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Hopewell Chin’ono, the reincarnation of Reason Wafawarova in the ‘New Dispensation’

By William Muchayi

Retired Air Marshal Perence Shiri, the now Lands and Agriculture Minister stunned his audience recently in Makonde Ward 5 in the Mhangura Constituency as he warned that Zanu PF is like a hyena that can devour its rebellious children.  In his own words, ‘’ Zanu PF yakafanana nebere yekuti ukange waitasva hauburuke nokuti ukaburuka inokudya, ‘’ implying that once an individual has joined the party they can’t be a member of opposition without being eliminated. 

William Muchayi
William Muchayi

It is without doubt that this chilling salvo was directed towards none other than Retired Brig Ambrose Mutinhiri and remnants of the vanquished G40 renegades. Indeed, the significance of these threats by Shiri, an individual with a chequered record of violence and brutality can hardly be underestimated.

It is in this context that Hopewell Chin’ono gives a critique of Dr Chipo Dendere’s testimony before the US Congress and without doubt, has concluded that the latter has sold her soul to the devil for thirty pieces of silver. 

As Dr Dendere argues, the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe needs to be premised on a return to the rule of law as opposed to a unilateral decision divorced from set benchmarks that led to their imposition.  

In her own words, Dr Dendere argues, ‘’it would be a greater injustice to uplift sanctions (on Zimbabwe) before a thorough investigation has been conducted, for, Zimbabwe can’t have economic growth divorced from addressing human rights issues.’’ 

It is this stance that has infuriated Hopewell Chin’ono, an individual who has morphed into Amai Jukwa or the Australia based Herald columnist, Reuben Wafawarova in the New Dispensation under the guise of pragmatism.

 In Hopewell Chin’ono’s view, sanctions on Zimbabwe needs to be unilaterally uplifted by the EU and the US  in light of the New Dispensation as they hurt the most vulnerable in society more than their intended targets . In his own words,   ‘’ the law of unintended consequences invariably ends up affecting the very people suffering due to politics of the elites.’’

It is from this premise that Chin’ono questions   Dr Chipo Dendere’s  intellectual acumen  insinuating that she being a Political Science Lecturer,  ‘’ would have had 17 years of sanctions history to examine the impact they  have had on the poor and the effectiveness or lack thereof in bringing the political elites to heel.’’

In fact, with due respect, it is regrettable that Hopewell Chin’ono,  in spite of his purported sound background in the media fraternity  has decided to be a snake oil salesman in the New Dispensation for reasons best known to himself.  It is difficult to understand why Chin’ono appears to imply that Robert Mugabe’s exit from the political stage on its own is a reform in itself for which Harare has to be rewarded with the unilateral uplifting of sanctions.  

In contrast, Dr Dendere argues that before sanctions are lifted, the burden is on the military junta to prove to the world that they have changed behaviour in light of the New Dispensation. Indeed, Perence Shiri’s words above do not reflect in any way a born-again convert. In fact, Shiri, Constantino Chiwenga, Engelbert Rugeje let alone Sibusiso Moyo are generals disguised in civilian attire.  In light of this clear and flagrant distortion of the facts, one wonders whose trumpet Chin’ono blows.

As Chin’ono argues, sanctions are ineffective in removing an entrenched dictatorship. In his own words, ‘’Robert Mugabe was not removed by ZEDERA or the European Union sanctions, it was his comrades in Zanu PF and the military that forced him to go over his succession plans….’’ 

In fact, it is surprising that Chin’ono still feeds on the outdated myth that sanctions on Zimbabwe were meant to bring about regime change.  In contrast, these punitive measures by the EU and the US were meant to register displeasure in the Mugabe administration for its poor human rights record manifested through vote rigging and the harassment of opposition activists as opposed to regime change. By slapping the regime with these measures, a clear message was sent to the effect that relations between the West and Harare were never to be the same again until there was a return to the rule of law.

In the same way, Chin’ono is well aware that the British government of Theresa May is not all that naïve to be under the illusion that the punitive sanctions it has slapped on Russia in the wake of Sergei Skripal’s poisoning in Salisbury will bring down the Kremlin. No one is all that stupid to exaggerate the effect of sanctions on its intended targets.  Rather, these measures are meant to send a clear message of disapproval for a rogue regime’s actions that do not comply with what is viewed as the accepted behaviour by international standards.

By the same token, Putin’s retaliatory measures against the British government are not in any way meant to bring down the Conservative government of Theresa May.  Chin’ono is well aware of this fact but for reasons best known to him has decided to be mean with facts. In addition, Chin’ono fails to grasp the impact of sanctions on the elite in Zimbabwe.  

The recent denial of UK visas to Mike Bimha (Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Minister), Simon Khaya Moyo (Energy and Power Development Minister) and others who had planned to attend a key investment conference in London is clear testimony that sanctions hurt if well targeted.

In Shona, it has been an acknowledged truism that mbeva inoteiwa pane mwanza (a mouse trap is set where mice frequent), meaning that what hurt the mafia most is to deny its members the lifestyle associated with their status. In light of this argument, it follows that Robert Mugabe wouldn’t have enrolled Bona at the City University of Hong Kong had it not been for these sanctions. 

Paris, London or New York would have been their preferred choice.  It also applies to looted funds that used to be hidden in Swiss banks. In the advent of sanctions, who among these thieves still stash their loot in Western banks where in the past it used to be secure? By freezing the bank accounts of looters, sanctions do hurt the elite as opposed to what Chin’ono believes.  

In light of this, who would doubt the effectiveness of sanctions if fellow African countries are prepared to impose sanctions on rogue counterparts?  

Indeed, it is a fact that sanctions do hurt the vulnerable as well along the way, just as chemotherapy damages healthy tissues as it targets cancerous cells. Vulnerable black Africans were affected by sanctions imposed on Ian Smith and the Apartheid regime respectively during the colonial era and on reflection, does Chin’ono object to their imposition in the first place?

And typical of a Mnangagwa bootlicker, Chin’ono laments the extension of the US sanctions against Zimbabwe since this move has strengthened the hand of hardliners in that administration. In his own words, the extension of sanctions has ‘’ killed the dream of a diaspora vote which some in Zanu PF were now starting to entertain.’’  

Chin’ono, with due respect, who are these reformists in Zanu PF who have been campaigning hard for the diaspora vote to happen and now ‘’ feel let down by the US government’s action?’’  In contrast, the denial of a diaspora vote to millions of Zimbabweans is a strategic necessity for the survival of the junta as most diasporas fled Mugabe’s misrule aided by Mnangagwa and accomplices in the current administration. It therefore implies that few of these people would vote for Mnangagwa, hence, the reluctance to give the diaspora a vote.  

Hopewell Chin’ono is well aware of this fact but for selfish reasons best known to himself has decided to twist the truth under the guise of pragmatism. And, consistent with his bootlicking, Chin’ono exonerates Emmerson Mnangagwa and Constantino Chiwenga in another piece on the pretext that the two committed atrocities on the orders of Robert Mugabe. In his own words, ‘’ none of them (Mnangagwa and Chiwenga) would have gone on a frolic and detour of their own without Mugabe’s orders, approval and his signature.’’

Oh my God! This is bootlicking of unprecedented magnitude and for an award winning journalist as Chin’ono extols himself to be is a shameful. Is Chin’ono not aware of the fact that even today Nazi associates are being pursued for crimes they committed in the 1930s?

In 2015, a court in Northern Germany tried a 94 year old Oskar Groening, a former Nazi junior squad leader to four years in prison on 300 000 counts of accessory to murder as the ‘’Bookkeeper of Auschwitz. In contrast, up to now Mnangagwa doesn’t acknowledge his complicity in the numerous atrocities Mugabe committed let alone ask for forgiveness. 

Naively, Chin’ono wishes the wronged to embrace the junta in light of the ‘’ Winds of change or New Dispensation.’’   With due respect, where are the winds of change when POSA and AIPPA are still intact and notwithstanding the fact that ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) is still manned by the junta? Zimbabwe can only be deemed to be open for business provided she has a free media, free and fair elections, respect for the rule of law, an independent judiciary, adherence to constitutionalism and the prosecution of corrupt government officials.  

In light of all this evidence, Chin’ono’s desperate attempt to elevate Mnangagwa to the status of an angel can’t go unchallenged until the latter undergoes genuine personal transformation and Zimbabweans are ready to forgive him but not now. Indeed, Chin’ono is selling snake oil and let the naïve buy it without being poisoned.

William Muchayi is a pro-democracy campaigner who can be contacted on [email protected]