Recycling the sin bin

In the last week President Robert Mugabe exercised his constitutional mandate to appoint and swear in 14 new members to his Cabinet.

A Candid Date with Masola wa Dabudabu

On the surface, the appointments appeared to be replacement for the victims of the Gamatox/Weevil purge that resulted in a number of ministers losing their posts. On further analysis the new appointees stood out as beneficiaries to Mugabe’s largesse thus exposing the President’s enduring desire to please his cronies with little or no regard to the inherent pressure on the fiscus.

The recent additions to the Cabinet have inadvertently blotted it to a whopping total of 60. In Zimbabwean standards, the large size of the Cabinet is proof of unparalleled generosity in the part of the person appointing the ministers. It is preposterous for a country with a population of around 13 million to have so many ministers crowding the Cabinet. There is no rational justification for so many men and women to bleed the country into economic oblivion. There is no mileage in employing all those high-earning ministers when the country is struggling financially. In any case, no matter how large the Cabinet is, the ordinary people will continue to endure the effects of the sorry state of the economy with no end on sight.

The situation becomes worse for economists who harbour genuine desires to see Zimbabwe recover from the doldrums. The monstrosity that Mugabe has created out of Zimbabwe’s Cabinet will curdle the blood that runs in the veins of any economist worth his or her qualifications. Economically, Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product per capita which is pegged at an unenviable $1 000 will not increase just because the Cabinet is larger. What it means is that the scantily available funds will now be thinly spread amongst more hungry ministerial guzzlers. Comparatively, some countries with economies and populations that are larger than Zimbabwe’s operate effectively and efficiently with smaller numbers of ministers. The country does not need more ministers, but requires increased economic activity.

Economic activity has been drastically reduced due to political and the economic ineptness of Mugabe’s government. Businesses have been folding at rates faster than new ones are formed. The labour market is shrinking due to businesses reactively right-sizing their labour force. Were it not for political expedience and the need to save Mugabe’s face, the government would by now have reduced the size of the public sector as an answer to cash flow problems associated with a shrinking tax collection base. The government has only managed to use its proxies within the private sector and parastatal organisations to agitate for massive workforce rationalisations.

The recent promulgation of laws making retrenchments costly is just a smokescreen to shield from scrutiny the interests of the gazillions of ministers engaged under dubious circumstances. The economy cannot sustain all those appointments in its current state.

The economy needs to start firing on all cylinders for the retention of all those ministers and their retinue of assistants.
Unfortunately the prospects of recovery in the immediate future are next to nothing due to the huge Cabinet lacking appetite for improving the economic status of the country. For some reason Zanu PF seem to thrive in turmoil with the influential amassing wealth while the ordinary wallow in abject poverty.

Mugabe has not made the situation any better due to his intransigence. He is fixated on a misguided belief that he is punishing the West for inciting, promoting and propagating the “Mugabe must go” campaign. Such is Mugabe’s obsession with dealing heavy blows to the West that he will sacrifice his own people to prove that he is equal to the task. He lacks the requisite leadership qualities as well as the zeal to ignite economic recovery. At his age he is a man strolling towards the finishing line of a long life. He cares not for the people but only for himself and his closest associates. According to his doctrine of preserving his vanity and vainglory, his cronies should be rewarded with ministerial posts.

It is unfortunate that Mugabe’s desire to pave the Mugabe way is so compelling that he will ignore the pleas of his own people all in misdirected anger to impose revenge on the West. He is making 13 million Zimbabweans destitute in his quest to make 60 million Britons feel the economic repercussions.

His actions portray a man under the illusion that he is winning the economic war. He hopes to post an easy win against the West by increasing the size of his “war Cabinet”. He believes that more ministers in his Cabinet will work efficiently to deliver killer blows to the West.

Ordinary Zimbabweans know the truth. They know that the very old, the old, the not so old, the new and the newest members of the Cabinet have no energy to deliver the country from economic morass. The new members of the large Cabinet chorus in the song “Mugabe is son of man” and sing altissimo about sovereignty.

A much slimmer, trimmer and meaner cabinet can deliver Zimbabwe from her current economic mess.

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