Friday, February 13, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: Time to Build Our Way; Stage Set For Economic Revival

Opinion & Analysis

Time to build Zim the Zim way

By Reason Wafawarova

TO the African community at large and to Zimbabweans in particular, the swearing in of Prime Minister Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and the realisation of an inclusive Government is seen as a phenomenal achievement reflecting positively on the ability of African institutions to resolve problems and challenges facing the continent.

In the West, we have had the United States and the United Kingdom openly declaring skepticism with the whole negotiated settlement between Zimbabwe’s three major political parties.

In fact, the West has generally reacted to the idea of the inclusive Government in a manner reminiscent to the way the 2006 Hamas election victory in Palestine was treated as ominous by Washington and the rest of the West.

The West welcomed a similar power-sharing settlement in Kenya in early 2008, but they have just fallen short of condemning the Zimbabwean settlement, preferring instead to carry out a simultaneous counter effort of expanding the illegal sanctions just as the swearing-in ceremony was approaching.

Unanimous calls for the lifting of these sanctions by the AU, Sadc and individual African countries have been met by a lukewarm response to the effect that the West would only consider lifting the sanctions if "Morgan Tsvangirai is given genuine power" or "if the (new) Government shows a commitment to genuine reforms".

It is fair to describe the Zimbabwean situation as a pathetic crisis, citing hyperinflation, cholera, school closures and emigration.

But it is equally crucial to consider the role of the ruinous sanctions in the developments that led to this crisis.

In the same vein, it is only fair for people in the West to be told in a fair reporting manner that the Zimbabwe March 2008 election was inconclusive, unlike the Kenyan one where a winner was announced, and the loser went on a rampage until he was silenced by the anaesthesia of the power sharing negotiating table.

Former White House official Jendayi Frazer visited Kenya and helped facilitate an Odinga appeasement ritual that created a Prime Minister’s office in a matter of days and when this arrangement was implemented there was no skepticism ever registered in the West.

Neither was Kenya given political benchmarks to fulfil before the West could engage Kenya on a fair basis.

As Frazer later reiterated on an end of term tour to South Africa in January this year, the difference between the Kenyan inclusive government and that of Zimbabwe was that "Mugabe is not Kibaki and Tsvangirai is not Odinga".

She could as well have added that South Africa is not the United States and Thabo Mbeki is not Koffi Annan, or that Sadc and AU are not the EU or the Pentagon.

Of course, (Cde) Mugabe is not Kibaki because the Kenyan colonial settler farmers are still sitting on the prime Kikuyu lands they occupied more than a century ago, while the generality of the Kenyan masses are still packed in unproductive pockets of land to which they were forcible relocated when colonialism took root in Africa.

And Morgan Tsvangirai is not Odinga because he is not joining an inclusive government of a Kibaki and that makes the whole African project skeptical at best and unacceptable at the worst.

The standard in the West is a collective grand strategy of the imperial interest, itself driven by the crude resolve for global hegemony.

This interest is what is permanent and all other truisms that are vociferously preached as a pretext for Western meddling can be dropped from time to time if they do not serve in promoting the Western interest.

When Yasser Arafat was in power in Palestine, Washington’s consistent position was that elections were to be on hold, much against their publicly avowed position of exporting democracy to the uncivilised parts of this planet.

In Palestine, the general belief was that Arafat would be guaranteed of victory anyway. However, the Bush administration resisted national elections for Palestine because they thought the election would "make Yasser Arafat look better and would give him a fresher mandate, and might help give credibility and authority to Hamas", according to Steven Erlanger’s New York Times article.

In this scenario, both Arafat’s Fatah and the militant Hamas were bad options for Washington and by the logic of Washington’s elites, an election was irrelevant under these circumstances.

Erlanger had earlier on written, "The post-Arafat era will be the latest test of a quintessential American article of faith: that elections provide legitimacy even to the frailest institutions."

This "quintessential article of faith" will always deem elections to be fine, as long as they come out the right way for Washington.

This is the problem that the inclusive Government of Zimbabwe is going to face. On the one hand, it "makes President Robert Mugabe look better and (gives) him a fresher mandate", and on the other hand, it "might help give credibility and authority to the African Union and Sadc".

This negotiated inclusive Government would be fine according to America’s "quintessential article of faith" if only it factored in American and Western influence as was the case with Kenya’s deal.

Another relatively recent counterpart to the Zimbabwean problem is the 2006 Iraq election. The Iraq mass non-violent resistance compelled Washington and London to permit an election they had sought to block by a series of clandestine schemes.

The subsequent effort to subvert the unwanted elections by providing substantial advantages to the Bush administration’s favourite candidate and expelling independent media did not work either, as the lesser of the two quislings won the election.

In January 2006, the US resorted to the same modes of subversion in Palestine when the US Agency for International Development became an invisible conduit in an effort to increase the popularity of the Palestinian Authority on the eve of crucial elections in which the then governing party faced a serious challenge from Hamas.

USAID spent 1,9 million of its yearly $400 million on this project but Hamas still won the election nevertheless.

The US consulate in East Jerusalem defended the move by saying the money was "to enhance democratic institutions and support democratic actors, not just Fatah".

"In the US, or in any Western country, even the slightest hint of such foreign interference would destroy a candidate, but deeply rooted imperial mentality legitimates such routine measures of subversion of elections elsewhere."

These words were from Noam Chomsky, in response to the meddling of USAID in Palestine.

The United States and Israel were arrogantly consistent in their rejectionist stand that there could be no "additional Palestinian state" outside Jordan, until a few years ago when they agreed to a "statelet" made up of fragments that may remain after Israeli takeover of whatever it wants in Palestine.

Hamas are expected to agree to this and to gracefully call the fragments "a state" and the international consensus on the pre-1967 borders is to be totally forgotten.

This grand imperial arrogance is what faces Zimbabwe today.

If the Iraqis and the Palestinians were not guided by Washington’s benchmarks and wishes, there is nothing that can stop Zimbabweans from making the inclusive government work despite the skepticism and ill wishes from the West.

What is needed here is not a windfall of Western aid but a national resolve to declare the wants and wishes of Zimbabwean people.

With that national resolve, any attempt at subverting this historic achievement by the Zimbabwean people would always resoundingly fail.

The opprobrious media attacks against the person of President Mugabe in some sections of the Western media are one way that has been used to subvert this national achievement of an inclusive government that actually represents almost every voter that took part in the March 2008 elections.

It is incumbent upon Zimbabweans to realise that any further continuance of polarity is counterproductive and without the facilitation of our own people, outside forces would never ever have leeway to portray our own institutions and offices as primitive.

The promises made by Prime Minister Tsvangirai might be ambitious but ambition is what Zimbabwe needs at the moment.

If half his dreams were to come true "by the end of the month" then it is the role of Zimbabweans to urge him on instead of asking harshly where the other half is.

It is not going to be about Mr Tsvangirai’s ambitions or utterances but about a collective sense of belonging to the national project that has brought our political leaders in the context of one inclusive government that has neither a ruling party nor an opposition.

Zimbabweans we are one and together we will overcome. Homeland or death!

--Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on or reason@rwafawarova. com or

Opinion & Analysis

Stage for economic revival set

THE reality of an inclusive Government, dawning on Zimbabwe this week, should mark a major milestone in fostering conditions conducive for a rebound of the country’s economy.

What remains now is positive sentiment and supply response from the private and public sectors, and the multinational investors to acknowledge that a new chapter has arrived and that there is no turning back.

But while the unfolding events have created high expectations and anxiety, it is important to underline the fact that, indeed, changes in the economy will happen, but not overnight.

There is certainly competition for space at the top of a crowded agenda for the inclusive Government.

With urgent need to ending food shortages and rejuvenate the education and health delivery systems, are issues of retooling industries and capacitating production in the manufacturing sector, one of the key drivers of our economy.

We cannot run away from fact.

Zimbabwe was slapped with sanctions and the International Monetary Fund withdrew balance of payments support.

This was seen as a cue to other multilateral financial institutions to freeze credit lines to Zimbabwe.

And then the global lender suspended Zimbabwe’s voting rights in 2003, barring it from participating in IMF decisions, as the country fell behind on paying its arrears to the Fund.

While the country averted expulsion from the IMF, the Fund has maintained its suspension of financial and technical assistance.

This, together with the illegal sanctions, inevitably resulted in the economic situation deteriorating.

No wonder why over the past decade, the country’s economy has shrunk significantly with the manufacturing sector operating at below 30 percent of capacity.

But now the inclusive Government should offer fresh opportunities.

We urge foreign investors, multilateral agencies and international donors to acknowledge the positive developments taking place in Zimbabwe and help the country stand on its feet once again.

The African Development Bank and the World Bank have already expressed interest in assisting Zimbabwe and have said, in a joint statement, that the broad-based agreement represented a potential opportunity for the country.

Zimbabwe is unique, endowed with some of the best farming land on earth, abundant deposits of assorted minerals, sectoral diversification of the economy and a reasonable level of infrastructural development.

And its notable human capital, unparalleled in the region, if not the African continent, provides the most solid platform for reviving the economy.

With the political question settling after Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations freely joined the inclusive Government, the environment should be conducive for the economy to flourish.

We, therefore, expect the positive sentiment to feed into the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange all-share index. Trading on the bourse should now resume after two months in limbo.

And it is imperative for the inclusive Government to map an aggressive economic development strategy that should pave the way for resurgence, and allow Zimbabwe to realise its economic potential.

Opinion & Analysis

Progressiveness not tied to colour

EDITOR — The existence of writers and intellectuals like Stephen Gowans from Canada is ample proof that being a progressive human being has got nothing to do with one’s skin colour.

Right-wing whites use racism as a potent tool to control their ignorant white masses so that wealth remains in the hands of a few.

Confused so-called "progressive’ wannabe opinion makers like Horace Campbell are more dangerous because they do it purely to protect their comfortable lifestyle, moving from country to country where they are directed to go and do their secret agent bosses’ bidding.

Anyone who has followed Campbell’s life and intellectual flip-flopping knows very well that he is a perfect candidate for an American intelligence mole.

He started off posing as a left-winger to ingratiate himself to Zimbabwe’s socialist leadership.

When that leadership abandoned its kow-towing to Western imperialism, his true colours came out, like those of some so-called Zimbabwean intellectuals.

That is why it is so hard for Campbell to now pose as an opponent of neo-liberalism.

It is a bit like a well-known pimp arguing that he is into prostitution to liberate and empower women. One cannot be on the payroll of Western imperialism to empower the poor of the world, particularly the land occupiers from Chief Svosve’s people.

Phenias Mpofu.


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