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Some Reflections on Student activism and the Pitfalls of Celebrity politics in Zimbabwe

By Blessing Vava ''Student activism is a highly conflict-filled terrain with very passionate individuals and groups involved&...

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Bhora Mugedhi-‘ZANU PF’s own-goal’


By Blessing Vava

It is now almost a year since Zimbabwe went for polls on the 31st of July 2013 to choose a new government to run the affairs of the state for five years until the 2018 plebiscite. The ‘victory’ by ZANU PF and Mugabe was a major setback in as a far as turning around the fortunes of this country was concerned. Despite having the most sound manifesto compared to the two MDC's, Team ZANU PF, and even their economic blueprint –ZIMASSET have failed to drive the country out of economic deflation, create employment, eradicate corruption and  nepotism and revamp the economy to the pre-ESAP era. The colourful Bhora-Mugedhi campaign by ZANU PF was in fact an own-goal. With almost a year after the elections the reality donning is that ZANU PF scored an own-goal as evidenced by their cluelessness in administering the affairs of the country.  As usual and expected the government of the day lacks the gusto and gravitas to steer a turn-around of our ailing economy. The economic chaos that dominated Zimbabwe prior to its stagnation during the inclusive government has been reincarnated in less than a year post 31 July era.


Without shame ZANU-PF is now talking about the next elections to be held in 2018, already they now have brand new vehicles branded VOTE ZANU PF 2018-Ohh what a shame! The ZANU PF Chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo has of late been making noise to that his party is now preparing for the next elections. Whilst there nothing is wrong for a political party to plan ahead but there is everything wrong when the promises made during the 2013 campaign period are not fulfilled. What development theory has always argued is the non-functionality of an economy that is always in an election mood.  Not even their much talked about ZIMASSET is yet to get capital injection and already there is grandstanding on the blueprint with VP Mujuru saying ZIMASSET can only be achieved in a period of 30-40 years. The 31 July victory means that Zimbabweans gave ZANU PF a ‘mandate’ to run the affairs of government till 2018. And as such the five year period is about delivery and not a campaign period.  The ruling party should stop taking Zimbabweans for granted, we do not eat elections, and therefore this election talk before addressing what they promised to deliver for the five years preceding elections is very irresponsible and should not be tolerated. Elections cannot and should never be a pre-occupation of a ruling government, and therefore Robert Mugabe and his party should deliver period!

ZANU PF made flimsy excuses during the GNU, they complained about the lack of policy coordination in the operations of government due to what they termed ‘ideological’ and ‘irreconcilable’ differences with the two MDCs.  Logically, after the resounding victory we expect them to function as government and address the socio-economic woes bedevilling our country. However the factional fights hogging ZANU PF are now a real threat to national security, progress, and development. The inconsistencies are reminiscent of the infamous government of national unity which was characterised by such discord. In fact Zimbabwe now has three governments within one administration. It is now clear that ZANU PF is now a three legged limping creature with each leg stepping in its own direction. The divisions are palpable that there is no cohesion in policy formulation and coordination in the running of government business. Each of the factions is pre-occupied in outwitting each other ahead of congress as they position themselves for a life after Mugabe. The factions are incompatible and it will take a miracle for ZANU PF to deliver not even a resurrection to political life of Mugabe will paper the crevices unless there is a formidable opposition to the ZANU PF circus - i.e the people of Zimbabwe save themselves.

Clueless-Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti in happier times
Sadly, the whole nation seems trapped in the ZANU PF succession war, we watch with excitement as if it’s a soap opera or a football match, without the people making this ruling oligarchy accountable to deliver their mandate as government. The media again has also been directly or indirectly trapped in the ZANU PF factionalism; the state media has been a catalyst and fails to play its role as the fourth arm of the state. Basing from the stories we have been getting its easily evident that both the private and the public media is sucked deep into the ZANU PF succession fight. With the Baba Jukwa case being a classic example. Objectivity is now a thing of the past, in short Zimbabwe needs a renewed and robust media that defines and refocuses on the national agenda not this ZANU-MDC factions and Baba Jukwa which have become our daily headlines in the local media.

Zimbabwe is bigger than ZANU PF factional politics or the exposure of Baba Jukwa, this should be a time to make ZANU PF accountable in terms of delivery.  As this hullaballoo is unfolding, Zimbabwe’s opposition parties are nowhere to be seen to pressure the ZANU PF government to deliver. The petty fights within our opposition movements (which are an extension of the factional fights in ZANU PF) have somehow destroyed hope amongst Zimbabweans and again it will not be a surprise come 2018 with ZANU PF scooping over 75% of the vote by hook or crook unless real comrades come to the foe to provide leadership. Spending time in the courts fighting for asserts or cheap publicity is not in any way an item near or related to the national democratic development agenda and will never bring political and economic change to our country.  Methinks that only an organised, conscious grouping which will come up with a clear political agenda rooted in the total fulfilment of the liberation struggle and the democratic aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe as clearly articulated in the Peoples Charter will complete the revolution.

The onus therefore lies amongst the young generation to envisage an ideal Zimbabwe and decide on the future by providing strategic leadership - it will take time of course, but only if there is a resolve, national development vision and agenda, commitment, selflessness and sacrifices will a new Zimbabwe be a reality.

Blessing Vuvuzela Vava is a political commentator. He writes from Chipinge and views expressed in this article are personal. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Toll gate fee increase irrational


By Blessing Vava

Minister of Transport- Obert Mpofu 
The Herald of 5 July 2014 reported that the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Obert Mpofu made amendments to the Toll Roads (Regional Trunk Road Network) Amendment Regulations of 2010 to effect an increase on tollgates. The report follows a   Statutory Instrument published in the Government Gazette by Government. The increase,   the first since tollgates were introduced in 2009 will see minibuses paying US$3, up from US$2. Buses will now be required to pay US$4, up from US$3, while heavy vehicles will pay US$5, up from US$4.

The increase itself is irrational, unreasonable and cannot be justified considering that not much maintenance has been done on all the countries major roads. Zimbabwe’s major roads have remained death traps with accidents because of minimum road maintenance despite the millions already being collected through tollgates. Already the money being collected from the tollgates cannot be justified or accounted for properly. Though the government needs resources to institute improvements on our major highways, this should however not be a justification to increase the tollgate fees by 100%. Instead, there should be other efficient means to collect these “taxes’’ to improve our roads. Raising funds for national road rehabilitation projects of this nature should be done with the least negative impact on the pockets of the public, whilst achieving the goal of funding the infrastructure.

The tollgate increase has indeed exposed the government’s arrogance in public engagement by introducing a policy of this nature. It should be the responsibility of every government to engage stakeholders on matters of policy that affect its citizens. While Minister Mpofu and ZINARA will try to justify and have us believe that this decision was arrived at through a consultative process, the simple truth is, they as a Ministry have failed and fell far short of what would be expected in a matter of this magnitude. This is validated by the outrage and surprise motorists expressed when the announcements of the toll increase were made. This did not only shock the individual road users, but business community as well.

In fact it was totally wrong and unacceptable, in the first place, for government to charge people to use existing roads. This is a form of privatisation of an existing public asset, our roads, which should be a public service paid for through taxation and not a commodity for sale to those with money. There should be a transparent discussion on why there has been a sudden increase. The increase will obviously affect the poor as this will also lead to the increase in the fares of public transport, thereby piling on the burden to the already suffering citizens. Poor consumers will also be hit by the inevitable higher prices in the shops as haulage firms pass on the cost of the tolls to the retailers, who will then pass this on to their customers.

 The move by Mpofu should not go unchallenged, it is a call to the trade unions, motorists, public transport associations, social movements, and community groupings to organise themselves and resist this illegal move.  It should basically be a campaign against the commodification of the highways. Equally, that campaign should speak to the broader demands for accessible, affordable and safe public transport system.  Whilst there is absolutely no doubt that even if one does not necessarily use the roads a good road infrastructure will be of great benefit to the country as a whole, but the burden should not entirely lie on the public but equally the national treasury needs to be an important contributor to the funding of roads.

The announcement by Minister Mpofu that less than $40 million is collected from tollgates annually is rather an under estimate, the government should disclose or share with the public the expenses needed so that it gives us a fairly accurate account of the tollgate costs and road rehabilitation.
Understanding the logic and issues above, the toll increase is fundamentally flawed and should be challenged even legally. It is most certainly not in the best interests of the citizen and works against the ultimate role that Government ought to play – i.e. to enhance the wellbeing of its citizens.


Blessing Vuvuzela Vava is a social commentator. He writes from Chipinge and can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com