Zanu PF patronage jobs backfiring

HARARE - Wars pitying Zanu PF militia and members of the security forces have exposed President Robert Mugabe’s patronage system as groups such as Chipangano mutate into dangerous groups.

Two weeks ago rank marshals better known as Mandimbandimba an offshoot of the Zanu PF-linked Chipangano beat up two soldiers prompting a crackdown from the army.

In a follow-up blitz police arrested more than 300 rank marshals creating an uneasy calm at bus termini in the city centre.

However, Chipangano’s tentacles are still being felt in other easy and lucrative avenues of accumulating wealth such as in Mbare money-spinning markets where the group continues to rake in huge profits.

At ranks in the city centre Chipangano militia made a score of as much as $30 000 a day.

Analysts have long warned that Zanu PF’s patronage system designed to woo voters ahead of polls would backfire.

Apart from letting its supporters rob people at ranks and in Mbare, Zanu PF which control key ministries such as defence and the mines has also controversially legalised gold panning as well as recruited ghost workers against “better advice” from Treasury.

Mugabe’s party which is in an uneasy coalition with the MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, early this year illegally recruited soldiers and police officers lowering the entry bar.

Presently the cash-strapped government of Zimbabwe has 10 000 ghost but visible workers on top of the other 70 000 ghost workers.

Finance minister Tendai Biti who has put a freeze on all government employment has failed to reign in Zanu PF ministries amid threats from his counterparts in the troubled coalition.

“The two chief culprits are the ministry of Defence, which employed 4 600 since January, and the ministry of Home Affairs which has recruited 1 200 personnel without Treasury approval,” said Biti.

The addition of new recruits is exacerbating the acute shortage of food at army barracks and adding to a wage bill that Zimbabwe cannot afford to meet.

Some months ago hungry soldiers embarrassed Mugabe as they stole food at a function in Mutare right in his presence.

Apart from illegal recruitments Mugabe’s party has also been protecting 75 000 ghost workers. The ghost workers are Zanu PF supporters who include the feared Border Gezi graduates.

Concerted efforts to flush them from the government payroll have been resisted by Zanu PF ministers who regard the activists as focal points ahead of elections.

Parliament has been pushing for the release of the audit into ghost workers but to date it has been unsuccessful.

An audit of ghost workers was embarked on three years ago but it is still to be made public and lawmakers estimate that “ghost workers” are chewing US$75 million from the Treasury.

Minister of Mines and Mining Development Obert Mpofu, has also come up with his empowerment carrot.

Speaking in Gwanda recently, Mpofu said gold panners were “heroes” adding it was ridiculous that many were being arrested because legislation inherited from the colonial era made their activities illegal.

“Since January, three tonnes of gold has been delivered to the Treasury,” Mpofu said, adding that he would push for an amendment of the Mining Act to legalise panning and free those in jail.

“Omakorokoza contributed one tonne of that gold, yet we arrest and chase them. It is my wish that even those who have been arrested for panning could be released from prison.”

Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere added: “We must legalise omakorokoza. I would like to thank minister Mpofu for making the statement. It is a fact that many of our young people have been imprisoned because of gold.”

However, effects of Zanu PF populist policies are already being felt on the environment with rivers filling up with sand and farmland being reduced to gullies. — Weekend Post

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