IT is always a pity to see a leading businessman parroting Zanu PF’s line about sanctions being responsible for the country’s setbacks. You have to be either very foolish or very naïve to swallow that hokum.
All intelligent people in this country know perfectly well that sanctions were imposed because of electoral manipulation and political violence. Zanu PF thought it could get away with coercing the country in 2000/2. The EU observer team that was sent here to monitor the 2002 poll was booted out having witnessed the then ruling party’s misconduct. And those responsible for political murders in 2000 were never brought to justice.
Then we have captains of industry excusing this appalling record by blaming sanctions for damaging the economy. This enables them to skate over land seizures, fiscal mismanagement, and the debilitating impact of indigenisation laws.
Callistus Jokonya as president of the CZI overlooked glaring policy defects that did much to damage industry. And now his successor Joseph Kanyekanye is doing the same thing. He is happy to go along with the state’s dishonest message that somebody else is responsible for the mess we are in. No senior businessman worth his salt would treat Zimbabweans to this dishonesty. We all know where the rot starts. At the head!
And once the Herald throws its weight behind you, it soon becomes obvious whose views you represent.
For instance, the Herald claimed this week that “Westerners have admitted that the sanctions are constraining the operations of the inclusive government which is why they are looking at ways of toning them down”.
Are they? This might have been true before President Mugabe took it upon himself to arbitrarily cast aside the requirements of Constitutional Amendment No 19 and appoint governors, judges and ambassadors without consulting the prime minister, but it is unlikely now that EU governments will be able to justify to their constituents any further concessions to the GNU. The law continues to be a weapon used to pursue and harass members of the MDC. And the MDC has to beg the police to allow them to exercise their right to hold meetings.
A good illustration of the structural problems the MDC faces was provided recently by Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba. He was reported as telling soldiers under his command that: “From today no one will come in your communities to hold political meetings or rallies without your blessing. Those who defy such orders will be dealt with. Only war veterans and chiefs have the right and the powers to hold rallies and meetings because they fought for this country.”
Nyikayaramba speaking in Mutare at what was called an “indoctrination workshop”, urged chiefs to support Zanu PF.
“No leader without war credentials will rule Zimbabwe and President Mugabe will remain in office for life,” he declared. “I want to make it clear to all chiefs gathered here today that if President Mugabe loses in next year’s elections, they will have a case to answer. Gone are the Rhodesian days when chiefs were apolitical.
“I am not ashamed to declare publicly that I support Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe,” Nyikayaramba was reported as declaring. He called those civil servants who have not publicly declared their allegiance to Zanu PF “traitors”.
This is all very revealing. When we heard in 2002 that Nyikayaramba had been appointed chief elections officer we asked the army if that was in order. They said he was retired so there wasn’t a problem.
Now he is back in uniform — and always has been — declaring his undying loyalty to President Mugabe and heaping vitriol on Morgan Tsvangirai.
There is nothing professional or in any way acceptable about this. Serving army officers should keep out of politics. We don’t want to know what their partisan views might be. Their job is to defend the country, not the candidacy of a particular presidential incumbent. And those civil servants who are performing their duty by avoiding partisan politics deserve congratulation, not abuse. At least they understand their duty clearly.
By the way, we recall chiefs in the Rhodesian era as slavishly loyal to the regime, hardly “apolitical”.
Nyikayaramba’s remarks, as reported last week, deserve a wide audience abroad. The international community needs to know about the role of the army in politics.
And then we had in the wake of Nyikayaramba’s maladroit remarks, Patrick Chinamasa rejecting the allegation that the ZEC is dominated by serving members of the army, police and CIO.
They may not be in the ZEC but they are certainly everywhere else!
Does Zanu PF really expect the EU at their annual meeting on Zimbabwe in February to ignore behaviour of this sort?
And are they also expected to hand out large amounts of money to Zimbabwe when Mugabe calls the EU and US “damn fools”?
Another example of Zanu PF’s delinquent behaviour came from the normally sensible SK Moyo last week.
“What happened in 2008 is unusual and we are not going to let it happen again,” he said in Mutare. “We are a revolutionary party and any other party which thinks it will rule this country is daydreaming. We will not relinquish power to any other party.”
He is of course dead wrong. What happened in March 2008 was part of a pattern which can be traced back to 2000. Zanu PF is a party in terminal decline. The more it struggles to maintain its power by beating the hell out of voters, the more it is perceived as a rogue party that can only succeed where it has the instruments of state power at its disposal.
It lost the battle for hearts and minds years ago.
If we were in any doubt as to Zanu PF’s rapacity, the Zimbabwean reported the recent seizure of Tiennie van Rensburg’s farm by Brian Mushowe, son of governor Chris Mushowe assisted by a CIO officer. Van Rensburg was evicted despite a High Court ruling by Justice George Chiweshe barring interference on the property.
The farm, Rubeni Farm in Nyazura, is one of the few remaining commercial farms in the area. Van Rensburg (73) is battling to get his property off the farm which includes 15 tonnes of maize and farm equipment. His household goods have been looted.
The Zimbabwean reports that armed soldiers led by a Colonel Mashiri from Mutare recently arrived on the farm at midnight and ordered Van Rensburg to vacate within 72 hours.
President Mugabe arrived at the swearing-in of Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete to “thunderous applause” we are told by Sunday Mail correspondent Robert Mukondiwa.
This eclipsed the welcome given to other leaders attending the ceremony.
Tanzanians can afford to be generous in their praise. Successive leaders have abandoned past socialist policies and espoused the market. As a result the country has progressed by leaps and bounds. It is an African success story. Zimbabwe meanwhile has gone downhill fast. Mukondiwa should have explained the contrast instead of blinding us with “thunderous” receptions.
And the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party didn’t really usher in independence when Julius Nyerere “swept to power in 1962”.
Nyerere led his Tanganyika African National Union (Tanu) to independence as prime minister in 1961. He then stepped down and returned to office as president of the Republic of Tanganyika in 1962. Chama Cha Mapinduzi came later.
Let’s hope that President Mugabe took a cue from the inauguration of President Kikwete. In a colourful ceremony Kikwete was sworn in by the Tanzanian chief justice at the Uhuru Stadium in the presence of several heads of state, African Union Chairman Jean Ping, government officials and foreign diplomats not to mention thousands who thronged to watch the event.
With the exception of a few, the majority of the losing presidential contenders also attended the event. In his speech Kikwete pledged to join hands with his opponents to put the country back on “the right track for development”.
Kikwete, a spritely, youthful figure cut a striking contrast to his 86-year-old Zimbabwean counterpart who ultimately ran against himself to reclaim power in 2008.
Mugabe’s own inauguration ceremony, pervaded by a sense of hollowness, can only be described as drab and dreary. Fellow heads of states were conspicuous by their absence and Mugabe could only count on the company of his hangers-on who included his henchmen along with Gabriel Chaibva. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who had withdrawn from the violent election, rightly dismissed the inauguration as “an exercise in self-delusion”.
Whilst Kikwete was swamped by congratulatory messages from across Africa, Mugabe was greeted by a deafening silence from Sadc and the AU.
In the end Mugabe had to seek dialogue with the MDC, not out of goodwill but from a stinging realisation that he had no legitimacy.
Hopefully we won’t have another déjà vu moment next June with Mugabe having again railroaded his will at the expense of the majority.
There seems to be a hullabaloo about the alleged assault on Chief Serima by Tongai Matutu and MDC-T youths in Gutu in September.
The president has promised to do something about it.
What strikes us as interesting in all this is the way in which a party with a record of violence and which has never brought the perpetrators to book should suddenly focus its attention on Matutu.
Then we have on the same page of last Thursday’s Herald an article headed “Govt warns NGOs over aid”.
They have been warned against “using aid to further their political agenda”.
Doesn’t this sound familiar? Didn’t the government say the same thing in 2008, leading to the curtailment of aid?
And what constitutes “using aid”? Could it simply be the act of handing it out?
Meanwhile Rugare Gumbo, addressing journalists after last week’s politburo meeting, said he highlighted the support government was giving to farmers.
“We are concerned that some A2 farmers just do not have the capacity to effectively work without the support of government,” he said.
When did that dawn on him?
One of the army of Zanu PF apologists who prefer to live in the UK rather than Zimbabwe, Sihle Dube a lawyer, was
this week proclaiming that she could never as a lawyer concoct stories about conditions in Zimbabwe in order to support asylum seekers. To lie like that would be to invite censure from the Bar Council, she points out.
But she doesn’t hesitate to tell a much bigger whopper that the regime here has been trying to spread for over two years. That tall story is that the British government moved white pensioners from Zimbabwe because it recognised that the sanctions that it imposed on Zimbabwe had eroded their life savings and that they were living in poverty.
Living in poverty indeed they were. But who apart from Zanu PF’s apologists would suggest those economic conditions were the product of sanctions? They were very obviously the product of President Mugabe’s misrule.
How could a lawyer like Sihle Dube embrace such pernicious lies? Has she ever spoken to any of the old folk — 374 in total — who saw their life savings wiped out? They would be unanimous as to where their misfortune lay.
What was the source of national impoverishment in 2007/8? Wasn’t it runaway inflation spurred by money-printing? It certainly wasn’t “sanctions”.