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Rulers exist to inflict misery

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ONE of the jokes doing the rounds in Zimbabwe is that, on any given morning, Zanu PF overlords wake up to a singular task: How to make life more unbearable for the long-suffering citizens.

It is not funny anymore. The joke is on us.

In a country where more than half the entire population lives in extreme poverty, one would expect the government of the day to focus its energies on the restoration of livelihoods. Instead, what do we see?

The rulers of the land are creating sideshows in a well-calculated ploy to distract the masses from the real crisis in this country. The real crisis in Zimbabwe is leadership failure, whose manifestations are corruption-induced poverty, economic mayhem and socio-political turmoil.

Zimbabwe today — on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s watch — is a wretched house of hunger. What is worse, he has no viable solutions in sight.

Five years after Robert Mugabe was toppled in a dramatic coup, the country has the highest year-on-year inflation rate in the world. The official statistical agency puts it at 96.4%, but some independent economists say it has actually scaled 200%.

Against the backdrop of this catastrophic economic state of affairs, the Zanu PF rulers have come up with yet another harebrained stratagem to inflict untold misery on citizens.

The urban transport crisis which has left thousands of commuters stranded is a man-made problem that provides a glimpse into the thinking of a heartless ruling elite.

Zupco’s legislated monopoly is a non-starter.

Two years ago, journalists revealed how buses initially said to belong to Zupco were, in fact, imported by a private company, Landela Investments, before being sold to the state-run transporter at exorbitant prices.

Landela is an investment vehicle linked to President Mnangagwa’s adviser and Sakunda Holdings boss Kuda Tagwirei, whose tentacles stretch across the vast spectrum of the economy.

Zupco’s bus procurement arrangements are scandalously opaque and if we had a genuine Parliament in this country this matter would have been probed in the national interest.

A legislated monopoly in the transport sector is a bad idea and the reasons are plenty.

It invariably results in poor efficiency of service, especially in a polity such as Zimbabwe whose governance ethos is spectacularly deficient.

Zupco’s legislated monopoly is undermining consumer sovereignty and restricting choice. This is problematic in a country that claims to be a constitutional democracy.

As everyone can testify, Zupco service is dismal; the state-owned entity has no incentive to improve customer care.

Zupco is paying private transporters late and a pittance at that. It is unreasonable to expect private combis to get US$20 per day yet the unauthorised mushikashikas are making US$70.

The transport crisis is the latest evidence of leadership failure.

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