The stampede by ministers last week to give President Robert Mugabe’s daughter, Bona Chikore, positions at boards of state institutions removed any doubt that the 93 year-old is behind the nepotism and cronyism that has become the hallmark of his disastrous reign.
Comment: The Standard Ediitor
Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo announced, without any sense of shame whatsoever, last week that Bona had been appointed a member of the Censorship Board.
The 11-member board is chaired by a Zanu PF spent force, former Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere.
Chigwedere is best remembered for his ruinous stint in the Education portfolio where he churned out controversial policies for fun.
He admitted in an interview with this publication that he had no clue about what the Censorship Board does and needs to understand its operations.
The same could be said about Chikore, a recent university graduate whose work experience is only limited to the struggling Gushungo Holdings, a family enterprise.
As if Chombo’s antics were not enough, Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao, Mugabe’s nephew, announced that Chikore had been appointed to the board of the newly formed Empowerment Bank.
Zhuwao told our sister paper, The Zimbabwe Independent, that Chikore and others had been appointed “not only for their skills, but as part of the ministry’s policy to promote youth.”
Last year, Chikore’s husband Simba was appointed the chief operating officer of the struggling Air Zimbabwe under a dark cloud.
Transport minister Jorum Gumbo justified the appointment, at the time claiming Mugabe’s son-in-law had special skills that would help turn around the airline.
However, months down the line, there have been reports that Simba’s presence has been disruptive.
Mugabe is shelling out millions of scarce foreign currency on chartered planes for his globetrotting because Air Zimbabwe aircraft is grounded due to poor maintenance.
The national airline also recently suffered the ignominy of being barred from the European airspace because it could not pass a safety test. This is just part of the evidence that these appointments are not based on merit.
Chikore and her husband are not the only people related to Mugabe that have been handed government jobs or given seats in boards of state institutions. Zhuwao is a son of Mugabe’s sister.
Mugabe’s other relatives have been deployed to the security arms of the state and parastatals.
The appointments can no longer be dismissed as frolics of overzealous ministers out to curry favour with Mugabe and his wife, who is now an influential power broker in the ruling Zanu PF politics.
Mugabe approves some of these appointments and therefore is an active participant.
He is the one behind the nepotism and cronyism that has arrested Zimbabwe’s economic development over the last 37 years.
Policy makers are not appointed on merit but on the basis of party membership and loyalty to the first family.
This is why Mugabe finds it very difficult to fire ministers and other senior bureaucrats caught with their fingers in the till.
Just last week, he had to reassign permanent secretaries to different ministries instead of freeing some who are facing serious charges in the courts. It would not come as a surprise if it turns out that those permanent secretaries being shielded have a connection with Mugabe’s family one way or the other.
Mugabe is not the principled leader that his supporters often claim he is. Nepotism and cronyism are just some of the instruments that he uses to hang on to power.