James Maridadi: Where is Sadc, AU?
By James Maridadi
Three years ago in August 2012, the world watched in horror as 44 mainly underground mine workers were massacred by South African police in the Marikana area of Rustenburg as President Zuma attended a Sadc summit in Maputo to discuss Zimbabwe’s endless toxic politics.
Marikana was arguably the single most lethal use of fire power by South African security forces against civilians ever-since the massacre at Sharpeville by apartheid South African security forces in 1960.
This week we observe the first anniversary of the abduction of 240 school girls in Chibok, Nigeria by Boko Haram as then president Goodluck Jonathan prepared to host Schwab’s World Economic Forum in Abuja. The girls are still unaccounted for.
Today we witness the brutal and senseless attacks on black foreigners in South Africa as President Mugabe paves and spruces up strategic roads and sits in the Meikles Hotel environs in preparation for an AU summit meeting in Harare in a few weeks.
In all the above three cases, the innocent, vulnerable and defenceless are left at the mercy of ignorant and overzealous fellow blacks who wield some form of power.
“South Africans will kick down a statue of a dead white man but won’t even attempt to slap a live one. Yet they can stone to death a black man simply because he is a foreigner,” Mugabe said.
Interesting observation and well said. I however, hasten to humbly submit to Your Excellency that this might just be the opportune moment to reflect and ask ourselves difficult questions like why our southern neighbour hosts so many of our people who we know number upwards of
3 million or put more graphically, the equivalence of an aggregation of the populations of Mashonaland East and West as well as half of Mashonaland Central provinces.
It’s a shame to expect South Africa to support so many of our people when the word “sovereignty” reigns supreme in our everyday discourse.
Three million citizens fleeing their country to seek refuge across the border is quite telling of the situation back home.
Comparatively, Zimbabwe is a lot richer than South Africa per capita because of the natural resources that the country has in relation to its population and yet we export cheap labour to a country whose population is more than three times ours and not as literate according to the African Economist which ranks Zimbabwe number one in Africa at 90.70 and South Africa number three at 86.40 and interestingly Mauritius is a distant eight at 84.40.
Simply put, a country with a larger population cannot
import cheap labour, more so unskilled, from a country with a much smaller population. It is for this reason that no country in the world can ever export unskilled labour to China.
Production costs are a function of, among other things, the cost of employment. For this reason producing goods in China is a lot cheaper than producing in Europe or the United States because the cost of labour in China are lower due to the size of their population. That is the economic dividend of demography. Quite elementary isn’t it?
Our leadership has dismally failed to leverage our much talked about natural resources to industrialise the nation. We have remained underdeveloped with our textile industry still employing tools and machinery invented as way back as 1923.
South Africa on the other hand is highly industrialised boasting of car assembly plants that churn out state-of-the-art automobiles. What you see in our industries is symbolic of the shambolic and toxic nature of our politics and administration. One simply needs to watch ZBC TV main news.
I had the misfortune to watch ZBC TV on Wednesday evening to just establish how our national broadcaster had covered Members of Parliament’s meeting (in which I had participated) with the South African ambassador protesting against xenophobic attacks in his country.
I was totally disgusted not because I expected any better. The bulletin was divided into two stanzas. One that was dedicated to denigrating Temba Mliswa and the other that covered everything else from business, sport to international news. Still on the second segment, half the time was dedicated to Zanu PF primary elections.
Cabinet ministers abusing a State institution took turns to hurl insults and abuse a hapless citizen with no platform to reply and who actually is in police custody on trumped up charges.
His crime is that he has suddenly opened his eyes to see tyranny for what it is and for that he is an “enemy of the state”. God forbid. How different is this from the barbaric xenophobic attacks in Beria?
A country in perpetual electioneering will never prosper economically.
The person who told Zimbabwean rulers that elections are a symbol of democracy truly bewitched us.
Zimbabwe has held more elections in the past 15 years than the US has since the death of Franklin Roosevelt more than 60 years ago. But what democracy do we have here when a poor 34-year-old journalist is abducted in broad daylight for believing that Mugabe is not a capable leader.
But how does the Temba Mliswa case in Karoi and all the foregoing relate to xenophobic attacks in KwaZulu-Natal?
Contributing to debate in Parliament on xenophobia, Julius Malema had this to say, “President Zuma, the problem of violence in this country rests squarely on your shoulders. It is you who taught our people that resolution to differences should be through violence. It was under your leadership that when you disagreed with the people of Marikana you killed them because you never agreed with peaceful resolution to differences.
Those who disagree with you get whipped into line. Your own son continues to say these people must be killed. If you cannot control your own family how can you control the country? You have lost control of the country.”
Aren’t you fortunate Julius that the accident of birth threw you south of the Limpopo. Ask Jim Kunaka.
Malema could well have been addressing President Mugabe. Following his fall-out with his once trusted lieutenant of 10 years Joice Mujuru, Mugabe subjected those that were suspected to be siding with Mujuru to such savage verbal abuse. Jabulani Sibanda, Ray Kaukonde, et al know the grave consequences of holding an opinion different from that of Mugabe.
As it stands, Zimbabwe is about a few individuals. Savior Kasukuwere, Ignatius Chombo, Oppah Muchinguri, Obert Mpofu and their friends who are blessed with the decibels to shout Gushungo the loudest.
Africans across the continent are suffering because of inept and compassionless leadership. I expected Sadc and AU to have called for an urgent extraordinary summit in Harare to discuss xenophobia and extract a firm action-assurance from Zuma on how he would deal with xenophobia in the next 24 hours and in a manner that it would never recur.
But alas, aren’t we expecting too much from this crop of rulers. They care only about themselves that is why they take their children, at the poor taxpayer’s expense, to Europe for medical examinations.
If just one British national had been killed in South Africa, make no mistake, xenophobic attacks would have ended forthwith and the demise of the presidency of Zuma would have commenced in earnest.
Europe would have descended on Pretoria, South Africa would have caught a cold and the rest of the continent would be sneezing. Like them or hate them, European leaders know how to look after their flock.
The AU summit set for Harare must be brought forward and only two items deserve to be on the agenda. Xenophobia and Boko Haram.
The capacity to slap living white men as opposed to pulling down statues is hardly the solution. As pointed out by the South African ambassador to Zimbabwe, the problem of xenophobia is not a Jacob Zuma problem alone. It is a continental challenge requiring a comprehensive solution by the entirety of the African continent leadership.
African leaders must start running their economies well so that they do not create economic refugees who will put undue pressure on other states.
Populist grandstanding such as, “I do not want to see a white face” is unfortunate and does not belong to the future.
As a senior statesman and the man at the helm of the continents’ political economy, President Mugabe knows a lot better than speaking with his foot in his mouth.
Insulting whites and calling Mbare residents “totemless” will not bring prosperity to Africa. Today Zimbabwe is in this pathetic economic and political state because of such careless talk. People are being butchered in Durban due to such careless talk by one such careless leader King Goodwill Zwelethini.
We acknowledge that South Africans, especially those from disadvantaged communities are suffering the brunt of a stagnant economy. Service delivery is poor and jobs for unskilled workers are hard to come by. Instead of directing their anger at government, they are misdirecting it at foreigners who have actually run away from far worse situations back home.
Whilst xenophobia is barbarism which must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, it is equally important for the South African government to quickly move into those affected communities and address the concerns of their citizens.
Finally will someone be kind enough to tell Simbarashe Mumbengegwi to stop making unhelpful pronouncements. He says Zimbabwe is prepared to uplift its nationals from affected areas.
Who will blame Chris Mutsvangwa when he says Mumbengegwi is “hopelessly incompetent”.
He never misses an opportunity to prove it. He is called Dr. What PhD does he hold and from which institution? “Body of an elephant and brains of a hair” Jonathan Moyo retorted.
I compile this instalment carrying the burden of a head laden with anger, a throat choking with emotion and a heart soaked in tears. God help my soul.
I rest it for today.
*James Maridadi is the MDC-T MP for Mabvuku/Tafara