The Politics of Privatization

Scientific socialism refers to the combination of political and economic science and empirical scientific methodologies in attempt to achieve socialism, where socialism is the belief that people are equal and should therefore equally share in a country’s resources.

 

In 1980, the post independence Zimbabwean government adopted scientific socialism as its developmental and governance paradigm.

 

 

One of the economic strategies associated with this paradigm was the extension of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

 

It is not a fluke that the government chose to adopt scientific socialism instead of free market capitalism in 1980 for two fundamental reasons.

 

 

Firstly Zimbabwe’s independence was achieved at the height of the “Cold War,” when the Soviet Union and the Western powers led by the United States were competing for geo-political and economic influence across the globe.

 

 

Since Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle was largely supported by Eastern European and Asian ideology and resources, it was natural in 1980 for the Zimbabwean state to adopt an economic paradigm that leaned towards communism.

 

 

Secondly, the ZANU-PF government in 1980 (unlike the South African ANC government in 1994) wanted to see social services and employment urgently extended to the majority black population after years of white minority rule and colonial oppression.

 

 

In this context soon after independence, the ZANU-PF government passed sweeping legislation that gave free primary education and free healthcare for the poor.

 

 

The new government also introduced consumer price controls, worker committees and black trade unions.

 

 

While it was Ian Smith’s pre-independence government that began buying controlling stakes in key agro-processing and textile industries prior to independence, the post-independence government continued with this culture, and today Zimbabwe has around 107 State Owned enterprises, many of which are burdened with mismanagement, debts and high wage bills.

 

 

It is true that on the basis of populist voter mobilisation just after 1980, parastatals made political sense as they provided black workers with jobs at both working class and managerial levels in a highly racialized economy at that time.

 

 

In simple terms, in 1980 and in the early years after independence, State Owned Enterprises won votes for ZANU-PF.

 

 

However, over time these parastatals have become bloated and barely functional.

 

 

In fact a reports from the auditor general’s office dating back to 2015 suggest that many parastatals are characterized by weak corporate governance resulting in huge financial losses and misappropriation of funds.

 

 

For that reason there is good cause to privatise non–performing parastatals; after all, SOEs are meant to benefit the taxpaying citizen, and not are not meant to milk the taxpayer.

 

 

The Pros and Cons of Privatisation

 

 

According to reports, the Zimbabwean government is selling off its shareholding in Air Zimbabwe, ZESA, NRZ, ZB Holdings, Agribank and Zimre Holdings.

 

 

Apparently the government is soon to add more enterprises to this list.

 

 

If indeed Zimbabwe is embarking on a privatisation process, it is important that we discuss the pros and cons of privatisation.

 

 

Some of the pros of privatisation can be listed as follows:

 

 

  • Improved efficiency. Private companies have a profit incentive to cut costs and to become more efficient. In this context privatization is positive.

 

  • Lack of political interference. Across the world, SOEs are motivated by political pressures rather than sound economic and business sense. As we have seen in Zimbabwe in the past SOEs were used to ‘sponsor’ million-marches and other political events.

 

  • Short term view. Across the world, it is common for governments to think only in terms of the next election, and this often has long term consequences. Perhaps privatization brings private sector pragmatic long term planning to SOEs.

 

  • Increased competition. Privatisation of SOEs occurs alongside deregulation and the enactments of legislation to allow more firms to enter the industry and increase the competitiveness of the market. This is positive and welcome.

 

  • Government will raise revenue from the sale. Selling state-owned assets to the private sector raises significant sums for the government. The UK government benefited from privatization in the 1980s as did the Russian government in the 1990s.

 

 

Some of the negative aspects of privatization can be listed as follows:

 

  • Natural monopoly. Privatisation runs the risk of creating monopolies. The risk of privately controlled monopolies is that they tend to raise prices and exploit consumers.

 

  • Public interest. Some industries like ZESA, arguably perform an important public service. In this context their privatization should be considered with enough due diligence and with the national interest in mind.

 

  • Government loses out on potential dividends. While it is true that SOEs are often poorly managed, government should consider whether or not these entities would be good sources of revenue if they were managed better. In this context government could consider employing better management staff and techniques rather than privatization.

 

  • Foreign Ownership of Key Assets. The greatest threat presented by privatisation is the foreign ownership of key state assets. In this context, perhaps our government leaders should pursue the privatisation process guided by our indigenisation laws, and should allow youth consortiums and women consortiums to benefit from the privatisation processes.

 

 

Conclusion

 

 

It is true that the era of scientific socialism has passed, and I agree with the notion that the world is capitalist and that there are no free lunches. Zimbabwe needs to embrace competitiveness, and privatisation is the first step in that direction.

 

 

While many business leaders and politicians have welcomed the idea of privatisation, there seems to be consensus that the process of privatisation should be conducted on a case by case basis and that adequate due diligence should be applied.

 

 

Furthermore, from a political point of view, 2018 is an election year, and therefore government should perhaps consider whether privatisation should take place before or after elections.

 

 

Finally, the privatisation processes in Zimbabwe should be guided by the principles of indigenisation, and should involve youth and women business consortiums as those subgroups make up the bulk of the electorate.

 

Tau Tawengwa

 

Executive Director

 

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Cyril Ramaphosa’s Political Minefield

The 54th African National Congress (ANC) elective conference has now passed and Cyril Ramaphosa has emerged as the President of the ANC, victorious over his rival for the presidency: Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

 

However, despite his victory, Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC are faced with a number of challenges that urgently need attention and tact.

 

Some of the issues that the new ANC president has to deal with can be listed as follows:

 

Factionalism and Tribalism

 

Unfortunately, president Zuma’s reign as ANC president saw tribalism and consequently factionalism permeating the organisation like never before.

 

In fact President Jacob Zuma’s politics at the helm of the ANC can be described as a form of “ethnic nationalism” where ethno-nationalism can be defined as “support for the political interests of a particular ethnic group.”

 

For example, Jacob Zuma managed to beat Thabo Mbeki at the 2007 ANC elective conference in Polokwane by wooing the ethnic demographic of Zulu speaking ANC supporters particularly from his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

 

This is the same strategy that he used to be reelected as ANC president in Mangaung in 2012, and it is the same strategy that the Zuma camp attempted to implement on behalf of presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in 2017.

 

However, in 2017 that strategy has failed.

 

One of the reasons is because some of the ANC delegates from the Provincial Executive Committees (PECs) of KwaZuluNatal ,Free State as well as some ANC branches from the North-West were not  allowed to vote as a result of a court ruling.

 

This was a blow to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s bid and she narrowly lost by just under 200 votes.

 

Her loss has upset a significant number of pro-Zuma supporters from KwaZuluNatal.

 

As a result, the new ANC president has to hit the ground running and work tirelessly in order to placate disgruntled supporters and unite the party as a whole.

 

The first best course of action for him is perhaps to offer incentives to senior ANC National Executive Committee   (NEC) members who belong to the pro-Zuma faction; particularly those from KwaZulu Natal.

 

If he fails to do so, he risks losing votes to an ethno-nationalist movement in the form of the resurgent Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) when the 2019 elections arrive.

 

Corruption

 

Besides tribalism and factionalism, President Jacob Zuma leaves the ANC  with a legacy of corruption.

 

During his two terms at the helm of the organization, the ANC has been scandalized by ‘Guptagate,’ Nkandla, ‘State-Capture’ and a nuclear deal, notwithstanding President Zuma’s 783 charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

 

Unfortunately the scandalized and tarnished perceptions of the ANC as a corrupt organization will take more than political will to fix.

 

Even if Cyril Ramaphosa determines to root out corruption in the ANC, he must  remember that a significant number of the ANC NEC members are staunch supporters of the Zuma faction.

 

Such members include David Mabuza who is the Premier of Mpumalanga and now also the deputy President of the ANC.

 

David Mabuza has staunchly supported Jacob Zuma since 2007.

 

During his reign as Mpumalanga Premier , Mabuza has earned a reputation for ruling by fear and violence, and has allegedly left a trail of political assassinations and allegations of wide-scale corruption in his wake.

 

At some point, Mabuza  allegedly took a trip to Russia with the Guptas on their private jet.

 

This all spells out trouble for Cyril Ramaphosa and his supporters who generally thought that voting for Cyril Ramaphosa would mean an end to Jacob Zuma’s legacy of corruption.

 

That misconception is soon to become apparent as the pro-Zuma faction members in the ANC NEC are likely to coalesce around David Mabuza and continue with their corrupt tendencies as normal.

 

Conceivably, there are too many senior members in the ANC implicated in corruption, and there is no way for Cyril Ramaphosa to punish them all without causing disunity in the organization.

 

It is therefore likely that Cyril Ramaphosa will secretly offer amnesty to senior ANC members like David Mabuza in exchange for individual loyalty and general party unity.

 

Populism

 

As part of his legacy, it must be noted that President Jacob Zuma leaves his party members doused with unconstructive populist rhetoric and the latest dance moves.

 

President Zuma will be remembered for songs like “Umshini Wami” and phrases like “White Monopoly Capital” and “Radical Economic Transformation,” which are all populist in nature, and have stirred an expectation among the ANC laity which Cyril Ramaphosa will have to fulfill.

 

On a continent like Africa (and particularly in countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe) where clarity on policy is needed in order to lure investors, populist rhetoric like “radical economic transformation” can be likened to very cheap liquor which quickly intoxicates but has long lasting side effects like headaches and nausea.

 

That is what President Zuma’s populism has done to the ANC and the South African economy- it has left a lot of headaches for his successor.

 

His last populist blow was his announcement that the South African government will subsidize free higher education for the poor and working class students and Cyril Ramaphosa will be obliged to fulfill this promise.

 

If he fails to do so, we can expect a return to the “fees must fall” protests in February 2018.

 

Ultimately Cyril Ramaphosa has a lot of work to do in order to repair the damage caused by 10 years of Jacob Zuma’s politics.

 

The claims that President Jacob Zuma has ‘left the ANC in tact’ are ridiculous, if not laughable.

 

Tau Tawengwa

 

Executive Director

 

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President Mugabe and the One Party State Ambition

Recent events in Zimbabwe have been dramatic to say the least.

 

Within a short space of four months we saw a sitting and popular Vice President surviving a poisoning attempt, and consequently, a (former) first lady wildly ranting against the popular Vice President who she allegedly poisoned.

 

We also watched as the popular Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was irrationally and unjustifiably fired from government in what was a thinly veiled attempt by  President Mugabe to impose his unpopular and deranged wife as Vice President on an already frustrated and restive populous of Zimbabwean citizens.

 

The moment President Robert Mugabe fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, it became clear to all of us that he wanted to overstep democratic processes and implement a dynastic agenda.

 

Now, while trying  to rate his 37 year long reign, I came across a New York Times report dated August 19, 1990, in which the late Nathan Shamuyarira (then Zimbabwean foreign affairs minister) affirmed that the Zimbabwean government “intended to push ahead with plans to introduce a one-party state.”

 

Let’s take note that this was as far back as 1990.

 

In fact the same report observes that President Mugabe had wanted a one-party state since independence in 1980.

 

Interestingly, The ZANU politburo rejected the notion of one party state in August 1990 almost unanimously. Only four out of twenty six officials supported the idea.

 

Now two notable themes emerge here.

 

Firstly, the fact that President Mugabe was pushing for a one party state (or what’s been referred to recently in ZANU-PF as “One Center of Power”) as far back as independence in 1980 is telling.

 

It means that his ambition to have absolute power over Zimbabwe is not recent; it has in fact been his life objective alongside dying in office.

 

Secondly, the same way that politburo members rejected President Mugabe’s proposals for a one party state back in 1990 is the same way that General Chiwenga, and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa (the last surviving commanders of the liberation war high command alongside President Mugabe) have resisted his attempts at dynasty today through “Operation Restore Legacy.”

 

If they hadn’t made that intervention, Zimbabwe would have experienced more oppression than ever before.

 

Nevertheless, amidst all this drama, one thing that is clear is that President Mugabe was given too much power, and too much time to rid himself of opponents, enrich himself and weaken everything and everyone around him.

 

Now we know that anyone who leads the country going forward should do so within the confines of the constitution, and that we as citizens should remember how much we suffered under “one center of power.”

 

That suffering was enough; we never want to experience it again.

 

Now that his reign is over, I think we can clearly deduce that Robert Mugabe had a “God Complex,” or what psychologists refer to as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

 

Essentially, a person with “God Complex” not only wants to be worshiped, but he or she is extremely arrogant, and might consider himself or herself to be infallible and might try to control or manipulate other people without empathy or compassion for their well-being.

 

It is no wonder then, that President Mugabe wanted a one party state, modelled around the social structure of North Korea which is also a one party state.

 

In fact reports say that North Korea defectors believed that Kim Jong-il was “a god” who could read their thoughts.

 

That is what President Mugabe wanted, and that is why he would do weird things at ceremonies like bow to his own portrait.

 

Also, that is why his wife (during her crazy rants) would say bizarre things like “Mugabe will rule from the grave.”

 

 

At the end of the day, I for one am grateful to the Zimbabwe Defense Forces and the Honorable Emmerson Mnangagwa for implementing “Operation Restore Legacy.”

 

 

It is clear that the same leadership ideals that prevented him from succeeding in his “One Party State” venture in 1990 are the same ideals that prevented him today.

 

Now, let’s all come together Zimbabwe, and rebuild this great country.

 

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

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The Politics of Succession

Human Capital refers to the skilled personnel possessed by any state, business or organisation- often referred to as Human Resources.

 

There are two fundamental reasons why human resource departments are generally considered to be part of the pivotal pillars of organisations.

 

The first reason is that despite the rapid technological advances taking place in the world, it will always be skilled human beings who are needed to oversee the technology and to implement technology related policy.

 

Put plainly, you need skilled and experienced people in order to implement policy. This is true at both micro and macro levels. As a result people are the biggest contributors to organizational success.

 

Secondly, it is the department of human resources in any organisation that is tasked with executing succession related organizational policy.

 

In fact, some of the most successful global organisations today task their human resources departments to prioritize succession planning policy as a fundamental part of business strategy.

 

The reason is that organisations without a succession strategy lack continuity when a key senior member exits the bureaucracy for any reason.

 

This is true in all organizations; even political parties, governments, multi-national corporations and family businesses alike. Every bureaucracy needs a clear succession plan.

 

The reason is simple: without a clear succession strategy in place that runs in conjunction with a clear operational strategy, your organisation risks collapsing when any one of the organization’s key leaders exits for any reason.

 

This is because where there is no clear strategy on how to replace a leader  with  someone who is equally as critical, cohesive, commanding and charismatic, then factional conflicts and divisions will inevitably lead to the organisation’s uncompetitiveness and ultimately its demise.

 

As reported in the New York Times concerning succession planning in family businesses, “business owners who do not form a succession plan create a time bomb that can not only destroy their companies but tear apart their families.

 

“A lot of families fight and fight until the business is gone.”

 

I’ve written before about how family businesses typically collapse within three generations.

 

This is portrayed well by a certain Mexican adage which says, “Father, founder of the company, son, rich and grandson poor.”

 

Put plainly, the founder establishes a competitive business, the founder’s children reap the fruits of his labour, yet unfortunately they leave the founder’s grandchildren with a shadow of the original entity.

 

This is usually because of a lack of clear and methodological succession planning.

 

Of course, such a fatalist foreclosure is preventable in family businesses, large corporations and political parties alike.

 

However, such prevention is only pursuant to the implementation of clear and strategic succession policy which runs concurrently with the operational policy of the organization.

 

This brings me to the context of Zimbabwe’s current socio-political quandary.

 

Zimbabwe’s Succession Politics

 

I’m a born free Zimbabwean, meaning that I was born after independence in 1980.

 

This also means that I’ve lived through three phases of Zimbabwe’s socio-economic history: The honey-moon phase, the structural-adjustment phase, and the crises phase which we are still experiencing today.

 

I don’t intend to argue how, when or why we are in this crisis because that has been written about extensively and that literature is readily available.

 

However, the key concern of many a citizen is how do we as a country extricate ourselves from this current crisis and chart a cohesive way forward?

 

The answer is in clear succession planning.

 

It is my view that the reason why so many Zimbabweans were disappointed when Ex-Vice President Dr. Joice Mujuru was expelled from party and government in 2014, and also, why so many people are disappointed by ex-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s expulsion today, is because Zimbabweans had placed their future hopes in these individuals ,who they perceived as the embodiments of a tacit succession plan.

 

Yet, as I mentioned earlier, a succession plan should not be secretive, informal or tacit- it must not be based upon secret agreements done amongst politicians in the liberation days or presently.

 

Instead, a succession plan must be open, clear, transparent and progressive.

 

As it stands, arguably, the palpable political disgruntlement amongst Zimbabweans, particularly war veterans and the Masvingo and Midlands regions is perhaps based upon perceptions of the betrayal  of certain informal and secret agreements done amongst politicians in the liberation days or presently.

 

Unfortunately, however, where there is no record or trace of such informal agreements, then the only way to settle the dispute is through conflict… and conflict is always the culmination of poor succession planning.

 

History shows this to be true in family businesses, corporates and political parties alike.

 

Nevertheless, where  there is an open, public, clear and concise succession plan that is agreed to by all the influential personalities in an organization, then conflict is avoided and continuity prevails.

 

Now, it seems that ZANU-PF has been deliberately expelling its strongest personalities for some time now, notwithstanding at the expense of the socio-political and economic stability of Zimbabwe at large.

 

 

It was Dr. Joice Mujuru yesterday and now it is Honorable Emmerson Mnangagwa today.

 

This systematic elimination of ZANU-PF’s strongmen and women over time has arguably been motivated by a dynastic agenda, which is now being formalized and presented to the public at the expense of historical informal, secret agreements allegedly concluded amongst politicians in the liberation days and recently.

 

Nevertheless the reality is that Zimbabwe is at an all-time low.

 

The way out (as I perceive Eddie Cross has tried to initiate) is to invite all the influential anti-dynastic and disgruntled forces to one negotiating table where they must discuss and establish two things.

 

Firstly, a sound socio-political and economic governance plan designed for Zimbabwe for the next ten years that will be implemented by a Government of National Unity similar to what we saw in the 2009-2013 period.

 

Secondly, the negotiations must draw out a formal, irrevocable, transparent, clear and concise succession plan that will be guaranteed by SADC, the AU and the UN.

 

Such a succession plan will run concurrently alongside the aforementioned economic governance operational strategy.

 

In this light, it is the hope of the Zimbabwean people that Dr. Joice Mujuru, Honorable Emmerson Mnagagwa, The MDC-T, war veterans and other influential, progressive and anti-dynastic forces can come to the negotiating table and chart a way forward.

 

 

Such an arrangement should be mediated by Former president Thabo Mbeki or Cyril Ramaphosa.

 

The fact is that too many Zimbabwean lives and livelihoods across races, regions, and tribes have been sacrificed for too long at the altar of political self-gain and expediency.

 

In all truth fifteen years from now, students of economic history, political science, and sociology will look back at this time and ask why the various disgruntled Zimbabwean leaders could not find common ground to defeat this crisis.

 

This is their opportunity to do exactly that.

 

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

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The Politics of Dynasty

I’ve taken time recently to research around the issue of whether or not Nelson Mandela “sold out” as some African radicals have suggested in the recent past.

 

According to reports, sometime in 2010, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela told a British Publication that Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu had “sold out” to the whites.

 

“Mandela let us down. He agreed to a bad deal for the blacks. Economically, we are still on the outside. The economy is very much ‘white’. It has a few token blacks, but so many who gave their life in the struggle have died unrewarded,” Madikizela-Mandela told the London Evening Standard.

 

Also, elsewhere, Julius Malema stated that former president Nelson Mandela turned his back on parts of the revolution after being released from prison- whatever that means.

 

It has also been reported that certain of South Africa’s cabinet ministers alongside certain African presidents also share this sentiment.

 

Perhaps when one says that “Mandela sold out,” one means that the late statesman didn’t do enough to take the means of production and economic wealth out of the hands of the minority, and systematically transfer both political and economic power into the majority black hands.

 

I suppose that this is what many radical-cum-populist-politicians think the struggle against apartheid and colonialism was all about.

 

Nonetheless, I beg to differ.

 

Perhaps the debate about former president Mandela’s legacy should not be about what he didn’t do, but rather, about what he did do.

 

For those who would care to know, here are some interesting facts about South Africa’s democracy today which we can still accredit to Madiba.

 

  • Firstly, South Africa has strong institutions that support the notions of accountability, equity and rule of law. This is in contrast to many African countries which hide behind radical rhetoric and colonial finger-pointing in order to justify unaccountability and oppression.

 

  • Secondly, South Africa is one of Africa’s “big three” economies alongside Egypt and Nigeria. In fact in 2016, South Africa’s GDP stood at approximately 295 billion dollars. To put this into perspective, consider that Botswana (a country with a population of 2.2 million people) had a GDP of around 15 billion USD in 2016, while the self-proclaimed “regional revolutionary,” Zimbabwe had an inconsequential GDP of around 16 billion USD in 2016.

 

All in all South Africa represents 61% of SADC’S regional GDP while the so called “revolutionary” countries like Zimbabwe are underperformers given their vast mineral and agricultural potential.

 

Inevitably the question arises, why is it that Nelson Mandela is labelled a sell-out when the economy that he presided over is still institutionally strong and growing (albeit minimally), whereas other “revolutionary” states in SADC remain economic non-entities?

 

Perhaps the answer lies in the dynastic ambitions of avaricious African leaders.

 

Allow me to explain.

 

 

Political Dynasties

 

“It is not easy for a person to do any great harm when his tenure of office is short, whereas long possession begets tyranny.” Aristotle

 

To be honest, Nelson Mandela deserves every iota of respect that he has earned as a statesman. It’s not that he was perfect, because no man is perfect, and I know that I’m certainly not perfect.

 

However, after studying politics and African politicians for many years, I can safely conclude that Nelson Mandela did not “sell out” as some would have us to believe.

 

Instead, he took the straight and narrow political path of a single term in office and brutal accountability which is unlike many of his African political counterparts who cannot comprehend the meaning of the terms “step down” or “transparency.”

 

Here are some interesting observations.

 

In 2015, Togo, a country of approximately 7 million people voted for incumbent President Faure Gnassingbé for a third time.

 

Gnassingbé is the son and immediate successor of Togo’s fifth president—Gnassingbé Eyadema—and, once he serves out his third term, his family will have run Togo for 48 years.

 

Of course, this was not taken lying down by the Togolese public, and today in 2017, there are increasing calls and protests for President Faure Gnassingbé to step down. To date, it is reported that up to 13 people have been killed and hundreds of people have been rounded up, in what appears to be a crackdown on anti-dynasty protests.

 

Elsewhere, In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Kabila dynasty was established after a bloody coup d’état in 1997, when the Laurent Kabila militarily overthrew the long-ruling despot Mobutu Sese Seko.

 

That dynasty almost ended when Kabila senior was assassinated in January 2001.

 

Since then Kabila’s son Joseph has been at the helm of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and consequently he has presided over a nation characterized by repression instability and volatility.

 

Now that Joseph Kabila’s second term is over, he is refusing to step down, and as a result he is facing increasing protests and opposition to his continued stay in office.

 

Contemporary voters detest dynasties. Period.

 

In fact, public resistance to dynastic political projects is not uniquely African either.

 

In the United States Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump partly because of the abhorrence society has for political dynasties.

 

The bottom line is that in the modern world the people don’t like political dynasties.

 

Conceivably, in his political wisdom, Nelson Mandela caught this revelation.

 

I mean had he wanted to, he could have orchestrated his own dynasty. It’s not that he couldn’t have done it-He could.

 

In fact, He had the charisma, he had global support, he had the power, and he had the intellect to do so.

 

But instead he chose the politically straight and narrow path, and not the wide road of profligacy, wanton power, repression and egocentrism.

 

The fact that today so many African migrants live in South Africa is a testimony to Mandela’s legacy, and that is corroborating evidence that he in fact did not sell out, and instead believed that strong institutions, constitutionalism and accountability were the building blocks of a better South Africa.

 

Those who denounce him as a sell-out today, do so because his legacy of constitutionalism limits their liberty to loot.

 

Nevertheless it remains, as illustrated earlier that contemporary voters do not appreciate dynasties.

 

Now, with the ANC elective congress fast approaching, I perceive that the ruling African National Congress is caught between a rock and a hard place.

 

On the one hand, Dr. Nkosasana Dlamini Zuma is a revered and an experienced politician who has served well both nationally and internationally and perhaps would make a brilliant state and party president.

 

On the other hand, despite her positive attributes, as the ex-wife of sitting President Jacob Zuma, she is perceived as a pawn in a greater political dynastic agenda, and as mentioned earlier, contemporary voters do not respond positively to political dynasties.

 

Look at Togo, look at DRC, go ahead and ask Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush- in contemporary politics the dynastic agenda is bad for national business.

 

If anything, I would hope that the frontrunners in the ANC presidential race heed this warning and consider that the voting South African Public will not respond well to the Zuma dynasty political agenda- especially not in the context of a fledging economy, student protests, social problems and a slow growth.

 

If the ANC pursues its dynastic political agenda in December, it risks losing everything come the 2019 elections.

 

Already, the 2016 municipal election results show us that voters are unhappy with the ANC. The dynastic politics president Zuma is currently pursuing will only worsen the discontent.

 

The same can be said of ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe. If reports are true that President Mugabe is pursuing a dynastic political agenda, then ZANU-PF should prepare for perpetual political unrest in Zimbabwe, just like we are seeing it in Togo and the DRC.

 

At the end of the day this is what is clear to me: the politician that walks in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela will prosper. He was a politician’s politician, and his legacy lives through the strong institutions that he fought for.
Forward with democracy. Down with dynasty.
 

Tau Tawengwa

 

Executive Director

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2018 ELECTIONS: THE YOUTH LOBBY

The Zimbabwean Constitution (Amendment 20) of 2013 section 20 speaks about Youths.

 

Under section 20 the supreme law explicitly states that:

 

(1) The State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must take reasonable measures, including affirmative action programmes, to ensure that youths, that is to say people between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five years

(a)  have access to appropriate education and training;
(b) have opportunities to associate and to be represented and participate in political, social, economic and other spheres of life;
(c) are afforded opportunities for employment and other avenues to economic empowerment;
(d) have opportunities for recreational activities and access to recreational facilities; and
(e) are protected from harmful cultural practices, exploitation and all forms of abuse.

 

Under the same section, the constitution also states that:

 

(2) An Act of Parliament may provide for one or more national youth programmes.
(3) Measures and programmes referred to in subsections (1) and (2) must be inclusive, non- partisan and national in character.

 

 

2018 Voter Demographics

 

The Zimbabwean electorate arguably consists of the following sub-groups:

 

(a) The non-voter that is apathetic and does not care about politics.

(b) The stable voter whose vote is partisan and constant.

(c) The unstable voter who cares little about politics and votes erratically.

(d) The stable voter with high level of information. (S)he has a moderate knowledge of politics and votes consistently.

(e) The highly informed unstable voter, who makes his own decision at each moment.

 

 

Now what’s interesting about the 2018 election is that the outcome will largely be influenced by the youth vote.

 

 

This is because approximately 60% of eligible voters are below the age of 35, while  only about 7-8% of eligible voters are 60 years old and above.

 

 

This contrast in numbers is stark, because ostensibly, the 7-8% demographic still holds the majority of positions in business and politics while the 60% majority lives a general life of underemployment and substance abuse.

 

 

This condition has created what economists and sociologists refer to as a high “age dependency ratio” in Zimbabwe.

 

 

Nevertheless, this also means that the outcome of the 2018 election will largely be determined by voters under 35 (the majority of which are women).

 

 

Interestingly, the high rate of rural-urban migration over the last five years has seen an increase in the population in Harare Metropolitan province, to the extent that voters in Harare Metropolitan Province could determine the outcome of the 2018 elections.

 

 

This is because Harare Province had 800 000 registered voters in 2013, and come 2018 Harare Province may see over one million registered voters casting their ballots.

 

 

With a total of around 3 million national votes cast in the last election, this makes Harare Province one of the key electoral battle zones come 2018, because Harare province alone carries close to one third of the national vote.

 

 

Now, since we’ve determined that the youth vote will play the biggest role in seeing who wins in 2018, here are a few important points that politicians should consider as they campaign and attempt to convince youths to vote for them come 2018.

 

 

 

 

Key Electoral Points

 

  • Employment

 

 

 If anything, urban unemployment is apparent for all to see.

 

 

In fact the “informal sector” as we call it seems to have outgrown the formal sector particularly in Harare.

 

 

This means that touts, vendors, “mucheka cheka” drivers, broncleer and other drug dealers, prostitutes, car washers, currency traders, shabeen owners, air time and newspaper sellers and others who trade illicitly and informally are more in number than those who are in formal jobs in Harare.

 

 

Unfortunately it is not enough to tell these people that jobs will be created after 2018 because they have been told that before.

 

Instead, it makes sense to take cue from countries like Lesotho, South Africa and Kenya where there is a loud and clear lobby for the youth to form consortiums and accordingly pitch for a percentage of government tenders and top positions in parastatals .

 

These tenders should be given to youth consortiums   according to the ratio represented by the youth in the country, in other words 60% of tenders should be allocated to youth consortiums,  and 60% of high level parastatal positions should be allocated to the youth in line with section 20 of the constitution.

 

It just doesn’t make sense that 7-8% of the population (that is those over sixty) should hold the majority of key government positions when 60% of the population are under 40.

 

 

  • Accommodation

 

 

One thing that I have observed in both high and low density areas of Harare, is that the prevalence of the youth live with their parents sometimes up to the age of 40.

 

 

Whether or not our politicians want to acknowledge this, it must be observed that it is an uncomfortable and untenable situation.

 

 

I often hear parents who started working just after independence openly stating that they owned their own cars and houses by the time that they were 30 years old.

 

 

With that in mind, our politicians need be answerable and explain to the electorate why they can’t give people the same opportunities today, and what solutions they have to the problem of accommodation which is a key electoral point particularly in Harare province.

 

 

  • Factionalism/Tribalism

 

 

Most young people who are born free (that is, born after 1980) barely understand racism, let alone factionalism and tribalism.

 

 

From my analysis of the grassroots, factionalism seems to be a game largely influenced by the minority 7-8% of the population (those above the age of 60).

 

 

Young people generally don’t care about who is from what region or which faction etc. They are more concerned about good leadership and progress.

 

 

Young people are concerned about money in their pockets, accommodation, being able to live decent lives and being able to raise their children.

 

 

It is important that politicians acknowledge this as we approach 2018, because the politicians that work for the betterment of the youth today, will not only be handsomely rewarded in the 2018 election but also in 2023.

 

 

The fact is that the 7-8% voter group of 60 and above have played their part in business and politics, but are now a minority and must give room for the majority youth lobby.

 

 

It is in that context that I support the ongoing Youth Interface meetings, yet I hope that all the political rhetoric we have been hearing surrounding the well-being of youths is supported by practical political will and action.

 

 

After all, section 20 of the constitution acknowledges the rights of the youth. Come 2018, let’s hope our politicians will do the same.

 

 

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

 

Email

zimrays@gmail.com

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Anomie, Substance Abuse and Voter apathy in Zimbabwe

 

It is election season again in Zimbabwe, and political players are out and about making all kinds of claims about all kinds of things.

 

What always amuses me is how political parties present themselves as a panacea to the socioeconomic problems the electorate is facing.

 

This reminds me of a saying from George Eliot’s book: “Felix Holt, the Radical;”

 

‘An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.’

 

Of particular interest to me at this point are the claims by the major political parties that they will recruit hundreds of thousands of supporters prior to the polls.

 

In fact, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC-T has publicly stated that his party intends to recruit 800 000 new supporters in Harare Metropolitan province.

 

Similarly ZANU-PF’s Harare Province Commissariat has publicly stated that it intends to recruit over 500 000 members before the 2018 elections.

 

Of course, political parties are in the business of attaining or retaining power and therefore they should not be criticized for desiring to increase their membership.

 

Naturally, the MDC-T sees Harare province as ripe for recruitment for two reasons.
Firstly, the non-urban or rural constituencies are traditional ZANU-PF strongholds.

 

That, and the fact that this year the country is likely to experience a bumper harvest for the first time in almost two decades  make the rural constituencies scarcely winnable for opposition politics.

 

Secondly, Harare Province has been the hotbed for opposition politics since 2000.

 

Thorny economic circumstances and embargo induced company closures in Harare over the years make the province ripe for a youth targeted recruitment drive in the eyes of opposition politics.

 

However, in my view the issue of anomie and substance abuse in Harare will have a direct impact on voter apathy, meaning attempting to recruit 800 000 young voters is a long shot to say the least.

 

Substance Abuse in Harare

 

Anomie refers to a kind of hopelessness or confusion that arises when social norms conflict, stop making sense or cease to even exist.

 

Social norms are the rules of behaviour that are considered acceptable in a group or society.

 

So for example, where it was traditionally the norm in Zimbabwe to go to school, university and graduate, find work and start a family, unfortunately that traditional chain of events stopped making sense in the early nineties when HIV/AIDS left several Zimbabwean families without breadwinners and children had to fend for themselves.

 

The trend was acerbated between the year 2000 and the present day owing to economic decline.

 

Clearly, our society in general, and our youth in particular are in a state of anomie, and as a result, our youth are generally deviant.

 

Personally, I have witnessed those “mucheka-cheka” youth driven public transportation cars speeding away from police with four or five youths standing precariously on the back of the vehicle-drinking bronco.

 

Twenty years ago, you would have never thought you would see anything like that in Harare. It is a sign of anomie.

I have also read a report in which a Zimbabwe United Nations Association Youth president stated that 65% of youths suffer from mental problems due to drug and substance abuse. This is a sign of anomie.

 

Furthermore, the proliferation of commercial sex workers that are now visible in the daytime in areas like Greendale is a sign of anomie.

 

Twenty years ago in Harare, you would never have imagined such.

 

Now I have heard certain politicians insist that the country’s current state of anomie is owing to bad politics and bad economics, and that “investment” and “job-creation” is the solution.

 

However, I dispute that, because anomie and youth deviancy are also rampant in highly industrialized societies like the USA, Canada, Britain and South Africa.

 

In any respect, what is clear to me is that the many people who are under this condition of anomie will not be the first in line to register as voters; neither will they be running to the polling station come 2018.

 

They will probably be looking for their next fix of Zed or Bronco.

 

While the state on Anomie in Zimbabwe is somewhat disconcerting, the truth is that it is social problem, and therefore it will need to be addressed by social institutions.

 

Such institutions include (extended) families, religious groups, Educational Institutions, Community and Non-Government Organizations.

 

Ultimately, Government needs to acknowledge and address anomie in Zimbabwe, because anomie is a precursor to violent crime.

 

Finally, given the state of anomie, I do not see political parties recruiting anywhere near 800 000 new voters. The current state of anomie will not allow that to happen.

 

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

Email

zimrays@gmail.com

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