Nick Mangwana View From the Diaspora
The Exchequer is still struggling to pay a lot of our bills. The country is experiencing a devastating destocking of its herd. There are some who do not know where their next meal is coming from. These are the matters that should be seizing the People’s Political Bureau.
The Zanu-PF Politburo last week met as it should every month. That’s great, for it is the executive of the Central Committee of the party to which this columnist belongs. Some say it is the equivalent of the Cabinet at the party level. So it’s monthly meetings are a very big deal. Whatever is communicated to everyone through the Press release after should be the equivalent of an ecclesiastical pronunciation. But no, what came out is still being contested a week later.
Wait a minute, haven’t we been here before? Why are we getting this feeling of deja vu? And some who represent the party in foreign lands recall being asked by the media in the build-up to 6th People’s Congress when the party would focus on the economy. The answer then was that it was a period of cleaning the granaries for after the Congress it will be about the economy, the economy and the economy. By August of 2015 the 10- Point Plan had been filtered to a more user friendly and wieldy version of the Zim-Asset. The only problem is that it did not take long after that for us to be back on common ground – politics. Why not, after all there was the 15th People’s Conference on the way? And the political games are always the harbinger of our political gatherings.
So those who asked about the economy were again told that wait until after Victoria Falls. It will be the economy, the economy and the economy. It is now two months after the conference and eight months to the People’s 16th Conference. God knows what we are building up to, though there is only one clear thing; it is still politics, politics and more politics.
Some political parties are what they are, they do politics. But the contrary is also true, political parties should make a difference in their people’s lives. They should chart the way forward for posterity and in the very long term. Because if they don’t, they lose their legitmacy to rule.
Here is the problem, the country has a lot of challenging issues. Bonuses have not yet been paid. The Exchequer is still struggling to pay a lot of our bills. The country is experiencing a devastating destocking of its herd. There are some who do not know where their next meal is coming from. These are the matters that should be seizing the People’s Political Bureau.
But that Press release was about social media. Or was it about the media in general? The debate starts again. Was it about Twitter or Facebook? Was it even about WhatsApp groups? Ah well, how are we supposed to know? We were not there.
Those who were there are not giving us clarity. But even if they did, who really gives a damn? There is a drought out there. The economy is stagnated. Isn’t that the issue? Not Twitter, not WhatsApp or Facebook or the definition of social media.
While these trivial matters should be exciting to the media, but should they be the most pertinent to a supposedly people-centred party like Zanu-PF? Zanu- PF (a great party) is now renowned for providing good entertainment value to the public. It would be pantomime were it not so serious. It would be parody if there was no El Nino. Maybe come 2018 we should all wear clown’s costumes. Why not if we value our entertainment value to our service delivery on serious matters?
The alumni of a certain Kutama College in one particular era are privileged to have passed through the hands of one James Aaron Chinamasa who was affectionately known as Jach which moniker had been derived from his legendary signature. Like all boys’ schools, there were the geniuses, eccentric and the plain foolish. But all knew that whenever one got distracted and focused on the wrong things, there was always the admonishment that reminded you of what is important from Jach.
He would always say, “Mwanangu, a horse cannot kick and pull at the same time”. What a profound slogan! This horse called Zanu-PF is doing just that. The only problem is that it is succeeding in only one of those things. It is kicking its children, it’s colleagues, friends, supporters, members, compatriots and of course itself.
But whenever it kicks, the economy lags behind. When it stops kicking then it begins the pulling and the economy picks a positive vibe and bang, it starts kicking again. It’s a pity that it really loves this kicking business.
Studies have shown that high turnover within governments does not only retard economic development but creates so much uncertainty not only with investors but also fosters a state of national despondency. Now isn’t there a law against causing alarm and despondency? If so then maybe someone out there is breaking the law.
The frequency with which the party is playing ping-pong is making the nation dizzy. The persistence with which the purges are being carried out is the persistence with which the suffering is being visited upon the people. The bruises from this constant kicking are all there for everyone to see.
The country can ill-afford political uncertainty and unpredictability. There are issues of sanctions whose effect on the economy cannot be doubted. But there is our own self-inflicted sub-optimisation of our co-competencies by focusing on secondary things. In fact, sometimes calling some of these things secondary is inflating their value to the common people. Calling them peripheral is more apt.
Now that this horse is doing this type of aggressive kicking, it is not only de- stabilising the load it is meant to be carrying. It is destroying everything around it. It is creating economic inefficiencies and flight of whatever capital that is left. The cliché which says capital is a coward is just so fitting.
This columnist has heard Zimbabweans who grew up in Zimbabwe, who are fully engaged with the happenings at home, questioning whether they should proceed with their journey to visit family in the current climate. Well, if Zimbabweans become this apprehensive, how about foreigners with other options?
A tourist doesn’t really have to go to Zimbabwe, do they? If they want to see water falling off a cliff like it does at Victoria Falls they can visit Niagara Falls in Canada. If they want safari they can surely visit Serengeti in Tanzania or Kruger in South Africa. After all, the fall of the rand makes it quite cheaper than our own beautiful Zimbabwe. How much does this pulling and kicking horse make Zimbabwe a much less attractive destination?
You see Comrades, “Handei Tione” is a very clever, beautiful and catchy rallying call or even war cry. But whenever we say it someone who was to benefit our country also says, “Regai Tione”. They therefore baulk or dither at the thought of making Zimbabwe the destination of either their recreation or capital. And frankly because we don’t have currency of our own, we need this foreign one. We cannot print so all we have has to come from somewhere.
When you have complete currency substitution and you are not in full control of your monetary policy you have to play nice. You have to also brand yourself in such a way that you can attract other people’s currency which you have decided to make your own. Right now, we are not doing much of it. The horse is kicking too much and the foreigner is worried about being collateral damage after being caught in the crossfire.
There is no doubt that indigenisation is a noble ideal. How can it be wrong for people to own what is theirs? It sounds straight forward, doesn’t it? But there are caveats to this. One of them is that you should own your currency. How can you hope to own your economy when it based on other people’s money and its viability is controlled by a central bank elsewhere?
Now when you are this vulnerable to external variables you should also acknowledge the highly attuned sensitivities of your economy to any hint of uncertainty.
To say that the revolutionary party has skewed its priorities at the moment is possibly a gross understatement. There has been a wasted three years since the resounding election victory. It started with the provincial elections of November 2013. Since then the party has not known a stable and functioning provincial leadership with most of those in power at the moment unelected chairmen.
The contestations and internal contradictions which are normally healthy have just gone toxic. This has got to stop. Surely, the country cannot afford it. The party itself cannot afford it. The people do not want it. They are too impoverished and hungry to deal with the high octane changes which have left them too dizzy to even care. It is the tragedy of our country that the price to pay for one’s political ambition is to make the people suffer so much that they value a smidgen as an empowerment. This bickering suffocates service delivery.