|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Senior members of Canada's
three largest parliamentary parties called
Wednesday on the Canadian government to indict Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe
on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Senior members of the governing Liberal Party, the right-wing populist
Canadian Alliance and the regional, left-of-centre Bloc Quebecois said they
were calling on Ottawa to issue a formal indictment against Mugabe.
At a joint press conference, Keith Martin, of the Canadian Alliance, said
that if the government agreed to the three parties' demands, Mugabe could
face arrest and trial if he ever stepped foot on Canadian soil or if he
visited any other country with which Canada has extradition agreements.
In addition, said Irwin Cotler of Canada's governing Liberal Party, Zimbabwe
should be "permanently suspended from the Commonwealth," an association
linking Britain with more than 50 former colonies.
Martin said there was irrefutable evidence that "children as young as 10 are
force to take part in torture and gang rape" by Mugabe's regime.
Martin claimed that Mugabe had been "using rape as a tool" to silence any
opposition to regime. - Sapa-AFP
Cosatu calls for release of Zimbabwe unionists
October 9, 2003
By Brian Latham and Basildon Peta
Harare - The Congress of South African Trade Unions has demanded the
immediate release of arrested Zimbabwean trade union leaders.
The federation said yesterday that if this was not done, it would
stage its own solidarity protests to shame the Zimbabwean government.
Zimbabwean police yesterday arrested at least 53 members of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the main umbrella body representing
labour movements in the country.
About 200 union activists gathered in central Harare to protest when
armed riot police and plainclothes detectives swooped. It was not
immediately clear what the protest was about, although last month the ZCTU
warned it would hold demonstrations against cash shortages in October.
"So far 41 of us have been taken to Harare Central police station,"
said Lovemore Matombo, the president of the ZCTU. He said police had taken
"about 90%" of the organisation's national executive.
Wellington Chibhebhe was also in police
custody, said his wife Tatenda.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed that 53 ZCTU members
had been arrested. Speaking from Harare, he said: "We allowed them to hold
their meeting, but when they began to march, we arrested them under the
Public Order and Security Act.
"Now we have received disturbing reports that employers in the
industrial sites are closing their businesses and encouraging their workers
to demonstrate. We will be investigating, because, while employers are free
to close their businesses, if they encourage workers to march, they will
also be arrested."
Cosatu said it was demanding the immediate release of all those
arrested and for the restoration of trade union rights, including the right
to peaceful protest, which were guaranteed by international agreements, to
which Zimbabwe was a signatory. - Independent Foreign Service
Health officials warn of malaria threat
Health authorities in Zimbabwe have confirmed in a statement that 786 people
have died of malaria in that country in the nine months to the end of
September this year.
Dr Andrew Jamieson, medical director: SAA-Netcare Travel Clinics said in a
statement: "The malaria situation in Zimbabwe poses a direct threat to South
Jamieson said: "Many of the major malaria areas in Zimbabwe are very close
to our northern borders, which could result in increased incidence of
malaria in South Africa."
"Without adequate and timeous treatment, more and more Zimbabweans will
become infected with the malaria parasite and the resulting spread of the
disease poses a mammoth challenge and may prove impossible to curtail either
demographically or geographically," he said.
The Zimbabwe government has pledged Z$4-billion of the Z$10-billion required
for a comprehensive anti-malaria programme.
The Global Health Fund (GHF) has donated US$4.7-million and a consignment of
trucks, motorcycles and spray pumps for use in the programme was scheduled
to arrive in the country soon.
The malaria season in Zimbabwe starts with the arrival of the October rains
each year, and goes through to May the following year.
Norway ends aid grants to Zim
October 09 2003 at 04:27AM
By Peter Fabricius
dropped Zimbabwe from its select list of main development aid
recipients because of the deterioration in governance there.
However, it has elevated Madagascar, Kenya and Afghanistan to the status of
key aid recipients because of positive developments in those countries.
The Norwegian foreign ministry announced that it was increasing its
worldwide 2004 development assistance budget to a new total of about
Though Norway had already stopped giving development aid to Zimbabwe,
indefinitely removing it from the list of key development partners has
confirmed this decision.
A foreign ministry statement said it would devote more of its development
aid to education, especially for girls and for the treatment of people with
HIV and Aids.
a.. More than 100 people, including trade union leaders,
were arrested in
Bulawayo and Mutare in Zimbabwe as police prevented them from marching in
protest at high taxes, inflation and alleged human rights abuses.
.. This article was originally published on page 2 of The
on October 09, 2003
Harare swaps cheques as crisis deepens
THE Zimbabwean government has ordered the withdrawal of its travellers
cheques, barely two months after they were introduced to alleviate the
country's cash shortage.
The travellers cheques, released into the banking system amid a lot of
political hype by authorities, have been removed in favour of the easily
convertible bearer's cheques that are now widely in circulation.
A senior central bank official said yesterday the government had ordered its
printing firm, Fidelity Printers, to stop producing travellers cheques due
to "their questionable legal tender".
The move points out the economic policy confusion and overall mismanagement
of President Robert Mugabe's regime. His government has never adopted a
suitable economic policies since it came into power 23 three years ago.
Zimbabwe has been battling a severe cash shortage for several months. The
crisis was caused by hyperinflation the rate is currently 426,6% and the
government's failure to anticipate the subsequent rise in demand for bank
The government released new Z1000 bank notes last week, hard on the heels of
the introduction of redesigned Z500 notes two weeks ago.
It pumped Z2,5bn in Z1000 notes into the banking system and will continue to
introduce the same amount every day until December to improve money supply.
A similar amount in Z500 notes would be released into the financial system
every day for the next three months, the government has said.
The cash shortage in Zimbabwe reflects the broader economic crisis that the
country finds itself mired in.
Zimbabwe's growing list of shortages includes fuel, power, food and basic
commodities, as well as foreign currency.
Nation sits on time bomb
Brian Mangwende Acting News Editor
10/8/2003 8:19:08 PM (GMT +2)
THE world anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI),
says that Zimbabwe, one of Africa’s wealthiest nations that has sadly been
reduced to an economic basket case, is accelerating towards being one of the
worst corrupt countries in the world, giving another twist to the screws on
a country already bruised by negative international perception.
In a damning report, which indicates that the pendulum has swung too
far the other way in Zimbabwe, TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for
2003 ranks the country at a dismal 106 out of 133 countries surveyed. The
low ranking also places Zimbabwe in the category of countries with reported
worsening levels of corruption.
Noteworthy examples of worsening levels of corruption were recorded in
Argentina, Belarus, Chile, Canada, Israel, Luxembourg, Poland and the United
States of America.
Although these countries have deteriorating levels of corruption just
like Zimbabwe, they are not however in the same rank with the Southern
African country on the CPI.
The index is based on perceptions of those who deal with Zimbabwe
largely as existing or potential investors in the country. The index was
however silent as to the extent the level of corruption has cost the country
"Matters relating to political and civic participation, media
operating environment, access to information, judicial independence (which
is crucial to the enforcement of all rights and particularly property
rights), all play a major role in forming a perception about the state of
fair play or lack of it in Zimbabwe," the Zimbabwe chapter of TI said on
Tuesday this week.
The sentiments expressed in the TI report bode ill for Zimbabwe
because the reported corruption will play a role in weighing down the
economy by undermining investor confidence, as the country, smarting from
under-investment, will find it difficult to whip up foreign investor
enthusiasm for the urgently needed new impetus to promote investment.
When the political and economic situation in the country took a turn
for the worse a couple of years ago, unnerved and disgruntled foreign
investors abandoned the country as they ran for the nearest underground
bunker, signalling a deep alienation from Zimbabwe. Since then, the country’
s efforts to lure back the investors have drawn a blank.
Prior to the TI report, alarm bells had already started ringing over
the levels of corruption in Zimbabwe, culminating in the tabling in
Parliament of a Bill that will see the birth of an Anti-Corruption
Commission amid sleaze allegations in both private and public institutions.
Zimbabwe, a country with a deeply rooted political patronage system,
has seen an unprecedented rise in political connections and friendships of
commercial convenience which has resulted in billions of dollars leaching
from the coffers of public institutions such as the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe and Grain Marketing Board, among others, silting up the pockets of
a corrupt few.
Even in the private sector, corrupt managements have been accused of
pushing the envelope too far — cooking the books and shading the truth.
More recently, Zimbabweans’ steady diet of scandals involving
influential politicians has continued with reports that senior government
and ruling party officials have become the country’s most voracious
acquirers of land, originally meant for the landless peasants under the land
They have, in contravention of the government stipulation of one farm
per individual, corruptly acquired more than one farm each.
The government has unsuccessfully tried to pass this off as a function
of the law of the unintended consequences having taken hold. President
Robert Mugabe has since instituted an investigation into the land
redistribution process. Although the exercise has since been completed, the
results are yet to be made public.
"Clearly, the negative perception has been reinforced by the apparent
lack of urgent action designed to deal with a very real problem as well as
the negative perception. The perception that there has been corruption even
in the process of the land distribution simply reinforces broader
problematic perceptions in respect of economic and political corruption," TI
Critics this week told The Financial Gazette that Zimbabwe’s rating
will further deter investors because "no-one in their right senses would
want to invest in a country whose future is uncertain."
Zimbabwe joins Angola, ranked 124th, at the bottom of the ladder.
Ironially, Angola is spearheading a Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) taskforce on human rights abuses and corruption in Zimbabwe.
Transparency International, part of the anti-corruption movement that
is involved in annual productions of the corruption perception index which
seeks to track corruption progress in various countries, has more than 90
national chapters worldwide with over 35 of them in Africa.
ZCTU leaders nabbed in foiled demo
10/8/2003 8:26:32 PM (GMT +2)
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leadership, including
over 150 protesters, were arrested in Harare and Bulawayo yesterday after
heavily armed police foiled a national demonstration called by the umbrella
In Harare, police arrested 55 people including the secretary-general
of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, Raymond Majongwe, ZCTU
president Lovemore Matombo and the union’s secretary-general Wellington
In Mutare, over 100 people were arrested, while two people were in
police custody in Bulawayo.
There were unconfirmed reports in Bulawayo that Thabitha Khumalo, a
member of the union’s women’s advisory council, was among several ZCTU
leaders injured in running battles with the police.
The ZCTU this week secretly mobilised its members to stage a national
protest to express concern at the high taxation levels, the cost of living,
cash and transport shortages and what it called "gross violation of human
and trade union rights".
In a statement, the ZCTU alleged that police had refused ambulances
permission to carry the injured to hospital.
"The ZCTU views this as a gross violation of human rights where people
of Zimbabwe are not allowed to express themselves, especially at this time
when the lives of people are so unbearable," the union said.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the arrests in Harare and
Bulawayo. "The protest was a non-event," said the police spokesman.
In a statement to member affiliates issued on Monday this week, the
country’s premier trade union body said a general council resolution had
been passed in favour of the protest, which comes at a time when the labour
body is pressing for a number of things.
In their 2004 budget proposals to the government, the ZCTU is
demanding, among other things, the massive widening of tax brackets to
cushion workers from the deteriorating economic climate.
"It is only the first $15 000 earned that is exempted from taxation.
With the minimum wage around $60 000 per month, the lowest paid workers are
taxed at a rate of 40 percent. This suggests that the income tax system is
highly repressive, penalising workers at the lower end of the salary
structure," the labour union said.
Chibhebhe told The Financial Gazette that the labour body is also
demanding that $20 billion be set aside in the 2004 budget to compensate
farm workers displaced by President Robert Mugabe’s unplanned land
Bureaucracy, greed stall privatisation drive
10/8/2003 8:27:38 PM (GMT +2)
Since its launch in 1997, privatisation has progressed at a snail’s
pace because of political interference, litigation and red tape, which put
brakes to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) inspired programme.
Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited (DZL) was first to be privatised in June
1999 from a portfolio of about 40 public enterprises. The counter has since
then notched good results, proving its blue-chip status on the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange (ZSE).
Other ZSE-listed counters to emerge out of the privatisation include
the Sylvester Nguni-led Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco), the Commercial
Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) now the Jewel Bank, Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) and
the diversified financial services group, ZimRe Holdings Limited.
The Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe (PAZ), which was set up in
September 1999 to put an impetus into the programme, whose stop-go approach
was starting to ruffle the feathers of the IMF and other backers of the
abandoned Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, has also flogged
government’s stake in pharmaceutical group CAPS Holdings, petroleum giant
Total Zimbabwe and Munyati Company, a subsidiary of the Zimbabwe Mining
In February this year, the government authorised the sale of the
Industrial Development Corporation’s (IDC) stake in Zimchem Refineries to
Wankie Colliery Company for $10.2 million.
But that has been all to show for a programme which started six years
ago. Most of the privatisation plans have been left to gather dust in the
In the meantime, loss-making parastatals continue to cause
catastrophic effects on the economy, particularly through their financing
from taxpayers’ money and domestic borrowings.
Zimbabwe has struggled to trim the size of the budget deficit below 12
percent of the Gross Domestic Product because of heavy subsidies coughed up
from the fiscus to support ailing parastatals.
The programme, which raised less than $2 billion from a $40.9 billion
target in 2002, comes nowhere near the radical reforms that swept through
Zambia at the time the reformist Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD)
came into power. In 2001, the government had only raised $7.1 billion out of
the targeted $22 billion.
Under Frederick Chiluba’s leadership, the MMD created the Zambia
Privatisation Agency (ZPA) in 1991 and between 1992 and October 1999, the
agency had sold 236 public enterprises from a portfolio of 277.
Of the remainder, ZPA is negotiating the sale of another 17 companies,
while 26 are in progress.
Analysts said it would be unreasonable to lay the blame squarely on
the government or the PAZ. They cite impediments that have derailed
privatisation locally such as litigation.
For example, the sale of the government’s shares in the de-merged
Astra Holdings, which could have raised in upward of $5 billion, is now on
the backburner after a protracted legal battle.
PAZ, which was tasked to lead, advise and manage the privatisation
exercise, has also put brakes on the sale of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s
100 percent shareholding in the Zimbabwe Building Society, which the central
bank rescued from the jaws of collapse in 1998.
The privatisation of a leading bookstore, Kingstons (Private) Limited,
was also suspended months after the process had gained momentum.
It is also generally argued that the government may have to dispose of
the assets for a song because not many citizens can afford them in view of
the biting economic crisis.
Alternatively, it may have to invite foreigners to participate.
Government has, however, ruled this out as an option, insisting on its
controversial policy of black economic empowerment.
Harare economist David Mupamhadzi said: "Anytime is OK as long as
there are investors willing to participate in the whole process."
Mupamhadzi said most of the parastatals left untouched so far have
been a major drain to the government, particularly the taxpayer.
These include the national airline, Air Zimbabwe, the National
Railways of Zimbabwe, the Cold Storage Company and the giant steelworks, the
Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company.
Analysts said the privatisation of public enterprises has been on the
backburner ever since President Mugabe somersaulted from the IMF-backed
reforms at the height of the land seizures in 2000.
"Not much has been done ever since the government focused on the land
reform," said Mupamhadzi.
Work is still to be done on five IDC subsidiaries, the Agricultural
Bank of Zimbabwe, Forestry Company of Zimbabwe, Net*One, Tel*One, Zimbabwe
Post, Olivine Holdings, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority and a host
of other institutions.
Trade and economic consultant Samuel Undenge said developed economies
were using privatisation to weaken Third World economies.
Undenge argued that in all IMF programmes, the Bretton Woods
institution would advocate for market liberalisation for developed countries
to gain market access followed by devaluation meant to make the assets
Privatisation, Undenge argued, would then come in for multinational
companies to lay siege on the cheaply priced assets.
This argument has sent a chill down the government’s spine, resulting
in some top politicians throwing spanners into the exercise.
Jonah Gokova, chairman of the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and
Development, has also been putting pressure on government to suspend
privatisation, saying it compromises the security and interests of workers.
"Our concern is that the programme has been abused as asset stripping
and has not been transparent. Those who have bought the privatised assets
and benefited are only connected people," Gokova was quoted saying.
"We are against a process whereby even refuse collection is being
privatised. We believe refuse collection should be provided for residents
without a profit motive. These are essential services that shouldn’t be
Most of the privatised companies — DZL, CBZ, RTG, ZimRe and Cottco —
proceeded to list on the ZSE. Shares within these counters have allegedly
changed hands among the same individuals, defeating government’s desire for
a broad-based economic ownership.
For example, the National Social Security Authority is a leading
investor in most of the privatised companies, yet it is accused of
leveraging deals crafted by politically connected business people.
A spokesperson for PAZ said the agency has no say in transactions
concluded via the stock market.
"It is important for the public and all stakeholders to be aware that
these transactions were undertaken outside the privatisation programme and
should not be confused with the transactions handled by PAZ as part and
parcel of its privatisation portfolio," said the PAZ spokesperson.
Analysts said the agency should be left to operate independent of
government interference for the privatisation process to gain momentum.
Critics, including Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ), have
questioned the institutional set-up, which could result in most of PAZ’s
decisions being bogged down in government bureaucracy.
TIZ chairman John Makumbe argued then that PAZ, which is housed under
the President’s Office and whose director reports to an inter-ministerial
task force chaired by a Cabinet minister, should have been set up by an Act
of Parliament to ensure transparency, accountability and autonomy.
Government embraced privatisation from the demonised IMF as an
economic prescription that was to improve operational efficiency in
parastatals, which were bleeding from imbedded structural rigidities.
Most of these parastatals were choking from heavy losses with five of
them recording losses amounting to $30.4 billion last year or 75 percent of
the Agricultural Ministry’s 2003 budget allocation.
By weaning the loss-making parastatals, the government would have
freed resources pumped into these institutions through subsidies to other
critical areas such as infrastructural development and retiring its debt.
Zimbabwe’s domestic debt increased from $46 billion in May to $542
billion as of June this year.
In any case, it has never been government’s responsibility to run
businesses. Modern-day economics dictates that it is the private sector’s
duty to manage businesses.
Government’s role is increasingly being restricted to the creation of
a conducive environment for business to function properly. In return,
governments benefit from privatisation through improved tax revenue to run
their systems more effectively.
Zim urged to devalue dollar to boost exports
10/8/2003 8:14:18 PM (GMT +2)
ZIMBABWE should devalue the local dollar to boost exports as the
country struggles with hard currency shortages that have stifled key
imports, analysts said this week.
Despite a foreign currency squeeze dating back to 1999, the government
has pegged the Zimbabwe dollar at 824 to the US dollar since February, way
below a rate of around 5 000 on a thriving informal market.
The black market rates have drifted between 3 500 and 5 500 over the
last few months despite a government crackdown which led to the suspension
of one commercial bank’s foreign dealing licence for a year last month.
"The solution to Zimbabwe’s foreign currency shortage is not to
institute a crackdown on the parallel market activities, as the parallel
market is a symptom of a price distortion," the Discount Company of Zimbabwe
(DCZ) said in a report.
"What is needed, among other factors, is a realistic exchange rate . .
. determined on the basis of inflation differentials between Zimbabwe and
its trading partners."
Zimbabwe’s inflation rate has soared to nearly 430 percent as the
country’s economic and political crisis deepens. Unemployment is more than
Analysts said proceeds from the informal currency market had
ironically propped up state utilities like oil importer NOCZIM over the last
few months, with very little hard currency flowing into the country at the
"There is no doubt that 824/dollar is no longer viable for exports.
What we need is a crawling rate that reflects changes on the ground,"
economist Witness Chinyama said.
"The parallel market rate is also not a fair value rate, and merely
reflects speculative pressures in the market. Maybe something like 3 000
would be more realistic."
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe says the export earnings of the country —
once the bread basket of Southern Africa — fell to around US$1.5 billion in
2002 from US$2.5 billion in 1996, against imports of over US$1.8 billion.
"Increased demand for foreign exchange, to procure food, fuel,
electricity, drugs . . . has occurred against the backdrop of shrinkage in
traditional sources of foreign exchange, most notably exports, foreign
donors and external lines of credit," the bank said in its August bulletin,
released on Monday.
Critics say President Mugabe’s government has mismanaged the economy
since coming to power at independence from Britain in 1980, leading to acute
shortages of foreign currency, food, fuel and local banknotes.
Foreign direct investment in Zimbabwe has dwindled while bodies like
the IMF have suspended aid over policy differences with the government,
particularly its backing for the seizure of white-owned farms for
redistribution to landless blacks.
"The government should seriously and urgently stabilise the political
environment, as this is the first step needed in finding a lasting solution
to the foreign currency crisis," DCZ said in its report.
President Mugabe denies accusations of mismanagement and accuses local
and international opponents of sabotaging Zimbabwe’s economy to punish his
government for its land reforms. — Reuter
Fertiliser shortage to bite deeper
10/8/2003 7:19:22 PM (GMT +2)
THE shortage of fertiliser — a major agricultural input — is likely to
bite even deeper as it emerged this week that the country is failing to
produce sufficient supplies of phosphates, The Financial Gazette can reveal.
Industry players said the Zimbabwe Phosphates Industries (Zimphos) had
failed to supply phosphates, compounding problems in the agricultural
sector, which were once limited to the non-availability of foreign currency.
Windmill managing director Andy Humphreys said Zimphos had struggled
to supply enough phosphates over the last eight month resulting in the
industry operating at below capacity.
"We have been trying to cope with the foreign currency shortages, but
our major constraint has been Zimphos, which has been unable to supply us
with the phosphates.
"We understand Zimphos is experiencing problems in transporting the
phosphate rock," he said.
Zimphos managing director Misheck Kachere could not be immediately
reached for comment as he was said to be attending meetings.
Of late, the industry has blamed the cash-strapped National Railways
of Zimbabwe (NRZ) of failing to deliver raw materials and inputs from the
source to the end user.
NRZ has only transported 58 percent of the raw material needed by the
fertiliser industry between January and August this year, a situation blamed
on the critical shortage of wagons. Many of NRZ’s wagons are in a state of
disrepair. The parastatal has lost four of its diesel locomotives in head-on
accidents, blamed on the lack of signal and communications equipment along
the major railway lines.
In a joint report submitted to the parliamentary portfolio committee
on agriculture, the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, Windmill Limited and
Zimphos said the industry had been operating below capacity because of
foreign currency shortages.
Fertiliser manufacturers only managed to supply 240 000 metric tonnes
of fertiliser for the agricultural sector compared with a normal capacity of
over 370 000 metric tonnes over the same period.
Analysts predicted that demand has risen to about one million tonnes
because of the increase in the number of commercial farmers who benefited
from the chaotic land reform.
Humphreys said although the government has made an announcement to
prioritise fertiliser companies in the procurement of foreign currency from
the central bank, nothing has been forthcoming.
UNDP gives Farmer Award $10 mln boost
10/8/2003 7:19:50 PM (GMT +2)
THE United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has contributed $10
million towards the National Farmer Award following a request made by the
Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement.
Carolyn Williams, UNDP’s public affairs officer, confirmed that the
United Nations agency has contributed to the initiative meant to encourage
production among the resettled indigenous farmers.
The land reform, which was widely condemned across the world, is still
facing some resistance from the private sector especially banks, which are
not too keen on financing the new farmers.
The government has been relying on funding the new farmers through the
floatation of agrobills and agrobonds issued by Syfrets Corporate and
"In August, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture Rural Resettlement
requested the UNDP to assist the National Farmer Awards Trust. The UNDP
provided $10 million towards the efforts on the National Farmer Awards
Trust," she said.
Organisers of the event are currently looking for funds to bankroll
the awards whose date is still to be set.
Efforts to ascertain how much the organi-sers were looking at raising
were in vain.
CHOGM thrusts Zim in global spotlight
10/8/2003 7:46:23 PM (GMT +2)
THE Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting scheduled for
Abuja in December and the just-ended 58th session of the United Nations
General Assembly have again put the Zimbabwean question on the international
The Commonwealth is divided on the Zimbabwean question predominantly
on racial lines, with most African countries on the side of Zimbabwe. The
recent SADC Summit held in Tanzania called for the lifting of sanctions
imposed on Zimbabwe arguing that "they have not worked, are not working and
will not work, except hurting the ordinary people".
I don’t wish to get embroiled in a debate on whether or not sanctions
are being effective, at least for now.
Many Zimbabweans have been disappointed by the support President
Robert Mugabe and his government have been getting from SADC, the African
Union and other countries abroad. The African Union summit held in Maputo,
Mozambique, in July did not even put the Zimbabwean question on the agenda,
implying that what is happening in Zimbabwe now does not constitute a
"crisis" in the thinking of many African leaders.
In fact, South African President Thabo Mbeki is on record as saying
the Zimbabwean situation does not constitute "the yardstick of a crisis in
Even at the height of farm and company invasions, African leaders were
reluctant to rebuke President Mugabe. They even endorsed his controversial
re-election, much to the chagrin of many Zimbabweans who felt that the
elections were not free and fair. The Australian Prime Minister may kick and
scream but President Mugabe may still attend the Commonwealth meeting of
Heads of State and Government in Abuja. (He may even steal the show!). It is
still too early to be certain of his non-attendance because a lot can happen
between now and December.
We all know the President’s relationship with Presidents Mbeki and
Obasanjo and the position that these two leaders have taken on Zimbabwe as
members of the Commonwealth troika. "Another diplomatic victory; and yet
another diplomatic victory, and yet another . . ." Nauseating, isn’t it?
Hitherto, Mbeki’s stance on Zimbabwe has caused a lot of controversy
in our national political dialogue. The "international community" has
expressed impatience with Mbeki’s quiet diplomacy in as much as many
suffering Zimbabweans have expressed equal impatience. It may not be very
easy to understand these dialectics without putting them in the context of
contemporary global politics.
Globalisation, with all its implications, has caused a lot of fear and
insecurity especially in the "vulnerable states" of the world, the majority
of which are found in Africa and much of the Third World. This is why there
is greater emphasis on regional economic blocs like SADC, ECOWAS, et cetera
so as to boost the capacity of individual states to withstand the pressures
of the global economy.
While economically driven, globalisation is a phenomenon which also
has far-reaching social and political consequences. Increasingly, the key
players in the global economy are multinational corporations, transitional
lobbies and elite trade associations rather than popularly elected officials
and this has caused a real threat to the principles of sovereignty and
Poverty, unemployment, political and social upheavals are some of the
scourges of globalisation so manifest in the so-called Third World.
Developing countries are struggling to survive and retain their
socio-political identity in a world where everything is being "standardised"
to suit European and American models.
The insistent calls for African unity is an attempt by our leaders to
translate our qualitative weakness into a quantitative strength. The African
Union was born out of necessity, occasioned by the end of the Cold War,
globalisation and the need for a fundamental change of the iniquitous
international economic system.
At a G77 meeting held in Cuba in May 2000, the leaders of the
developing countries advocated for "vulnerability clauses", the essence of
which is that our world trading partners, particularly from the developed
world, must be sensitive to our inherent susceptibilities/vulnerabilities
against a background of slavery, colonialism and massive exploitation. These
vulnerability clauses are somewhat akin to what is technically known as the
"thin skull/egg shell rule" in most legal systems or domestic jurisdictions.
Of late, this position has not been vigorously pursued in recent years.
In essence, the end of the Cold-War and the advent of globalisation
has been met with varying reactions from Africa and the rest of the Third
World and there are divergent schools of thought as to how best Africa can
address the major problem of under-development.
The result has been a mish-mash of unworkable social theories,
amateurism and universal incompetence, and above all, mass cynicism,
hypocrisy and corruption.
It may be informative to analyse some of the dominant schools of
thought in some detail and see how they come to bear on the Zimbabwean
question. I must emphasise that the perspectives to be discussed herein are
not exhaustive given the diversity and multi-faceted nature of the African
problem. It cannot be overemphasised that all these various perspectives
have something to contribute to the development of African solutions to
The first school of thought is purely socialist. (By the way, where is
Munyaradzi Gwisai?) This school of thought argues that the end of the Cold
War was a victory of capitalism over socialism and indeed any other mode of
production, and that globalisation is a disguised system of international
exploitation tipped in favour of the developed and capitalist world. This
school of thought takes a thoroughly historical and ideological perspective.
It argues that the beginning of the 1960s saw the emergence of several
independent African states and that it was a great moment for Africa after
several centuries of slavery, colonial subjugation and humiliation. But in
the outside world, events were rapidly taking a new turn. The bourgeois were
forming alliances to prepare themselves for the new struggles which were
Thus the Marshall Plan was mooted, accompanied by the so-called Truman
Doctrine, a declaration of the Cold War. This was to have two objectives —
to weaken the socialist camp, which was threatening the survival of the
bourgeois as a class, and to distance the newly independent countries as far
as possible from "communist contamination".
The world was to be divided into a "free world", that is, that part of
the world which was still under the bourgeois sphere of influence, and the
"iron curtain" world. An uncompromising crusade against the latter and
against any country which flirted with, or gave comfort to, the socialist
camp was to be launched relentlessly. The bourgeoisie saw "communism"
The socialist school of thought argues that this anti-Communist
crusade had all the appearance of an ideological struggle, but it was, in
fact, basically economic. The objective was to preserve the capitalist
system from complete disintegration. The workers’ rejection of capitalism in
many of the advanced capitalist countries and its possible rejection in the
developing countries which had recently attained their juridical
independence, or were in their way to independence, confronted the
bourgeoisie with another and even more terrible crisis in the post-war
years – the possible rejection of capitalism on a world-wide scale. It was
essential for the bourgeoisie’s own survival as a class to devise techniques
which would enable them to forestall this impending disaster.
Thus a combined ideological campaign (the truman Doctrine) and
economic assistance program (the Marshall Plan) were launched, to be
supplemented by a world wide monetary reform which would facilitate a viable
credit system. All this was designed to make the capitalist system work on a
world-wide scale. The World Bank and IMF were established for this purpose
and were designed to attract all the newly independent countries inorder to
keep them within the bourgeoisie orbit.
The socialists argue that by dabbling with the illusion of
"ideological neutrality" in such organisations as the Non-Aligned Movement
(NAM) and by borrowing heavily from the IMF and World Bank, African
countries subordinated their economies to the world-wide economic and
political interests of capitalism. And by endorsing such institutions like
the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) and the many rounds of
tariff negotiations, we became active participants in an international
system that works against our "national interest", a system where our role
is that of suppliers of raw materials and cheap leabour in the service of
world capitalist profits.
Since we have not developed a capitalism of our won, we suffer from
the ills of world capitalism, from the receiving end. Any crisis in
capitalist Europe is immediately exported to Africa as a result of our
appendage relationship and also because our capitalism is American/European
capitalism, not African capitalism, so the socialists argue. The struggle
among the multi-national corporations is now being waged in Africa as well.
As this relationship skims off most of the profits derived from our economic
activity, and as what is left goes into the high consumption spending so
typical of developing countries, African economies do not retain enough of
the social surplus necessary for accumulation and productive investment,
which is so essential for expanded reproduction. As such, there is no road
to African capitalism, so the socialists declare. The road for indigenous
capitalist development is blocked. Our capitalism is a "capitalism of
under-development" because it is not African capitalism but
If historical evidence continues to show conclusively that emerging
countries can no longer develop a viable indigenous capitalism of the kind
which grew in Europe in the 19th century and later in America and Japan, is
there an independent way of development – a third way – which is neither
capitalist nor socialist? The concept of non-alignement is designed to show
that there is a third way, a middle path, between capitalism and socialism.
For socialists there is no third way between capitalism and socialism; there
is only a historical period of transition from capitalism to socialism.
According to the socialist school of thought, the only way Africa can
survive the challenges of globalisation, is through enhancing its capacity
to make a significant impact on the World scene by building viable,
independent and self-sustaining economies on the basis of the socialist
principle of "objective economic complementarity." This principle is
distinct from the strategy of central co-ordination advocated for by the
World Bank, IMF and other "imperialist" multi-lateral organisations.
Objective economic complementarity means that one or more countries
co-ordinate their economies in a planned strategy, so that specific products
of one country go to fill in gaps in another. An industrial economy will
help the industrial gaps in the non-industrialised partner, not by supplying
it with finished manufactured products, but by building the industrial
capacity of the receiving country to enable it to produce those finished
products itself. And the non-industrialised country on its part will supply
the industrial economy with agricultural products, so that the latter will
not be obliged to divert resources to produce them "uneconomically" or to
spend its foreign exchange reserves on importing them.
Faced with the question as to where the capital to build these
self-sustaining economies will come from if not from the IMF and World Bank,
the socialists usually retort that the problem in Africa is not so much
because of the absence of resources but a result of misplaced priorities for
developing economies and a misguided political direction. Ambassadors of the
socialist school of thought argue that without a fundamental and
far-reaching political decision there is no way out of the predicament.
They point out that to seek the way out of neo-colonialism through
economic gimmicks is tantamount to seeking the way out of economic
subjugation through even more subjugation. It only worsens the situation.
Our neo-colonial ties, so they add, are political in the final analysis and
only through political action can we extricate ourselves from the
entanglement. The transition from colonialism to neo-colonialism has not
changed the essence – the basis – of the colonial economy and as long as
this is so, there is no way out to an independent national economy. A lot
can be said about this school of thought but for present purposes, I will
The other school of thought is that championed by what I call the
"reparations movement" for want of a better expression. This school of
thought argues that no people are blank slates upon which can be inscribed
untold miseries and expect no-account thereof; Africa is poor because Europe
and the Americas are rich! By that they mean that 500 years of slavery,
colonialism and massive exploitation of African resources has developed
these countries while at the same time under-developing Africa and the
contemporary global economic system is such that our weak African economies
continue to play a peripheral role in the service of the major economies of
the developed countries of the world. They, therefore, argue that for
African economies to develop and compete at par with the major economies of
the world, Africa must get reparations for slavery, colonialism and the
massive exploitation that went with it.
In August 1999 an organization calling itself the African World
Reparations and Repatriation Truth commission (AWRRTC) met in Accra, Ghana,
and demanded a cool $777 trillion in compensation for the crimes committed
against Africa and people of African descent during the slave and colonial
eras. The moment it was reported that the AWRRTC had demanded $777 trillion
in reparation for slavery and colonialism in Africa, cynics, both African
and non-African, began to cast doubts on the claim "$777 trillion? Crazy!"
some people said.
The reparations movement admits that it is very difficult to place a
value on the over fifty million Africans enslaved, let alone the prejudice
caused by colonial exploitation of Africa. In other words, the $777 trillion
figure must be seen as a metaphorical sum, whose outlandish size goes merely
to show the immense size of the crime that has been committed against
African people. Nothing can compensate Africans for the suffering that
slavery and colonialism inflicted upon them for 500 years. Sums of money can
be subject of negotiations, so they argue.
Reparations activists point out that in fact Africans have very good
precedents to follow in terms of negotiation reparations. For instance, on
24th August 1999, a group of Jewish organisations met with German firms to
negotiate reparations – worth $20 billion – regarding Jews driven by the
Nazi’s to German firms for use as slave labourers during the 2nd World War.
The companies included top names such as Volkswagen, BMW, Deutsche
Bank, BASF, Daimler – Chrysler, Siemens and Dresdner Bank. So seriously were
the companies taking the Jews’ claims that they were being represented at
the negotiations by the former German Economics Minister, Count Otto
Lambsdorff. How many Jews are involved? Whatever their precise numbers, they
can not come to within a thousandth of the countless millions of Africans
that were sent across the Atlantic in the 400 years that the slave trade
lasted. Yet the Jews are asking for $20 billion. And yet no one is laughing
at Jews for demanding "a crazy" figure in compensation, so the reparations
activists point out.
Infact, they further argue, in 1998, even the ultra-secretive Swiss
Banks were forced out of the shelter of their country’s banking secrecy laws
and to "vomit" to holocaust victims and their descendants, $1,25 billion in
respect of "dormant" accounts held by dead Jews. The money had been (mis)
appropriated by the Banks after when it became clear that the Nazis had
murdered the account holders in gas chambers.
Barclays Bank in England has also reached a settlement with the Jews
about money seized from accounts by Barclays branches in France. New claims
keep surfacing all the time. The advocates of reparations argue that
although these claims are relevant to Africa’s demands, they are not as
important as the new climate that has been created in the international
community for the detection and punishment of crimes against humanity. This
school of thought points that at the end of the 2nd World War, the victors
set up the Nuremburg Trials to try captured Nazis for "crimes against
humanity." It did not occur to them, however, that other crimes against
humanity had been committed before the 2nd World war. To them, neither the
slave trade, not king Leopold’s acrocities in the Congo, nor the German
massacres in Namibia amounted to "crimes against humanity." But it was they
who established the precedent of trying people for crimes against humanity
and it is upon that precedent that Africa’s case can be based.
Contrary to popular wisdom, the cause for reparations to Africa is a
claim founded in international law and justice. If this were merely an
appeal to the conscience of the white world, it would be misconceived, for
while there have been many committed individuals and movements of solidarity
in the white world, its political and economic centers have evidenced a
ruthless lack of conscience when it comes to black and African peoples.
One international lawyer who thinks the African demand for reparations
does not cause insurmountable problems in international law is the British
jurist, Lord Anthony Gifford, who is currently practicing as an
attorney-at-law in Jamaica. Lord Gifford presented a paper on reparations to
the first conference ever to be held on the subject in Africa. This was in
Abuja in April 1993 and was financed by the winner of Nigerian’s June 1993
elections, Chief Moshood Abiola.
In his submission Lord Gifford argued that international law
recognises that those who commit crimes against humanity must make
reparation. There is no legal barrier to prevent those who still suffer the
consequences of such crimes from claiming reparations even though the crimes
were committed against their ancestors.
In Lord Gifford’s words, "the claim would be brought on behalf of all
Africans, in Africa and in the Diaspora, who suffer the consequences of the
crime, through the agency on an appropriate representative body. The claim
would be brought against the governments of those countries which promoted,
and were enriched by the African slave trade and the institution of slavery.
The amount of the claim would be assessed by experts in each aspect of life
and in each region, affected by the institution of slavery. The claim, if
not settled by agreement, would ultimately be determined by a special
international tribunal recognised by all parties."
The iniquities perpetrated against African people today – whether in
Britain and the USA by racist attacks and by systems of discrimination – are
the continuing consequences, the "damages" as lawyers would say, flowing
from the 400 years long atrocity of the slave system.
Indeed, if the world accepts, as I do, the truth of three
propositions: that the mass kidnap and enslavement of Africans was the most
wicked criminal enterprise in recorded human history; that no compensation
was ever paid by any of the perpetrators to any of the sufferers; and that
the consequences of the crime continue to be massive, both in terms of the
enrichment of the descendants of the perpetrators, and in terms of the
impoverishment of Africa and the descendants of Africans, then the justice
of the claim for reparations is proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
One pro-reparations journalist added that skeptics who might say that
was all very true in theory, but in practice there was no mechanism to
enforce the claim, or no willingness of the white world to recognise it,
need to be reminded of the Latin legal maxim: ubi jus, ubi remedium: where
there is a right there must be a remedy. An injustice without a remedy is
abhorred by lawyers like a vacuum is abhorred by nature.
Lord Gifford points out that once the claim is well founded in legal
principle, and well recognised by the international community, remedies and
mechanism will be found. Even so, given the unique, massive and
multi-faceted nature of the claim, international jurists will be needed who
can show corresponding creativity and imagination.
This school of thought also argues that international law has never
been static. New structures have often been devised to give effect to
recognised principles. The Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal is a manifestation
of new legal thinking which brought a measure of justice following the
atrocities of Nazism. The international court of Justice (ICJ), where states
can settle disputes with each other by law rather than by war, was unknown
at the start of the 20th century.
After going through Lord Gifford’s paper, one African journalist
remarked that "in the light of such an informed opinion from a white man,
what is one to say to the Africans who think that the whole reparations idea
is a no-brainer?" So this school of thought is very much alive in Africa and
there are various interest groups which are pushing hard for the recognition
of this claim although these groups seem to have failed to make much impact
at the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in South Africa a few
To be continued next week….
Why quiet diplomacy won’t succeed?
10/8/2003 7:45:45 PM (GMT +2)
SILENT diplomacy is a contradiction in terms. It is an active
expression of both paranoia and contempt towards post-liberation, liberation
movements in the region. It reflects the infant desire of a juvenile
regional hegemony to play godfather of African politics. If America is Uncle
Sam then South Africa is Uncle Vusa.
Uncle Vusa and other liberation movements are concerned with retaining
political power against severe onslaughts by post-liberation liberation
movements. This concern is informed by the following realities:
- The defeat of UNIP by the labour-led Movement for Multi-party
Democracy (MMD) in Zambia.
The accepted regional indictment of MMD was that it was no more than a
front for western interests. Chiluba’s personal weaknesses and leadership
style did not help to dispel this myth. Arguably, Chiluba may have performed
better than the local mafia in running down his country’s economy. What with
triple digit inflation in Zimbabwe?
- The shock performance of the labour-led MDC in Zimbabwe in the June
2000 parliamentary elections.
ZANU PF had not expected that the MDC would win such a resounding
majority of votes after a sustained campaign of violence and intimidation.
The propaganda effort aimed at discrediting the MDC seemed to have backfired
or, at best, to have been a dismal failure. Even when people had been
repeatedly told that the MDC wanted to bring back Rhodesian rule and that it
was a front for the US and UK, Zimbabweans voted overwhelmingly for it. This
pattern has been repeated over and over again in recent elections.
- Rumours of uneasiness within the ANC tripartite alliance in South
Africa, including the fear (real or imagined) that COSATU might be tempted
to break way from the ANC and form a formidable opposition.
These rumours were not helped by Mbeki’s onslaught on so-called
"extreme-leftists". The fact remains — South Africa is another Zimbabwe
waiting to unravel. The contours of inequity, intolerance and inflexibility
are being defined each day in that country’s political terrain.
Large sections of the South African white population seem sheltered
from the reality of post-apartheid co-existence needs. Tragically, this
insulated community has learnt nothing from its northern cousin’s plight.
Mbeki’s penchant for the international arena seems sustainable only
because the South African economy appears healthy. As you know, appearances
can be very deceptive. Perhaps if I were a South African politician I would
be in a state of denial about HIV/AIDS and the crisis in Zimbabwe? The two
are very much related in their impact on the region and the African
Uncle Vusa and other liberation movements seem to have resolved the
- That they have a moral and political obligation to support ZANU PF
in spite of and despite its politics of chaos;
- That they should act in solidarity with the Zimbabwean government in
all international fora; and
- That they should refuse to recognise or give credence to the MDC. In
fact, they privately believe that MDC has no African foundation or
liberation credentials. On this basis they seek to discredit it. They claim
that because the MDC received money from the Westminster Foundation, it
cannot have an agenda of its own. The same arguments are not made, however,
about ZANU PF’s receipt of money from Europe, North Africa and South East
No person in their right mind can say that Tiny Rowland, who funded
ZANU PF’s uncontested 1996 presidential poll, was a socialist? Nor are the
Rautenbachs of this world? Does this, therefore mean that ZANU PF has never
had legitimacy at all, except that flowing from the Tiny Rowlands and its
other British/foreign funders?
In an interview with the Washington Post on September 25, President
Thabo Mbeki expressed the following views:
"People have made very strong statements about Mugabe and Zimbabwe.
Selective sanctions of one kind or another have been imposed, and they will
not change the situation in Zimbabwe . . . They’re extremely sensitive to
being told what to do . . . If you say impose sanctions……… [Or] if you say
switch off the lights to that 40 percent extent, you produce a worse
situation in Zimbabwe and you have a million Zimbabweans crossing the border
Perhaps the call for economic sanctions is shorted-sighted fatalism.
The objection is not that South Africa has not imposed sanctions on
Zimbabwe, but rather that it has legitimised patently criminal behaviour and
held salience when there was a moral duty to publicly condemn.
The crisis in Zimbabwe right now is not a crisis of landlessness. Fuel
and cash shortages have nothing to do with the personal sanctions imposed on
ZANU PF leaders. President Mbeki’s arguments explain South African inaction,
not on the basis of objectives or principles expressed in the ANC Freedom
Charter, but a fear of failure of diplomacy. This is a tragic indictment on
the ANC leadership and its liberation ethos.
Silent diplomacy is a political cancer that has been chewing away at
the ANC’s credo for over two years now. One would be forgiven for thinking
that the ANC Freedom Charter calls for action against injustice or in
defence of freedom without exception? However, in Zimbabwe the Freedom
Charter has grown mute. At worst its custodians have become an accomplice to
the mutilation of freedom, hence the claim in this article that they
propagate a diplomacy that kills.
If one were to de-mystify Uncle Vusa’s position regarding the MDC it
would be as follows:
- MDC is not a genuine political party but a mere movement with a weak
leadership and weak constituent base. Some members of the ANC leadership
have a strong dislike for Morgan Tsvangirayi and the MDC, in that order.
This is why whenever MDC errs Vusa-diplomacy ceases to be silent? You
might remember one Lekota calling MDC "a bunch of cry babies". There were
other "megaphone" diplomacy moments like Nkosazana Zuma’s outburst on SABC
on March 4 2003. She insisted that ZANU PF was democratically and popularly
elected and therefore would never receive condemnation as along as the ANC
is in power.
It may be foolish to assume that the ANC will review this position
before Jesus returns. MDC strategists should therefore look elsewhere for
more practical African solutions. Perhaps South Africans, unlike Kenyans and
Ghanaians, don’t know what it means to live under a black dictatorship? This
may influence a great degree of their political perspectives. So let us
leave them for a few more years in the political wilderness or honeymoon?
Some day the chickens will come home to roost!
- MDC lacks a clear programmatic agenda to bring about real change in
Zimbabwe. This is a serious value judgment which the electorate should make
as opposed to foreign governments. But if the MDC were so useless and
politically sterile, how come the ANC’s senior partner — ZANU PF — is afraid
to open up political space, the media and other conduits of democratic
expression? A bad idea can easily discredit itself, why then does it need to
- MDC is both dominated by foreign/imperial interests and interests of
a white minority. Arguably there may be 10 times more whites in the ANC and
three times more in ZANU PF than the MDC. This obsession on the part of our
South African colleagues with monopolising rainbow nation status is
inexplicable. It is unclear why Zimbabwe should play the rogue state in
order to demonstrate SADC’s racial and resource redistribution inequities?
- MDC sympathy would compromise the ANC’s position internally and
regionally. This is the most plausible reason. The ANC wants to appear to be
on the side of those talking about land reform, when it is, in fact, doing
very little for its own people in South Africa.
- The MDC should drop its court petition, repent and get incorporated
into ZANU PF as a junior partner. Uncle Vusa prefers Emmerson Mnangagwa to
Tsvangirayi, hence the deafening silence concerning election re-runs and the
insistence that the MDC withdraws its election petition. The MDC petition
might not result in President Mugabe being removed from State House, but it
will certainly show that silent diplomacy lied when it called the
presidential poll legitimate.
The broad moral, ideological and political posturing reflected in
Uncle Vusa’s views must be exposed for what they really are. They are a
refusal to deal with the human rights violations and severe repression
taking place in Zimbabwe. They-unwittingly serve to displace human freedom
as a central issue in post-colonial politics.
In essence, they promote a criticism of colonialism and imperialism
that is devoid of considerations of human dignity, the very essence of
Any Pan-African position constructed on the basis of "solidarity at
all cost" or "solidarity without moral values" is bound to suffer from a
credibility problem. Pan-Africanism should promote sovereignty of the people
as opposed to sovereignty of an abstraction called the state. Sovereignty of
the people of Zimbabwe must — of necessity — be rooted in values of respect
for human dignity and rights, "Ubuntu/Hunhu".
Genuine Africanists can not hold their silence when the very basic
tenets of "Ubuntu/Hunhu" are being destroyed, when hundreds of thousands
face starvation each day; when land is diverted by party chefs; when
citizens are killed for their political beliefs; when political opponents
are arrested without just cause, and when private media is shut down.
Silent diplomacy kills hope; peace; lives; trust and the essence of
"Ubuntu/Hunhu". It is an accomplice diplomacy which holds its peace in the
face of injustice and says: "They are sensitive on being told what to do."
Brian Kagoro is a human rights
lawyer and a political commentator.
CZI move commendable
10/8/2003 7:47:42 PM
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) which has, up until
now, remained largely in the wait-and-see mode with regards to the
Western-sponsored New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD),
has now woken up, though belatedly, to its responsibilities and will now
engage the government on the continental economic blue-print.
The mostly well-received news was announced by CZI president Anthony
Mandiwanza, who rightly pointed out that Zimbabwean business risked being
left behind if it remained on the sidelines of NEPAD structures and
processes. The CZI’s mooted consultations with government will, therefore,
zero in on issues concerning compliance and participation in NEPAD. This is
a most welcome development.
Although NEPAD has ignited heated but sometimes sterile debate in
other African countries, in Zimbabwe, other than the occasional mention at
various fora the idea, has largely evoked muted responses from both the
government and business representative bodies such as the CZI.
Continued silence on such a pertinent issue by the CZI, the umbrella
body for local industry, could have made the now low-profile industrial body
irrelevant because this would seem to suggest that the CZI does not have a
hands-on view of its role in the economy.
But with the country’s voice of industry now taking a more assertive
approach to its role, this will not only help soothe business fears that
Zimbabwe risks being left behind, but will also ensure that there is a
robust exchange of views by all stakeholders over NEPAD.
The CZI’s pro-active approach to engage government, with which there
has been subtle mistrust and ill-feeling over a number of key economic
issues, inspires confidence. It might as well set the stage for one of the
most significant developments in government-business relationships as it
could inculcate a culture of consultation.
With the economy right at the deep end, a deeper rapprochement between
the government and the CZI could also help reverse the crisis-hit economy’s
flagging fortunes. As it stands right now, Zimbabwe faces complex and
distinctly challenging economic woes and the government currently appears to
be at sea as to the direction the economy should take at the strategic
crossroads. Working together with industry and commerce and all the other
stakeholders could go a long way in helping with the monumental task of
returning the country’s economic performance to pre-crisis levels.