HomeEditorial CommentComment: Not An Outcast Forever

Comment: Not An Outcast Forever

ALTHOUGH prospects of a unity government seem to be diminishing by the day, it remains a major objective of both main parties if for no better reason than that neither has a Plan B.


President Mugabe cannot secure funds for recovery without the MDC. And the MDC has nowhere to go except into government.

When it does eventually coalesce, one of the first functions of a coalition government will be to reconstruct foreign policy so the country is no longer the leper it has become of late.

Zanu PF will of course fight this every step of the way in the delusional belief that it is carrying some sort of revolutionary mantle, but we cannot have international reengagement without a change of attitude. The era of idiotic fist-waving must end and be replaced by something more productive.

In 18th century France foreign policy was described as the “domain of the king”. In other words attempts by ministers to wrest control from monarchs met with little success.

We face the same problem. Foreign policy is crafted in the Office of the President. Foreign ministers have for the most part been nothing more than ciphers. But with a change in the architecture of power it’s time to get real. Zimbabwe needs the world and that means an end to the pretense that it can manage on its own.

What we need most of course is balance-of-payments support to solve our forex shortages. The IMF will not open that door until it is satisfied that macro-economic distortions are being addressed. That means investors will sit on their hands.

As it stands, no serious effort is being made to tame inflation or limit spending. Printing money is doing the opposite of what is needed.

The United States and European Union agree with the opposition that President Mugabe only wants a coalition to aid his own political recovery after the monumental defeat in March. Once back in the driving seat he will then pursue populist policies such as nationalisation in the mining and manufacturing sectors that are guaranteed to sink the economy further.

Those in his immediate circle care not whether he is doing the right thing. They are enjoying the crumbs of patronage that fall from his table.

Farms continue to be arbitrarily seized, critics prosecuted, and the public media abused. This remains a regime profoundly hostile to change.

Countries such as Cuba and China that regularly lock up critics are happy to endorse Mugabe’s misrule. But Sadc significantly is no longer so keen to look the other way. Our state media has been openly complaining about the lack of support member states are giving Zimbabwe, in particular their silence on sanctions. And South Africa is no longer quite the firm ally it was under its previous ruler.
This points to a growing consensus that the next government needs to address. If the post of foreign minister is given to somebody of the calibre of more recent incumbents, who excel only in denouncing those who are feeding us, there will be no recovery to speak of.
That reality is evident to everybody except the current crew. If donors and investors are to return, there must be a new policy of accommodation. That in turn must be built on domestic reform. There is absolutely no point having a unity-government if the president and Zanu PF are intent upon clinging to the empty mantras of the past. Zimbabwe has no significant cards left to play. Appalling exhibitions such as that in Sharm-el-Sheik will only compound our isolation.
The MDC has said nothing in this regard since September 15. This is understandable as they await a political settlement. But that shouldn’t stop them telling the nation and the world that Zimbabwe will not forever remain the outcast it is today.

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