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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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

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Industrialization, Vendors and Religion

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Recently, I came across two particularly interesting events that occurred in Southern Africa. They are: The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap Summit and International Worker’s Day on the first of May.

The SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap Summit

 

This Strategy and Roadmap operationalises the theme of the 34th Summit of SADC, which is Strategy for Economic Transformation: Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable, Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition.

The strategy will seek to utilize the diverse natural resources of the region to bring about sustainable economic and social development.

Now, industrialization particularly refers to economic activity which is based upon manufacturing and production, and which ultimately grows economies and creates employment. Some of the preconditions of industrialization are: labour force, markets, access to raw materials and investment.

While critics have pointed at de-industrialization in Zimbabwe as an indicator of the summit’s futility, perhaps it is important to note that de-industrialization is a global phenomenon.

Firstly, de-industrialization refers to the falling in unemployment particularly in the manufacturing sector, and according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the last 30 years employment in the manufacturing sector has fallen dramatically in the world’s most advanced economies, particularly the United States and Europe.

In fact, if one looks at France (a country with an enviable industrial heritage) as an example, some 350 000 manufacturing sector jobs have been shed since the mid 2000s.

Even if we look at research from Brazil, we’ll notice that “since the late 1980’s, Brazil has begun to deindustrialize, a process which recent growth has done little to stop or reverse. India presents an even more striking case: Manufacturing employment there peaked at a meager 13% in 2002, and has since trended down.”

The reason behind deindustrialization in these countries is arguably that their domestic costs of manufacturing make it difficult for them to compete globally.

Zimbabwean manufacturers are in a similar situation. In fact, the vast amounts of foreign goods on our shelves make it obvious that our manufacturers are failing to compete with South African, Chinese and other goods, and it is in this light that regional industrialization spearheaded by South Africa is the way forward.

Take Pick n Pay as an example. It is already clear that Pick n Pay is contributing positively to our economy in terms of creating jobs and providing goods and services.

Now, if the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap materializes, it will certainly create jobs regionally. Imagine if companies like Vodacom, MTN, Shoprite Checkers, Sasol and Mediclinic set up shop in Zimbabwe.

Such a situation can only be positive, considering that last year South Africa’s top 50 corporate brands had a combined valuation of 34.3 billion dollars.

International Worker’s Day

 

The May 1 holiday is based upon “the International Workers’ Congress held at Paris in July 1889 [which] called upon workers around the world to hold a one-day demonstration to fight for the 8-hour day.

“Originally intended only as a single day of solidarity, May Day captured the attention of working people around the world. A century later, May Day was recognized as an official holiday in 107 countries.”

Now, interestingly, some so called labour activists tend to lament the state of Zimbabwe’s workforce, particularly the levels of unemployment, yet it is those very labour activists who are consistently lobbying for higher wages.

Let me remind them here, that Karl Marx referred to the unemployed as the “industrial reserve army” and that when unemployment is high, wages should remain low in order to create jobs for this reserve army. Conversely when unemployment is low, wages should remain high.

Religion and the “Musika” Phenomenon”

I am particularity curious about a new slogan which is being used by certain labour activists and politicians who are referring to Zimbabwe as “a nation of vendors.”

In order to verify the validity, of this term, I took time to walk through Harare central business district (CBD).

In Harare CBD, there are two things I find peculiar. Firstly, Town house (the administrative center of Harare City Council) is literally encircled by vendors. I can only imagine what the mayor and his cohorts discuss in their chambers when a few meters away they can hear a megaphone marketing rat poison.

Secondly, my observations in CBD diminished the doctrine that it is solely economic forces that create the informal sector, or what I will refer to here as the “musika” phenomenon.

Now let us consider that Western industrialization produced classic social theorists like Karl Marx, who (among other things) referred to religion as “the opium of the people,” and the enemy of the proletariat. On the other hand, Max Weber, an economist wrote “The Protestant Ethic.”

In simple terms, Max Weber’s work argued that religious forces precede economic forces. In other words, during his time, preachers transmitted a doctrine that hard work and frugality allow a believer to save money and increase wealth, and that wealth itself is an indication of God’s blessing and an assurance that a believer will go to heaven.

Today, “The Protestant Ethic” has culminated into what is often referred to as “prosperity gospel.”

Now, if we take Max Weber’s “Protestant Ethic” as an analytical tool and apply it to the “Musika” phenomenon in Harare CBD, we may reach some significant conclusions.

Firstly, let us agree that it makes no economic sense for a person to travel into town in order to sell tomatoes and rat poison, given that, tomatoes can literally be found anywhere.

Secondly, I want to draw attention to the African Apostolic Church, or what we commonly refer to as “Vapostori.”

It is not a secret that the “Vapostri” doctrine often encourages self-employment and enterprise. It is also not a secret that “Vapostori” are perhaps the fastest growing religious group in the country.

Furthermore, I recently dealt with a labour dispute that involved a follower of the “Vapostori” church who quit his job as gardener in order to run a “musika” full-time.

Consequently, using Max Weber’s social theory as a tool, I put it forward that the while the “musika” phenomenon is a somewhat a consequence of economic forces, it is also inspired by religious forces particularly in the forms of self-employment doctrines of “Vapostori.”

I challenge anyone who disputes this to base their arguments on empirical evidence which is drawn from a research survey on vendors in town.

I am particularly keen to conduct that study, because for a nation as educated as Zimbabwe, it makes no sense for anyone to travel into town to sell tomatoes and rat poison.

Furthermore, why doesn’t Harare’s City Council enforce by-laws and regulations that prohibit the selling of meat, tomatoes and rat poison on the side of the road in CBD?

Perhaps it is because certain politicians are banking on the “nation of vendors” slogan and therefore they keep vendors on pavements in town in order to use them later as political capital?

Ultimately, industrialization is the way forward, and the SADC chair should be commended for the initiative.

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

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Zimbabwe’s Labour Law Amendment Implications

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The South African apartheid policy was based upon the ideological foundation that non-whites were a “detriment, drain and danger to the whites, and should therefore live separately from the white population.”

 

This resulted in “the creation of ten autonomous Bantustans through the 1951 Bantu Self-Government Act, affording to the natives autonomous sovereignty over traditional tribal lands and transferring their citizenship from the greater country to only that of their particular tribal affiliation, effectively disenfranchising the non-white population from South African political life.”

 

One particular law enacted by the apartheid regime that betrayed the racist foundations of the apartheid ideology was the 1949 “Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act No 55.” This act forbade marriages between whites and non-whites. Furthermore the “Immorality Act of 1957” which prohibited intimate relations between white people and people of other races also betrayed the racist ideological foundations of apartheid.

 

Yet, the incongruity of these edicts is indisputable. I mean why would anyone attempt to legislate who a person is allowed to marry? At the end of the day, these laws were clear infringements of individual rights.

 

Now, the relevance of these apartheid analogies to Zimbabwe’s current national affairs is significant. The fact is, by the mid-1980s it was clear that the apartheid behemoth was on its knees, and as a result all the major South African political economic and social heads were huddling and haggling.

 

Nevertheless, in the course of the mid-1980s negotiations, one of the clear tell-tale signs that the end of apartheid was imminent was the enactment of the Immorality and Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Amendment Act, 1985 (Act No. 72 of 1985).

                                                         

This act of the South African parliament repealed the laws prohibiting marriage and sexual intercourse between white people and people of other races, and as a result it served as a legal indicator to social and political analysts that the impractical and unsustainable apartheid policy was reaching its end.

 

In light of the above, I’d like to zero in on certain aspects of the Zimbabwean legislature and their possible socio-economic indicators.

 

Firstly, labour laws in Zimbabwe are in the process of being amended in order to make it easier for employers to hire, fire and retrench employees, and to ensure that employees are paid for what they produce, and not just for being at work.

 

This is a significant legislative step, because historically, the labour laws in Zimbabwe have favored employees. In fact, prior to independence most African countries saw a coalescence of Black African trade unionism and African nationalism in the effort to achieve independence; and furthermore, the labour-nationalist coalition was often characterized by populist pro-socialist, pro-worker and pro-poor approaches to policy.

 

The same is also true in Zimbabwe where it was active Black trade unionism that organized the strikes of 1960, which arguably created a context for the spread of nationalism and liberation consciousness. Consequently, up until 1980, one could argue that black trade unions and African nationalist movements sang from the same song sheet.

 

After 1980, however, the pre-independence Marxist Leninist and socialist rhetoric of the liberation rulers slowly gave way to neo-liberal pro-business policies which included trade liberalization and reduction of role of the State in the economy. In practice, this meant reducing public sector jobs, slashing welfare services, and removing wage and price controls.

 

Yet, in resistance to neo-liberalism, the post-independence Zimbabwean trade unions often attempted to flex their muscles (especially in the 1990s) through repeated strikes, demonstrations and sometimes riots. In fact scholars have described industrial relations in Zimbabwe in the 1990s as “a decade of unprecedented industrial and social action.”

 

Since 2000 the trade union base has largely diminished, and as it stands in Zimbabwe today there are more people unemployed than those in formal work.

 

Ultimately, the amendment of the labour legislation indicates two things: firstly, the populist pro-socialist, pro-worker and pro-poor approaches to policy are officially dead. By amending labour laws the government is explicitly making it clear that it is taking the neo-liberal approach to the economy, which means it will have to shelve its African populist policies.

 

This in effect means that secondly, the indigenization laws will also be eventually amended in attempt to make them investor friendly. This is because, as it stands, the amended labour laws will make it easy for employers to hire and fire workers, and this will therefore have a direct impact on the indigenization inspired “employee share ownership schemes,” which by nature, require workers to be permanent in order for them to bear fruit.

 

The fact is that the country is moving away from its populist socialist history, and has now submitted to the fate of neo-liberalism.

 

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

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The Politics of Business in Zimbabwe

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“A developmental state is characterized by a government with sufficient organization and authority to drive forward its economic goals. It is a state, which provides forward-looking guidelines to society through detailed, long-term development objectives and policies. Through its main machinery, the bureaucracy, it aims to effectively and efficiently create a suitable climate for economic growth.

 
“Moreover, such states take account of and make well-deliberated attempts to mitigate the impact of conflicting and competing socio-economic interests. A true developmental state thus exists when the state has the vision, leadership, and capacity to bring about positive economic changes that benefit all groups of society within a specified time frame.”

 
Now, according to John Knight, a researcher at the Oxford University Centre for the Study of African Economies, between 1952 and 1978 the Chinese economy suffered from a relatively slow growth rate coupled with low household incomes per capita.

 
He states that between 1952 and 1978 the Chinese people “suffered from the traumas of the Great Famine and the Cultural Revolution” and that “China had neither the firmity of purpose nor the policies to be a developmental state under central planning. Politics and not economics was in command.”

 
Post 1978 Chinese Economic Policy

 
However, as of the mid 1970s the Chinese state shifted its prioritized objectives from political to economic goals for three fundamental reasons:

 
●Firstly, improved living standards of the populous would avert political upheaval and cement support for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)

 
●Secondly, China felt the pressure of competition from increasingly prosperous Western and some East Asian countries

 
●Finally, the Chinese Cultural Revolution had distorted the structure of the CCP and had essentially diminished the party’s capacity for central planning primarily because factional conflict had taken its toll on the party.

 

 
In Light of these factors, the CCP shifted its focus to economic reform. Put plainly, the Chinese state realised that politics had to decrease, in order for business and social development to increase.However, before the party outlined its economic strategy, it initially reformed the state and the party by modernizing the leadership system, insisting on professionalism and offering incentives for the achievement of state objectives.

 
John Knight observes, “Thus the party and (the) state bureaucrats including managers of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) were molded to meet CCP objectives, to which the achievement of rapid economic growth was central. China became a Developmental State.”

 
Zimbabwe and Zim-Asset

 
Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) is the policy program through which the Zimbabwean government intends to transform the economy by 2018 by focusing on (among other things) infrastructure development, food security, poverty eradication and job creation. The policy has incited mixed responses from political and economic analysts, but , if fully implemented, the policy document has the potential to transform Zimbabwe into a developmental state.

 
To date, analysts have failed to observe that similar to China’s party and state reforms in 1978, which curtailed factionalism in the CCP and consequently enhanced the CCP and the Chinese state’s capacity for central planning and policy implementation, ZANU-PF has undergone a major restructuring program, which was concluded at the December 2014 elective congress. The primary objective of this exercise was to curtail factionalism and to enhance the party and government’s ability for central planning and policy implementation.

 
Now that the country is in the post-Congress period, it is appropriate that ZANU-PF focuses on successfully implementing Zim-Asset and its developmental goals, which fundamentally rely upon Foreign Investment. However, what can the country learn from China as an investment destination?

 
Chinese Investment Environment

 
Firstly, as to precursor to China’s post 1978 economic boom, the (CCP) Central Committee decided to “substantially increase the role of market mechanisms in the system… reducing (but not eliminating) government planning and direct control.

 
“The first reforms consisted of opening trade with the outside world, instituting the household responsibility system in agriculture, by which farmers could sell their surplus crops on the open market, and the establishment of Town Village Enterprises (TVE).”

 
In Zimbabwean terms, reports that the country’s finance ministry is considering “tweaking” the indigenization laws in order to make them investor friendly are welcome. Perhaps government should play a latent role in business, but should avoid direct control.

 
Finally, China has been an attractive investment destination because of the cost of labour. In the 1980s several Multinational Corporations relocated to China, especially because the labour costs were low and the labour policies were business friendly. In this light Zimbabwe should observe that high labour costs and labour law frigidity diminish the country’s potential as an investment destination and ultimately the fulfillment of Zim-Asset.

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Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

Flexible Labour Laws can assist growth in Zimbabwe

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“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy,” wrote America’s second president, John Adams who was arguably of the view that the blood and toil of older generations should result in the freedom and actualization of the younger.

 

However, Zimbabwe has seen better days. While the older generation fought a protracted war against colonialism that resulted in the country’s independence, the younger (born free) generation has not significantly experienced economic actualization, and as it stands, for various reasons, the Zimbabwean economy is struggling , and about 80% of the country’s adult population is currently unemployed.

 

While various analysts and commentators have pointed to the perceived reasons for the country’s economic quandary and the possible solutions thereof, of interest to me at this juncture is the proposition to make the country’s labour laws more flexible in order to accentuate economic growth.

 

As part of his December 2013 national budget statement, the finance minister Patrick Chinamasa stated that government would review the country’s labour laws in attempt to create a flexible labour market, which should see to an increase in productivity.

 

Put plainly, labour market flexibility makes it easier for companies to hire and fire employees and to alter work hours and wage rates. A labour market with low flexibility is characterized by rules and regulations such as minimum wage restrictions and requirements from trade unions as is the case in South Africa.

 

Now, it has emerged that cabinet recently agreed to amend the Labour Act in attempt to loosen constraints in terms of retrenchments, terminal benefits, working hours and the arbitral awards system. This has apparently incensed the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) which is threatening to “go back to the streets” if this position is not reconsidered.

 

However, given the prevailing economic environment, one wonders whether militancy will in anyway assist the workers. After all, whether or not the government relaxes labour laws, retrenchments are ongoing.

 

In this light, it is important for the ZCTU to consider the following factors:

 

●Firstly, labour market flexibility will allow firms to become more competitive. It should be acknowledged that Zimbabwe does not exist in a vacuum, but is part of a globalized world. As it stands, the country has become a market for international products particularly from China, India and South Africa, and this has contributed to company closures- why? Simply because our local products are too expensive and consequently uncompetitive.

 

In fact, research reveals that China has experienced massive manufacturing growth over the years because of (among other things) labour market flexibility. The fact is that frigid labour laws do not allow for large-scale employment in sectors that are labour intensive.

 

Interestingly, a Chinese labour bulletin commenting on the Indian economy recently reported that “manufacturing is necessary to give the large groups of people well paying jobs in the formal sector, as opposed to the informal sector, in which most Indians work today,” and that “Indian trade unions need to learn from China on labour law flexibility.” Zimbabwean Trade unions can learn something as well.

 

●Secondly, The ZCTU needs to understand that its threat to “go back to the streets” is laughable, given that at best, it represents 20% of the economically active population. Unions are potent in highly productive economies like South Africa. Currently in Zimbabwe, those who are working are outnumbered four to one by those who are not formally employed, meaning that threatening militancy will only put the jobs of those who are formally employed in jeopardy.

 

●Finally, while calls for a Poverty Datum Line (PDL) aligned minimum wage of $USD540/month are noble, they are also impractical. You cannot force employers to pay amounts that they cannot afford- this will only lead to more retrenchments.

 

A 2013 Reuters report on the global minimum wage pegged China’s minimum wage at an average of $USD264/month while Brazil had an average of $USD287/month. The fact is that we cannot afford to pay our labour almost double the amount that our competitors pay theirs.

 

Ultimately, while labour market flexibility is favourable, it should be accompanied by efficient service delivery and good economic governance.

 

If the workers agree to sideline their immediate demands in favour of increased productivity, global competitiveness and possible economic growth, then it becomes the state’s responsibility to ensure that the workers do not fall victim to predatory capitalism. After all the worker’s children will still need to go to school, and they will still need access to affordable housing and hospitals.

 

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

KLEPTOCRACY

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Kleptocracy is a term that is applied when describing a state in which high-ranking officials take advantage of governmental corruption to extend their personal wealth and/or political power fundamentally through the embezzlement of state funds at the expense of the wider population, sometimes without even the pretense of honest service.

The characteristics of a kleptocracy are:

The elite in society utilize political power to enrich themselves at the expense of wider social services and the general well-being of citizens.

Political power is condensed so that an elite holds the majority of the control over government.

Programs which benefit those who are not elite are subverted in order to increase the amount of money available to be shifted to the elite.

Institutions of the state squash dissent from the status-quo.

The ongoing salary-gate saga (an exposé of state entity bosses who have been awarding themselves ludicrous salaries that run into tens of thousands of American dollars per month in Zimbabwe; the second poorest country in the world) has raised questions about the maladmistration of state institutions in the country and the sincerity of government when it comes to tackling graft.

While I would not define Zimbabwe as an absolute kleptocracy as were Mobutu Sese Seko’s Congo or Sani Abacha’s Nigeria, my concern is that the country faces the danger of descending into the clutches of complete kleptomania if corruption is not urgently addressed.

But the question is how did we get here? How did we get to a point where a C.E.O of a medical aid society earns some USD $250, 000 per month while the members who contribute monthly to that society cannot access basic medical services?

In a work entitled “Re-Living the Second Chimurenga” Fay Chung, a Zimbabwe liberation war activist and a former minister of Education argues, “Structural Adjustment saw the entry of new leaders into ZANU-PF.

“These leaders had not taken part in the difficult pre-independence liberation struggle of the 1960s and 1970s, but had joined the ruling party after it got into power in order to promote their business prospects, which remained closely linked to political patronage.

“Known as the mafikizolo, or newly arrived, they integrated themselves into the party leadership.

“Thus by the 1990s, the new leadership within ZANU-PF began to outnumber those who had been in the liberation struggle. These new leaders became millionaires and billionaires through their political connections. They, like the wealthy whites before them, tended to expatriate their wealth, rather than investing inside the country.”

Now, ZANU-PF held its 14th National People’s Conference from 10th – 14th December 2013 under the theme, “ZIM ASSET: Growing the Economy for Empowerment and Employment”.

Some of the notable resolutions that emerged at the conference were:

to instruct the government to ensure that food relief is available and reaches the vulnerable and needy communities throughout the country

to urge the government to improve the living standards of the citizenry for an empowered society and a growing economy

that both the party and the government should implement zero tolerance against corruption in all spheres of public and private life.

Based upon these resolutions, kudos to Professor Jonathan Moyo, The Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services who unilaterally spearheaded that salary-gate exposé. The fact is that Zimbabwe has for too long blamed hostile external factors for its internal problems.

In fact the salary-gate revelations have exposed the self-sanctioned profligacy within non-performing public service providers where various executives have been earning amounts ranging between USD$30, 000 and USD$250, 000 per month.

Put plainly, the salary-gate scandal has effectually buried the sanctions mantra forever- no one will believe it again, especially not when we, the youth, who constitute between 60 and 70 percent of the population are out of work, and are consequently succumbing to social ills like substance addiction and promiscuity.

In case you did not know, Harare has become a hub of multi-racial brothels, Class A drug trafficking, strip clubs and crime – the social effects of unemployment in the country. Those of us who cared to, voted in favour of economic growth and employment, and that is what we expect.

Exposing the kleptomaniac tendencies of the state is a good start that should be reinforced by transparency and accountability mechanisms within government entities in order to strengthen these institutions and as a result, to attract much needed funding.

Tau Tawengwa

Secretary General