Poor, poor Cde Chinamasa
Let us be honest and fair: it is not enviable to be the Finance Minister of Zimbabwe at this moment. It has been hard especially since 2000 when Western countries resolved to impose sanctions on this little Southern African country for daring to address, among other perceived iniquities, land redistribution that saw a couple thousand white farmers lose colonially stolen land.America’s sanctions law, Zidera, is the best embodiment of declared sanctions, although a lot of measures are undeclared and oft more lethal.
The crimes Zimbabwe purportedly committed are many and these include having had to repel invaders in the DRC under Operation Sovereign Legitimacy.
And the US has also been calling, through the same set of sanctions, for what we now commonly know as security sector reforms – that is the decimating of liberation war leadership from the security arms.
Hence, Zimbabwe is called upon to set up “military and national police subordinate to civilian government. The Zimbabwean Armed Forces, the National Police of Zimbabwe, and other state security forces are responsible to and serve the elected civilian government.”
The issue of sanctions has been well discussed.
Suffice to say, as a form of economic warfare, they represent the most formidable challenge for Zimbabwe and in particular the office of Finance Minister.
If one would care to remember one Tendai Biti faced the same nightmare when he became Finance Minister in the so-called inclusive Government.
He had pinned his hopes for the 2012 National Budget on diamond revenues.
Alas, America imposed sanctions on two diamond companies.
Biti was livid.
He wrote to Assistant US Treasury Secretary Charles Collyns blasting the move to ban Marange diamonds.
“The US decision undermines the KP and its chairmanship of this body. A member must act in good faith. One cannot, in one forum, act in one manner then unilaterally undermine the collective decision taken at the common forum …
“It would be curious to find out the motive of your decision against the two companies. Your decision will not stop the mining that is a sovereign issue covered by international law. Most importantly, it will not stop the sale of diamonds. All it does is to encourage more opaqueness and underwriting of the diamond industry . . . this is a self-defeating and retrogressive position; one which I hope was not taken to placate powerful interests who were against the Kinshasa agreement.”
You would be forgiven for thinking that he was speaking as a zanu-pf politician.
Boy, oh boy, it had cut close to the bone.
He said the “precarious position” that Zimbabwe found itself in lay in the “failure or delay in the realisation of the anticipated diamond”.
He complained that Zimbabwe was “a poor fragile economy and, therefore, it must be allowed to sell and benefit from its resources”.
And the most important part: “In my 2012 Budget, there are capital projects of US$600 million which are totally dependent on diamond revenues.”
If this would not convince anybody of the existence of sanctions and indeed the US’ superintending of Zimbabwe’s suffering, then nothing would.
But things were much better for Tendai Biti, as minister during the tenure of the inclusive Government.
That was for obvious reasons: the MDC component of the Government had to be given all the support so that they became visible and be able to show the electorate as the alternative to zanu-pf, which America and her friends hate.
Hence, Biti often received undeserved plaudits such as ‘’the best Finance Minister’’ in Africa.
Today some people tend to look back in some kind of nostalgia, and even tip him to be minister again.
Which is rubbish, of course.
But things ought to be hard for zanu-pf.
And, poor Patrick is the Finance Minister.
Sometimes you pity him because he has to move mountains.
There are those that expect him to be a Biti – which he appears trying to be – and there are others who like him to be more zanu-pfish and think revolutionary and away from Western boxes.
He doesn’t seem to be buying the latter.
His path is the IMF/World Bank path.
He is playing by their books.
Sometimes people observe him to be playing to the gallery of the West and its institutions.
To his credit he has been earning top marks from those quarters.
And in his latest statement, Chinamasa divided opinion – as illustrated above – especially as he proposed to cut civil service jobs by a massive 25 000, cut allowances and bonuses.
That was immediately shot down by Cabinet.
It gave us a sense of déjà vu.
And the one curious thing that came out was the deluge of sympathy that came from the opposition – with friendly suggestion that he resigns.
Obert Gutu wrote a big eulogy on his Facebook wall and gave subsequent interviews to the private media.
He said in part: “I know how this guy operates. If I was in Patrick Chinamasa’s position right now, I would do the honourable thing and proceed, forthwith, to tender my resignation as the Minister of Finance & Economic Development. Surely, for Chinamasa, a veteran lawyer with a very keen and incisive mind, there should be a life outside the zanu-pf Cabinet. Or is there?”
Go to the NewsDay website now and type in “Chinamasa” and here are the headlines in sequence:
“Mugabe betrays Chinamasa”
“Chinamasa gets another Mugabe slap down, yet ‘another bookish casualty’
“Chinamasa should walk away from zanu-pf madness”
“Govt U-turn sinks Chinamasa reforms”
In the penultimate piece quoted above, the NewsDay editor writes an opinion piece in part reading: “Chinamasa’s heart and mind are in the right place, Zimbabwe needs painful austerity measures, but he is in bed with people who do not have the country’s interests at heart and are willing to burn it just to remain in power.
“If Chinamasa has any integrity and pride, then there has never been a better time to walk away from it all, with a clear conscience and the respect of most Zimbabweans.”
Interesting! (And, oh, there is that part where we are told that President Mugabe, the principal, has disappointed his appointee . . . but surely?)
Perhaps it is about time Cde Chinamasa counted his teeth because we surely think there can be no good coming from such kisses from the devil and their little men.