Bribes will be paid to ensure acquiescence. Staff retiring will be “assisted with access to capital, to facilitate their meaningful contribution towards economic development, including taking advantage of allocated land…”
Other measures include reducing the wage bill by continuing and enforcing the existing freeze on recruitment.
In a clampdown on perks, there will be cuts to free government cars (with a limit of one per person!), fuel benefit, business class travel, the excessive size of overseas delegations, bloated foreign service missions and to local staff bills averaging US$355 000 per mission per month!
[It should be noted that the salary bill for various Constitutional Commissions, which are supposed to provide for improved governance, is around US$11.6 million, inclusive of US$3.8 million for Commissioners, while the cars requested by these VIP’s cost US$10 million.]
The bulk of these cuts will fall on opposition faction representatives or those lower down the bureaucratic pecking order. But, as always, the real target of austerity will be the working class.
The cap on recruitment, for example, has left 3 500 graduate nurses unemployed. The jobs that will be lost will continue to be those of doctors, nurses, teachers and other essential professions.
Mnangagwa spoke December 20 to a joint sitting of the country’s two houses of parliament, pledging, “We are determined to remove any policy inconsistencies of the past to make Zimbabwe an attractive destination for capital.” His government would soon unveil “a robust engagement and re-engagement programme with the international community in our continued bid to rejoin the community of nations.”
The government’s pledges were, like the coup that brought it to power, broadly welcomed in the imperialist capitals. Interviewed by Al Jazeera, Piers Pigou, senior consultant for southern Africa for the International Crisis Group (ICG), was asked whether “the military’s role in Zimbabwe’s post-Mugabe transition” would be “a help or hindrance to Mnangagwa’s inaugural promises of ‘a new democratic era’?”
Pigou replied that “the military can bring command management and discipline into a corrupt and venal political and economic environment,” even though there were “unresolved allegations” about “the involvement of senior military and other security sector figures in corruption, self-enrichment and other violations.”
The complaints by the pro-Mugabe G40 faction, designed “to delegitimise” the new order—“arguing it is the product of a coup, rightly or wrongly—are struggling to gain traction. The African Union (AU) and South African Development Community (SADC) have accepted the new order, as have the international community.”
This leaves the alliance of seven opposition parties, led by the Movement for Democratic Change of Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) insisting that the pro-business reforms and austerity measures do not go far enough. They are appealing for support from the United States and other imperialist powers to ensure they have a role in government alongside ZANU-PF, to push Mnangagwa’s agenda further to the right.
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