- President Mnangagwa’s son was placed under sanctions
- Transparency International stats show that corruption did not cease when Second Republic came to power
- Rule of law continues to be applied selectively
- Government’s efforts to reengage, image building in 2021 suffered dismally
The graph below show Zimbabwe's re-engement targets in full year 2021 vs 2020
Harare- One of the underlying factors of the National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025) is to turn around the fortunes of the country through re-engaging with the Western countries particularly the USA, UK and European Union. Government is cognisant that if the dire industry from energy to infrastructure is to be resurrected, there is a need to include the Western recipe in the soup.
However, the reality on the ground reflects government is much more progressing in mending the soar relations, in theory. The Second Republic is likely to end its first term of rulership in shame as far as re-engagement is concerned after the latest sanctions even slapped President Mnangagwa’s son.
The recent sanctions setback announced by the United States of America on the twelfth of December 2022 are a clear manifestation that the government is losing it on the reforms side, politically and economically. On Monday, a day before the US-Africa summit began, the US imposed sanctions on Fossil Contracting, a major player in government infrastructure projects, and Fossil Agro, a supplier of state farm programmes, over providing support to the government and for ties to Kuda Tagwire, both government and Tagwirei are already under sanctions over abuse of human rights and freedoms and corruption.
The US Treasury also placed under sanctions Obey Chimuka, CEO of Fossil, Tagwirei’s wife Sandra, and Emmerson Mnangagwa Junior, the son of Mnangagwa which is a major blow to the President. In trying to rescue the nation out of sanctions, his house is being included too. The renewed pressure by the USA testifies to how the country is very serious about political and economic reforms and how Zimbabwe is reluctant in reforming.
“We urge the Zimbabwean government to take meaningful steps towards creating a peaceful, prosperous, and politically vibrant Zimbabwe, and to address the root causes of many of Zimbabwe’s ills: corrupt elites and their abuse of the country’s institutions for their personal benefit,” a statement released by the US on Monday reads.
“The goal of sanctions is behaviour change, today’s actions demonstrate our support for a transparent and prosperous Zimbabwe.”
Are they justified?
The political atmosphere of Zimbabwe remains turmoil, corruption rampant and rule of law unfounded as the government’s constructive critiques continue to be sabotaged by the law while tenders provided to the government affiliates with corruption continuing to shoot through the roof.
“The Government of Zimbabwe awarded Fossil Contracting nearly US$40 million in contracts in 2021,” while the Fossil Agro “has supplied the Government of Zimbabwe’s Command Agriculture Program, a state farm subsidy largely financed by Sakunda which has failed to account for billions of dollars in disbursements”, the US said in a statement on Monday.
In the NDS1, government promised to bolster re-engagement efforts through improving the Good Country Index (GCI), Country Brand Ranking, Competitiveness Ranking and Global Happiness Index to unlock new international investments and renew the old-patched relations with European Union, USA and the United Kingdom. To ensure this, government promised a chain of reforms to the West, mainly political reforms to liberate the political space, rule of law, equality before the law and respect for human rights and freedoms. However, these had become more vibrant on paper than in practice. In fact, Zimbabwe lost all of its targets by the end of 2021, hence, justifying US sanctions.
Key priority areas on engagement, re-engagement and image-building highlights: Source, ZIMCODD
In 2021, the government targeted to improve the image of the country, re-engage and engage the global community by improving the Good Country Index (GCI), Country Brand Ranking and improve Global Travel and Tourism, Competitiveness Ranking and Global Happiness Index.
The GCI which was at 100 in 2019 out of 153 targeted number 98 in 2021. The Good Country Index measures how much countries contribute to the planet, and to the human race, through employed policies and behaviours. Second Republic’s efforts fell short as the country got the worst performance by ranking, missing the 98th targeted position to score 111 in 2021, worse than the 2019 performance.
On the Competitiveness ranking, the country also registered a failure by ranking 127 out of 140 instead of the targeted 114. The Global Competitiveness Index assesses the microeconomic and macroeconomic foundations of national competitiveness, which is defined as the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country.
The GHI for Zimbabwe was also off-route in 2021. The Happiness Index measures life satisfaction, the feeling of happiness in domains such as psychological well-being, health, time balance, community, social support, education, arts and culture, environment, governance, material well-being, and work and these are answered by the public. The GHI which targeted number 136 in 2021 out of 191 fell short to hit number 148.
The government failed to improve international engagement and re-engagement in 2021 dismally. The Country Risk Index which targeted to attain a grade CC in 2021, which was a medium risk flopped, only to score Grade E which is the highest risk political and economic situation. The baseline target was grade CCC which is a high risk while the target was CC which is a medium risk.
The CRI quantifies the risk of a shock such as an economic crisis or a sudden change in the political environment that would affect those conducting business within a country, territory, or special administrative region.
One of the key demands from the West (in this case, the West refers to the USA, EU and UK) to reengage and open new lines of investments and credit in Zimbabwe is through liberating the political atmosphere, ending corruption, free and fair elections and the rule of law. However, despite promising to bury corruption and uphold human rights, the Second Republic’s first term is likely to end in shame.
There has been no cessation of corruption since the Second Republic came to power. This is despite President Mnangagwa's promise to bury it decisively. Mnangagwa was on record saying there won’t be sacred cows and the law won’t be applied selectively but will punish everyone found on the wrong side of the law.
The corruption watch, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Committee is blamed for subjectivism towards affiliates of President Mnangagwa as it is chaired by the former foreign affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo’s wife, Loice Moyo. The Commission itself by falling under the President, who has powers to dissolve or resolve its body, is forced to be compromised in conducting its duties.
Laws such as the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act and Criminal Codification and Reform Act played a crucial role in arresting and banning opposition party rallies since President Mnangagwa came to power while Criminal Law Codification forces journalists to self-censor. Even access to information remains tight as 48 hours guaranteed by the Freedom of Information Act to access information held by government bodies is unrealistic to issues of public interest. Besides that, freedom after speech itself remains a nightmare in Zimbabwe.
“Corruption remains the major source of some of the problems we face as a country and its retarding impact on national development cannot be overemphasized,” President Mnangagwa said in 2018.
“On individual cases of corruption, every case must be investigated and punished under the dictates of our laws. There should be no sacred cows. My government will have zero tolerance towards corruption and this has already begun.”
However, the tide did not tilt in favour of the President. In fact, corruption worsened than during the First Republic under Robert Mugabe. In its 2021 latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Zimbabwe has been ranked as the fourth most corrupt nation in SADC, showing no bigger difference from Mugabe’s era rankings.
In 2021, Zimbabwe's rankings were below Nigeria, a country in which corruption has been regarded as endemic for decades and just above Iraq, in which Chatham House believes corruption is now a bigger threat to stability than terrorism.
Zimbabwe dropped a place in 2021 and scored 23 out of 100 points in the index. The current 157 ranking in 180 countries is a drop from 156 in the 2020 index.
According to the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development’s analysis of the 2018 Zimbabwe Auditor General report, the year president Mnangagwa took to power, transactions worth US$5.8 billion financial irregularities ranging from unsupported expenditure, excess expenditure, outstanding payments to suppliers of goods and services, transfers of funds without treasury approval among other issues. This constituted about 82% of government expenditure for the year.
The Afrobarometer Survey of 2020 showed that corruption increased by 60% between 2018 and 2019, the years in which the second republic promised a raft of measures.
Law enforcement has been on a ‘catch and release’ circus with fingered corrupt officials- with no genuine arrests and imprisonments occurring. For instance, former ministers, Prisca Mupfumira and Obadiah Moyo walked scot-free.
Therefore, if the government is serious with its re-engagement efforts, political and economic reforms must be given more attention.