it is easy to criticise that nothing much is being done, Zimbabweans at least now have two options.
And to borrow from Moeng, the first is to focus exclusively on the positive moves “President Mnangagwa” has been able to make in what many agree is a politically tight environment — wherein he continues to be surrounded by comrades who would have a lot to lose if criminal investigations were to focus on what they have been up to, over the past years.
The second option is to acknowledge “President Mnangagwa’s” achievements but to keep insisting on more, mindful that we’re not safe while the people responsible for a lot of what happened continue to roam our country’s corridors of power.
They do, after all, influence key Government decisions, and within Government.
Some of them even have to sit it in high-level meetings where President Mnangagwa’s needs to discuss strategies to deal effectively with them. It’s not an easy job!