Is Nelson Chamisa an Incompetent, Drooling and Cluess Minister?
Nelson Chamisa (minister of information & comunication technology, above) and the MDC are taking policy cues from Chairman Mugabe's Little Red Book
What on earth has possessed Nelson Chamisa, the MDC minister in charge of ICT, which includes internet and mobile phone companies?
Zimbabwe's internet was switched off again on Saturday night. It had been restored on Friday afternoon after a week of complete shutdown. The restoration was through the limited-access South Africa links. It is still off and you should not expect the problem to be truly solved before the end of this year, if at all. As for first-world standards, you should forget about that for as long as MDC-PF are in power.
As I have been saying since the year 2001, at least, the MDC has no policy platform whatsoever and this was amply demonstrated by the blundering Minister of ICT in Zimbabwe, MDC's Spokesman, Nelson Chamisa.
Now in government and "in charge of policy formulation and implementation" (as the Prime Minister reminds us at every opportunity), the MDC are simply adopting failed, discredited and stupid ZANU PF policies. Take the issue of prices charged by the mobile phone companies now, for instance. This is something that falls into the MDC camp, with Chamisa in charge, the same minister who is presiding over this disgracing of Zimbabwe through a complete internet shutdown for the entire nation. I got mail on Friday from people all over the world who said essentially the same thing: "Come on, we are in the 21st Century. Internet switched off? That is inconceivable, just can't be true."
But true it is.
We know that ZANU PF totally messed up all sorts of things, including this, the internet issue. But MDC are in charge now of policy formulation and implementation. So we expected at the very least an abandonment of the policies that have brought us to the Gates of Hades at which we now stand. That would signal true change and a chance to give economic common sense and tried, tested policies to turn things around.
Last week, Comrade Minister Chamisa announced that mobile phone charges were too high in Zimbabwe (which they are) and he was going to send a directive to mobile phone companies to reduce their charges drastically. So, we are back to price controls, which everyone, including the resident madman at the corner of First St and Jason Moyo as well as street kids, knows does not work. ZANU PF tried it and service suffered as a result. Infrastructure collapsed. Because profit margins are a function of the market, and not a result of a minister's say-so. It is an elementary concept, really, and I wonder how the MDC fail to grasp it.
What on earth has possessed Chamisa? I ask again.
What will happen is the mobile phone companies will reduce their charges, yes, but then they will also stop investing in infrastructure expansion, congestion will increase and the system will collapse yet again as it has under ZANU PF.
The solution to unreasonable price increases is simply to increase competition, a simple, proven concept that the MDC fails to grasp. Open up the market. If CellC of South Africa or MTN or Vodacom or a local entrepreneur wants to set up a new mobile phone company, let them. The only condition for granting that licence should be that the new company demonstrate how it would do things differently to increase competition. Once there is competition, no one company will have a hold on the consumer, free to abuse him/her with wanton price increases and dismal service. And as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, the new-comer will also have charges that are lower than those prevailing now.
The locals will have to drop their prices as well. If they want money to expand their infrastructure, then they will have to bring in business partners to take a stake in their companies, paying for them in US dollars. Overcharging consumers to raise that money will simply not be good business then. The money invested by their new equity holders is then used to expand the locals' infrastructure. If they are too greedy to reduce their shareholding in their own companies, then they will go under and no one should mourn them.
The same principle applies even to basic foods. We now have local millers of mealie meal and flour the staple foods of most of Africa, crying that imports are hurting them. Really? Are these not the same people who, when they were protected by Mugabe's communist government, simply charged three times what people in other countries pay for their mealie-meal?
Now they want government to ban imports of food or to impose punitive tariffs on them? To what end? So that they can increase prices again and use the super profits to buy cars and feather the nests of executives without investing in machinery and modernisation of their factories? No sirs and madams, if you can't withstand competition, then you must go under. Go broke. That will teach you.
But Nelson Chamisa's "directive" to mobile phone companies to reduce their charges shows us that the MDC will most likely also bend on this one. It is now official, the MDC also believes in the same failed policies of ZANU PF. They will most likely cave in and impose tariffs on foodstuff imported by individuals into Zimbabwe. This will be done in order "to protect local industry and save jobs." This is a common blackmail tactic of inefficient industry. If you do not protect us, x-number of families will be at risk because we will have to lay off people blah blah blah.
Let them go under if they must. The result of protectionist policies is inefficiency, overpriced and low-quality products and services. That is all there is to it. This is not something Zimbabwe can afford in a globalised economy, where our products, if they are to have an use to the nation, must compete on the international stage on the basis of quality and price differentiation.
Because of the MDC aping of ZANU PF way of doing things, we can expect that this government will make our lives worse, because there will be no change at all. The only things that have changed are the faces at some of the ministries. Even after being given carte blanche to formulate and implement policy, the MDC are showing that the best they can do is ape the failed policies of ZAU PF. It is quite frankly disgusting and bodes ill for the future of this battered nation.
So, yes, Nelson Chamisa is an incompetent minister. Not only because he has failed to solve the Zimbabwe internet problem for the more than one month that he has been in charge of this ministry, but most importantly because he has already started adopted ZANU PF policies in his ministry, going against all economic sense.
As he fights to be in charge of mobile phone companies and everything else, we now know that he just wants "powers" that he will do nothing with. He will simply dust off the mouldy policy files of the failed ZANU PF and seek to implement. It justifies what I have always said about the MDC being bereft of policies.
You will see more of this from more MDC-PF ministers. NOTHING HAS CHAGED EXCEPT THE FACES AT THE FOREFRONT OF OUR DESTRUCTION AS A NATION.
This aping of ZANU PF is going beyond policies, flashy cars etc. Take the simple matter of transparency, letting the voting citizens know what on earth is going on. How easy it would be to tell the internet public the truth! Instead, in the true tradition of ZANU PF, the consumer, the voter, is the last consideration for this bunch of new jokers. We have not been told how much is owed Intelsat. We have not been told how much has been paid. We were first told two weeks ago that TelOne has paid. Then when the South African links packed up and we were completely cut off, the Internet Service Providers Association was then told by TelOne that, no we actually only paid part of the debt and will not be reconnected until we pay it all off.
Now they are being told that by Monday 16 March 2009, the debt will be completely paid off. This is clearly a lie and you should not expect to be reconnected to your internet for weeks and weeks to come. Between the incompetent Minister, the incompetent TelOne and South Africa's equally incompetent Hellkom, this state of affairs is now going to become a way of life for Zimbabweans.
So, when I call this new creature MDC-PF, I am not just saying so. Some of us read that RESTART, the MDC "policy" document upon which they have been campaigning since 2002 and saw that it was not at all a "policy document." It has no ideas that are different from ZANU PF's failed ideas. There is no plan, as I have said before beyond presenting new faces to donors, cap in hand.
The biggest and loudest promise that the MDC has sold the undereducated (but schooled) Zimbabweans, is that they will succeed simply because they are not ZANU PF. That worked only when the MDC was the only viable opposition. Which is why the MDC has always been very afraid of another opposition party. Any opposition party that comes up, even if it is started by Jesus Christ Himself, will always be labelled by the MDC-PF as a ZANU PF plant. Instead of examining their own policy failures, they would rather scare voters by finding Secret Police skeletons in the cupboards of anyone who challenges them.
No more, we should say. I am heartily sick of this. The MDC has proved, in the short period that it has been in government, that it will simply follow ZANU PF ways of doing things, from a bloated cabinet to stupid policies like price controls.
More alarmingly, it is also now clear that the MDC does not believe in transparency and honesty in government, just like ZANU PF. They would rather keep people in the dark in order to lie more effectively. That is what ZANU PF does. They do not communicate to the public what problems there are or what challenges are impacting on service delivery.
The lack of money is an issue that can only go so far. Even if the aid does come in, with policies such as the MDC is now "formulating and implementing" as per their mandate in this government, we will still not see any improvement. Money is not a substitute for sound policy platforms. Surely Chamisa and Biti and Tsvangirai know this? Or do they?
Right now, people here in Zimbabwe are already saying things are getting worse than before the MDC joined government. High density areas are still without water from their taps. Some Southern Suburbs have been without electricity for weeks on end. Those that do have it, get such a weak supply that it will not lift their stoves in order to cook, so you will find Highfields, Glen Norah, Budiriro, Glen View and other areas enveloped in the smoke that comes from cooking fires. Outdoors. In the rain that has been pounding us now for over a week.
The city councils that the MDC have been in charge of for more than about a year now still do not collect rubbish. Mounds of rotting filth stench-up the neighbourhoods. People are simply tipping their rubbish in open spaces at the edges of their suburbs. Again, how easy it would be to open up refuse collection to bids from private contractors. Give them performance benchmarks. And then let them loose. Problem would be solves inside a week. The councils are already charging a line item on all bills and that item reads: "Refuse Collection."
Talk about extortion. Demanding money for a non-existent service!
What this means is that no one out there has any confidence in this new regime. And that has nothing to do with politics. One negotiator from a neighbouring country told a former Regional Diplomat from Zimbabwe that he was shocked when he sat down to negotiate with his Zimbabwean counterpart, a new minister in the Inclusive Government.
"He sounded more ZANU PF than ZANU PF itself," said the negotiator. "I think Zimbabweans do not understand economics at all, no matter what party they are from."
We have the people who can turn this thing around and the policies to do so are as clear as day. They just need the political will to be implemented. Right now, neither the MDC nor ZANU PF have that political will. And we will also need to have ruling parties that value competence above loyalty, meaning minister's will be given jobs because they have at least a clue as to what they are supposed to be doing. Then the Man in Charge must make sure they are not too busy polishing their new Mercedes Benzes and enjoying their new-found comfort and luxury to give a thought to the downtrodden who put them there.
The only thing that has changed so far in Zimbabwe is that food is now readily available in the shops, but even this is not going to last because the MDC and its new ZANU PF best friend will cave in to protectionist petitioning from local industry and try to freeze out imports. The local manufacturers will simply revert back to type. Price controls will be imposed on them because they still have the "super-profits" mentality from the hyperinflation days. They will then hold the nation to ransom by stopping production and asking for subsidies in foreign currency from government.
The MDC will give them the subsidies. And we will be back to square one.
Donors will keep their hands in their pockets because they cannot fund such myopic destructive policies.
At that time, the ZANUfication of the MDC will be complete and you will hear them shouting at the Western nations for refusing to help them.
With the policies of the MDC already exemplified by the policy pronouncements from Chamisa on price controls, the future of Zimbabwe is still bleak.
To answer the question: yes Nelson Chamisa is an incompetent, drooling minister and we can expect no change from him and his MDC fellow travellers in the comfortably inclusive MDC-PF government.
As for the internet, do not hold your breath, we are in for the long haul, because Chamisa has no clue, policywise. All this because the MDC have now "discovered a side of President Mugabe that we never knew," as Biti put it. So now Mugabe is the Messiah? One whose policies are sacrosanct and will be adopted by the new faces in government without questioning, let alone reasoning?
What an utterly disgusting, tattered and humiliated Zimbabwe we will have when this lot is done with us, only God can say.
It's enough to make you wish you had voted for Simba Makoni, I tell you!
Previous Articles (Please Click On One To Read The Full Post):
- GENERAL CHIWENGWA NOW ISSUING POLITICAL ORDERS
- HOW TSVANGIRAI SURVIVED
- NEW TWIST TO TSVANGIRAI ACCIDENT
- ZIMBABWE'S INTERNET HAS BEEN SWITCHED OFF
- SCENES FROM SUSAN TSVANGIRAI'S BURIAL IN BUHERA
- MUGABE WINS
- RBZ GOVERNOR GIDEON GONO CHASED AWAY FROM PMs HOUSE
- TSVANGIRAI ALIVE AND ALERT - SHOWN ON TV MINUTES AGO
- ROY BENNETT MUST BE WITHDRAWN - THAT'S WHAT MUGABE WANTS
- JESTINA MUKOKO FREED - FIRST PICTURE
- MUGABE CONFIRMS HONG KONG HOUSE - SAYS HE'S RENTING
- TSVANGIRAI SUMMONED TO STATE HOUSE OVER HIS PRESS CONFERENCE
- GENERAL CHIWENGWA vs ROBERT MUGABE
- HOW ROBERT MUGABE AMMASSED A FORTUNE
- PRIME MINISTER IN THE PRESIDENTS OFFICE
- ZIMBABWE TO GET TRUTH COMMISSION
- MUGABE CLAIMS FRESH VIOLENCE AGAINST HIS SUPPORTERS
- MDC-PF - It's Animal Farm All Over Again
- Mugabe Guaranteed Immunity
- Roy Bennett Stays In Jail
- Roy Bennett - Who Is In Charge Of Home Affairs?
- Leave Mugabe Alone, says Tsvangirai
- Roy Bennet Arrested, Ministers Sworn In Anyway
- Defence Force Chiefs Boycott Tsvangirai Inauguration
- Anti-Simba Makoni Alliance Crumbles
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- MDC Formally Agrees To Join Mugabe In Government
- Mugabe: "I promise you I will never lose an election again."
- Mugabe Settles on Successor
- Why I Blog About Africa And Zimbabwe
- As Zimbabwe Talks Collapse, Dollarisation Now Official
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- How SADC and Mugabe Have Boxed-In Morgan Tsvangirai
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