via We have contributed to our own demise. 12 November 2014 by Vince Musewe
I doubt very much whether Mugabe will ever stand down and I know that in essence, Zanu (PF) is really never going to change fundamentally in character or form. Our hopes for a substantive change in direction and leadership must therefore not be too high – things will not change unless we make them change.
Political party congresses do not change the game unless a leader is booted out – as happened with Thabo Mbeki some years back in South Africa.
If we look at the MDC-T congress, for me it was a mere realigning of personalities and there was no fundamental structural change that would result in a paradigm shift in how politics is conducted, its business as usual but that is what I expected.
I was quite astounded to note that corporates contributed $1 million to the Zanu (PF) congress the other day. This to me is a clear reflection on how we as a society have contributed significantly to our country’s race to the bottom. We have contributed to our own demise and we cannot continue to blame anyone else.
I will say it again; political parties will not deliver our economic freedom. We need a new formula of community activism but right now, especially after Itai Dzamara being beaten unconscious, there is definitely no appetite within our communities for mass action to confront the system.
It is so difficult right now for some of us who know what needs to be done. The Zanu (PF) patronage system is so entrenched , it will be difficult to dislodge in the short term – even when they themselves know that they have no clue on what needs to be done.
I have been educated recently that maybe we are expecting quick radical change in Zimbabwe. That does not happen with entrenched dictatorships except through war. You almost have to accommodate the evil and reach a political settlement and then gradually ease the old system out and replace it with the new. But this takes years, if not generations, to achieve.
We need a political settlement if we are to have any hope of substantive change. Despite the Zanu (PF) succession battles, they are not going anywhere. The difficulty we have is that there is nothing compelling them to change direction.
First they need to be united as a political party on the need for a fundamental change of direction for the country. They must see that there is no other alternative – because as long as they have alternatives, they will not take the hard road as South Africa’s National Party did to abolish apartheid. It was not working for everyone and all stood to lose from its continuation.
Zanu(PF) is really only clamouring for changes of VP’s and not fundamental ideological change. Mugabe will remain at the top and a few personalities around him will change, that is all.
On the economic front we must always remember that we now have a secret economy that is being conducted through the party’s politburo. Let me give my readers an example. The country needs to import commodities and someone needs a licence to do so. In agriculture for example it is not viable for millers to buy maize at $390 per tonne as required by government – so this has created a side market.
What is happening is that the chefs buy maize from South Africa at $270 per tonne and sell it at $390 to the GMB, or direct to millers at a profit. This means millions are being made by Zanu (PF) cronies through importing maize. The same applied to virtually every commodity that government can control – Zanu (PF) distorts the market, creates inefficiencies and then uses these policy inconsistencies to make money at the expense of everyone else.
So although the economy in general is desperate it is not yet desperate enough for the party elite. There is no urgency for fundamental change of direction or the need for any political settlement with opposition parties.
What makes this situation worse is that the West has decided to re-engage with them. I have desperately tried to understand their logic – but I am failing. Zanu (PF) has dithered in aligning the constitution with the laws and if anything, that needs to be the ultimate measure of progress.
The party, the army and all their cronies continue to entrench themselves in the economy whether through agriculture, mining or tourism – they remain the primary beneficiaries. I have not heard even one Western diplomat pushing for economic freedom and less state-sponsored predatory intervention in the critical resource sectors where the party is crowding out local people and creating market inefficiencies to fuel profiteering, corruption and economic inequality.
Expect no fundamental change because it is business as usual for the corrupt, the greedy and the connected. They make more money when there is chaos. The system remains in place and is even getting stronger as the formal economy worsens.
– Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him at email@example.com