Zanu PF's jobs for life

HARARE - Stan Mudenge should have been at home, retired on health grounds and recuperating.

Instead, he nearly suffered the indignity of dying in public. Tragically but thankfully, he collapsed in the relative privacy of his hotel room, away from the audience he was to address.

But it should not have reached this point. Mudenge has had more than his fair share of illness over the years, including a suspected cardiac arrest or heart failure.

On account of these heart ailments alone, Mudenge, buried yesterday, should have considered retiring or should have been relieved of his government post.

If a young man like Fabrice Muamba can be forced to terminate his football career because of a cardiac arrest, you will understand why Mudenge, 71 at the time of his death, should have stood aside after his heart problems.

24-year-old Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during a televised match between Bolton and Tottenham in March. He was advised to end his career.

At the time of writing, the cause of Mudenge’s death had not been explained. He is said to have felt dizzy and collapsed.

Mudenge, the academic that he was, could have been writing books on history amid the serenity of his farmland.

His heart could not possibly cope with the frenetic pace that effective governance and politics demand.

The tragedy with Zanu PF is that it has created “jobs for life” for ministers in particular.

Fall sick, become ineffective or incompetent, you are guaranteed the job till you die.

However mentally sound one might be, physical fitness and good health are essential to the continued and effective discharge of government duties.

Students at higher education institutions thought Mudenge, at one point aided by a walking stick, had become ineffective as a minister as a result of illness.

But the Zanu PF “jobs for life” culture is inherently contemptuous of effective governance. It sacrifices accountability and effectiveness on the altar of a blind reward system or patronage.
Simon Muzenda, the late former vice president, died in his post.

Zanu PF has had to extend this largesse of permanent jobs to its former Zapu partners.

Joshua Nkomo probably wanted to resign before his death because he had clearly become physically and mentally incapacitated; his successor Joseph Msika also died while he was still VP.

It is also public knowledge that John Nkomo, who succeeded Msika, has been unwell.

A country cannot be run by ill people.

Admittedly in these three cases, the tribal appeasement policy has to be maintained. But it should not mean retaining clearly incapacitated people in the structures of government.

Replace them with the suitable persons. Nkomo should rest or be rested.

The “jobs for life” mentality extends to incompetent ministers. For instance, how Nicholas Goche, minister of Transport, still manages to hold down a job in government only Zanu PF can explain.  

The transport sector is chaotic. The roads are treacherous. The National Railways of Zimbabwe is in doldrums.

The national airline has been reduced to a national embarrassment, with planes being impounded in foreign lands because of debts; all this under Goche’s watch.

But the Zanu PF lot will always find excuses for their abysmal performances: the West, Biti…anything really.

But observers would rightly point out that the “jobs for life” problem starts right at the top: President Mugabe himself no longer appears fit for the purpose either.

He has made several visits to the East for medical attention. We have been informed he doses off during crucial meetings.

When someone has presided over Zimbabwe’s economic deterioration resulting in record-breaking inflation at one point, his competence is obviously questionable too.

About 10 years ago, a cheeky music engineer got into trouble for beaming a light on Mugabe’s portrait when Oliver Mtukudzi’s song Bvuma Wasakara was playing at the HICC.

The song loosely urges us to accept the vicissitudes of old age, or that one is now a spent force.
Mugabe remains in denial.

It is, therefore, perhaps fanciful to expect him to dispense with the infirm and the incompetent around him.

Mudenge nearly died in public. Yet he could have retired and fully recuperated.

There should never be jobs for life in government. - Conrad Nyamutata

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