Thursday, 6 October 2016


PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has placed himself in an unenviable position to explain his position regarding the appointment of his son-in-law, Simba Chikore to a position of choice, as Air Zimbabwe chief operations officer.  

Chikore, whose background as a pilot has been questioned, married Mugabe’s only daughter in March 2014. The job makes him second-in-command at the ailing national carrier.

Rightly so, Zimbabweans and opposition parties are angry with Mugabe for appointing relatives to key government jobs without due regard to merit.

Even the language of AirZim board chairperson, Chipo Dyanda itself says Mugabe is wrong. The appointment of Mugabe’s relatives all over the government map is indubitable nepotism, in much the same way as that corruption is disparaging and immoral.

Some of his relatives positioned in critical posts are Patrick Zhuwao (Youth minister), Albert Mugabe (Zinara board chairperson), brother-in-law, Sydney Gata (formerly Zesa executive chairperson), the Matibiris and others. Whether this was merited or otherwise, this will not change the reality that nepotism is unethical and grotesque for one family to “cartelise” key State positions.

Chikore’s AirZim selection is the antithesis of our democratic ideal of building a truly classless society, where there is opportunity for all. We believe that the very history of democratic civilisation is the story of the fight against nepotism. We firmly believe in meritocracy.

We have no doubt that this act of nepotism is synonymous with succession, as it results in political dynasties that constrain other better qualified employees. This also breeds corruption because of self-interest, underhand dealings and illegal protection due to debt of gratitude and other political crimes, favouritism, and discrimination. What is the essence of merit if partiality dominates government business?

Mugabe should be warned that this injustice of kin selection lowers government morale, as well as the productivity of the whole country. If patronage or nepotism is the name of the game, what’s the use of studying? Where is the fair game?

If Mugabe’s nepotism is allowed to stand and persist, this could herald the defeat of the principles of freedom, meritocracy and equal opportunity, which are the ideals for which Zimbabweans fought for during the liberation struggle.

The question that begs the answer is: Did generations of our people fight for independence only to yield their precious birthright to the Mugabe family?

Indeed, up to a point, especially in family businesses, nepotism can contribute to a stable and working social order.

But it is a grave disorder akin to rape in government service. The level of nepotism, patronage and corruption in Mugabe’s regime betrays how poorly it has been organised, and why it has been plagued by incompetence. Clearly, many of Mugabe’s favoured appointees do not have the background and abilities for purposive and dedicated public service.

It is this controversy that instructs Zimbabweans why nepotism is more harmful than patronage. It is entirely selfish, as it seeks to advance Mugabe’s family interests.

By wantonly disregarding merit when making key government appointments, Mugabe has effectively pulled Zimbabwe 36 years backwards and his actions will cost Zimbabwe dearly in near future. It is depressing that Chikore’s selection comes as AirZim is asking taxpayers to take over its

$300 million debt. Under the circumstances, Zimbabweans can no longer bear the brunt of a mismanaged economy any more.

Mugabe should know that everyone should have the opportunity to make a better life for themselves, hence, everyone should be equally given the chance and choices. There’s nothing wrong in hiring relatives in high office, but make sure their qualifications are not questionable.

Stop putting every mechanism of the government at risk. Newsday Comment


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