Coltart’s successor has big shoes to fill

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is this week expected to announce his new Cabinet and it is almost certain that he would appoint a new Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister.

Southern Eye Editorial

Mugabe has described his outgoing Cabinet as the worst he has presided over since the country’s independence in 1980.

The jury is still out on that one because Zimbabwe would not be where it is today if it had better performing ministers in the past.

However, what is not disputable is that David Coltart stood shoulders above the rest during the tumultuous period of the inclusive government.

At the inception of the coalition government, the education sector was virtually on its knees.

The few qualified teachers who had not skipped the country for greener pastures were spending most of their time on strike demanding better salaries than in class.

Although the new government did little to improve their salaries, the adoption of the multi-currency system at least ensured that teachers got a living wage.

Coltart also fought tenaciously for teachers that had deserted their jobs at the height of hyperinflation to be re-engaged despite the many frustrations caused by a rigid bureaucracy.

More importantly, the outgoing minister will be remembered for his role in the setting up of the Education Transition Fund (ETF), which was instrumental in reviving the country’s education sector.

The fund helped with the procurement of textbooks for schools and right now money from the fund is being used to review the country’s education curriculum.

Strangely, Zanu PF was not happy with the strides made in the education sector and singled out Coltart for special mention in its July 31 elections manifesto.

He was accused of allegedly spearheading donor-driven programmes “camouflaged by the sanitised language of humanitarian and developmental assistance to cover up sinister regime-change intentions”.

There is no doubt millions of satisfied parents would not agree with this dishonest assessment of the outgoing minister’s performance by Zanu PF.

Therefore, Coltart’s successor has big shoes to fill because the bar has been set very high. Reversing Coltart’s initiatives would not be in Zimbabwe’s interest and we are confident Zanu PF is capable of differentiating election rhetoric from actual governance.

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