Mnangagwa’s cronyism web exposed
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s habit of allowing his son Emmerson Jr and business partners like Kudakwashe Tagwirei (pictured) to join his official trips and events – including state visits – smacks of brazen crony capitalism and patronage.
Only this week, Mnangagwa took Emmerson Jr and Tagwirei on a state visit to the oil-rich Equatorial Guinea where he visited the country’s authoritarian ruler Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
Mnangagwa’s delegation included ministers and senior government officials. However, in an arrogant display of cronysim he took his son and business associate in tow to the central African nation.
While other leaders also take along their family members on such trips, including them on the visits so that they pursue private business interests for personal benefit using state resources is abuse of power.
Prior to that, Emmerson Jr was seen hobnobbing with his father during the visit of Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko to Harare last week.
Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba defended Emmerson Jr’s inclusion in the event at State House, saying it was a private luncheon in the middle of a state visit.
“Who determines the composition of the delegation of the President? Is it NewsHawks? The people whom you saw there were they constituted by The NewsHawks?
“The point I am trying to ask is, the people who attended the meeting were they appointed to be there by The NewsHawks? Why do you have to ask about one individual who attended the event instead of asking about the rest of them?
“Was it a meeting or it was lunch? Were you there or you want to know so that we tell you? Now, that was a lunch. A private lunch. The President has a right to bring in part of his household because that is a social function. It does not need books.
“Did you not see the table full of food? If you did not see the food, it means the food was yet to be placed on the table. There is nothing that you need to understand. The NewsHawks has nothing to do in it.
“What you do in the newsroom . . . do we ask you who constitutes your newsroom and what each of them do? Did I ever ask your credentials to say what are you doing at The NewsHawks?” he said.
However, Mnangagwa’s moves are widely seen as part of his patronage system, entrenching crony capitalism.
This means an economic system in which family members and friends of government officials and business leaders are given unfair advantages in state tenders, contracts and jobs, among other opportunities, at the expense of equal opportunity for all.
Cronyism is often associated with corruption and analysts see it as a major obstacle to development.
Significant linkages between political elites and business classes can be found in almost all capitalist regimes, past and present, but the difference is abuse of office and power to use state resources for one’s family members’ private gain and self-aggrandisement, typical of kleptocratic regimes.
Government spokesperson and Information ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana, posting on his Twitter handle on Wednesday, justified Emmerson Jr’s trip with government officials to Equatorial Guinea.
“Western Leaders have this tendency of traveling with their families which sometimes include grown up children. It’s no biggie. On the infrequent occasion that an African Leader travels with their grown up progeny it’s still not a biggie. Families provide support to the leader,” he said.
Other than Emmerson Jr who has been attending high-level government meetings, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has often been accused of usurping government roles, for instance being involved in diplomacy in a capacity similar to that of a Foreign Affairs minister or the President.
Last year, the First Lady met with Iranian Foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to discuss matters to do with expanding and deepening relations between the two countries. This work is usually reserved for diplomats and the President.
Amir-Abdollahian said ties between the two countries continue to grow and expressed hope that, in the near future and with the holding of the 9th meeting of the Joint Commission on Cooperation between the two countries, relations in all fields will develop further.