Considering our past experiences about rampant inflation and corruption, the plundering of state assets and how some of those in power have committed heinous crimes with impunity, we need to establish what I would term the “Zimbabwe Public Protector” (ZPP). This will be more than an ombudsman who can deal with complaints by ordinary people against the government and other institutions that mistreat our people.
The ZPP and the Auditor General must have wide sweeping powers to investigate high profile corruption, the disappearance of billions of dollars through the clandestine sale of our diamonds, emeralds, gold, platinum, coal, nickel and other minerals. The fundamental work of the ZPP should be to strengthen our democracy by providing checks and balances on the activities of the executive and the legislature, as well as monitoring the activities of all public institutions to ensure that they timeously deliver services to our people.
To further deepen our democracy, we need to have a constitutional court that will adjudicate on matters relating to the infringement of citizens’ inalienable rights. It must be a watchdog that jealously guards against the victimisation of our people by upholding their constitutional rights based on the principle of the right to be heard (audi alteram partem).
Also, the constitutional court must unflinchingly uphold the principle of natural justice that says no person or institution may judge themselves on matters in which they are interested parties (nemo judex in parte sua). This will remove the autocracy inherent in the current regime who see themselves as above the laws of the country.
In order to have credibility, the constitutional court must be presided over by a judge president who is above reproach. He or she must be an eminent judge, lawyer, barrister or advocate with a track record of being imbued with a sense of justice, fairness and impartiality. In a new dispensation, the head of state should never have the power to dismiss judges, the ZPP, the chief justice, the president of the constitutional court, permanent secretaries or directors of state institutions. The power to hire or fire them should rest in independent bodies that are not manipulated by the president or members of the ruling party.
Civil society organisations
The level of democracy in any country is judged by the vibrancy of civil society organisations that act as the eye and soul of the people. In a post-ZANU PF era, we need to open up the space so that civic organisations can operate freely without fear or favour. In particular, we need to allow private newspapers, radio and television stations to operate freely, including those that support different political parties, so that we can hear the multiple voices of our people.
I am aware that many of us who have never experienced genuine democracy may regard these suggestions as either utopian, foreign or unrealistic. We can be excused for thinking like that because, like people who live in a desert, we may see normal rain as a deluge. This has also happened in the past when some slaves resisted their own emancipation after the abolition of slavery in 1833.
They still wanted to be owned by their white masters because their self-esteem had been irreparably damaged. But we are encouraged by the fact that throughout the tempestuous history of mankind, great events have occurred when prospects of change loom in the horizon and when the powerful force of freedom and liberty coalesces to sweep away the old order. In this regard, Zimbabwe can no longer continue to dawdle and dodge, tinker or trifle natural justice. It can only do so at the risk of becoming a permanent junk state relegated to the bottom heap of human civilisation. Surely this is not what we want to happen to our country!
Bearing in mind the melodramatic history of our turbulent past, the pertinent question that needs to be asked is: do we need to strengthen civil society organisations? Are they really necessary? Again, the lived experiences of our people show that the absence of strong and audacious civil organisations has allowed the state to get away with the murder of our people.
Do you still remember the disappearance of Dr Edson Sithole in Harare in 1975 together with his secretary and the assassination of Herbert Chitepo in the same year in Lusaka? Have you forgotten the disappearance of Joseph Masangomai with his wife and children in Houghton Park and the gunning down of Mr Saunyama at his house in Mabelreign just before our independence? And have you buried the memory of Josiah Magama Tongogara, that gallant hero of our liberation struggle who died in a suspicious road accident in Mozambique just at the dawn of our independence? What about Dr Joseph Taderera’s car ‘accident’, Sydney Malunga’s and Border Gezi’s choreographed deaths? What do we say about the disappearance of Rushiwe Guzha involving the CIO?
Above all, what is our conscience about the genocidal murder of thousands of our compatriots in Matebeleland by the fifth brigade? What do you make of Learmore Jongwe’s supposed suicide in police cells? Do you see the torture and murder of many MDC supporters during the 2008 elections as normal political rivalry? And is our memory so short that we have forgotten about the disappearance of Itai Dzamara earlier this year? The death of all these people continues to haunt us as a nation, and we can only make them rest in peace by making sure that we do not allow the culture of impunity to continue in a future Zimbabwe.
An issue that has poisoned our society which needs to be put to an end is the use of hate language to refer to a group of people or individuals whose political persuasion, colour or origin is different. Before our independence, much of the hate language was between black and white people, reflecting the power relations between the colonised and the coloniser. Quite often white people derogatorily referred to black people as “kaffirs”, an offensive term indicating that blacks were an inferior race. On the other hand, black people referred to all whites as “Boers”, which suggested they were violent, savage, cruel and heartless.
In the USA, especially during the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties, there was a similar racial polarisation whereby whites scornfully referred to black people as “niggers” while blacks disdainfully brushed off all Caucasians as “white pigs” or members of the Ku Klux KLan. These terms, besides harming social cohesion, have the effect of maintaining mistrust and racial prejudice. And does this surprise anyone that there are still racially motivated murders in the USA?
The racial and tribal bigotry emanating from colonialism has, unfortunately, been internalised by some people. In South Africa, black people who were abused for many generations by their white oppressors refer to black people from other countries as aliens or makwerekwere. From a psychological perspective, their hatred of blackness in the black people from other countries is an expression of their self-repudiation engendered by apartheid and an attempt to transfer their colonial dehumanisation to those they see as “different”.
In Zimbabwe some people, especially the older generation belonging to the ruling party, still suffer from the storm and stresses of their traumatic past. In order to mitigate their psychological disjuncture, they use derogatory language to refer to their political opponents.
During our liberation struggle, and it was dogmatically acceptable then, that those who didn’t support the armed struggle were disparagingly referred to as “sell outs” or “puppets” (zvimbwasungata). The supporters of Bishop Abel Muzorewa were specifically called madzakutsaku (mindless people) or fools (maduche) because they negotiated with whites to have a diluted form of independence.
The use of foul language has continued even after independence. Those in Matebeleland and the midlands who thought they had not been given a fair deal in a new Zimbabwe were regarded as “dissidents” or “rebels” (vapanduki), terms which ordinarily refer to citizens who criticise or oppose the government.
The new regime used these terms with greater toxicity to whip up the emotions of gullible people against a segment of our people, the Ndebele, whom they portrayed as “enemies” of the state. Joshua Nkomo was specifically targeted for ridicule, calling him a “possessed bull” (buru rengozi) and all sorts of other names.
In contrast, the president tacitly agreed to be eulogised as karigamombe (literally meaning the one who has felled down Nkomo). If I may ask, did it please his ego to humiliate Nkomo, a man of great stature who had unwaveringly fought for our independence much longer than Mugabe? Is it honourable to refer to people with different views as dissidents, rebels or sell outs? Is this not the genesis of genocide in Matebeleland?
Moreover, does it show statesmanship for the president to stereotype an entire ethnic group, the Kalanga, as a bunch of thieves who are uneducated? The late Martin Luther King Jnr advises us that “the surest way of incurring the hatred of other people is by pulling them very low”, a view which is also shared by Booker T. Washington who said: “we permit other people to hate us by narrowing and degrading their soul”.
The use of hate language by the ruling party has not abated at all. For a long time Morgan Tsvangirai has been a target of sustained ridicule, calling him chematama, (Someone with fat cheeks) a tea boy and a sell-out. Is he a sell-out when so many of our people support him? What has he sold out and to whom? Is this why he was beaten up some years ago and his wife killed in a freak car accident?
What about Didymus Mutasa who, for a long time, used to be the closest ally of the president? Has he suddenly become so poisonous to his former ZANU PF comrades that he can be rubbished as gamatox? Did Amos Midzi who served ZANU PF so diligently for many years in exile and at home deserve to be called a “coward” because he took his own life, or did he? I remember during the Second World War Japanese soldiers preferred to take their own lives than surrender to the Americans. Were they cowards?
What about the vice president, Mr Phelekezela Mphoko, who is now being called mboko, a Shona word for an imbecile or idiot? Does he deserve to be so much debased and maligned by his own ZANU PF members? Is it fair for Emerson Mnangagwa to be called a crocodile (ngwena) which is notorious of being sly, secretive, deceitful and vicious?
Should we trust a person being called a crocodile, if indeed he is, to rule the country?
In the light of the potential for conflict in the use of hate language, (Let’s not forget how hate language fanned genocide in Rwanda) should we not make an anti-hate language law in a post ZANU PF era so that we can protect our people from being abused? Surely a country that does not respect its own people does not deserve to be respected by others.
As a nation, we need to stand on a high moral ground so that we can bequeath to our children cultured values that promote human dignity. Here we need to dig deeper into the soul of our African philosophy which says: “we gain nothing from hate except to inflict deeper wounds to ourselves” and that “the price of hating other human beings is loving ourselves less”.
The need for a paradigm shift in a post-ZANU PF era is vindicated by the blind economic policies of the current government. For instance, while it is laudable to invest in the Hwange thermal power station and in telecommunications, is it prudent to build a new house of parliament at this stage when the country has no money?
Is thermal power our long term solution to the shortage of electricity? Is it wise to bring in a Chinese company to set up a cigarette factory when the world is advocating anti-smoking laws? Shouldn’t we focus on resuscitating our agricultural and manufacturing industries which employ thousands of our people instead of depleting our mineral resources through dubious trade deals?
And come to think of it, is China, our supposed traditional ally, not spitting into our face by giving us a paltry US$1.4 billion while giving South Africa, our neighbour, US$6.5 billion? Why should we solely depend on China when we can make many other friends in the global community? The big question is: what is China getting from us in return for what it is giving us? Is Xi Jinping really an innocent Asian tiger who wants no pound of flesh from the nearest part of our heart? Is he not acting like a spider that uses its cobweb not only as a sleeping spring but also as a trap for food?
In wrapping up, we should be encouraged by the fact that our people’s voice for change is now echoing louder and louder. It is raising our hope that sooner or later we shall remove our shackles and walk to the Promised Land. Believe you me, there are many Zimbabweans with an indomitable spirit which makes us unique optimists who are able to enrich the present, enhance the future and challenge the improbable. And like a butterfly, I know that you and I have the strength and hope to believe that in time we will emerge from our cocoon and fly high up in the sky to attain the impossible.
Prof Ambrose B. Chimbganda can be reached at: HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Carl Sagan
Corruption is a heavy price to pay. The clean ones pay and suffer at the mercy of people who cannot have enough. They always want to eat and eat so selfishly like a bunch of ugly masked shrews. I hope God forgives me for ridiculing his creatures, but that mammal is so greedy. But corruption is not the new kid on the block, because it has always been everywhere.
This of course begs the question, why that is so? The common answer was and still is – abuse and misuse of power by those in power and weak institutions, disempowered to control the leaders. In 1996, the then President of The World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn named the ‘C-Word’ for the first time during an annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Institutions. A global fight against corruption started. Transparency International began its work. Internal and external audits mushroomed; commissions of inquiry followed and ever convoluted public tender procedures have become a bureaucratic nightmare to the private sector, trying to fight red tape.
The result is sobering corruption today is worse than it was 25 years ago. There is no denying that strong institutions help, but how does it come that in the annual Transparency International Ranking the same group of countries tend to be on the top while another group of countries, many African among them, tend to be on the bottom? Before one jumps to simple and seductive conclusions let us step back a moment.
Wolfensohn called corruption a cancer that destroys economies like a cancer destroys a body. A cancer is, simplified, good cells in a body gone bad, taking control of more and more good cells until the entire body is contaminated and eventually dies. So, let us look at the good cells of society first: they are family ties, clan and tribe affiliation, group cohesion, loyalty, empathy, reciprocity.
Most ordinary people like the reader of these lines or myself would claim to share such values. Once we ordinary people must make decisions, these good cells kick in: why should I hire a Mrs. Unknown, if I can hire my niece whose strengths and weaknesses I know? If I hire the niece, she will owe me and support my objectives.
Why should I purchase office furniture from that unknown company if I know that my friend’s business has good quality stuff? If I buy from him, he will make an extra effort to deliver his best and provide quality after sales service? So, why go through a convoluted tender process with uncertain outcome? In the unlikely case my friend does not perform as expected, I have many informal means to make him deliver, rather than going through a lengthy legal proceeding?
This sounds like common sense and natural and our private lives do work mostly that way and mostly quite well.
The problem is scale. Scale of power, scale of potential gains, scale of temptations, scale of risk. And who among us could throw the first stone were we in positions of power and claim not to succumb to the temptations of scale? Like in a body, cancer cells start growing out of proportion.
So, before we call out for new leaders – experience shows they are rarely better than the old ones – we need to look at ourselves first. But how easy is that? If I were the niece who gets the job through nepotism, why should I be overly critical? If I got a big furniture contract from a friend, why should I spill the beans? What right do I have to assume that, if I were a president or a minister or a corporate chief procurement officer I would not be tempted?
This is where we need to learn. What is useful, quick, efficient, and effective within a family or within a clan or a small community can become counterproductive and costly and destructive at larger corporate or national scale. Our empathy with small scale reciprocity easily permeates into complacency and complicity with large scale corruption and into an acquiescence with weak institutions to control it.
Our institutions can only be as strong as we wish them to be.
I was probably around ten years old and have always been that keen enthusiastic child that also liked to sing the favourite line of, ‘the world will become a better place.’ I would literally stand in front of a mirror and use my mom’s torch as a mic and sing along Michael Jackson’s hit song, ‘We are the world.’
Despite my horrible voice, I still believed in the message. Few years later, my annoyance towards the world’s corrupt system wonders whether I was just too naïve. Few years later and I am still in doubt so as to whether I should go on blabbing that same old boring line. ‘The world is going to be a better place.’ The question is, when?
The answer is – as always: now.
This is pessimistic if not fatalistic – I challenge Sagan’s outlook with a paraphrased adage of unknown origin: Some people can be bamboozled all of the time, all people can be bamboozled some of the time, but never will all people be bamboozled all of the time.
We, the people are the only ones who can heal society from the cancer of corruption. We need to understand the temptation of scale and address it. We need to stop seeing ourselves just a victim of a disease that sleeps in all of us. We need to give power to the institutions that we have put in place to control corruption: parliaments, separation of power, the press, the ballot box. And sometimes we need to say as a niece – no, I do not want that job as a favour, I want it because I have proven to be better than other contenders.
It is going to be a struggle, because it will mean sacrifices, but sacrifices that we have chosen, not those imposed on us.
Let us start today.
*Bokani Lisa Motsu is a student at University of Botswana
Parliament, the second arm of State through its parliamentary committees are one of Botswana’s most powerful mechanisms to ensure that government is held accountable at all times. The Accounting Officers are mostly Permanent Secretaries across government Ministries and Chief Executive Officers, Director Generals, Managing Directors of parastatals, state owned enterprises and Civil Society.
So parliament plays its oversight authority via the legislators sitting on a parliamentary committee and Accounting Officers sitting in the hot chair. When left with no proper checks and balances, the Executive is prone to abuse the arrangement and so systematic oversight of the executive is usually carried out by parliamentary committees. They track the work of various government departments and ministries, and conduct scrutiny into important aspects of their policy, direction and administration.
It is not rocket science that effective oversight requires that committees be totally independent and able to set their own agendas and have the power to summon ministers and top civil servants to appear and answer questions. Naturally, Accounting Officers are the highest ranking officials in the government hierarchy apart from cabinet Ministers and as such wield much power and influence in the performance of government. To illustrate further, government performance is largely owed to the strategic and policy direction of top technocrats in various Ministries.
It is disheartening to point out that the recent parliament committees — as has been the case all over the years — has laid bare the incompetency, inadequacy and ineptitude of people bestowed with great responsibilities in public offices. To say that they are ineffective and inefficient sounds as an understatement. Some appear useless and hopeless when it comes to running the government despite the huge responsibility they possess.
If we were uncertain about the degree at which the Accounting Officers are incompetent, the ongoing parliament committees provide a glaring answer. It is not an exaggeration to say that ordinary people on the streets have been held ransom by these technocrats who enjoy their air conditioned offices and relish being chauffeured around in luxurious BX SUV’s while the rest of the citizenry continue to suffer. Because of such high life the Accounting Officers seem to have, with time, they have gotten out of touch with the people they are supposed to serve.
An example; when appearing before the recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Office of the President Permanent Secretary, Thuso Ramodimoosi, looked reluctant to admit misuse of public funds. Although it is clear funds were misused, he looked unbothered when committee members grilled him over the P80 million Orapa House building that has since morphed into a white elephant for close to 10 successive years. To him, it seems it did not matter much and PAC members were worried for nothing.
On a separate day, another Accounting officer, Director of Public Service Management (DPSM), Naledi Mosalakatane, was not shy to reveal to PAC upon cross-examination that there exist more than 6 000 vacancies in government. Whatever reasons she gave as an excuse, they were not convincing and the committee looked sceptical too. She was faltering and seemed not to have a sense of urgency over the matter no matter how critical it is to the populace.
Botswana’s unemployment rate hoovers around 18 percent in a country where majority of the population is the youth, and the most affected by unemployment. It is still unclear why DPSM could underplay such a critical matter that may threaten the peace and stability of the country. Accounting Officers clearly appear out of touch with the reality out there – if the PAC examinations are anything to go by.
Ideally the DPSM Director could be dropping the vacancy post digits while sourcing funds and setting timelines for the spaces to be filled as a matter of urgency so that the citizens get employed to feed their families and get out of unemployment and poverty ravaging the country. The country should thank parliamentary committees such as PAC to expose these abnormalities and the behaviour of our leaders when in public office. How can a full Accounting Officer downplay the magnitude of the landless problem in Botswana and fail to come with direct solutions tailor made to provide Batswana with the land they desperately need?
Land is a life and death matter for some citizens, as we would know.
When Bonolo Khumotaka, the Accounting Officer in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, whom as a top official probably with a lucrative pay too appears to be lacking sense of urgency as she is failing on her key mandate of working around the clock to award the citizens with land especially those who need it most like the marginalised. If government purports they need P94 billion to service land to address the land crisis what is plan B for government? Are we going to accept it the way it is?
Government should wake up from its slumber and intervene to avoid the 30 years unnecessary waiting period in State land and 13 years in Tribal land. Accounting Officers are custodians of government policy, they should ensure it is effective and serve its purpose. What we have been doing over the years, has proved that it is not effective, and clearly there is a need for change of direction.
His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi EK Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana found it appropriate to invoke Section 17 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana, using the powers vested in him to declare a State of Public Emergency starting from the 2nd April 2020 at midnight.
The constitutional provision under Section 17 (2b) only provided that such a declaration could be up to a maximum of 21 days. His Excellency further invoked Section 93 (1) to convene an extra- ordinary meeting of Parliament to have the opportunity to consult members of parliament on measures that have been put in place to address the spread and transmission of the virus. At this meeting Members of Parliament passed a resolution on the legal instruments and regulations governing the period of the state of emergency, and extended its duration by six (6) months.
The passing of the State of Emergency is considered as a very crucial step in fighting the near apocalyptic potential of the Novel COVID-19 virus. One of the interesting initiatives that was developed and extended to the business community was a 3-month wage subsidy that came with a condition that no businesses would retrench for the duration of the State of Public Emergency. This has potentially saved many people’s jobs as most companies would have been extremely quick to reduce expenses by downsizing. Self-preservation as some would call it.
Most organisations would have tried to reduce costs by letting go of people, retreated and tried their best to live long enough to fight another day. In my view there is silver lining that we need to look at and consider. The fact that organisations are not allowed to retrench has forced certain companies to look at the people with a long-term view.
Most leaders have probably had to wonder how they are going to ensure that their people are resilient. Do they have team members who innovate and add value to the organisation during these testing times? Do they even have resilient people or are they just waiting for the inevitable end? Can they really train people and make them resilient? How can your team members be part of your recovery plan? What can they do to avoid losing the capabilities they need to operate meaningfully for the duration of the State of Public Emergency and beyond?
The above questions have forced companies to reimagine the future of work. The truth is that no organisation can operate to its full potential without resilient people. In the normal business cycle, new teams come on board; new business streams open, operations or production sites launch or close; new markets develop, and technology is introduced. All of this provides fresh opportunities – and risks.
The best analogy I have seen of people-focused resilience planning reframes employees as your organisation’s immune system, ready and prepared to anticipate risks and ensure they can tackle challenges, fend off illness and bounce back more quickly. So, how do you supercharge your organizational immune system to become resilient?
COVID-19 has helped many organisations realize they were not as prepared as they believed themselves to be. Now is the time to take stock and reset for the future. All the strategies and plans prior to COVID-19 arriving in Botswana need to be thrown out of the window and you need to develop a new plan today. There is no room for tweaking or reframing. Botswana has been disrupted and we need to accept and embrace the change. What we initially anticipated as a disease that would take a short term is turning out to be something we are going to have to live with for a much longer time. It is going to be a marathon and therefore businesses need to have a plan to complete this marathon.
Start planning. Planning for change can help reduce employee stress, anxiety, and overall fear, boosting the confidence of staff and stakeholders. Think about conducting and then regularly refreshing a strategic business impact analysis, look at your employee engagement scores, dig into your customer metrics and explore the way people work alongside your behaviours and culture. This research will help to identify what you really want to protect, the risks that you need to plan for and what you need to survive during disruption. Don’t forget to ask your team members for their input. In many cases they are closest to critical business areas and already have ideas to make processes and systems more robust.
Revisit your organisational purpose. Purpose, values and principles are powerful tools. By putting your organisation’s purpose and values front and center, you provide clear decision-making guidelines for yourself and your organisation. There are very tough and interesting decisions to make which have to be made fast; so having guiding principles on which the business believes in will help and assist all decision makers with sanity checking the choices that are in front of them. One noticeable characteristic of companies that adapt well during change is that they have a strong sense of identity. Leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose and a common performance culture; they know what the company stands for beyond shareholder value and how to get things done right.
Revisit your purpose and values. Understand if they have been internalised and are proving useful. If so, find ways to increase their use. If not, adapt them as necessities, to help inspire and guide people while immunizing yourself against future disruption. Design your employee experience. The most resilient, adaptive and high performing companies are made up of people who know each other, like each other, and support each other.
Adaptability requires us to teach other, speak up and discuss problems, and have a collective sense of belonging. Listening to your team members is a powerful and disruptive thing to do. It has the potential to transform the way you manage your organisation. Enlisting employees to help shape employee experience, motivates better performance, increases employee retention and helps you spot issues and risks sooner. More importantly, it gives employees a voice so you can get active and constructive suggestions to make your business more robust by adopting an inclusive approach.
Leaders need to show they care. If you want to build resilience, you must build on a basis of trust. And this means leaders should listen, care, and respond. It’s time to build the entire business model around trust and empathy. Many of the employees will be working under extreme pressure due to the looming question around what will happen when companies have to retrench. As a leader of a company transparency and open communication are the most critical aspects that need to be illustrated.
Take your team member into confidence because if you do have to go through the dreaded excise of retrenchment you have to remember that those people the company retains will judge you based on the process you follow. If you illustrate that the business or organization has no regard for loyalty and commitment, they will never commit to the long-term plans of the organisation which will leave you worse off in the end. Its an absolutely delicate balance but it must all be done in good faith. Hopefully, your organization will avoid this!
This is the best time to revisit your identify and train your people to encourage qualities that build strong, empathetic leadership; self-awareness and control, communication, kindness and psychological safety. Resilience is the glue that binds functional silos and integrates partners, improves communications, helps you prepare, listen and understand. Most importantly, people-focused resilience helps individuals and teams to think collectively and with empathy – helping you respond and recover faster.
Article written by Thabo Majola, a brand communications expert with a wealth of experience in the field and is Managing Director of Incepta Communications.