President Mnangagwa
President Mnangagwa

On January 30, Zimbabwean social media was awash with documents announcing the formation of a Presidential Advisory Council. This was later made official by the Ministry of Information.

As expected, the announcement was met with criticism by many Zimbabweans on social media, with only a tiny section cheering the decision as the best President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government could have made under the circumstances.

By Cde Dzokerai Mabhunu

Those for the decision claim it was a wise move and was meant to tap into the brains behind the success by the country’s private sector so the country could benefit.

There are also claims that the list comprises of bold and principled personalities with the strength of mind to tell the Presidium some uncomfortable truths, away from partisan political whims.

However, a large section of Zimbabweans feels this is just a public relations stunt by the new dispensation in order to deceive. They accuse Mnangagwa of trying to be too technical. The solutions to Zimbabwe’s problems don’t require rocket scientists. As free advice, appointees to the commission should decline taking up office until such time when the Zanu PF government respects the Constitution, the value of life and rule of law as taking part would spoil their otherwise noble social standing.

Are those criticising the move justified?

Is it true that Zimbabweans are an ungrateful lot, seeing no good in any genuine move by Mnangagwa?

It is not surprising to find names of prominent pro-Mnangagwa people like Trevor Ncube on the ‘Advisory Council’. Maybe it’s payback time for surviving the vitriol on social media for carrying an unpopular view in the section, considering that a large population on social media are youths, who are obviously anti-Mnangagwa.

The President claims the PAC is nonpartisan, but this is what they also say about the army and police which are brutalising opposition members and publicly showing their support to the ruling party, including the State media that has been viciously anti opposition, even to embarrassingly low levels.

These are men who were spearheading the ‘give him a chance’ mantra, claiming he was a mature, humble and listening President with a business mind. What they failed to tell us was the difference between looting and being business minded. It thus requires much effort to make a normal Zimbabwean believe that this is not the same Queen Bee cartel that has been running the failed government coming in the open. This whole thing stinks of officialising State capture.

The first step towards solving any problem is accepting where it emanates from. To borrow from our late legendary Tuku, ‘ongorora chikonzero chaita musoro uteme’. As long as our leaders are still in denial over the cause of Zimbabwean problems, we shall continue engaging in expensive jaunts to nowhere. Our problem is political and as such requires a political solution. A political problem can’t be solved by creating a multilayered government with multiple advisers.

Aren’t we creating another bigger problem than bureaucracy which, to Zanu PF’s standards will require another Advisory Council to solve? More questions about the day-to -day running framework of the board are still to be answered. How will the board relate with the various ministries, the ministers and their pompous deputies like the Mutodi’s, the Permanent secretaries and the President’s office?

Are they above ministers, are they above the VPs for the very basic reason of being the President’s brains?

Most importantly, are they above the Joint Operation Command?

Can we now effectively say with confidence that we have another Cabinet in the place of another.

Zimbabwe will make history as a country that had three working Cabinets at the same time, with one working from Munhumutapa, the de facto-other operating from the Shake Shake building and then this newly ordained 26-member Cabinet.

When will Zimbabwe do away with the habit of creating committees for every problem. There is no prize for guessing that by 2023, every Zimbabwean would have been a part of one or other committees. When foreign currency allocation became a problem, we created a Foreign Currency Allocation Committee. When we shot more than six innocent civilians dead, we created the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry, whose recommendations we are yet to give attention.

When we adopted an ill-advised move to hike fuel prices, fuelling protests and looting, we established a ‘Committee to Assess the State of MDC-Alliance Looting’. Now we have failed every trick in the books to get out of the economic maze we have created, we come up with a Presidential Advisory Council.

We have commissions like the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, constitutionally mandated to advise the President on specific issues, but are being demonised daily by the President’s office. Let’s first honour the advice from existing commissions before creating commissions for every sector.

Is our problem as a nation emanating from deficiency of ideas?

Zimbabwe has never been short of ideas but a nonexistent political will to implement the pool of ideas available. The President was clear that he has a ‘problem with listening to the many advices coming from the people’ as he does not tolerate ‘nonsense!

ED can appoint as many commissions and advisory councils, or even an advisory council for every minister and permanent secretary but unless and until there is political will to do the right thing, we are just doing rounds of vicious circles.

Granted, it is not a new phenomenon for a Head of State to rope in an external advisory council, but the issue is on the extent of influence and impact that so-called council wields to influence policy direction.

In fact, It doesn’t require a 26-member advisory board to liberate the Judiciary from the jaws of the junta, to transform our security sector into a non-partisan entity every citizen across the political divide would be comfortable with, to return to the rule of law and not a rule by law, to return all soldiers to the barracks and bring normalcy to our streets and finally, to learn to resign when everything tried is not working!

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