ONE of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s top aides, Petina Gappah, has quit her trade and investment advisory role and vowed not to renew her contract after being frustrated by the Zanu PF leader’s close lieutenants, who she accused of pursuing personal wealth accumulation at the expense of genuine reforms to turn around the country’s fortunes.
Gappah, a lawyer and writer, was among Mnangagwa’s first group of top aides at the birth of the new dispensation in 2017, globetrotting with the President and driving government’s re-engagement efforts with the Western world.
She was part of a government delegation that travelled with Mnangagwa to Davos for the World Economic Forum last year, leading government’s international public relations campaign.
Prior to that, she had worked at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva for 17 years.
Writing on her Facebook wall on Tuesday, Gappah said Mnangagwa’s aides just wanted to “eat” and were not keen to depart from the past.
“Having worked in government for 18 months, I have come to understand the vested interests that are making change difficult. I have come to understand that for many, reform is the last thing they want because to them, it is simply their turn to eat. I have come to understand we are in a transition with no easy fixes. But it is clear as day that Zimbabwe needs a total transformation,” she observed.
Gappah indicated she had no plans to renew her contract with the Office of the President (OPC).
“Yesterday, my consulting contract with the (Office of the President) OPC ended. As I am not renewing it, I spent the day clearing out my office, doing my ‘exit memo’ and recalling my utterly crazy year or so,” she wrote.
But Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana yesterday professed ignorance over the role Gappah played in Mnangagwa’s government.
“I am not aware of the position Dr Gappah held in government and what position she is resigning from. It may help if I am given the information of where she worked and in what capacity,” he said
“In any system where there is need for change, there is no homogeneity of views. Resistance to change will always be found stemming from such factors as anxiety because some people are being taken out of their comfort zones. Some resistance comes from self-interest, which is based on the status quo. This is not a scenario peculiar to Zimbabwe, but applies to all countries and organisations which undertake the scope of change that the Second Republic has embarked on. So while not confirming Dr Gappah’s analysis because I would need more detail, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is what she saw because that’s the most natural thing in system overhauls.”
In her Facebook post, Gappah took potshots at senior officials in Mnangagwa’s government, saying most of them were incompetent and did not share their leader’s vision to transform the country’s governance system.
“There are many reasons behind this, bureaucratic wrangling and bungling and inefficiencies, incompetence, not enough change agents, basic fear of change as well as an imaginative deficit that cannot see beyond the present, and of course, many vested interests. But as time moves, ultimately those reasons will cease to matter. Because this government, and ED’s leadership, will be judged on its failures, and not on the reasons for those failures,” she said.
Gappah blasted government for failing to uphold basic human rights, saying it was a promise made by the regime, but yet to be delivered.
“Beyond political rights, are other freedoms that were promised to the people of Zimbabwe, but have not been delivered because government has done nothing to align various laws to the Constitution. A key failure that affects almost a million people is the basic, simple question of citizenship which has a knock-on effect on rights to vote and freedom of movement. There is significant anger, and deep mistrust, and with good reason,” she noted.
Gappah added that Zimbabwe was facing a governance crisis, which had nothing to do with the main opposition MDC.
“The crisis in Zimbabwe is one of governance. It is not about legitimacy. The MDC failed to prove its win in the Constitutional Court. And by not publishing the V11s to back their claim that (Nelson) Chamisa won 2,6 million votes, they cannot even win in the court of public opinion. This does not get government off the hook. Because governance, poor governance, and not legitimacy, is at the heart of our crisis,” she opined, calling on Zanu PF to self-introspect and transform to carry the nation’s dreams and aspirations forward.
“Zanu PF needs to start thinking of itself not as a ruling party, but the governing party or party of government, with governance rooted in its obligations to the people of Zimbabwe as set out in the Constitution to which we all agreed,” she said.