Has anyone seen ED Mnangagwa?

Has anyone seen ED Mnangagwa?
Published: 22 October 2018 (339 Views)
The noise about coming up with new regulations to protect Zimbabwean masses from rising prices is ringing louder. Leadership is considering harsh measures that are unrelated to the underlying causes to halt the price increases. Heavily regulated government however, is inherently unstable and will eventually collapse under the weight of its own internal contradictions and intrigues, for it will violate the natural order of things. Natural law is the body of rules that species must follow to live and work in peace and harmony - no physical harm or damage to another's work and property; honor obligations or contracts with others; and compensate those who feel they have been harmed.

When people "live and let live," the natural order of human world prevail. When people respect that order and the boundaries that define it, they act justly - justice being nothing more than respecting the order of the human world and recognizing in word and action what belongs to another. Clearly, highly regulated states violate natural law, and anything that violates the natural order eventually becomes extinct. The demise of regimes, starts sooner when its economy begins to falter.

It seems to me ED now falls in this group of leaders who believe in government being the means to an end. Such leaders profess to have vision, often defined in terms of protecting the people, improving the lot of the people, accelerating economic development, launching some new revolutionary order, and pursuing some lofty ideals, such as justice, equality, and freedom. These leaders see the state machinery as the vehicle for achieving their vision, regardless of opposition to it.

To establish their populist credentials, these leaders promise to make housing, food, and other essential commodities "affordable to the masses". This objective may be achieved by issuing a whole battery of edicts, state controls, regulations, and legislation to channel economic activity in a certain direction in consonance with their vision and to transfer huge resources to the state for purposes of development. To enforce these regulations necessitates the creation of many departments, but state interventionism creates its own set of problems that inhibit or defeat the achievement of these leaders' vision.

State controls end up benefiting the ruling gang of vampire elites and the whole coterie of sycophants and supporters. For the masses, price controls end up making food more expensive! State interventionism results in a bloated bureaucracy and stifling red tape, which provide rich opportunities for corruption, and bribery.

Frustration in dealing with bureaucracy in Zimbabwe is widespread. Compliance with the multiplicity of regulations is irritating and time consuming and yet more regulations are on the way. Potential investors are endlessly shuttled back and forth between government agencies to obtain permits from senior government officials who, often, are absent—on extended lunches with their young mistresses. Frequently, one government department does not know what the others are doing. Processes that should take no more than a few hours may take weeks or even months. The bureaucracy is wracked by appalling inefficiency, waste, graft, and administrative ineptitude.

To get anything done quickly, it is necessary to pay a bribe. Thus, the byzantine maze of state controls and regulations provides lucrative opportunities for self-enrichment. Revenue collection, passport control, and even government stationery can all be skimmed, diverted, manipulated, or used for illicit gain. Civil servants demand bribes, exploit their positions in government, and manipulate the state's regulatory powers to supplement their meager salaries. Almost every government regulation and nuance of policy can be mined. Since every permit has its price, civil servants invent endless new rules and extort bribes. In fact, every official transaction can provide an avenue to amass wealth, leading to poor service and failed government programs.

Corruption now permeates all levels of Zimbabwean society, Bureaucrats rarely follow existing regulations, and ordinary citizens must pay bribes to accomplish bureaucratic transactions, which are seldom completed. The dramatic rise in corruption under ED is ironic since he came to power largely on an anti-corruption campaign platform.

It seems ED has quickly discovered that state controls and instruments are exactly what he needs to punish his rivals, silence his critics, and reward his supporters. For example, the rant by William Mutumanje was revealing. William was used to blackmail perceived enemies but what was more revealing was his admission that he might be bought out too to silence him.

- Sam Wezhira


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