Govt Business Suffers As Grace Wars Intensify

Never-ending Zanu PF factional fights have inflicted a major blow on government work as ministers and top officials spend their time plotting against each other.

The Standard was told on Saturday, the situation was getting out of hand following First Lady Grace Mugabe’s entry into the political area which has spawned a dog-eat-dog fight for positions.

A concerned senior Zanu PF official who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation said government was operating at its lowest as Cabinet ministers and other senior officials were spending their energies fighting each other. This was having a debilitating effect on efforts to revive the comatose economy.

He said everyone seemed to be fighting for their political turf instead of concentrating on government work.

Another official said Mugabe’s government was no different from the Government of National Unity (GNU) where the coalition partners were sabotaging each other.

“Factionalism and the succession fights have resulted in ministers of government discrediting and sabotaging each other instead of working together to resolve the problems facing the country,” said the senior Zanu PF official.

“As a result, it is the country and the economy which suffers.”

The officials said they were worried by the fact that politburo matters had become more important than Cabinet business while the Central Committee meetings appeared to have superseded Parliament business in terms of importance.

Mugabe was now spending most of his time attending to party business, including politburo meetings, some lasting more than 10 hours.

 However, Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday defended the long politburo meetings, saying the party was responsible for formulating policies that directed government work.

“We have said it over and over that the politburo is the main organ that makes decisions that will direct government work,” Gumbo said.

“There is nothing unusual about those long meetings. We spend a lot of time because we want to formulate policies. The politburo leads government. Cabinet ministers are seconded by the party.”

However, a Zanu PF insider expressed concern over the attention that was given to party matters at the expense of government business.

“It’s the government that is suffering more. Ministries are being run by permanent secretaries as the Zanu PF ministers will be fighting for political turf in the raging succession fights. There is a missing link between policy makers, implementers and legislators. Policy-makers will be busy at the politburo and government work suffers,” he said.

“The country is run using the structure of a three legged pot — the party, Cabinet and Parliament. But in Zimbabwe, the party leg seems to be taller than the other two and definitely, the pot will tip over.”

He said as long as the succession issue was not addressed in Zanu PF, government business would remain at a standstill.

Mugabe’s economic blueprint, Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset) needs funding to the tune of US$27 billion.

Last week, Mugabe was in China for a state visit where he signed several business agreements. China, according to Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, pledged to fund only bankable programmes.

 Asked in an interview yesterday when the first deal landed in China would become reality in Zimbabwe, Chinamasa’s phone kept dropping due to network problems.

However, even as the country is reeling under economic challenges, Cabinet is not known to have sat down for as many hours as the politburo to deal with this national crisis.

Former Energy minister in the GNU, Elton Mangoma said in an interview Saturday that the longest Cabinet meeting chaired by Mugabe that he remembered lasted for six hours.

“Zanu PF has never been interested in people’s welfare, but keeping power. We knew it before we entered government, we witnessed it during our time in government and we are still experiencing it today,” Mangoma said.

He said during those Cabinet meetings, Mugabe would at times doze off only to be appraised of the developments by the Chief Secretary in his office, Misheck Sibanda.

Mugabe has however remained awake at Zanu PF meetings. A few weeks ago, the 90- year-old was up until 5am when the Zanu PF youth elections were finalised. An alert Mugabe however failed to prevent party officials from influencing the election outcome.

Political analyst Takura Zhangazha said Mugabe prioritised party business more than government work and was more anxious about nightmares caused by the succession issue in his party.“He is taking government work in a technocratic way. Political contestation in his party is a vehicle to get into government and keep power, so Mugabe is more worried about developments in his party than in government,” Zhangazha said.

Zhangazha said Zanu PF decisions directed Cabinet business.

“Decisions are made in the politburo and Cabinet is the implementation arm of those resolutions. Zanu PF controls the majority in Parliament. It uses the August house to endorse decisions first debated at party level.”

Unlike other countries, Zimbabwe has not been able to separate party business from government work. Government institutions are politicised and have not been spared from Zanu PF factional fights, which have been escalated by Grace’s entry into politics.

The Standard