By Ndafadza Madanha
The double speak and contradictory policy pronouncement by government officials’ in particular Cabinet ministers is now a serious cause for concern.
Recently the minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha was quoted saying that SI64 which restricted the importation of certain goods will be scrapped only for him to somersault a few days later and indicate the SI was here to stay.
Bimha’s case is not an isolated case but they are many other instances were cabinet ministers have openly clashed over policy issues.
Some of the policy issues that have resulted in public tiffs among ministers include the interpretation of the Indigenization and Empowerment Act which pitted the minister of Youth, Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Patrick Zhuwao against Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya.
The spat amongst the trio was only defused when the President issued a statement in which the appointing authority threw his weight behind Chinamasa and Mangudya.
The statement confirmed pronouncements by the fiscal and monetary authorities that the financial services sector would achieve the empowerment objectives through a combination of employee share ownership schemes, offering credit lines for disbursements to key sector of the economy amongst a host of other targets.
However, despite the intervention of the President the dispute amongst the officials had a debilitating effect on the stock market and unnerved investors who started exiting the local bourse at great cost to the economy.
Another discord over the Command Agriculture a government initiated program would play out involving the Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who oversees the initiative and Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Science and Technology Development Jonathan Moyo.
Moyo through his handle on the micro blogging site twitter threw aspersions on the program though he was a beneficiary of the same. Again it took the intervention of the Office of the President to clarify amounts spent on the Command Agriculture program which were vastly different from Moyo’s twitter figures.
In both the Indigenization and Command Agriculture saga all the participants are cabinet members with the exception of Mangudya and their differences could have easily been resolved behind closed doors during the routine Cabinet session.
It is mind boggling why some ministers are inclined to disparage their colleagues publicly when they are several platforms to resolve those differences within government and their party Zanu-PF.
Their public spats have the net effect of feeding into the perception most foreign investors have that Zimbabwe has an inconsistent policy framework and one cannot fault them, when ministers serving in the same government go out of their way to scuttle policies in an attempt to score cheap political points.
Locally the generality of citizens wonder if government is functioning when senior members of the executive cannot agree on the most basic of policy pronouncements.
As President Robert Mugabe enters what is surely the twilight years of his remarkable political career a few of his associates believe they can stake a claim as repositories of his legacy by fueling confusion.