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State institutions sing for their supper

Zimbabwe’s courts have yet to hear a challenge to the parliamentary and presidential poll result by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which claims the July 31 poll was rigged in Zanu-PF’s favour.

But that has not stopped the cash-strapped entities from flighting advertisements in both private and state newspapers congratulating Mugabe with the most effusive praise imaginable. 

The struggling national carrier, Air Zimbabwe, which recently needed a government bailout to take to the skies after operations were suspended, wasted no time in hero-worshipping Mugabe, neither did government financial institution Agribank, which is also struggling financially.

State universities’ top officials, including vice-chancellors cherry-picked by Mugabe, have been at the forefront of the colourful advertisements in newspapers congratulating the “visionary” leader on his “thumping victory”.

“The landslide victory is a testimony of his impeccable leadership over the years, his unwavering defence of our sovereignty, the indigenisation and empowerment policies and the phenomenal achievements in the education sector which have received international acclamation,” reads part of a three-quarter-page advertisement placed by Bindura University, adding: “With him at the helm, Zimbabwe will forever continue to rank high in the community of nations.”

Gushungo

Not to be outdone, Harare Polytechnic, known for training journalists, gushed, “Gushungo, our mentor, empowerer, strategist, pan-Africanist, visionary liberator and shining beacon.” Gushungo is Mugabe’s clan name.

Masvingo’s Great Zimbabwe University said in its advert: “With your victory and that of your party, Zanu-PF, the education sector of this country has been assured of continued development.”

The privately run Africa University in Manicaland, a former MDC stronghold, but which fell to Mugabe and Zanu PF, would not be left out. “As a pan-African institution of higher learning, we pay tribute to your vision, which led to the establishment of Africa university. Your leadership is a constant reminder that we must continue to safeguard our independence and posterity.” 

But, Gorden Moyo, the former state enterprise and parastatals minister, is not amused. Moyo said officials had no authority to place such adverts when there was a clear election dispute, insisting that he was still in charge of the ministry until a new president was sworn in. Moyo is also the MDC’s Bulawayo chairperson and he won the Makokoba parliamentary seat.

“This is a clear abuse of state resources,” he said. “We are also aware that Mugabe and Zanu-PF have been abusing parastatals and government entities under my control, using state vehicles to bus people to their rallies and polling stations.”

Think tank

Rashweat Mukundu, the chairperson of a Harare-based think tank, the  Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said state-run firms and parastatals were merely singing for their supper. He said state-owned companies were run by boards appointed mostly  by Zanu-PF ministers.

“Most of these appointments are not based on any professional capacity, but are part of Zanu-PFs patronage system.

“For one to keep one’s job and perks, one has to be seen to be part of the system by congratulating Mugabe and Zanu-PF. This is a tradition largely seen in dictatorships, where the leader is worshipped and venerated as some god. He is the giver of goodies that sustains these groups and one has to pay homage or risk being cast out.”

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