Editor’s Memo

Where’s Chen?

I CAME across an uninspiring essay by Chen Chimutengwende this week titled In Defence of Pan-Africanism and Socialism.

etica, sans-serif”>It called for a second liberation struggle to “transform Africa into being the main base for the total liberation of the rest of the Black World”.

In his Communist rant, Chimutengwende proffered socialism as the most effective way of dealing with the continent’s problems.

“It is true that socialism is the only serious alternative to capitalism,” he wrote.

“It is also the only force that can defeat neo-colonialism in economic, political, cultural and in all other relevant fields.

“Socialism is the system which can seriously be engaged in a planned and systematic movement for the speedy reduction and eventual elimination of mass poverty, squalor, unemployment, illiteracy, corruption, injustice, rural neglect and ethnic wars. It can decisively confront HIV/Aids and other endemic diseases.”

He added: “The immediate objective of the second liberation struggle should be the urgent establishment and the speedy socio-economic development of a socialist united new Africa which is sometimes referred to as the United States of Africa. This will transform Africa into being the main base for the total liberation of the rest of the Black World.”

Chen is the president of an obscure organisation called the United New Africa Global Network. I have also learnt that apart from being its leader, he is its financier.

The network’s activities are funded mainly from his business, Africa Star Holdings Ltd. The network’s website says Chen’s line of business is in agriculture, mining, telecommunications, trade and business consultancy.

“These funds are provided to the network as a family contribution to Pan-Africanism and the realisation of a United New Africa,” the website says.

I am sure we all still recall that a month ago Chimutengwende was sworn in as Minister of Public and Interactive Affairs. Was that a presidential thank-you to a committed cadre who eschews all forms of neo-colonialism and imperialism?

But what is Chen’s day job? It’s definitely not dancing to rhumba music and I would like to believe that it is not authoring leftist literature for his network.

Since his appointment he has not said a word on what his ministry is all about. He has not uttered a policy statement. His portfolio has remained an enigma. The silence is a loud confirmation that he is not expected to do much or that he is still waiting for a job description from the president.

Chen has to explain to us what interaction he is involved in. Is he going to help the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the current craze — the Look East policy — or how to forge closer ties with Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez? Chen believes these two are model states which African nations should emulate. Chen’s portfolio could also be an acculturation institute to replace the former Department of Information which Jonathan Moyo used to cleanse the nation of neo-colonial influence. Hopefully that does not entail Kanda Bongoman or Yondo Sister replacing Hondo yeMinda.

Instead of the tired Pan-Africanist rhetoric which most influential African countries have dropped in preference to Nepad, Chimutengwende should be telling us how his ministry will contribute to President Mugabe’s development agenda. How does he plan to stage his revolution this time and what was his contribution in the last revolution? Someone is playing catch-up here.

Can Chen be more interactive and tell us exactly what he does at the Office of the President because at the moment he is a redundant appendage in Mugabe’s plot.

Remember the president also has other extras on his stage in the form of Elliot Manyika who does not have a portfolio, Webster Shamu, whose job is described as policy implementation, and Sithembiso Nyoni, brought in to achieve gender balance in cabinet. Nyoni does not even have a constituency.

This circus is happening right under the noses of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and civic society groups which have lost their voices after the election. To remain relevant, the opposition in particular has to adopt a more robust position against these political ills.

Parliament will be sitting soon and it is incumbent upon the opposition to question the role of Chen and others. As Minister without Portfolio, what does Manyika do for example other than compose songs and push the party slogan?

What policies has Shamu implemented since his appointment? Where is the Anti-Corruption Commission which we were told last year would be appointed soon?

These are pertinent issues which should concern opposition MPs, unless the MDC is contemplating appointing a Shadow minister of Interactive Affairs!

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