International Views of Zimbabwe

SOAS logoBy Stephen Chan – Professor of International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London. Yale University Press will release Professor Chan’s Southern Africa: Old Treacheries and New Deceits in 2011. A South African edition will be published by Jonathan Ball.

There is no single view of Zimbabwe internationally. As 2011 begins, the many views fragment or develop internal variations almost as a parallel to the fracturing of the Zimbabwean political landscape. The fissures within ZANU-PF and MDC-Mutambara, the readvent of ZAPU, the lacklustre performance of Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister, and the self-seeking demeanour of elected parliamentarians on all sides, have created an international sense that there is neither predictability nor governmental capacity in the present or near-future Zimbabwe.

Africa has long had its own divided opinions about Zimbabwe and about Robert Mugabe. There is still a surly endorsement among what might be loosely called the ‘African general public’ of Mugabe’s standing up to the West, but this has always been matched by a huge disenchantment with government leadership in all countries. Mugabe may have stood up to the West, but he is as corrupt as any African President and as untrustworthy. Times have marched on in any case. The power-sharing deal brokered by Thabo Mbeki would not have been possible today – and perhaps even yesterday – in West Africa. The somewhat more robust – even if, at time of writing, rhetorical – reaction of ECOWAS to the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, compared to that of SADC to the stolen Zimbabwean election, is the case in point.

But the West has also moved on. In 2010, elections were patently stolen in both Rwanda and Ethiopia. Electoral majorities in the 90% range are just not credible, especially when opposition leaders disappear and are later found dead. But, for the West, stability and the assurance of no immediate wars in Rwanda and Ethiopia, plus the clear sense that the ruling elites are able to deliver discernible developmental benefits, proved stronger emblems of acceptability than democracy. When ruling elites do not and will not commit themselves seriously to the benefit of citizens, democracy becomes in the second decade of the millennium the scourge with which to whip chosen miscreants. It is selective and Zimbabwe is selected for historical reasons but also because ZANU-PF has clearly no interest in fiscal probity, fiscal transparency, developmental equity, financial dissemination or facilities for development except as acts of patronage and, of course, purchasing of votes.

Even so, there are two hugely countervailing forces. The first is the abject performance of the MDC as part of government. The second is that the West is itself in a fiscal crisis. Suddenly, all of Europe needs Zimbabwe as a trading partner, as a business partner, as an investment partner, as a customer and as a purchaser of European goods and services. Europe, as a result, will start doing business with ZANU-PF in 2011. There is much conjecture that the EU will contemplate some form of lifting of sanctions. This will be for the two reasons listed in this paragraph, but also because they have not worked in any way to curtail or reduce the dominating capacity of ZANU-PF. The concomitant is that, if isolation and sanctions have not worked, some form of engagement might. The exact form and parameters of that engagement have not yet been agreed.

But this leaves the UK in a difficult position. It has been the most critical – sometimes histrionically so – of the Mugabe regime. The UK cannot be alone in Europe with sanctions in place. That would give every other European country a clear run at reinvestment and trading opportunities. The UK wants to have a part in those opportunities, so finds itself on the horns of a dilemma. The US will certainly not move towards a new regime of relations with Zimbabwe until the UK moves. For the UK, the diplomatic search goes beyond devising a ‘form of words’ to explain the about-face. The UK seeks a symbolic moment and, at time of writing, Whitehall still has its heart set on a rather grand symbol – and that is the (phased, if need be) retirement of Robert Mugabe, with full dignities, even if a lifting of the ICC indictment cannot at this stage be specified. As with Sudan’s Al Bashir, the indictment can die a quiet death by way of being forgotten. But even this grand symbolic moment is a grand climbdown from a position of obdurate opposition to Mugabe and a wish to ‘bring him to justice’, strip him of his corrupt gains, and end the hegemony of ZANU-PF. Basically, it allows ZANU-PF to remain in the game – under new management to be sure, but unpunished; not deconstructed but reconstructed. The UK would accept, in some ways even welcome, the triumph of the technocratic wing of ZANU-PF. The ‘new’ ZANU-PF would of course have to fight elections honestly – but no one in Europe seriously anticipates anything but some form of coalition for years into the Zimbabwean future.

In a way, this scenario seeks to match an aspirational vision of a compromised Zimbabwe – but a compromise with which ‘all’ can live. Whether events on the ground have far outstripped this vision, with securocrats firmly in control and going nowhere, is an open question. Nevertheless, there has been a modest increase in contacts between British Governmental and other actors and senior ZANU-PF actors. Even some figures named on the sanctions list, and normally thereby off-limits, have been included in what are, at this stage, conversations about conversations. The notion seems to be that ZANU-PF has to put some sort of symbol on the table for the conversations to move on. The UK Minister for Africa has spoken publicly about the desirability of reinvestment in Zimbabwe. This is always couched in language of progress and change occurring, but it is clear to his audiences that the extent of this change has shrunk dramatically. The problem at time of writing, the first part of January, is that nothing is specified and that, of course, when conversations about specifics begin, they will get bogged down.

ZANU-PF – for the MDC makes no serious movements in the international arena; its diplomatic outreach is either cursory or ham-fisted or non-existent – relies upon Europe and, of course, China, to outflank and force the hand of the British and, through them, the Americans. But its own diplomacy is often maladroit in Europe. What is driving the process slowly forward is the need for economic remodelling within Europe itself. This has been a very serious recession. And ZANU-PF relies upon China. Let me now to turn to a word about China.

Like Britain, China has historical reasons for its actions in Zimbabwe. There really was a version of the ‘kith and kin’ mythology in the British response to the farm invasions that began in 2000. The eviction of black farmers would simply not have aroused such a response, either in shrillness or extent. There would have been a strong response – let me make that clear – but different in its quality. The Chinese supported both ZANU and ZANLA in the war of liberation. They feel a genuine kinship which stems from that historical moment, but which has also been overladen three decades on by nostalgia and romance. The Chinese understand that romance is not cost-effective, and that is why – despite significant liquidity flows – there has never been, and never will be, a Chinese alternative to all that the West can provide. The Chinese need the West more than it needs any part or every part of Africa. They are more prepared to rescue the United States, drowning in its toxic debt swamp, than to bail out Zimbabwe. The Chinese have staved off recession only by playing fiscal brinksmanship with the West over currency rates and balance of trade ratios. The Chinese are prepared to do some ‘queering of the pitch’ in Zimbabwe to make it harder for Western reinvestment to dominate the scene as it did before – the new scene will have far greater plurality – but the Chinese will not put themselves out on a financial limb for Zimbabwe.

The reason for this is simple. It didn’t take me long to uncover the figures in Beijing. I was simply surprised that no one in the Zimbabwean Embassy had bothered. Even ZANU-PF diplomats, it turns out, are simply amateurs. The reason is that the Chinese financial intelligence simply rates Zimbabwe as a disaster zone. It is a disaster zone with peripheral opportunities and bridgeheads for future investment, but it is not a zone where serious good money should be thrown into bad situations. In the Chinese balance sheets, there have to be concrete and immediate returns. Not full returns all at once – the Chinese really are extraordinarily patient – but there has to be a properly costed expectation of phased returns that are reliable.

This analysis is of course now changing. But it is changing at the same moment that European outlooks are also changing. So the Chinese will be an important part of the pack, but only one part of the pack.

What the West would like to see is of course an MDC government. It would like this in the full anticipation that it will be an incompetent government which will become corrupt quite quickly. The corruption template is established and not difficult to board. What the West could live with, and what the Chinese could easily adjust to – so no conflict of interests here – is another coalition government, preferably fairly elected and, if not fully fairly elected, cleanly elected, i.e. without violence and naked rigging. Within that coalition, the preference would be for greater MDC power and influence, but ZANU-PF ministers, especially of a technocratic sort, would not be unwelcome. The MDC, after all, still doesn’t have a technocratic front bench. A variation of the coalition theme, one with a ZANU-PF domination, would be plausibly acceptable if it were technocratic, if the securocrats were marginalised, if Mugabe were retired or made ceremonial.

To a very real extent, the personality of Mugabe still looms large over how much progress can be made in terms of the international arena and Zimbabwe. Were he to step down – and a richly-endowed immunities formula is pretty much already on the table for both him and the securocrats – there would be a rush to reinvest that would leave everyone breathless. A bit of naked global capitalism would briefly swagger into what has become an isolated, parochial and financially provincial and peripheral town. But no one fully anticipates he will step down any time very soon, and nature doesn’t seem to be taking its natural course – even if the embassies in Harare all report on every health rumour concerning the President, and how far the President can walk in a straight line, how many steps he can climb up or even down. Mugabe-watching has replaced the old Kremlim-watching for its sense of fascination and mortality. And, after all, they all thought Brezhnev was embalmed even while he was still (just) alive. In a very real way this trivialises what could once again be a serious country. But perhaps, at this moment in history, the international view of Zimbabwe is not misplaced. It is a country which has lost its way – whether for good or bad reasons, or a curious mixture of both – it is a country which has all manner of reinvestment possibilities, but all these are contingent on a number of political as well as financial conditions. The political conditions could be ameliorated with a symbol or two. Perhaps, curiously if not actually tragically, a country’s fate depends on an old man, his vanity, the need of his most oligarchic followers, and an agenda which may not translate well in a new millennium of global toxicity and opportunisms.

Fri, January 21 2011 » Zimbabwe Review

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3 Responses

  1. Campbell Dunlop January 22 2011 @ 6:05 pm

    i would like to add here that it amazes me that you reflect that Tsvangirai is lacklustre in his performance – ths man won the 2008/9 elections – he ws cheated out of formig a governmment that would have turned Zimbabwe around. The MDC was basically forced to accept the unity goverment brokered by Mbeki – and the west along with SADC have stood back and watched Tsvangirai and the MDC battle to get Mugabe to conform to what he signed for. The lack of committment from SADC and the West in promoting democracy has what has seriously impaired the MDC in functioning correctly. Never mind the continuing human rights violations against MDC supporters that has never been checked. It is grossly unfair that anyone can judge the MDC and its leaders at this stage – they have tried to bring peace and stability to the country and have tried to get the GNU to be properly insitituted with absolutley no support from SADC – it is disgusting the way Zuma and Mbeki have let dowwn the Zimbabwean people – one can only hope that these so called powerful men suffer one day as our Zimbabwean people have suffered. There is one solution – and it starts with a new constitution accepted by the people and then an election monitered by the United Nations and the European Union – forget SADC and the AU they are corrupt and useless.

  2. Tony Fleischer January 26 2011 @ 12:44 pm

    I would like to contribute to the debate with a “citizens” suggestion:

    Of Berlusconi, an Italian citizen says “he has the power and the money so he can have the women.” This says a lot about democracy in Europe, not only that politicians can screw the people, but that the system is destroyed by the self-seeking and the corrupt. John Maddison of the Federalist Papers so long ago, before American union, had something to say about the propensity of the self-seeking to benefit too much from power.

    In Africa, democracy – the worst sytem of government except for all the others – is being destroyed by the self-seeking and the corrupt. “Entitlement” is the mood, Mugabe is entitled to mansions, money, praise, power and privilege, even a private army to protect him from the people. So, how does one remove tyrants? By mass protest or by considered planning for the survival of integrity and honest democracy? I say the second.

    Many new democracies suffer from too much government. Government control too much economic activity, their excesses call for too much tax to maintain too much patronage. A tax revolt is needed before a people’s revolt. A state does not create wealth, its people do. Productive, innovative, people of integrity give too much to governments which lack integrity. So, regain your power productive people in democracies, you will rule in the open global market to come. Insists that not more than 30% of economic activity in your democracy depends on government activity. Insist on regular free and fair elections, keep the army away from polling booths at all times, and accept monitored outcomes. For non-Africans, stop aid to governments, but help the people directly towards self-sufficiency. For Africans: adopt honest democracy, join the free world, you will lead it one day. Do not pay your taxes until government is honest.

  3. Solidarity Peace Trust February 21 2011 @ 1:35 pm

    Nathaniel Manheru’s response to this article, published in The Herald.

    Bankrupting Europe’s moral stock – by Nathaniel Manheru
    Published in ‘The Herald’ Friday, 18 February 2011 21:36

    “The . . . West is itself in a fiscal crisis. Suddenly, all Europe needs Zimbabwe as a trading partner, as a business partner, as an investment partner, as a customer and as a purchaser of European goods and services. Europe, as a result, will start doing business with Zanu-PF in 2011.”

    Words of a Zanu-PF clairvoyant? Wrong! Words of Stephen Chan, a professor of international relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London.

    I will let you in a bit. The professor is an establishment person who is occasionally dispatched to Zimbabwe under the guise of research and contacts visits. He is the British establishment’s damage assessment officer.

    How have the sanctions fared? How well is the economy coping? How has the MDC, itself Britain’s political proxy, fared? How is Zanu-PF hurting itself from within? What is the game in town and what opportunities does it offer?
    And of course assessing the level of cohesion in the “international” front against Zimbabwe. Such and more such questions are what preoccupy the good professor on his countless trips to Zimbabwe.

    Benign indifference

    The authorities here know the man very well, watch him closely even. They even allow him, nay, encourage him to make contacts here, including with and in Zanu-PF itself. The same way John Simpson is tolerated when he “visits” the country – again surreptitiously – thinking his success owes to his impeccable credentials as an undercover “fireman”.

    Of course all this goes to show paradoxical moments in the life of interstate conflict: often hostile visits are allowed – suffered – so your enemy realises the futility of his endeavours. It’s not war, war, war all the time. That is the name of the high game.

    Rules of the game

    Chan’s piece does not hide that it issues from freshest contacts with the British establishment, arguably less to arrogate weight to Chan’s opinion, but more to seduce Zimbabwe’s executive reader, hopefully for some behavioural change in the Zimbabwean State.

    And states do behave through policies and official attitudes, which is why political coquetry is perfectly permissible as they shadow box, as they swap cues, whether to lead, to coax, to cajole or to mislead, outfox or weigh down.

    It is a world of deceptive moves, complex cues, moves and countermoves. And in all this, readability and predictability are fatal.

    Therein lies the value of Chan’s effort. With what success, I certainly cannot say.

    Cooperators or competitors?

    He goes much further in his analysis and its worth calling him back. Noting Europe and Britain’s parlous economic state in the wake of the meltdown in the Western world, the professor expresses Britain’s worst nightmare: “The UK cannot be left alone in Europe with sanctions in place. That would give every other European country a clear run at reinvestment and trading opportunities. The UK wants to have a part in those opportunities, so finds itself on the horns of a dilemma.”

    He exposes the cutthroat competition beneath the pretentious dome of European unity. Self-interest soon rends that apart once the costs begin to mount, something well known to the Zimbabwean authorities. Hence this grand playing for time, this stretching which seems to be yielding its first rich dividend.

    On the issue of sanctions against Zimbabwe, Britain today leads a coalition of the reluctant, of the soon to be unwilling. That means the 10 years of suffering have not been in vain, after all!

    No cheers from Zimbabwe

    Writing towards the end of January, Chan speculated on some concessions on the sanctions front which he says Europe is set to make, come the February review. We now know what Europe has decided and so can now assess Chan’s speculation for accuracy.

    The inclination is to dismiss him as off-tangent, as wrong, more so given the meaninglessness of the concessions made. He may very well be, depending on what one expected.

    To chafe over the quality of the concessions is to imply Zimbabwe was looking for concessions. From where I write, that does not seem so. No one is about to be grateful; no one will ever be grateful even for more. Not even for the removal of that whole odious package, and let no one – living or dead, in or out of Europe – expect a Zimbabwean round of applause should that ever happen.

    These are illegal sanctions, hurtful sanctions born out of profound spite brewed in Christendom, served from and by the civilised world to a supposedly benighted nation, a benighted people who happen to be so right, so principled.

    It is a terror attack, a savage war waged by a supposedly civilised race against “little black brutes, little black savages” who have simply asked for their little lair, little corner, their little cave, little habitat. Causa belli?

    Tsvangirai’s abject performance

    Let us not dismiss the professor. Surely he cannot be inaccurate on how Britain views Tsvangirai and his MDC-T?

    According to Chan Europe and Britain are disappointed by Tsvangirai and his MDC’s lackluster performance in seeing through the regime change programme of action.

    Tsvangirai and MDC performance have been “abject”, according to Chan. They think or expected him to have had the means. Or did he strut about as having those means? They goaded him to deliver on the impossible, before, now and ever. He knows that.

    But what Chan tells us means Europe and specifically Britain, have joined the list of the disappointed ones, a list led by US, if Wikileaks is anything to go by.

    Self-seeking demeanour

    Equally, Chan cannot be inaccurate about Europe and Britain’s assessment of how sanctions have fared in removing, or at the very least degrading Mugabe and his Zanu-PF. According to him, both the sanctions and the MDC have not worked “in any way to curtail or reduce the dominating capacity of Zanu- PF.”

    Much worse, the continent and the small great island see a tremendous collective moral slide as both Zanu-PF and MDC parliamentarians slough off party differences, blur antagonistic party boundaries, in favour of “self-seeking demeanour”.

    That phrase is Chan’s rather opaque way of describing corruption. He is a professor, remember! But it is a charge that allows Chan to attach high moral purpose to the whole sanctions project. It is as if sanctions were some kind of anodyne against venality, as if they were meant to isolate Zanu-PF’s already corrupted gene, to yield a flawless DNA for the desired MDC government!

    It is also a charge that excuses Chan and the sanctions lobby from the discomfort of admitting that the inclusive politics have and can yield new perceptions, new alliances across the political divide, against imperialism.
    Instead of admitting to such an unhappy outturn, you then hide behind the notion of “inclusive looting”, to use Biti’s favourite derivative phrase.

    More changes, more U-turns

    Chan registers Europe and British defeat on Zimbabwe: “The concomitant is that, if isolation and sanctions have not worked, some form of engagement might.”

    Chan registers more changes on the European and British policy template. Both have decided to let go of the moral romanticism of Blair’s New Labour, to take a more pragmatic posture.

    Thanks to Europe’s meltdown – initially economic, now moral too – both Europe and Britain now expect a “compromised” (pun?) Government to emerge, and to take charge in Harare. That Government which they now expect and even desire, may very well be both “incompetent” and “will become corrupt quite quickly”.

    Their only wish is a veneer of democratic rituals around its birth: “preferably (a Government) fairly elected and, if not fully fairly elected, cleanly elected, ie without violence and naked rigging.”

    Stability and the absence of war, argues Chan, have become “stronger emblems of acceptability than democracy”. Chan is telling us it is no longer movement for democratic change (MDC) which Europe and Britain are looking for in Zimbabwe; rather, it is movement for stable change (MSC).

    Reconstructing, not deconstructing

    Chan records another even bigger concession. Europe, Britain no longer seek that Zanu-PF be “deconstructed”; rather, its wish is that Zanu-PF be “reconstructed”! Something like New Zanu-PF?

    In all this, Europe’s ogre, Chan confides, is China. Who doubts him? Is his name not Chinese, never mind who he serves?

    It is a fear the ogre itself sought to deepen simply by presenting itself on the doorstep of Munhumu-tapa, barely a week before the sanctions review. The Chinese Foreign Minister was here on the eve of Europe’s decision on sanctions, was he not?

    Who in Europe would be so blind not to see such a well rounded threat?

    Richer Mugabe, more stubborn Mugabe

    Europe’s Achilles heel, Chan adds, is her weakening solidarity on anti-Zimbabwe sanctions, on the changing attitude of some of its states to the by-now-diamond-rich Zimbabwe.

    Decadal time has not just revealed Zimbabwe’s stubborn resilience; it has also kicked to the surface her hidden treasures, her subsoil or subterranean assets. That makes her a difficult customer, does it not?
    Indeed reinforces that irritating streak of stubbornness she already had, making her quite truculent.

    If a poor Mugabe was such a hard nut to crack, quipped a British Minister apparently without realising Manheru was within earshot, a diamond-rich Mugabe is sure to be much worse. He now is.

    The novice witch who attracts a bark

    There is much to show that Europe has already lost her cohesion, a lot to show that the pull of bilateralism has set in, wreaking havoc in all that Britain has laboured to build in the Union.

    And those in Europe serving and obeying this self-interested bilateral pull, care much less about daybreak. They now come on clear sunny days to seek deals, to cut deals, much like an ill-trained witch whose reckless tread arouses sleeping dogs, invites raucous dog barks.

    As the Shona saying goes, it is only a poor, ill-apprenticed witch upon whose hyena-mounted nakedness gentle dawn gains. Real witches know when dawn is breaking, know when to dismiss their hyenas, when to steal and slide back and beside their drowsy husbands. Greater Europe no longer cares; it wants business. Chan is thus dead right.

    Indulgent Germany?

    The Herald has already reported that the Germans appear not only to have broken ranks with the British, they have not hesitated to say so in public and to Zimbabwe. That is probably overly optimistic, even condescending on the part of the Germans.

    Chan gave a hint at vicious competition within the so-called Union. That is probably the more helpful way of reading German actions here. Faced with a challenge from Britain by way of a London Stock Exchange (LSE) road-show, Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, fully knows how to read threats to its dominance.

    Besides, a few days later, was it not the Herald which again told us a Commerzbank delegation is in the country, dangling 500 million Euros by way of an infrastructural loan? All to be accessed over TWELVE years!

    And there is lots of fanfare over such cheap, condescending tantalising from a country which has already cost us billions by way of sanctions, a country which is putting a flatulent miasma on the table, all in a bid to block the Chinese?

    Could the presence of this delegation with nothing to offer basically be what prompted this belated German candour on sanctions, a candid comment which the German ambassador now says he never made? Could this high-sounding charade reflect what Germany measures to be the depth of our intellect here – or the obverse – of our gullibility and desperation?
    Is not the 50million RMBs we got from the Chinese a better headline, a better talking point, a better ceremony than this very highly flatulent and stinking German pie?

    Whatever attitude the Germans are exhibiting, they remember that until sanctions came, they were Zimbabwe’s second largest trading partner, after South Africa. They are not about to lose that pole position to the British, let alone to the Chinese. Hence this empty symbolism which the media has completely misread.

    France under brittle helmsman

    But all this merely underlines Europe’s desperation to singly re-engage Zimbabwe. This does not dismiss Chan’s main point.

    The French appear to be inching back to days of Mitterand, only led by a less suave man at the helm. His name is Sarkozy.

    The good thing about brittle characters is that just as they are brazen to go, they are also brazen to retreat from a collective position.

    The Belgians too are angry that Europe and America’s fastidiousness, all in the name of the KPCS, is eroding Antwerp, shifting world diamond power to Surat. Very soon global power will shift to Indian nabobs, something anathema.

    I will not talk about other Southern European states. Or some Nordic countries who all along have been very shrill against Zimbabwe, but are now telling Britain something else, and not in hushed tones too, as befits a brawl between two white nkosis, all in the presence of natives.

    Guilty, not guilty again!

    Another pointer to the correctness of Chan’s basic thrust that Europe today pursues a sanctions policy it no longer believes in, comes by way of the 30-plus names it has now removed from the sanctions list. What great moral lesson comes from that mighty European act? I read in some anti-Zanu-PF website a bitter complaint that EU left the journalists to interpret and draw lessons from this stupendous act by themselves. The same point through the Zimbabwe Independent, itself an unconditional admirer of America, Britain and sanctions. But for it, this was just too much! No European wanted and wants to be drawn on the matter. Who would? The burden these diplomats carry for England!

    Just plain stupid

    Expectedly and, for me fascinatingly, no journalist has ventured beyond reproducing the list of names of those removed, or much worse, reprinting names of those still on the list. They appear to have missed the fact that this is complex Europe’s way of communicating division within the EU, at Britain’s expense of course. The matter against Zimbabwe has just become untenable. To save a friend and a superior race, they have given the world this severely “compromised” nonsensical decision on which no moral sticks.

    For example, if Bonyongwe, Charamba, Chihuri or Gono’s wives were vicariously guilty only yesterday, what does their transfer to the “not guilty” slot suggest about the culpability of their husbands from whose alleged actions they got their own portion of Europe’s guilt? Have fresh facts emerged to warrant a review? Is the original sin well expiated? Or does it no longer exist, persist? Or it never did? It’s plain stupid, and I think it is meant to come across as such, so Britain, Netherlands and their Nordic supporters really look foolish and absurd, as indeed they are and do. It is a dramatic way of undermining that compendium of foreign policy, both by bankrupting it morally, and by pruning its less important side which can be tinkered with to appease the unwilling, but without taking away the spiteful sting in the raft of measures.

    No personalised sanctions, EU

    The EU statement unwittingly draws attention to the real nub and thrust of sanctions. The nub cannot be the encumbered persons on the sanctions list. If they were, Britain would not have wanted that side tampered with, would never have conceded. If they were, they would have been that golden concession Europe would only grant for “sufficient progress to justify a more substantial change of its policy towards Zimbabwe.” Equally, the visa ban cannot be the nub. Some if not most of the persons go in and out of Europe, facilitated by all-too-easy-to-get Schengen Visa. It cannot also be about assets “frozen”. If there were any frozen, any worth noting, Europe would have gone to town about it, the same way it sought to recently over Egypt. Europe has been hunting for those assets for more than a decade. We hear no news from it. Arms embargo, uu-uuh, maybe, although one senses a certain frustration that the embargo has handed Zimbabwe’s arms market to alternative supplies who are never short in supply. The real issue is what the release calls “other measures, taken within the context of Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement.” What are these too sacred to be mentioned, too sacred to be traded for “grand symbolism” which Britain wants, which Zimbabwe demands? If ever there was anyone who ever doubted that the personal dimension of sanctions was the least important one to the whole equation, here is the evidence. The “other measures” relate to development aid, what in EU parlance is called “Envelop A”. The “other measures” relate to trade concessions. The “other measures” relate to the movement of capital. The “other measures” relate to international loans from international bodies which Zimbabwe is entitled to. Britain would not compromise on sanctioned corporate bodies. All these “other measures” pass for what we call country sanctions. There is nothing personal about them. Let the debate move on please, unimpeded by lying ambassadors and their equally lying minions.

    The day Shingi Mutasa led the pack.

    Interestingly, views in the country on sanctions appear to be changing. Business is now prepared to acknowledge that indeed sanctions do exist, country sanctions, and seems now ready to speak against them. After years and years of denial, CZI has now owned up, thanks of Kanyekanye. It is much more than speaking out. Individual players are coming forward with specific, concrete experiences, the latest one being Shingi Mutasa of Masawara fame. Gentle reader, you know that this column has not been friendly to corporate Shingi Mutasa, which is what matters to me, never personal Shingi Mutasa. It has roundly denounced him, and will most probably do so again, as long as he pursues anti-nation business decisions, all for illusory global fame. But give it to him, he is the first ever black businessman to deliver a sturdy punch into the rib cage of sanctions, in a way that cannot be gainsaid by our lying European and American ambassadors. “The sanctions issue is very real. It’s not a fake issue, it is real . . I personally think that the issue of sanctions is wrong. We shouldn’t be having sanctions in this country. It’s something that is an issue.” Beyond this, he used his own experiences to prove that sanctions were hurting capital raising initiatives for capital-short firms seeking offshore financing. Mutasa is not on the sanctions list. His Masawara is not on the sanctions list. Yet he was affected, nearly prejudiced.

    And ZUJ too!

    Another surprise has come from ZUJ which has now joined in the denunciation of sanctions. Of course this comes too late, considering that some of its members have been on the sanctions list for quite some time. But better late than never. What makes this gesture from ZUJ so important is that these sanctions imposing countries tell us that the sanctions are meant to free the Press. How they do so by shackling journalists, only European and American wisdom knows. Political parties have also been stridently rejecting these sanctions and what Europe has done with them. Zanu-PF has said and done as expected. MDC has done the same, again consistent with its position since the formation of the Inclusive Government.

    Bah bah black sheep . . .

    The black sheep has been MDC-T and its leader. The party will not say anything, what with what Wikileaks has revealed. Its president had an elaborate event dubbed “New Zimbabwe lecture series.” Not a word dropped off his swirled lips, against sanctions. Not a word. Just how “new” Zimbabwe comes from old racist sanctions, only he and his European benefactors can only say. He proved a true chip off the European and American block. Let elections and history condemn this man from Buhera. As for his secretary-general Biti, himself fingered by the Wikileaks for playing secretarial to Anglo-American sanctions, well, well he is busy telling us how “good” America generously offers to sell to us its coins! We shall take millions of US dollars we cannot give to civil servants to buy and cart American pennies! What ignominy! He is busy telling us how he will not pay civil servants what they deserve, all in order to balance books to secure an IMF smirk and pat.

    The super minister

    Much worse, he hectors, threatens other ministers and ministries hoping to intimidate them into disclosing who buys our diamonds and how revenue from diamond sales is getting into this country. I am sure you know who his customer is, once he gets this information. But a bit of memory. In his last midterm budget review statement, Biti made it plain his sympathies were with ACR, itself a rival claimant to the Chiyadzwa deposit, itself a beneficiary of fugitive De Beers. He used a policy statement to pronounce himself on a matter which was before the courts, on a matter which involved the same government he swore to serve. That statement did not arise from a decision of Cabinet or any one of its committees. It was not policy. It was a personal conviction. If Government had succumbed, ACR would have been the miner of the very diamonds the control of whose revenue he now seeks to control. For that goal, he is ready to trash ministerial boundaries, ready to go to war, this man Mukonoweshuro, his own political soul-mate once described as a “super-minister”. Does anyone remember this?

    The beast, the best

    The burden of enlarging and defending Government control of national resources is a Zanu-PF’s. But the glory of receiving and auditing revenue from those resource which MDC-T does not mind to cede to whites, is Tendai Biti’s! The beast must fall first. The best must come to them at all cost. It was the same thing with the audit report on Zimplats, that one done by an international audit firm at the invitation of the Reserve Bank. That report revealed and quantified prejudice to Government, to this nation. MDC formations fought hard to protect Zimplats. They came out in defence of Zimplats, all guns blazing. That Zimplats ended up paying only owed to Zanu-PF persistence. But once the payment was done, Biti hastily re-established charge, even denying funding to the RBZ which had caused the money to come in the first place. Just what is wrong with these people, this party? Why is it so anti-nation? Why is it such a servitor of white interests, so fastidious on what has reverted to blacks through bitter struggle? Does Biti want to take the money from diamonds to European banks, all in the name of building reserves? He has already done that with SDRs, amidst crying need here. In his associational economics, does he know something called demand-led recovery? Why suppress the demand for goods and services through inordinate wage control? And all that against wide open gates to imports? Is this what Biti terms statecraft? The President is right. Let elections come, soonest too, so Zimbabwe pursues a more certain path. Icho!

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