Why technocrats succeed or fail in the Zanu government

Why technocrats succeed or fail in the Zanu government
Published: 10 September 2018 (235 Views)
Apologies for boring you with citing in full Mukoma Muzivazvose Google's definition of technocrats. However, this will help some of us to know a bit about technocrats in view of recently appointed ministers like Prof Mthulisi Ncube and Dr Obadiah Moyo Kirsty Coventry and others who have such impressive lengthy CVs. We need appreciate the difference between technocrat and political ministers recently. This a brief requested by someone which I have expanded on based on what Mukoma Google could help with. So you fund technocrat out there, this is not an academic piece of work.

Anyway Mukoma Muzivazvose Google defines technocrats as; '… technical experts who help to lead industries. Considerable and constant success can launch a technocrat's career into such lofty heights that they reach orbit (especially if said technocrat has ambitions which most of us share as kids). It creates an intelligent, wealthy, and powerful member of society who has the ideas, the money, and the means to direct technology, and therefore society, in the direction they want it to go. The label 'technocrat' has no moral connotations, so one can be a technocrat whether or not one's intentions are pure.

A technocrat is also usually an expert in just one specific area (increasingly in science and technology as their prominence continues to increase. A technocrat has come to mean either a member of a powerful technical elite or someone who advocates the supremacy of technical experts.'

When appointed as ministers, technocrats have both pros and cons. There are several benefits to a technocrat-led government in times of crisis, says Kevin Featherstone, a professor at the London School of Economics. "Technocrats bring a reputational advantage both in terms of knowledge and a sense of putting national interests above party political interests." Bear in mind Zimbabwe's situation is not that of a technocrat-led government. We have a few technocrats who have benn appointed into a mammoth political party-led government.

The advantage of technocrats as appointed by Pres. Mnangagwa is that they can be obsessively dedicated to the success of their department as experts in just their one specific area. Technocrats are not accountable to the electorate, hence can be used to implement unpopular policies. Technocrats, as was noted in Italy, are very effective in drawing up and implementing national policies because they rise above the paralysing political rancour in party politics. They are the ones who have the ability to implement tough policies that would normally fail to get the essential political support if introduced by any politician loyal to a party or constituency. At times the measures they need to implement are so tough that under normal circumstances they would have failed to get the necessary political support if introduced by any politician.

 Another advantage of having technocrats 'is the speed with which they can get their feet under the desk,' when swift action is needed to deal with runaway inflation and other related financial situations. In health department, technocrats can enforce unpopular health policies such dealing with cholera in our dirty cities.
Zimbabwe faces a very serious socioeconomic crisis that has gone on for too long. And thus, using ruthlessly efficient and effective technocrats, '…can be a signal of the importance of the crisis, such a serious, exceptional crisis that it needs exceptional political actions."

Thus technocrats are the best option for leaders like President Mnangagwa whose mandate is controversial yet have a crisis to deal with in their hands.

A Zanu minister can not successfully deal with our economic crisis anymore. Noone would take him/her seriously, and the party has since exhausted its own ideas and options, hence the need for technocrats to step in. Mnangagwa's position in Zanu [G40 and fuming civil servants, and political leaders he fired] vis-à-vis MDC Alliance is acrimonious. He needs less of politicians to handle the economic disaster Zimbabwe is experiencing, hence our situation, similar to Greece and Italy, faces a political spectrum that is very 'fragmented and the political conversation so acrimonious that, in a situation of crisis, the markets and the international partners … are looking for concerted answers and determined answers and these can't be provided by political figures."

This is where these technocrats with well-grounded global reputation come in. I wish Dr Nkosana Moyo was in the team. Sadly he chose to run his own outfit. Guys like Nkosana Moyo and Mthulisi Ncube could have work together as technocrats, and because of their 'reputation, competence and experience, can persuade the markets…' that they represent and bring the change that Zimbabwe and the world yearn for.

As in previous incidents, the question is whether Mnangagwa will assertively support his technocrats, and manage to overrule political demands from his fellow Zanu ministers. Without such strong support, a few technocrats are not effective at all because the ultimate economic decisions lie with the president and his party. Dr Nkosana Moyo can attest to that.  As individuals, to succeed the technocrats must be very assertive over the huge layer of political appointees in their departments. In the case of Prof Ncube, fiscal discipline is only attained by those who are very assertive with the support of an equally forceful business minded president. This is what will determine the success or failure of these technocrats. Will Mnangagwa manage this? We hope for the best.
We can not overlook the disadvantages that come with having technocrats in governemt run by a ruling party like Zanu. Of course, in a thriving democratic situation, even in our own messed up situation, technocrats should only be resorted to as a short-term fix. These guys thrive on success, mostly as a way of boosting their egos.

Technocrats hate failure. They don't stay long if they see failure looming. Zimbabwe has had technocrats before. 

Ask Nkosana Moyo who didn't stay long at all. Others stay. Murerwa was one of them brought in to deal with our runaway inflation. He also failed because of the party system in Zanu. The party is peppered with unknown versions of socialism and capitalism that include seeing treasury as a Kiddy bank for war vets whenever their collective mood fancies having some unbudgeted for money for scotch carts or small houses. Murerwa decided to stay in Zanu politics and consequently became one of its failed politicians. Thus technocrats are also only needed to fix the existing problem and let go because of their role vis-à-vis popularly elected representatives. These are not elected experts and must give way to elected representatives of the people because the democratic process that is ushered in elections has to be restored by appointing elected representatives as ministers to fulfil their party's electoral mandate.

Tony Blair asserted that, "My concern is that the technocrat-led governments may be OK for the short-term but when they start to face the political challenge and backlash of imposing some very tough austerity measures, they lack the political legitimacy that elected, party politicians can bring to government. So it's a short-term fix." Yes, technocrats are not accountable to the voters, have no political legitimacy and thus their unpopular policies can have dire consequences for the governing party. Technocrats may be a waste of time as they may not achieve their goals because they tend to face resistance and animosity from politicians who feel their political mandate and jobs were taken by those who are not accountable to the voters. Bear in mind that all MPs contest in elections with the hope that if their party wins they may be appointed ministers.

Technocrats have no political voice and have no political platform to be held accountable for their decisions and conduct by the voters. Technocrats are usually not in tune with the needs of the voters, and hence their decisions may be contrary to voters' aspirations and needs. When Zanu supporters and war vets start demanding freebies, Prof Muthulisi Ncube will have no budget or donors to fulfil such luxuries!! Finally, technocrats have the luxury to vanish when the going gets tough, as did Dr Nkosana Moyo, something which politicians will hate to do because of loyalty to the party and its supporters.

- Ndaba Nhuku


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