I RECENTLY interacted with Zanu PF political commissar who is also Minister of Local Government, Saviour Kasukuwere, on Twitter. He had tweeted about the state of the nation address (Sona) recently presented by President Robert Mugabe in parliament.
“#Sona emphasis is ‘Let’s get involved & build our economy’. ME’s should be facilitated. A new economy is emerging & which we will be proud of”, Kasukuwere tweeted.
But I challenged him by stating that Mugabe’s government, which he belongs to, has been making many empty promises since Independence in 1980 with little or no fulfillment at all.
Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, a political flip-flopper whose current allegiance is with Mugabe, quickly joined the discussion predictably defending his party.
I however lost patience with responding to Moyo because I thought he was just arrogant and I continued engaging his colleague, Kasukuwere. We kept on debating and disagreeing until midnight.
However, what struck me the most is the zeal, or rather the optimism, exhibited by Kasukuwere and Moyo as they defended their party position.
On the same platform Kasukuwere was praising Africa’s richest man, Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, portraying him as the saviour for Zimbabwe’s economic woes.
It is alarming that the entire country is now pinning its hopes on one Nigerian tycoon, who has promised to invest in power generation, cement and coal mining, among other deals, we are told.
For me this is but just one of the numerous Zanu PF propaganda machinations meant to divert attention from real issues affecting the people of Zimbabwe. It has become a regular ritual that whenever all hope seems lost as the economy continues to implode, we are told about multi-billion-dollar deals to resuscitate our economy.
Headlines in the state media have been screaming about Zimbabwe being poised for economic recovery since I was in primary school while in reality government has failed to arrest the slide of the economy for well over a decade. It is all just a babble of promises and deals that are never implemented, such as the US$750 million Essar deal to resuscitate Ziscosteel signed in 2011 but appears to have collapsed.
Last year in August Zimbabweans woke up to screaming state media headlines that the country had signed nine “mega-deals” with the Chinese government, and the deals would be a major boost to the implementation of the country’s latest economic blueprint, ZimAsset. Up until now there has been nothing tangible to talk of as far as the deals are concerned, save for unsubstantiated reports that there is major progress towards their implementation.
The Dangote deals are coincidentally coming just after Mugabe’s Sona. Again, the headlines were screaming that the economy was on the path to recovery thanks to Mugabe’s 10-point plan revealed in the address. Seems we are always on a recovery path.
Surely, have we become so desperate as to pin our hopes of economic recovery on one wealthy businessman? The truth is that Zanu PF wants to act as if they are doing something about the ailing economy, in this case implementing ZimAsset and the 10-point plan. Most Zimbabweans will never be enticed by this cheap politicking.
These are just desperate attempts by government and we know that most so-called deals remain a pipe dream. We can justifiably remain sceptical about all these deals because they have failed to bring food on the table of many Zimbabweans.
Mortgaging the country
The sad reality of pinning our hopes on elusive foreign direct investment (FDI), like what our desperate government is doing, is that we are parcelling out our country to foreigners, never mind about the 51% indigenisation policy which is being waived for the Chinese and Dangote.
There is no country the world over, especially in the developing world, that has prospered only through FDI, which some scholars have described as a form of modern-day economic colonialism.
With this route, we are exposing our country and making it vulnerable to exploitation by capital. At this rate, it is undeniable that Zanu PF is mortgaging our country for pieces of silver. What our leadership fails to realise is that Zimbabweans also want to hear about food security, they want better education and better health facilities.
After these “mega-deals” are signed, no one knows what was actually agreed, what are the targets and timelines and what our country is gaining out of them. This lack of transparency is why most Zimbabweans remain sceptical about these deals.
In this the media has been doing a great disservice in failing to fulfill its mandate of informing and educating the masses. Quite telling is the lack of details concerning the deals. The reports in the media just scratch the surface without giving in-depth reportage on the deals.
It would be equally interesting to do follow-ups on deals that were reported on in the recent past. What happened to them? Were they implemented? That way we would bring the government to account so that they stop taking people for granted by selling them dummies.
At the same time, apart from us hearing about the billions of US dollars that Dangote is worth, I am sure most Zimbabweans would want to know who exactly is this guy and what has he done before? What is the connection with our government that makes him ready to “pour in billions”, as the state media puts it?
Vava is based in Chipinge and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org. This article first appeared on Waza Online.