By Hopewell Chin’ono
The opposition politicians must know what to oppose and what to support unless if they want to lose respect in the eyes of the citizens.
The Tendai Biti attack on the $100M private sector loan to Zimbabwe by Britain’s CDC and Standard Chartered Bank is misplaced and not thoughtful.
Tendai Biti said that this loan should only have come after the elections, that argument sounds very self-serving to me.
The CDC is wholly owned by the British government and its aim according to its mission statement is to “support the building of businesses throughout Africa and South Asia, to create jobs and make a lasting difference to people’s lives in some of the world’s poorest places.”
Is Tendai Biti suggesting that private sector businesses should not be supported until after the elections? Is he saying that there shouldn’t be any economic activity in the country until after elections?
I find this type of reasoning counterproductive, all it does is assist in hardening the resolve of the government not to work across partisan lines.
This loan is not coming to the Government of Zimbabwe, it is a loan arranged with the help of Zimbabweans both white and black to assist businesses access foreign exchange in order to enable them to import essentials for their operations.
It will help in safeguarding the existing jobs whose sustenance relies on foreign exchange.
It will also help in creating new jobs where there is economic growth that had been halted by the lack of foreign exchange.
Democracy thrives when people are employed and self reliant, they are able to speak out about their needs with confidence and authority to their government of the day.
Poverty creates a captive population base that can be taken advantage of by the political elites because their needs are immediate and not long term. Economic growth and the assistance advanced to the private sector assists in creating long-term outcomes.
Biti’s argument can be seen as the equivalent of wanting people to be poor and for them to suffer so that they can vote for him.
I have many issues with the government but we should applaud them when they get things right unless we have personal fights with individuals who form part of that government.
I live in an area where we had given up on our roads being fixed, they were potholed and it had become safer to drive on the side of the road in most cases.
I also use Harare drive when going to Sam Levy from Chisipite, you couldn’t go there unless you were using a 4×4 vehicle, this is in affluent Harare.
These roads are now being fixed and widened and as residents, we wouldn’t want that to wait until the elections for these immediate issues to be addressed.
Politicians should not politicize issues of private sector growth and development. If loans of this nature had not been advanced, Tendai Biti would have been the first person to say that Mnangagwa’s government had failed to open lines of credit.
I wrote months ago about the dangers of burning your bridges and playing to the gallery. Tendai Biti has been calling the British Ambassador names on social media and nicknamed her Kapfupi, a reference to her height.
This has been caused by the change of attitude by the British towards the Zimbabwean government of Emmerson Mnangagwa and particularly by how Mnangagwa charmed the Brits when he was Robert Mugabe’s Deputy.
Mnangagwa’s surrogates like Edwin Manikai, Herbert Nkala and others did this work quietly for many years. Mnangagwa was opposed to many of Robert Mugabe’s policies and he made this clear to diplomats and senior journalists through his surrogates.
It was easy for the British to come on board after Mugabe’s removal because they knew where Emmerson Mnangagwa stood in regards to the key issues that had fed the 17-year-old bilateral dispute between Britain and Zimbabwe.
Mugabe was right when he said that the crisis was never between Zimbabwe and the world but between Zimbabwe and Britain.
The opposition MDC didn’t realize that they were only a convenient local accessory to hide behind for the Brits whilst Whitehall turned the screws hoping that Robert Mugabe would yield under economic pressure.
Emmerson Mnangagwa realized this reality and he got down to work by making his case to the British, a departure from Mugabe’s politics of rhetoric and verbal abuse that eventually resulted in his demise.
Mnangagwa acted to separate himself from his boss, this is how any smart and ambitious politicians should operate, fix broken relationships with countries that matter to your livelihood.
The MDC thought that the Brits and their cousins would always be there for them regardless.
In international relations, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests.
The Brits and their Western cousins had given the MDC unqualified support for over a decade and nothing came out of that support for their national interests. That support included funding which in some instances was looted by the opposition elites without consequences.
The MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai bungled during the GNU by refusing to take advice not to participate in the 2013 general elections unless there was a complete electoral reform program in place.
South Africa and other SADC countries told Morgan Tsvangirai and his lieutenants that they would be clobbered at the polls if they participated in elections without reforms and that SADC won’t be able to do much about it thereafter.
The MDC chose to be belligerent about it by participating in the flawed elections and what we all predicted happened. The Brits realised that the days of the activist ambassador were awfully unhelpful and that they were now over.
They engaged the Zimbabwean government through ED and as they say, the rest is history.
It is evident that Biti’s fear is that ED will be credited for the availing of the CDC/Stanchart loan.
But this is what we meant when we advised him to stop ridiculing and scolding the British ambassador on twitter. It gives you five minutes of fame but the price you pay for that act of adolescence petulance is monumental.
Biti’s student politics approach will make him lose relevance and he will have no meaningful input in the affairs of his country if he publicly and verbally abuses the very people that hold the keys to his country’s success and economic growth.
There is a US$600Million foreign exchange backlog for private sector companies. This has resulted in product shortages and price increases as these companies end up going to the black market to source the elusive greenback.
The CDC loan is meant to alleviate these hardships that affect the common man more than they affect the elites.
The elites will not get their single malt whisky on time, the common man will lose their jobs and have no food on the table for their families.
Let us not play politics with the livelihoods of our people. There is a time and place for everything.
Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker. He is a CNN African journalist of the year and Harvard University Nieman Fellow.
His next film, State of Mind looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe will be launched in June in Harare and Johannesburg by Graca Machel.
He can be contacted on [email protected] on twitter @daddyhope