OPINION: Mnangagwa Must Come Clean On Cartels
An opinionist writing for the Review and Mail said its high time Zimbabwe put the president to task by demanding that he comes clean on the cartels that are reportedly wreaking havoc in the economy.
In the article, the columnist opined:
There are a number of things we could learn from South Africa. South Africa is Africa’s biggest democracy and acts it often, through an impressive array of demonstrations in governance, rule of law and political culture. The systems are there to enable a well-functioning democracy: a good constitution and strong institutions that hold the powerful of society to account. Probably the most prominent of these, as we have seen and got to appreciate increasingly over the years, are Parliament, the Public Protector and the Courts.Feedback
In the presence and functionality of these institutions, strong institutions for that matter, we have seen that the Big Man – Africa’s curse of rulers – has little power. Institutions are superior and inviolable. We are seeing this with former President Jacob Zuma. His travails with the law over corruption are the essence of institutions holding the elites to account. Even the incumbent, Cyril Ramaphosa has had a brush with forces of accountability and good governance, and this relating to his involvement with potentially compromising financial and funding links, that also point to his family. It is a safe bet that the long arm of the law may eventually catch up with Ramaphosa, too. Or he will be proven innocent. Either way, due process and rule of law are at play.
Another important layer in this wonderful praxis of democracy constitutes an active citizenry that demands to be well governed. The proviso, though, and this makes the world of difference, is that citizens are allowed to exercise their constitutional rights and exercise power over politicians, and some institutions and structures of society. Lastly, South Africa’s political system of regular and uncontested elections that are underlined smooth transfer of power. This contrasts deeply with what happens elsewhere and in the majority of the continent, and in particular, South Africa’s northern neighbour of Zimbabwe, which is the subject of this piece.
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But allow us to put a valedictory note regarding South Africa. South Africa has done well economically and other human development indices because of its democracy, which underlines the truism that better governed countries with strong institutions and rule of law stand to perform better than repressive, closed or corrupt regimes. That is not to oversimplify things: we know that South Africa has its own troubles ranging for the democratic experiment itself to issues of inequalities that are at the centre of the notion of development. But it ticks some impressive boxes. These reflections are relevant to Zimbabwe.
Our main story centres around the acquisition of public service buses under the banner of Zupco, the parastatal that should be responsible for administering mass road transport system in the country. It used to be, from Rhodesian days, before it was run aground through mismanagement, corruption and asset stripping. Now that the idea of Zupco and mass transportation is being revived to address some genuine socio-economic needs, it is ironic that there are grave concerns about ownership of the buses and general operationalisation of the scheme.
It must be stated clearly that the uncomfortable rumours about the President and or his henchmen having interest in the system are clearly unsettling. They should, and can, be read within the context of other allegations of the President’s allies such as Kuda Tagwirei carving monopolies in forex allocation and fuels. Tagwirei has been widely regarded as wielding corrupting influence over the President and the ruling party. There are other cartels that have been alleged in sectors such as maize and gold.
Suffice it to say, the so-called cartels have held this country hostage: it is like they are in a mood to smash and grab everything.
In a functional democracy these things must be probed and stopped. It is even discomfiting when the President’s name is dragged into the muck. He must come clean. He must also stop this menace because the world is watching. Rule of law – and arresting criminals including those that surround the President, as the joke goes – is a key benchmark for development. Investors will be watching.
On a more global scale, a country like Zimbabwe that is in transition is also expected to exhibit appetite to do right things in terms of democracy and human rights and freedoms. This will enhance our standing in the eyes of the global family of nations. No need mentioning that Zimbabwe has just drifted. We report elsewhere that the US has just gone into overdrive to sanction Zimbabwe and the basis of the escalation of hostilities is the latter’s bad image. It makes the job easier. Much easier
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