‘The foolish are bold and the wise are full of caution’

‘The foolish are bold and the wise are full of caution’

Source: ‘The foolish are bold and the wise are full of caution’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 4, 2017

In what must be the most tragi-comic episode of African politics, the “dear leader” was preaching of all things economic at the African Economic Summit (AES) in Mauritius.

guest column: Tamuka C Chirimambowa & Tinashe L Chimedza

Now, we are for all things Pan-Africanist as long as the framework and policies actually bear fruit that is what the real de-colonisation project was about after all. Yet we have grown sceptical of long speeches and histrionics that conjure imaginary enemies in all corners but also actually serve to divert Africa from questioning how the “comrades in power” have behaved since the advent of independence.

The half a century old rhetoric has lost its enigma because we have ample evidence on our plates and we have been witnesses to a ruling elite that bears more of Stalinism and totalitarianism than of any emancipatory project. We must have, and we do have, a critique of global economic relations yet in that critique we cannot pretend like we don’t have ruling elites, who have presided over a political economy of self-generated afflictions.

Whenever we criticise the plundering of local resources, these fake revolutionaries always scream diversionary headlines and say “look yonder”, while at home they pickpocket the poor in broad daylight, no need to wait for the night. Citizen’s pockets are being emptied at police roadblocks. They are running a swindling racket through the treasury disguised as national budget.

Let us look at the economic metrics of Mauritius, where the “dear leader” was bellowing his speeches. In all given economic metrics Zimbabwe is directly opposite to that of Mauritius: Mauritius’ GDP per capita is $18 000, which is almost 20 times that of Zimbabwe, which stands at $953; their economy has been growing at a steady 4% for almost a two decades, while Zimbabwe was stuck in negative and now notches a paltry 1,7% if lucky; and hear this, the unemployment rate is 7,8% compared Zimbabwe, which is north of 90% and in 2016, the foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into Mauritius stood at $400m and this is for a population of about 1,2 million citizens, while in Zimbabwe, the FDI was about $254m for a population of 14 million.

Mauritius actually has a functional public financial management system and, hence, they have their very own currency and on the ease of doing business index Mauritius is ranked 32, while Zimbabwe sits down south at 130 out of 190 countries; and did we say they rank 54 on the Transparency Corruption Index, while Zimbabwe is 154 out of 176. According to the World Bank (WB), when the dear leader took over in 1980, the GDP of Zimbabwe was nearly four times that of Mauritius and since then Mauritius’s GDP is now almost equivalent to that of Zimbabwe.

So rather than lecturing in Mauritius, the “dear leader” must have sat down in silence and listened to how the Mauritians have done it to the extent that they have a stable and growing economy. It was a archetypical case of the “foolish being bold and the wise being full of caution”.

Madam boss in the palace: Mirror, mirror who is the fairest of them all?

We must admit, we bear the paranoia of our fellow inhabitants of this king, but is it only us or the comedy Madam Boss is an arcane resemblance of someone in the palace. The tragi-comic relief is just spot on.

The madam boss character is overbearing, always blubbering, acutely manipulative, full of hypocrisy and when everything fails, turns to throwing theocratic beliefs in the midst of robbing her victims. If you have spare time watch the palace peacock “foot in mouth” stomping hysterically on stage throwing invectives at every living thing including reminding the nation that she is legally married to the n emperor.

These ruling elites do no want any questions asked. When, Fadzai Mahere, holds the mirror for the ruling elites to look at how they are growing obscenely rotund when the citizen is emaciated, the answer is to unleash black boots, flea infested cells and fling all sort of accusatory fingers and the age old trick: charge them with attempts to depose a constitutionally elected government. The radical nationalist has become a malignant maggot gnawing at the very core of our existence while force feeding us partially re-constructed liberation grandiloquence. Instead of an active citizen, who “sees evil, hears evil” and actually says something these ruling elites want to govern carcasses.

When they stomp the citizens’ neck with jackboots, they want no responses, not even a murmur is tolerated. But the body politic never fully embodies the lies. Here and there, a few refuse to gulp down the fetid indoctrination and that will soon become a thorn in the wrong place: One day the people will refuse to be manipulated, to be extorted, to be pick pocketed in daylight then and then will the ruling elites discover Dedan Kimathi’s word that this whole Ponzi scheme “will stop once the hunted become the hunter”. Look to the goings on at the “palace” for the signs, when inconsolable weeping rises to a shrill so will the citizen’s anger explode into open dissent. In the meantime the citizen better be getting ready with fresh flowers. The question is where will you be when the mess crumbles.

Transcribing Gramsci: Infantile intellectualism in the Pravda

Big Brother Gitutu went wild reproducing vast swathes of the Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci in the last week’s Saturday Pravda. What stood out in that pseudo-intellectual harangue is that the brother has not assimilated the ideas brought forward by Gramsci.

Such slothfulness in a national paper is inexcusable. Intellectual traditions are a consequence of the concrete social structures within which they develop, evolve and are continuously contested by various social forces. In this case Gramsci, came to his ideas, imprisoned by political elites, based on the peculiarities of the Italian social structure.

Gramsci’s conviction that every man is an intellectual would have surely not been on the side of these so called radical nationalists with no economic programme for the country and whose government guts the rights of poor social classes. The prevailing political economy contestations in Zimbabwe bear no resemblance to those that Gramsci was grappling with.

To then pick Gramsci’s ideas and crudely apply them to the Zimbabwean and or African condition, without any elaboration, is evidence not only of intellectual laziness, but of the failure to comprehend that theoretical ideas that developed in Europe emerged out of concrete social conditions which are vastly different from those of Africa. Gramsci was responding to the failure of “revolutionary Marxism” and the political economy and social relations he critiqued are a world away from Zimbabwe’s political economy, which has not even entered the industrial age.

By industrial we mean a society in which industrial production is the generally prevailing mode of development and the key characteristic of that society will be a nationally accumulating industrial capitalist class, re-investing surplus capital in new industries, a prevalent working class stratum and an intense application of technology on nature to produce, distribute and re-produce goods and services. It is not lost to the brother Gitutu that Gramsci was actually imprisoned, as a leader of a political party and a parliamentarian, by a fascist regime, which accused him of planning to assassinate the dear leader.

Now, we all know who has been doing this trick for almost four decades, Joshua Nkomo, Morgan Tsvangirai, Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube, Ndabaningi Sithole and of late Joice Mujuru have all been accused of wanting to “assassinate the dear leader”.

De-Coloniality: Between Steve Biko and Professor Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni

When the South African universities exploded with the Rhodes Must Fall banner, the ruling elites quickly dismissed the youthful enthusiasm on university campus as misplaced privilege. The only sense seemed to come from across the Atlantic when Angela Davis returned home and delivered the 17th Steve Biko Annual Lecture and reminded us that “heroes must be challenged” and that today’s questions presupposes a critique of the received wisdom from the “veterans”. Which brings us to the intellectual project of one brother, Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni and his project on “de-coloniality” at the University of South Africa. The good professor is simply arguing that the “African academy” needs to start re-thinking its received intellectual apparatuses and pointing that we need “to shift the geography of knowledge as well as the biography of knowledge”.

In the case of what we read during the weekend in the Pravda, there is dreadful evidence of intellectual stupor, which only proves what the professor is saying: that the African academy is still wrapped in “colonial frames”. Big Brother Gitutu’s intellectual vulgarity is evidence why we need de-coloniality and we need it very very quickly to de-colonise the minds of pilfers, who spend too much time in “English” departments and lack a rudimentary comprehension of national political-economics.

The way Zimbabwe’s ruling elites re-package history into a sweeping ideology encompassing anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism and tinted with nationalism one would assume that they are concerned with the fate of the “African revolution”. One has to pierce this thin veil by peering into the hedonistic life of decadence they enjoy and there and there the putrid hypocrisy rises like a tornado exposing that the ruling elites are nothing but riders of the apocalypse dressed in borrowed garments. Why is it in matters that can be explained in simple ways one has to laboriously obfuscate issues and formulate themes in the bootlegged apparel of the literary and philosophical lenses of the imperium?

Tamuka C. Chirimambowa & Tinashe L Chimedza are the co-founders of the Institute for Public Affairs in Zimbabwe (IPAZ). Contact: gravitas@ipazim.com