President Ahmadinejad of Iran greets President Mugabe of Zimbabwe in Teheran. The two nations have signed new trade agreements involving oil and other projects.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File
By Jacob Mujokoro
PRESIDENT Mugabe was recently at the Eighth Session of the Langkawi International Dialogue in Malaysia that was being held under the theme "Poverty Eradication through Human Capital Development and Capacity Building".
The dialogue once more reinforced the importance of South to South co-operation as the only way for Africa and the developing world to extricate themselves from perpetual poverty and underdevelopment.
Malaysia, a beacon of development and a model for Third World nations on how smart partnerships and co-operation with other progressive nations can lead to economic success, came up with the idea of dialogue and smart partnerships in 1995 under the leadership of then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Malaysia is Southeast Asia’s third largest economy. It is largely hailed for transforming itself from a rubber-producing backwater into an industrialised economy, making it the ideal model for, arguably, the richest continent on planet earth, yet also the poorest.
It is imperative to put the Langkawi dialogues in the context of the stalling and resuming of the Doha Round of negotiations of the World Trade Organisation.
The WTO is part of the Bretton Woods triumvirate, with its two siblings, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, being the most popular.
The WTO, formerly the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), is the most wicked of the trio when it comes to the development agenda for developing world countries, more so for the agro-based economies of sub-Saharan Africa.
On the occasion of the first official visit by new British Premier Gordon Brown to the United States of America recently, US President George W. Bush indicated that it was crucial for them to be successful in the Doha Round of trade talks, underlining the importance of the trade talks in efforts by the West to continue emasculating developing world economies.
What does success for Bush and Brown entail?
The developed world countries and agenda setters on the trade talks overtly and covertly seek to maintain high trade barriers against the developing countries’ most competitive exports.
The Group of Eight, which comprises the world’s eight most developed countries, is calling for the reduction of barriers to accessing markets in developing nations.
This is contrary to the spirit of fair trade as it opens the developing world to unfair competition from products from the West that offers export subsidies to its producers and industries.
This alone calls for greater co-operation of countries in the developing world particularly those in Africa and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (commonly known by the acronym ASEAN) bloc.
The Langkawi Dialogue becomes an important vehicle for the advancement of the developing world agenda.
The dialogue seeks, among other things, to promote political solidarity, peace and stability as well as prevent conflicts in the developing world. This is one area that has stalled development programmes for most countries in Africa. Unfortunately, these conflicts are rooted in colonialism and neo-colonialism.
Given the developing world’s history, Africa, Asia and Latin America require a profound economic co-operation agenda, under which steps would be taken to reduce poverty and promote greater flows of trade and investment among the developing countries. This will also improve the socio-cultural relations and contacts that promote dialogue that is integral for the total emancipation of the developing world.
Yash Tandon, director of the South Centre, a think tank for South to South co-operation in Geneva, says: "Whatever the outcome, the poor countries have more to lose than to gain from the Doha Round of the WTO. The protracted freezing of the negotiations would, therefore, be the best course for them.
"That would allow them the time and policy space needed to disconnect partly from the world trading system, and to develop regional integration strategies, which are the only means of responding to their true needs."
Tandon contends that the developed world is only interested in the advantages it can extract from the WTO system. The concerns of poor countries are systematically sidelined on the pretext that the talks are meant for the good of the world.
Another fact, and more important, is that the developed countries benefit greatly from the structural inequalities and the dependency of the developing world.
Resource wise, especially mineral wealth and oil, the developing world accounts for most of these minerals with Africa alone accounting for more than 35 percent.
For the West, the developing world must, therefore, remain a source of cheap labour and raw materials as well as a market for their mass-produced goods. Co-operation between developing world countries at regional and international levels, thus, becomes the only way poverty eradication can become a reality.
Economic and political partnership vehicles like Sadc, Comesa, Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the African Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP) bloc, among others, become the crucial focal points for development.
Zimbabwe and the developing world would do well to concentrate their development agenda on such forums as the Langkawi Dialogues and our own initiative in the region, the Southern Africa International Dialogue (SAID), among others.
Regional and intra-regional co-operation can help the developing world gain strength and bargaining power through mutual co-operation at different levels.
The present world arrangement on trade and co-operation seriously handicaps the developing world, leaving it poorer.
It, thus, becomes crucial that countries of the South act in solidarity when engaging in North-South negotiations. Such mutual understanding and co-operation can be fostered in partnerships like the Langkawi Dialogues.
By exchanging development notes, especially with the Asian Tigers that have managed, against all odds, to improve the livelihoods of their people, Zimbabwe and Africa will learn invaluable lessons in "total development".
The time is now ripe for developing countries to come together in mutual co-operation, with mutually beneficial trade partnerships.
Time has come for developing countries to pull themselves out of the dependency that has characterised the North-South relationship.
Regime change ship running aground
By Caesar Zvayi
IT is said a desperate man is a really dangerous customer, particularly if his despondency stems from failure to fulfil contractual obligations entered into with a hard taskmaster.
Taskmasters do not come any rugged than rightwing Western governments eager to depose individuals, or governments they accuse of posing ‘‘extraordinary and unusual threats’’ to their interests, particularly after committing copious resources to that end.
Zimbabwe plays host to one such desperate individual, one Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, who is apparently running out of time as the just-ended 27th Summit of Sadc Heads of State and Government showed last week.
Despite being party to the ongoing Sadc initiative at dialogue spearheaded by South African President Thabo Mbeki, who was to report the opposition’s concerns to Sadc, Tsvangirai still despatched a ‘‘high-powered’’ delegation to Lusaka in an attempt to lobby Sadc leaders who were supposed to be briefed by President Mbeki.
How parsimonious can one get?
Not surprisingly, the rival Mutambara camp saw the stupidity of Tsvangirai’s actions and slammed him for his naivety, describing his actions as undiplomatic and contemptuous of African processes.
That statement summed up the whole thrust of Tsvangirai’s politics, which is rooted in the mistaken notion that everything Western is superior and everything African is inferior.
This explains why Tsvangirai sees the ‘‘relevance’’ of the European Union and American Independence Days and not his own country’s Independence Day.
This is why he will go with anything the West says about Zimbabwe, and not what Sadc, Africa or the rest of the developing world say.
A case in point being the illegal Western sanctions that have been condemned by the United Nations, Comesa, Sadc and the Non-Aligned Movement, but which Tsvangirai refuses to denounce simply because London and Washington have not yet done so.
Tsvangirai’s desperation that took him to the AU General Assembly meeting in Accra, Ghana, in July and recently Lusaka, Zambia, stems from the fact that Election 2008 places him between a rock and a hard place because unless he wins, then he faces his Waterloo.
Next year’s election gives Tsvangirai his last dance and chance to contest for high office on an MDC faction ticket as he is serving his second and final term as faction president.
Article 6, subsection 6.1.3 of the constitution of the original MDC stipulated: ‘‘The president shall serve for a maximum of two terms.’’
Tsvangirai was elected MDC president at the party’s inaugural congress at the Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex in late January 2000, and his first term expired in January 2005 ahead of the MDC split in October the same year.
He was re-elected for a second and final term at his faction’s congress at the City Sports Centre on March 19 last year and though that congress made several amendments to the original constitution, it still retained the two-term limit.
What this means is Tsvangirai is in his last five-year tenure as party president, and if he loses out next year, the next elections will be in 2013, two years after his term expires in 2011.
This scenario accounts for the desperation that led Tsvangirai to the ill-advised March 11 adventures in Highfield and the orgies of barbarism that followed even though it was evident that, after the flopped "final push" of June 2003, he did not have the capacity to mobilise for a colour revolution.
This also explains Tsvangirai’s opposition to the price freeze and, by extension, his blessing for the extortionate pricing madness that had reduced almost all consumers to virtual paupers.
This, he hoped, would drive Zimbabwe towards his backers’ long-desired but hitherto elusive tipping point.
What has baffled many, however, is why a man who faces his Waterloo would diminish his chances at the polls by refusing to unite with the rival faction, and in the process ditching the proposed one opposition candidate principle?
A man in Tsvangirai’s position, facing the unenviable task of trying to beat Zanu-PF on a divided vote, would surely have been a stickler for the single candidate proposal.
Not that the unity of the factions would have made much difference since the united MDC was soundly beaten in three separate national elections, a number of by-elections, and local government polls by Zanu-PF.
It seems, Tsvangirai believes, and rightly so, that whether Mutambara, Chawaona Kanoti, Egypt Dzinemunenzva or Isabel Madangure throw their hats into the ring, they will not seriously dent his share of the vote.
Some, however, believe it is fear of failure, and an apparent need for an excuse to atone for the failure that saw Tsvangirai sabotage the MDC unity project. What better excuse to atone for certain failure than the prospect of a divided vote?
It, however, remains to be seen whether Tsvangirai will step down as party president or whether he will go into his dictatorial mode, the one that saw him disregard his party’s constitution leading to the split of October 12 2005 as he dubbed himself ‘‘the Godfather of the MDC’’.
This time around, Tsvangirai may not get away with it as there is a strong anti-Tsvangirai lobby in the opposition that feels, after three straight defeats, the man has outlived his usefulness and should make way for a competent leader who can chart a different path for the party. Already Tapiwa Mashakada and Tendai Biti’s names are reportedly being bandied around as possible successors.
This lobby believes it was Tsvangirai’s history as a trade unionist that rallied people around the MDC, but his leadership deficiencies have failed to take the party forward but have, instead, irretrievably broken it down. This, they say, makes Tsvangirai an albatross around the opposition neck, which is why discerning supporters are slowly moving away.
There is evidence galore to support this lobby as the MDC’s share of the vote has been going down steadily since the gains the party made in Election 2000.
From the 57 seats the party won in 2000, which translated to 47 percent of the total ballots cast, in 2005 the MDC only managed 41 seats, 39,5 percent of the votes cast.
Zanu-PF, on the other hand, rose from 62 seats in 2000, 48,6 percent of the votes cast, to 78 seats in 2005, 59,59 percent of the ballot.
In the 2002 presidential poll, Tsvangirai’s share of the vote was 42 percent to President Mugabe’s 56,2 percent. So beginning 2000, the MDC share of the vote has declined as follows: 47 percent in 2000, 42 percent in 2002 and 39,5 percent in 2005. During the same period, Zanu-PF’s share rose from 48,6 percent in 2000, 56,2 percent in 2002, to 59,59 percent in 2005.
The picture gets glimmer if the Senate elections are factored in as a divided MDC managed a paltry 20,26 percent of the vote to Zanu-PF’s 73,71 percent.
This trend is unlikely to change as a divided MDC goes into a crucial harmonised election against a unified Zanu-PF that continues to outflank the opposition at every turn.
Then there are also those who believe Tsvangirai can no longer be packaged as a national leader following his disastrous actions prior to and after October 12 2005 that exposed him as an enemy of everything he claimed to stand for.
His colleagues in the Mutambara faction have given detailed exposes on Tsvangirai’s character and leadership capabilities that indicate the only leadership he should be trusted with should be at household level.
A few quotations will suffice here.
Gibson Sibanda, Tsvangirai’s long-time ally in the ZCTU and the party’s founding deputy president, said if Tsvangirai ever became president of Zimbabwe, he would be a serious dictator.
Job Sikhala, a founding member of the MDC and its first secretary of defence and security, concurred, saying Tsvangirai has the potential to decapitate opponents and stuff their heads into refrigerators.
Welshman Ncube, then secretary general, had this to say: ‘‘If you are a president of an opposition party who sets up a militia now, I shudder to think what would happen if you get into power when the police, the army, the Central Intelligence Organisation officers are all under your control.’’
But it is not only Tsvangirai who faces his Waterloo. George W. Bush, one of Tsvangirai’s benefactors, is on his way out as he winds up his last year in office in November next year.
Tony Blair, Christopher Dell and many other friends of the MDC are already out.
With the support Zimbabwe continues getting from the AU, Comesa, Sadc and other parts of the developing world, the regime change ship is running aground and its crew is growing desperate, very desperate indeed.
In such a situation, the Government needs to be careful, and vigilant.
What is this we hear about some Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom enlisting with the British army, in droves, ostensibly to serve in Iraq?
Was it a coincidence that disgraced Roman Catholic Archbishop for Bulawayo Diocese, one Pius Ncube, called for a British invasion of Zimbabwe, a refrain that has been repeated by several rightwing pundits?
As they say, the last kicks of a dying horse can be fatal; this is why it has to be watched with an eagle eye.
Indeed, there are just men in Zanu-PF
EDITOR — I am surprised that Trudy Stevenson, in her article "How many just men?" (The Zimbabwe Independent, August 10 to August 16 2007) wonders whether there are just men in Zanu-PF.
There, indeed, are just men in Zanu-PF and one undisputed one is President Mugabe.
Zimbabweans have agreed in all past elections, Africa agrees whenever they meet him and the world salutes him whenever he opens his mouth to speak for the exploited masses of the world.
I have always said it to people that the two MDCs are just like a mixture of oil and water.
The Tsvangirai faction is the "used oil" part of the mixture and Mutambara must never have joined that British surrogate.
Tsvangirai is just lame upstairs and is a social misfit the gods foisted on our beloved country.
He dances to his master’s tune whenever he is assigned to fight his own people.
I wish my fellow Zimbabweans could see this:
-MDC refused to embrace the land reform programme;
-MDC criticises everything that comes from Zimbabweans;
-MDC hates to associate with the liberation struggle; and
-MDC is against price stabilisation efforts by the Government.
The reasons are:
-MDC was created by die-hard former Rhodesian landlords to protect the land they stole from our ancestors;
-The MDC is not a Zimbabwean baby but a foreign front for the British, and is fighting for their kith and kin; and
Its faction leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, fled a liberation war training camp and I wonder which country he wants to lead.
-It is the MDC and the likes of Christopher Dell who mooted the idea of irrational price hikes in the hope of instigating an uprising.
Now they have lost the game because we will never sleep on the wheel again.
We are vigilant and such stupid plans are not enough strategies to outwit us.
In any of the schemes against Zimbabwe, MDC is always a willing accomplice, especially those in the Tsvangirai faction.
Any right-thinking Zimbabwean must not be part of this two-headed dragon called MDC, unless, of course, one is a traitor.
Let’s look at our President, Cde Mugabe, as the people’s messenger and whatever he is accused of has always been our wish.
Mutambara benefited from free education through the good policies of Zanu-PF yet he now fights the same system that saw him rise from Mutambara Village to where he is now — like some of his allies in the business community who now sabotage the Government after they got what they boast of because Zanu-PF gave them freedom, peace, opportunities and
privileges they would never have dreamt of.
To Trudy Stevenson, I say ask your kith and kin to pay back what they stole from Africa.
Any discussion that does not bring our riches from Britain and other imperial countries is child’s play.
Unless whites in Zimbabwe and abroad come open and apologise for the crimes they committed against Africans, our generations will never forgive them.
Those who share your sentiments are worsening the situation by setting brother upon brother so that you hide your well-documented crimes.
Where is our great King Lobengula?
Where is Mbuya Nehanda?
Where is Herbert Chitepo?
What did Smith do at Nyadzonia and Chimoio?
If you are blind to all this, please shut up, little lady!