Zimbabwe has never been the same since Information Minister Jonathan Moyo exposed the rot at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation in November last year. Hardly a week passes without a major scandal being exposed, and most of the culprits are members of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.
Some have attributed this to an emboldened Parliament. Others argue it is all about succession within ZANU-PF with factions trying to expose each other. But no one seems to have asked or answered why the scandals are being exposed now when ZANU-PF has a comfortable majority which allows it to do anything including amending the year-old constitution.
The juicy scandals would have worked quite well for the Movement for Democratic Change if they had been exposed during the period of the inclusive government when most of them took place.
But nothing substantial was exposed in the four years that the three major political parties were in power together. This was despite the fact that the MDC controlled some of the ministries where the scandals are being exposed.
It had 100 seats in the lower house, one more than ZANU-PF. Today it has 41 seats, and going through Hansard, one can hardly tell which is an MDC or ZANU-PF legislator apart from the heckling now and then.
The answer, though hard to swallow, is that ZANU-PF is more democratic and acts like an opposition to itself when it is in control. Minister of State responsible for Mashonaland East Simbaneuta Mudarikwa summed it all a few years ago. He described the party as badly fractured saying it was like a stick of TNT, susceptible to ignition and disintegration.
According to the United States embassy, Mudarikwa “likened ZANU-PF to a troop of baboons incessantly fighting among themselves, but coming together to face an external threat”.
No scandals were exposed during the inclusive government because ZANU-PF stuck together because the MDC was an external threat not only bent on kicking it out of power but aiming to reverse everything it had done.
That external threat is gone and the incessant fighting like a troop of baboons is back. This has been the trend since independence. There was very little infighting between 1980 and 1987 because of the threat from white who had reserved seats and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union. Only one major scandal, the Simpson Paweni drought relief scandal, was exposed.
All the major scandals that have been recorded and tabulated occurred after the unity government up to 2000 when the MDC came in and the trap was shut once again until now.
History shows that ruling party cadres like Sydney Malunga and Lazarus Nzarayebani made their names as leading critics when they were members of the ruling party. Energy Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire even called on President Robert Mugabe to go.
What is interesting about this “openness” is that it has all been talk, a tonic to lull the public that something is about to happen. But nothing happens. Only Paweni was sent to jail for his role in the drought relief scandal. The five ministers implicated in the Willowvale Motor scandal were asked to resign. That was it.
After that the culprits were just named and nothing happened. Chenjerai Hunzvi, the mastermind of the War Victims Compensation Fund fraud, was even awarded with a parliamentary seat.
Zimbabwe is probably being taken on another joy ride.