Tanonoka Joseph Whande
Monday 13 January 2014
Last week, I jokingly speculated that Minister Emerson Mnangagwa might not be too thrilled by Joyce Mujuru’s now too frequent interludes as Acting President when Mugabe continues with his endless but useless voyages abroad at taxpayers’ expense.
While ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa says that no formal approach has been made to him, there are reports that Mugabe is courting Dabengwa to take up one of the two positions as Vice President.
The unfortunate idea is to placate compatriots in Matabeleland as it has been an unwritten rule that one of the two Vice Presidents must come from Matabeleland or from ZAPU.
Although there is no longer any ZAPU to talk about, Mugabe is, once again, trying to swallow ZAPU for a second time. What effect would Dabengwa have in cabinet, a place he worked in for years as Home Affairs minister but failed to bring any changes to the region, failed to do anything of significance for the province?
If appointed back into cabinet, what clout will he carry this time around except offering Mugabe an opportunity to silence him once more?
If we accept that Matabeleland, or any region in the country, needs stronger representation in cabinet, Zimbabweans in the affected region who feel left out and unrepresented should be given the opportunity to appoint a person of their own choice to represent them alongside Mugabe and other leaders.
An appointment to cabinet is a job offer and whoever is appointed to cabinet is beholden to a president who gave him the job. This shifts loyalties away from the people.
Over the years, the wily Mugabe has made surprising appointments of regional leaders, bringing them into cabinet as a way to silence them. Once offered a job in cabinet by Mugabe, Dabengwa will be just as submissive as the others from other regions. Do you think Dzikamai Mavhaire will ever dare make any more silly statements about Mugabe having been rescued from near bankruptcy by being offered an undeserved cabinet post?
Although a president is free to choose those he feels he can work with in government, Mugabe is using the state and the nation to settle old scores and re-pay personal debts.
The nation is burdened with the same old failed ministers who have been in cabinet for years but who failed to make much of a difference in their respective portfolios. And to have the same failures always being regurgitated over and over again is nauseating.
The continued presence of these spent politicians is as retrogressive as Mugabe’s presence. All the political parties in Zimbabwe today have these old geezers at the top and they will not allow the emerging of younger leaders from within their parties.
It is an unfortunate situation, particularly when we consider that about 61.9% of the population is 25 years and younger. With those between 25 and 54 years of age making up 30.8% of the population, the side-lining of young people in our political system is something that should be cause for concern.
But here we are, burdened with useless failures who have been unable to impose new progressive ideas on the nation or influence the government in one way or other.
While my tête–à–tête is inspired by Mugabe’s rumoured courtship of Dabengwa, it is not about Dabengwa but about the way Mugabe continues to abuse people and shut out young people from full participation in the direction our nation should be taking.
My position is that because of the nature of appointment that is always viewed as a favour, people like Dabengwa will bring no more improvement to the region as people like Mavhaire will.
It is called window dressing and for that reason, regions or provinces must stand firm as to who among them should be considered for some of these positions. We cannot always end up with Mugabe apologists around him. We want people who serve the nation through such appointments not those who prioritise the security of their cabinet posts at the expense of bringing the much needed input and direction to the nation.
Mugabe would like us to believe that if we do not agree with him or if we oppose ZANU-PF ideas, we are traitors. Unity does not mean disbanding a political party and joining ZANU-PF; unity is presenting ideas, however dissimilar, that benefit the nation not a political party. We see it in many other countries where presidents appoint some individuals from opposition parties to serve in their governments without demanding that they renounce their parties’ ideologies. Unity comes from accepting and respecting our different approaches to solving our nation’s problems and that does not come through a ruling party taking over and swallowing other political parties.
The heart of the matter is that opposition parties should be banding together; they should be pooling their resources to remove ZANU-PF not to be joining it.
Our government has no need for two Vice Presidents, none at all. I find it terribly wasteful that the Vice Presidency portfolio is being used to placate tribal imbalances in ZANU-PF.
That is nothing but window dressing.
In trying to balance tribal representation in cabinet by handpicking leaders without consulting those who feel unrepresented and short-changed, the end result is not guaranteed to succeed.
Most importantly, though, why should a Vice President from Matabeleland always have to be chaperoned by another from another tribe? Why not dissolve that useless cabinet and appoint younger, progressive members with an able, forward-looking Vice President?
The job of Vice President only sounds important but it is meaningless; people need real action taken to balance things on the ground…to hell with tribal balancing in cabinet.
We have seen Mugabe appointing stooges from various regions and provinces and those people have delivered praises to Mugabe and nothing to their constituencies.
People need action taken; people want to see developments. We want to see a government that serves the people.
It is also politically dangerous to those who are so chosen only to find that they do not have any say in how things should be within their ministries.
Yes, Mugabe will handpick someone he knows he can work with, someone he thinks will be of benefit to him but Mr Dabengwa is better advised to tread carefully and avoid being used. He must also remember the expectations to deliver that people have and it will not do him any good to appear to fail or to turn out to be politically impotent.
The chosen Vice President owes gratitude to Mugabe for giving him a job; he owes the people nothing and from what we have seen of our politicians, they always choose money, political power and glitter over the people they represent.
But then, we are trying to read a newspaper from the back of a speeding lorry. Mugabe is not legitimate enough to bring good people in government. He has failed the nation over and over again and he loves to set people on each other. Just look at what he is doing with Mnangagwa and Joyce Mujuru! And if and when Dabengwa comes in, this will bring a very interesting dimension to the succession wars…something I would cherish indeed.
Opposition parties should be banding together to oust ZANU-PF, not to join it. I do not care for a tribally balanced cabinet; I care most about balanced development across Zimbabwe.
This is not the time to be joining ZANU-PF.
I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my fellow Zimbabweans, is the way it is today, Monday, January 13th, 2014.