Curb Zanu PF self-enrichment

HARARE - The recent revelations about persons granted 25-year land leases in the Save Valley Conservancy only fuel the long-held apprehensions about the empowerment agenda.

It is now public knowledge that the beneficiaries of the leases are elites associated with Zanu PF.
Some community share schemes have been formed to present a veneer to what is primarily a continuation of an elitist self-enrichment scheme.

Too often you hear Zanu PF politicians berate so-called detractors who want to stop the party from empowering “our people.”

It is has become clear over the years that, by “our people”, these politicians, in fact,  mean themselves or persons associated with the party.

The rest are not people but objects deserving vilification and abuse.

The trend in self-enrichment has been evident since the scandals of the 80s and 90s, the land reform programme and most recently, diamond mining.

The doling out of licences to Zanu PF apparatchiks is part of this pattern of partisan monopolisation of natural resources for the benefit of a few.

Zanu PF tends to deliberately distort criticism of its empowerment programme to mean opposition to the scheme.

Yet the central criticism of the project is its elitist and partisan nature.

There does not seem to be any contest that Zanu PF, through its ministers, apportioned leases
almost exclusively to its members in the Save Conservancy.

We learnt this week that Zanu PF had ordered the beneficiaries to stop activities in the conservancy until the dispute around it has been resolved.

The order, according to the reports, has been defied.

It is difficult to believe that a party that has been so efficient in using the police to serve its partisan agenda would brook any defiance.

It is either the party wishes to create an impression to the UNWTO that it is making its best efforts or it simply does not want to act against its elite.

If Zanu PF is genuinely concerned about order at the conservancy, it can do what it normally does against “deviants”: call Augustine Chihuri.

However, this use of instruments of coercion seems reserved for opponents of Zanu PF or the poor as happened during Murambatsvina.

Again, the involvement of Zanu PF politburo in this saga is questionable.  

The party has appointed a committee of ministers Ignatius Chombo (Local Government, Rural and Urban Development), Herbert Murerwa (Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement), Francis Nhema (Environment and Natural Resources Management) and Walter Mzembi (Tourism and Hospitality Industry) to look into issues affecting operations at the conservancy.

Zanu PF justifies its involvement in the saga because it is an interested party.

But this should not be a matter for Zanu PF alone. The case of the Save Conservancy should interest all of us.  

Therefore, the case should be a matter for the government, acting on behalf of all, to resolve. After all, the leases were issued by the government, not at the Zanu PF headquarters.

A Zanu PF minister may have issued the leases. But this does not detract from the fact that he was acting as a government official.  

Under the current governance set-up, it means the MDC ministers should also be involved in resolving this matter.

When Arthur Mutambara investigated the problems around the ethanol project in Chisumbanje, he undertook the assignment wearing his government not his disputed party cap.

A similar non-partisan approach can be adopted for the Save Conservancy. In fact, the probe may need to transcend the current disputes with farmers at the conservancy. The inquiry may extend into probing the criteria used to grant the leases to the beneficiaries. It has never been stated how the beneficiaries qualified for them.

This lack of transparency vindicates critics of the empowerment programme; it has no credibility.

The practice of individual self-enrichment needs to be curbed for the benefit of many.

Gideon Gono has voiced criticism about the same elites seeking to benefit once again from seizure of shares in companies and banks.

Mzembi has been a lone protester, for similar reasons, about events at the Save Conservancy.

But like Paul Mangwana with regards to the constitution, these voices of reason are often drowned out or forced to sing a different tune. - Conrad Nyamutata

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