Opinion by Shingi Chimwaza
If one is to read into Mugabe’s latest threats aimed at foreign companies, it is clear that all is not well in the Revolutionary Party.
Whilst it was their campaign rhetoric that “to hell with the US and Europe”, the latest utterances expose a clueless aged leader desperate to be legitimized by the two countries although selfish pride tries to mask it.
If viewed from another angle however, the timing of the utterances, when the country is hosting the UNWTO, flies in the face of those who thought it to be the right moment to speak a language that may help attract Foreign Direct Investment.
In his own words during his inauguration, he promised “good conditions” to the people and one would wonder how this can happen since the same good conditions are a manifestation of good governance that does not involve scolding and harassing visitors, let alone visitors with capital to invest.
So all is not well in the Revolutionary Party.
Mugabe’s rhetoric and his ZANU PF “victory” of July 31 2013 reminds the old ones amongst us of the Rhodesian Front’s electoral victory of 1965 under the leadership of Ian Smith and the subsequent solitary course the colony took as they walked the path of defiance against Britain.
It is important to make it categorically clear that Britain was pushing for majority rule before independence of the colony, a truth that Mugabe and ZANU PF conveniently skips.
Coming back to 2013, Robert Mugabe’s electoral victory is ground setting for the implementation of the ‘suspicious’ Indigenous law. They do have the two thirds majority (thanks to NIKUV) they badly needed to walk the talk just as Smith and the Rhodesian Front won the two thirds “majority” in May 1965 general election, enough to amend the constitution in case unilateral independence became necessary.
To be fair, the difference between the two parties is that the RF policies of this period were harsh, retrograde,and unabashedly white survivalist as Christine Sylvester put it, whilst ZANU PF’s intended policies are harsh, retrograde and unabashedly “cronyist” survivalist.
What with the intention to takeover standard Chartered Bank and Barclays Bank, when the banking industry is already the most indigenized sector at least according to the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono.
The policy is not only retrogressive, but it brings into doubt the authenticity of degrees and doctorates that some people in the politburo brag about. For starters, how do you forcibly take over an International Bank, or merely threaten to takeover, and expect to attract Foreign direct Investment?
It is highly likely that some companies with an interest to invest in Zimbabwe already bank with these financial institutions, and they get financial advice from the same institutions , so your guess is as good as mine about the kind of advice they will get!
To be frank, the prevailing perception among potential investors I have met in the US is that “it is like throwing money into a bottomless pit” .
At this point, already I can imagine someone somewhere in Umwinsdale, Harare protesting “on behalf “of the poor, crying out violently “We have our China!”, but lets be serious and let the children go and play outside. Do the Chinese deal in an honest way that can see their investment benefiting the ordinary Zimbabwean?
Lets for instance look at Anjin and its operations at the Marange Diamond Fields, and try to speculate or to imagine it taking social responsibilities such as the repairing of roads in Mutare or the installation of traffic lights, let alone to honestly remit money to treasury.
Without being loud, the scenario brings into perspective the Shona proverb, “Kugarira huyo sembwa” meaning the wait will be in vain! Zimbabwe therefore needs FDI from firms with a proven track record in other countries in Africa and on other continents.
Let us take for instance the worst case scenario, Robert Mugabe slaps the foreign companies with his sanctions in the much acclaimed” tit for tat’ fashion, and their countries responds with full scale sanctions, what will be our chance of survival as a country?
It is true the ruling class will survive longer as they will order their groceries from South Africa or even from as far afield as Hong Kong, but i mean the ordinary man on the street. A lack of patriotism amongst ZANU PF chefs would see them taking a self aggrandisement route, which is opposed to the route Smith and his die hard rhodies took when they were slapped with international sanctions following UDI.
Of course the rhodies were driven by racism but for argument ‘s sake, in 1964, the year before UDI, the value of Rhodesia’s mineral production was 26,7 million pounds (US$ 73,23 million) at the time and in 1974, nine years after UDI, it was worth 82.5 million pounds(US$198 million).
Even Harold Wilson,the then Prime Minister of Britain had predicted in 1966 that the collapse of the Rhodesian economy would come in a matter of weeks only to be proven wrong. The sanctions under Smith brought about a self-reliant prosperity in Rhodesia which can never be realized in Zimbabwe if economic sanctions are really to be put in place against us as a country.
It is therefore at this point important to call Mugabe and his regime to order and warn them against political moves that may delete the little that is left of their tattered legacy.What Zimbabwe needs at the moment are policies that stimulate growth and to encourage the upward trend of the growth graph as had been the case during the GNU.
The 11% fall of stocks after the re-election of Mugabe tells a lot about how the business community view his leadership and for him to go on and speak against foreign companies makes him like a man on a mission to go to his grave with the country!
Shingi Chimwaza is from from the Fletcher Summer Institute – A group under the International Center for Non-Violent Conflict. He writes in his own Capacity