By Taungana Ndoro
ZIMBABWE’S policy makers continue to hesitate opening the Pandora’s box where a haunting catastrophic economic crisis is intensifying its p
arasitic dimension, as they perpetually confront a futile economic solution instead of the political domain that bred the calamity.
Western governments and monetary institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have carefully orchestrated an ill-conceived problematic political conditionality insisting that Zimbabwe pursue democracy and the rule of law in exchange for aid but the integrity of their “virtues” is extremely questionable given the extent of the human rights abuses presently predominating in the scandalous Iraq war — the brainchild of the “democratic” west.
While other African countries contain formal acknowledgements of democracy in their constitutions, Zimbabwe has been overt about its own needs and has set out a democratic agenda at its own realistic pace specific to the desires peculiar to it as a sovereign country. The result of the West’s demands has been brutal retribution disguised as economic sanctions targeted at the hierarchy of the ruling party but in effect bloodsucking on the ordinary citizens regardless of their political affiliation.
We often hear that Zimbabwe’s problems emanate from years of maladministration, poor governance, lack of democracy, human rights abuses, unwise spending and risky disregard for tomorrow but let us pause and take a long hard look at desperate efforts made towards rectifying these allegations and what reward, if any, has come out of the pains encountered in an attempt to create the Utopian society fertile in the imagination of the west’s so-called democracy.
The move in Zimbabwe, to launch an Anti-Corruption Commission, increase political pluralism and introduce a cut-throat monetary system, no matter how noble the intentions, the price of fuel still went up, the price of food and basic commodities still skyrocketed with reckless abandon and neither was there significant reduction on external dependency for essential services such as health facilities. The cruel paradox of all this is the injustice of Zimbabwe and other third world countries subsidising the western countries and their ignoble monetary institutions through reparation of huge debt deficits that impact heavily on the Zimbabwean men and women on the street.
Without prejudice, Zimbabwe’s policy makers have been miserable subjects of gross political manipulation perpetrated by western governments to ensure that even though we obtained Independence on April 18, 1980 after a bitter struggle the annoying strategy was to ensure that economic muscle remained with Anglo-American conglomerates and former colonial powers.
It is therefore crucial to realise that the present crisis in Zimbabwe has deep roots. The political manipulation succumbed to by the policy makers was an appropriate circumstance for the emergence of incompetent civil servants who fed fat on a convenient opportunity to breed corruption.
The political manipulation included fostering experimental and unrealistic Economic Structural Adjustment Programmes (Esap) that led to a decade of rising interest rates and falling export revenues from the late 1980s onwards. The malady of Esap made Zimbabwe a net exporter of vital foreign currency subsiding the rich western governments and institutions while at the same time the very same organisations mockingly blew the horn in apparent concern for the horrible decline in standards of living for the poor third world countries in general and Zimbabwe in particular.
Esap, no matter in which country it is implemented, can only be enforced through barbaric means that require undemocratic and totalitarian measures. Only a cold-blooded capitalist would expect a resemblance of democracy in a country writhing from the wounds of IMF and World Bank erroneously recommended structural adjustment programme. The fact of the matter is that the IMF and the World Bank operate as commercial banks and are boldly and shamelessly making profits from Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole.
The demands of these institutions are blatantly undemocratic in conception and consequence as they hinge on the threat of depriving Zimbabwe of dearly needed loans and grants and the denial of a certificate of creditworthiness that would encourage a financial rescue for Zimbabwe by other international financial institutions. In effect, this signifies deliberate and vindictive assault on Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and autonomy.
Democracy and sovereignty in Zimbabwe have been under threat from the very day the constitution for an independent Zimbabwe was negotiated at Lancaster House in 1979 in the United Kingdom. By the time Independence was finally proclaimed in 1980 the once brave and uncompromising revolutionary politicians had cooled-off and had been manipulated into more accommodating positions such as leaving a generous amount of fertile land in the hands of a minority white race at the expense of the majority black race. The subdued policy makers called for calm and order, not to mention reconciliation. The popular democracy promised earlier had conceived a stillbirth.
The ugly consequence emerged with the Third Chimurenga in 1998 that sought to redress the land distribution imbalances as the failure to promptly improve the quality of life of the ordinary people soon brought disillusionment and shattered hopes with the policy makers and in due course the serious political crisis triggered the creation of a spontaneous opposition political party in 1999.
In spite of its surprising popularity however, the opposition was simply not organised enough to a degree where it could benefit from the unforeseen opening of political space.
Zimbabwe had become a democracy at the expense of its sovereignty and is to this very day still trying to clutch at the straws of its autonomy given the wretched erosion of the value of its currency, the deplorable deterioration of its democracy and the pathetic denial of its sovereignty. Maybe the time is ripe for reflection and not reaction.
* Ndoro writes from Harare in his personal capacity.