Obama’s powerful rejoinder for Zim’s big men

via Obama’s powerful rejoinder for Zim’s big men – DailyNews Live 9 August 2014

HARARE – Very few things demonstrate more poignantly why democracies such as America’s deliver much better for ordinary citizens than US President Barack Obama’s illuminating interview with Zimbabwean student Takunda Chingonzo at the just-ended, and exceedingly successful US-Africa Business Forum in Washington.

Here was the world’s most powerful leader by a mile, fielding rather taxing questions from a 21-year-old student and rookie ICT entrepreneur, and not taking any umbrage at all.

In fact, the down to earth Obama did not just answer Chingonzo’s probing questions in full, he went a long way to try and put the young man at ease, and to offer possible solutions!

How so exemplary and endearing. Let us take a step back and contemplate the same scenario in our motherland. Yes, imagine the consternation in official circles if the same young man were to put it to the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, His Excellency President Robert Gabriel Mugabe that the West’s targeted restrictions are not the cause of Zimbabwe’s worsening economic problems!

Chingonzo, a National University of Science and Technology student and co-founder of SaiSai Wireless, suggested to Obama that the targeted restrictions were hampering efforts by Zimbabwean business people to engage their American counterparts, as some US businessmen perceived such engagement to be discouraged.

Obama calmly and empathetically explained to the rookie businessman the difficulties of balancing America’s twin objectives of nudging Harare to respect human rights and trying to achieve this without impacting negatively on ordinary Zimbabweans and business people.

To this end, and in view of Chingonzo’s concerns, America would consider meeting Zimbabwean business people to devise ways that would ensure that the targeted measures did not end up punishing the very people inside the country that were supposed to be protected by the restrictions.

But as expected, the usual official and propaganda quarters in Zimbabwe moved swiftly to claim that Obama “admitted” in this interview that the sanctions were not targeted — which is patently untrue.

It escapes these hired guns that in celebrating Obama’s non-existent “admission”, they expediently overlook the fact that Chingonzo is unlikely to ever dream about, never mind have a meaningful opportunity to question this forthrightly our president, or any of his myriad minions for that matter, on these kinds of critical issues — because the requisite democratic space and culture simply don’t exist here.

If anything, the truth of the matter is that Chingonzo would, at best, be accused of being a lackey of whites or the “evil” West if he tried it here, or worse still, would potentially find himself in big trouble — as in opening himself to outrageous interrogations and persecution.

To drive the point home, one simply has to consider the recent arrogant and vexatious performance in court by a senior member of Cabinet, who either refused to answer pertinent questions put to him by counsel or was full of buffoonish sarcasm when he chose to “indulge” the court with answers. To the huge credit of the presiding judge, and our men and women on the Bench in general, this offending bigwig was rightly called to order. And very importantly too, Zanu PF’s lickspittle bootlickers are never willing to analyse properly the real dynamics of Zimbabwe’s tortured political economy.

Indeed, which Western company or national in their right mind would contemplate pouring big money into a project in our country when at any time soon afterwards authorities can arbitrarily decide that 51 percent of that investment must be “indigenised” into the grubby hands of politicians and their lackeys?

The Chingonzo-Obama interview also demonstrates starkly, for the umpteenth time, Zanu PF’s embarrassing predilection to always blame someone else for its evident corruption and misrule.

Things have become so bad that even when our politicians burp from over-indulgence, as they always do, they are wont to blame sanctions!

It is insane.


  • comment-avatar
    Straight Shooter 7 years ago


    UN sanctions are global; whilst bilateral sanctions are not – this is a fact. China is the second biggest economy in the world it has no sanctions on Zim; what then is the problem? It does not matter that there was sanctions busting. The effect of “sanctions busting” is exactly the same as the fact that Zim today trades with just about every country in the world; so this largely equalises the playing fields – Rhodesia vs Zim; so why is Zim in ruins compared to Rhodesia?

    Zimbabwe has never been banned from importing oil (the main driver of economic activity in any nation); whilst Rhodesia was, but Zimbabweans ended up buying fuel for their vehicles in Botswana and South Africa; carrying drums and drums as private citizens – something that never happened in the hey days of oil sanctions in Rhodesia in the 1970s – how do you explain this? Yes, we had fuel shortages, hence the then Rhodesian government slogan: “Don’t drive Rhodesia dry” – but we never as individual citizens had to import drums of our own as has been happening in this gukurahundi Zimbabwe of yours.

    Check the following top 5 stratified data – this proves Zim is trading with every country, including the western countries you are always insulting:

    “Top 5 Products exported by Zimbabwe Diamonds (18%), Gold (18%), Raw Tobacco (13%), Nickel Mattes (9.9%), and Ferroalloys (7.3%)

    Top 5 Products imported by Zimbabwe Refined Petroleum (17%), Cars (7.2%), Delivery Trucks (5.4%), Corn (3.4%), and Raw Tobacco (2.2%)

    Top 5 Export destinations of Zimbabwe South Africa (41%), United Arab Emirates (14%), China (10%), Mozambique (6.7%), and Italy (3.2%)

    Top 5 Import origins of Zimbabwe South Africa (42%), United Kingdom (15%), United States (7.6%), Zambia (6.4%), and China (5.7%)

    Zimbabwe is ranked 101 with an Economic Complexity Index (ECI) of -0.618508 “

    Source: Observatory Economic Complexity

    Nelson Mandela warned, as the then SADC chair of the impending disaster that was about to befall Zim when Mugabe ignored him and sent troops to the DRC. This was even before the madness of the land invasions.

    You have to accept that Zim’s problems are essentially self-imposed and are not entirely caused by sanctions; they have been caused by farm grabs/land invasions that destroyed the Agro/Agricultural sector – Zimbabwe’s then economic mainstay. You destroy farms you must understand that the downstream and upstream linkages are automatically destroyed. Hence all the seed manufacturing industries suffered. The Banking industry suffered as they could not recover their loans, and so on and so forth. Furthermore other causes were mismanagement; corruption; the DRC war; War Veterans demands; Fiscal indiscipline on the part of government; violence that destroyed property and infrastructure; racism and tribalism.

    How do you expect a country to be able to beat sanctions and succeed when the government itself cannot live within its own means? Ian Smith drove himself to work; Robert Mugabe is followed by a motorcade of a legion of hangers on; what do you expect, in a country with an economy less than a third of that of the City of Durban? Mugabe goes on numerous unnecessary foreign trips with hundreds of hangers-on with unbudgeted foreign currency – this is a waste. There is no money going into fixed investments; everything is spent on recurrent expenditure – much of it that can be done away with. Does Zim need a Cabinet of over 40 ministers; two-vice Presidents; numerous deputy ministers and Provincial Ministers? Huge outlays on Mercedes Benzes and other perks? There is no amount of sanctions-blaming that will ever improve the dire straits that Zim finds itself unless you change tak and look at the man in the mirror – it is you the gukurahundis who have caused all this; not the west!!

    • comment-avatar
      Zuwarabuda Nyamhute 7 years ago

      Straight Shooter, I was impressed and enriched by your cogent, brilliant analysis and reasoning, which is backed up by well-researched facts. Thank you.

      The only “gravel” on this smooth, inspiring mental highway was the use of the gukurahundi word. Let us remember that behind this word there are thousands of innocent, unmourned and unrecognized men, women and children whose only crime was being born in an ethnic group, which devout Christian Robert Mugabe thinks is a Divine Error. To use the word gukurahundi as a marker of ethnic or negative tribal identity is not only a dishonourable service to the thousands of Zimbabweans who perished in this man-made horror, ordered by the Devout Christian, and unfair to the millions who continue to be starved and tortured by HIM and his Legions of evil angels.

      The word Gukurahundi should evoke memories of death, blood and suffering and not be sullied by narrow tribal emotionalism.

      • comment-avatar
        WeMatongo 7 years ago

        Nyamhute, you missed the meaning of Gukurahundi. Literally Gukurahundi is rain that comes after harvests which I suppose Chingozo visualizes joyous celebrations about independence gained after the whole season from land prep through to harvest. Traditionally its an abomination to kill during such festivities. What am I saying, The killings of 20k innocent Matebele people was an abomination this country carved for itself for its entire history. The merchants who orchestrated heinous crimes against humanity are still with us and some will be with us for sometime. In a Certeris paribus situation, the merchants should have shuddered to apologize, pay reparations eg by distributing even just a simple hoe for reconstruction to the surviving members of the departed as a symbol of accepting that it was a moment of madness. But alas they did not stop there…..how many people lost their lives in 2013 not talking of 2008. How many women and hapless girls were raped in 2013 towards elections…..the orgy still hangs above ….scavenge stats from Central Statistical Office to find out how many girls are raped per month as the merchants of death were never stopped as ripple effect of what the above the law did for a vote. The spectre of Gukurahundi hangs above us that most of us we never attribute it to the 80s only but is all over today tomorrow and a significant future because it is with us for a long time…..Aluta Continua

    • comment-avatar
      WeMatongo 7 years ago

      Well put Chingozo, unfortunately the murderers will not hear nor shudder a damn. Judgement day is closing nearer and nearer for they will be doomed before the whole world to see. Morons ruling a country like they do to a village. Tichavatonga chete

  • comment-avatar
    austin 7 years ago

    Full of buffonish sarcasm – a fitting description.

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    ntaba 7 years ago

    After building and then running a family business for 99 years – the Government took it and destroyed it. It was built out of vacant land over three generations but the Government had to take it to destroy it. Never mind 51% – let us say 100% like Kondozi as well. The owners of such businesses were Zimbabwean citizens by birth like myself and my father was a citizen by birth. Zanu does not want 51% they want 100% and this is Zanu apartheid against anybody who is not deemed Zanu – like Luke Tembani whom they destroyed as well.

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    Albert Zinwamhanga 7 years ago

    The truth is that all those who used to benefit on the myth that there are no sanctions against Zimbabwe and choosing to describe them as ineffectual “targeted restrictions” were left bare and feeling completely exposed by President Obama’s obvious admission that sanctions affect business and economic activities in our country. The stupid morribund is running arround looking for shelter and even going to the extent of trying to reverse what Obama clearly said – so clear in fact that a Chimpanzee can understand it, simply that American sanctions are hurting Zimbabwe’s business and economic activity.

    The writer os this article is a shameless scribe who suddenly finds that his dinner plate has just been broken and empty. His attempt to twist Obama’s meaning is the very bottom of logic and shows that he is a scribe not worth his salt.

    • comment-avatar
      JRR56 7 years ago

      Clearly the chimpanzee is smarter than you dear Albert.

    • comment-avatar
      Charles Frizell 7 years ago

      Well, it seems to me that a chimpanzee obviously CANNOT understand what Obama was saying. I see that you are another one of those who believes the Zanu “Sacred Myths” ROFL

    • comment-avatar
      The Black Aristocrat 7 years ago

      Zimbabweans will never forget that Mugabe has murdered more black Africans than the entire South African apartheid regime. In just one region of Zimbabwe, in just one decade – Matabeleland in the 1980s – his army slaughtered 20,000 civilians. This is the equivalent of a Sharpeville massacre every day for more than nine months.

      The world was outraged by Sharpeville but not by Matabeleland. There were international sanctions against P.W. Botha’s tyranny, but barely a murmur of disapproval against Muagbe’s far worse excesses. Why the double standards?

      A black state murdering black citizens does not, apparently, merit the same outrage as a white state murdering black citizens. Responding to black murderers differently from white ones is a form of racism; it judges black human rights abusers by a lower ethical criterion. That is patronising and infantalising, and regards black Africans as less capable of moral behaviour.

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    Zim Patriot 7 years ago

    nNxxaaaa Albert, you always blame someone/something else on your failures(the whites, the west, the drought, poor planning by imperialists,babboons etc), it’s like shadow boxing your own shadow, these are personal restrictions/sanctions on individuals and NOT on the nation as a whole. Usaid is one of the biggest donors to our country, over the years, they have kept many people alive over the years while we destroyed our own farmers(based on racism), so they could not produce food, we scored an own goal as ex zim farmers chased away to Zambia exported maize back to Zim. Anyway why the wailing when aren’t we all supposed to be looking east?????They are our partners, what is the preoccupation with the hated west? If we supposed to be looking east???? Take your rose tinted glasses off and be real, deep down you know the truth and right through history the truth prevails.

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    Zim Patriot 7 years ago

    While we here please explain where the two million jobs, housing etc are that were promised to us the people of Zim? Or let me guess, lets blame sanctions, imperialists etc?

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    Shame on Zpf. They can’t even run a small country. When Zpf and the cronies talk about sanctions, they actually mean AID or FREEBIES from the West. They want free handouts. The Chinese do not give freebies. They know the value of money.

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    mutakura 7 years ago

    Poor Albert!

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    Zimbali 7 years ago

    There is a huge difference between so called sanctions on Zimbabwe by the West and doing business with Zimbabwe. Seems to me that those companies who used to do business with Zimbabwe have simply voted with their feet and pulled out due to ZANU PF policies. ZUNU PF conveniently call the latter sanctions.

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    Brian 7 years ago

    The Chinese know all about corruption. Hence, they feel right at home in Zim! The West’s avoidance of Zim is due to the stench of corruption. Who in their right mind would consider doing business here? Or Russia. Or Vietnam. Or Indonesia. Or, one wonders, South Africa?

  • comment-avatar
    Gomogranny 7 years ago

    It’s not our fault….it’s everybody else’s….ZPF sing song…dah dah dah

  • comment-avatar
    Mandy 7 years ago

    Who cares anymore. The Disapora are no longer sending as much money back to Zim. Our parents gave passed on and we have new lives, like me in the USA.

    • comment-avatar
      Jose Ekmann 7 years ago

      Mandy is spot on! Our aging loved ones who stated on are now with God. As to “sanctions”, no reputable firm trades where the rule of law is absent. BTW, Uruguay is a fine place some may wish to explore.

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    Guvnor 7 years ago

    This is what happens when you send a boy to do a man’s work. The problem is an incapacity to simply to deliver the required and take responsibility for the current outcomes. Restitution will only come after admitting failure and embracing a process to correct the blunders. The current denialist and escapist philosophy is just a fantasy and a pretence which will never restore the countries or the peoples fortunes. In fact it only makes the country continue to be a laughing stock in SADC, Africa and the rest of the world.

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    Petros Magomazi 7 years ago

    Most of the comments are informed by bitterness and ignorance. Sanctions are there to hurt the economy. That being said not every problem is caused by sanctions. Remember that problems were there right from 1980. I know that we are victims of the Egyptian mentality. When the Israelites were in the desert they started saying it was better to go back to Egypt, because there was garlic in Egypt!! Life has never been easy in Zimbabwe. That is the honest truth. The reason why most people left the country was because they had gained good education and hence could find jobs anywhere.

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    you have a point petros.zimbabwe is the land of contradiction, from time immemorial.but as zimbabweans, we need to be embedded in the phylosophy of UBUNTU for us to address our problems. not all problems can be attributed to sanctions yes, but we can also not deny that the west is part of our problem. The west wants to keep all its former colonies within the orbit, which means total socio-economic independence is out of the question for them. political independence yes, but socio-economic no.look at what is happening to Mali, Senegal, Sudan, CAR, DRC,kenya, Somalia, Nigeria and even Botswana, a country rated to be the second most peaceful in Afrika.there is an economic war going on in these countries. Zimbabwe, with its proud history, is no exception.In fact, Zimbabwe has become the test case of the world. if she succeeds in breaking off completely from british hegemony and becomes self-determined, then, the whole so-called third world will definitely follow suit. That,definitely, will spell doom for the so-called first world.It is called the first world because it is the first to invade, to kill, to maim, to massacre, to grab , to dislocate, to displace, dispossess,discourage,delimit, define,degrade,dehumanise,distort,dismember, and a host of other ‘de’s. the list is endless.

    • comment-avatar
      Gomogranny 7 years ago

      Oh,oh Zindman – you need to get out in the world man! Zimbabwe is no test case, Zimbabwe is not even a blip on the horizon. It is as insignificant as a small nocturnal snail making his way to the cabbage patch of an evening. What happens to Zimbabwe matters so little to the rest of the world it’s laughable! If Zimbabwe mattered in any way to either the “bad, bad Breetish” or America, I can assure you Mr. Robert Gabriel would have seen his ass a long time ago! Zimbabweans need to get to grips with the fact that it is they and they alone who have failed here. And it is us and us alone who can fix it….but we need to stop the kind of talk you give and start work with our own hands.