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Previous Postings Archived Monthly!
- ▼ July 2007 (4)
Monday, 09 July 2007
Mugabe under siege: a failed ideology or conspiracy!!!
By Mutumwa D. Mawere
Last updated: 07/09/2007 00:49:07
THE events of last week in Zimbabwe expose how notions of the rule of law, of a Constitutional government, of a free press, and of a development state that are all elements which are valued and cherished by all progressive Africans can be rendered irrelevant in the pursuit and sustenance of absolute political power.
Zimbabwe’s judiciary, legal system, bureaucracy and police are all great institutions derived from the colonial state that should have been of service to Zimbabwe but unfortunately they now seem to be privatised and partisan.
After 27 years of independence, one would have expected that the idea of Zimbabwe as enshrined in the Constitution, with its emphasis on the principles of democracy, the rule of law, above all, the equality of all citizens irrespective of social standing, ethnicity and race would by now have had deep roots in the nation’s culture and contemporary civilisation.
It appears that the ideas associated with the age of enlightenment that has visited many former colonial countries (newly industrialised countries) have failed to influence Zimbabwe’s political establishment to see the futility of pursuing misguided policies and programs.
The Zimbabwean constitution should have remained a testimony to the enduring interplay between what is essentially Zimbabwean but is very British in its intellectual heritage. The realisation of Zimbabwe (by no other leader than Mugabe) as an inclusive and plural society at independence should have drawn from the best of both traditions.
It is evident starting from the Matabeleland massacres, the Willowgate scandal, the Executive Presidency, agriculture, and now mining and industry that the experiment of building a democracy within the framework of a mixed economy, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-party society has failed in Zimbabwe. Instead of encouraging Zimbabweans to walk the path of democracy and move to a new dispensation free of poverty, ignorance, intolerance, disease and the threat of state tyranny, Zimbabwe’s founding fathers seem determined to undermine the interests that inform any progressive nation.
The journey that Zimbabwe was supposed to travel under the stewardship of its founding fathers was expected to be an exciting journey full of challenges and opportunities. The restoration of sovereignty to the people of Zimbabwe at independence was surely meant to ensure that citizens would never again be victims of their own creation i.e. the post colonial Republic.
I am sure that many Zimbabweans had no contemplation that exercising their democratic choices would be classified as treasonable acts and anyone advocating regime change would be viewed as less patriotic than incumbents.
At a time when Zimbabwe was expected to teach the world about the new African civilisation based on tolerance, the country has now become an example of how countries should not be governed. In fact, Zimbabwe and the UK were expected to learn from each other and teach the world how former adversaries can mutually cooperate in an increasingly inter-dependent and globalised world that we live in. However, the big picture that is emerging in Zimbabwe is extremely negative and corrosive.
The business climate is negative. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and other events of the late 1980s and early 1990s may have proved to countries like India and Vietnam once and for all that capitalism was a better system than socialism/communism, but it appears that these events did nothing to settle the debate about which model is best suited to Zimbabwe.
At the time of India’s independence, the UK government was socialist and there was widespread belief like in Zimbabwe that the state could bring greater prosperity to the working people and the wider population if it controlled the means of production. We now know that after many attempts around the globe, that governments are not actually good at running anything or protecting the interests of the vulnerable and poor. In the UK, it took about 30 years (or 3 years less than Mugabe’s rule) before the winter of discontent and a realisation that there was a better way of running a country.
In the case of India, the economy only started to grow positively in the early 1990s as it became evident that the communist experiment was a monumental disaster.
It seems that the government of Zimbabwe is determined to arrest the entrepreneurial spirit of Zimbabweans and throw the country into darkness by uprooting the remaining diminishing points of light.
Instead of supporting the private sector, the government of Zimbabwe has now targeted this sector for political expediency and ensuring that the results of the 2008 elections are predetermined. Although the government is busy trying to convince itself that the enemy is from without, it is clear that the current economic meltdown is largely self created.
Bad policies can never be expected to produce positive outcomes. It is easy to blame Blair and Bush but the experience in India and China has shown that progressive nations can leverage their social strengths into economic gains and the dream of a better life for our grandchildren and children can be realised within a lifetime.
Having been the first business victim of the misguided policies of nationalisation based on trumped up allegations of externalisation, I often wondered whether the Zimbabwean business sector was smart enough to know that the day of reckoning was around the corner. It is clear that the government needs someone to blame and any point of light (performing assets) is naturally a target.
While the land reform was justified on the basis of sovereignty and righting a colonial wrong, the nationalisation of economic assets is being justified on the presumed regime change conspiracy. What is being argued by the government of Zimbabwe is that anyone who increases prices is aiding and abetting the imperialist inspired regime change agenda. Based on this logic, it is clear that if Zimbabweans voted for another party in 2008, it is unlikely that Zanu PF will consider that to be their genuine expression.
Zimbabwe needs its government activities at all levels to become known for efficiency, integrity, meritocracy and transparency. This requires new and strong leadership to achieve. For the past 27 years, Zimbabwe has failed to produce such leadership and the scale of the challenge is such that no one in Zanu PF is up to the task. It is now apparent that even Gideon Gono is now running scared and disowning the misguided policies and programs (remember Project Sunrise and the Zero Sum Game).
It is clear that Zanu PF will not accept that at the core of the Zimbabwean problem is policy bankruptcy and lack of leadership. However, from a national perspective it is important that Zimbabweans bite the bullet and have the courage to say: “enough is enough”.
Even if the so-called sanctions were to be lifted, command policies have been discredited and any interventionist strategy is unlikely to deliver the change that Zimbabwe urgently needs.
President Mugabe has the full backing of his party to do the wrong things confirming the deep seated nature of the crisis and injury. Zanu PF believes that the bureaucrats and securocrats are the best custodians of sovereignty without any empirical evidence that such is the case.
To use an old economic example: although there may be a superficial benefit in using one team of bureaucrats to harass businesspeople, it is clearly better if the money being paid to such “policemen” is used to pay people who can make a greater contribution to development.
If the government keeps too many people on its payroll (price inspectors with the active support of war veterans), then the taxes it has to raise to pay them will not be available to the already overstretched consumers and companies to use on their own more productive purchases.
The Zimbabwean economy, like a deck of cards, is crumbling fast and yet the cause of the problem appears to be a contested issue requiring a critical analysis of the record of the post-independence in a holistic manner. Conspiracy theories are normally good raw materials for failed states and can conveniently give life support to terminally sick patients.
Mutumwa Mawere's weekly column appears on New Zimbabwe.com every Monday. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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