Professor Moyo’s pyrrhic victory in Addis

INFORMATION minister Jonathan Moyo this week scored a diplomatic victory for Zimbabwe after he deflected from public scrutiny another international indictment of Zimbabwe’s governance record.

=left>A report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa dubbed “Progress Towards Good Governance” presented in Ethiopia brought out the best of Moyo’s pettiness.

His delegation, which included Labour minister Paul Mangwana and sidekick Tafataona Mahoso, felt “ambushed”. They argued the report had been “smuggled” into the meeting before Zimbabwe was afforded the opportunity to respond to its contents.

The same mantra was used at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa three months ago when Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge opposed the tabling of a report by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the specious grounds that it had not been shown to Zimbabwe prior to meeting. This now appears to be the official line to avoid embarrassing truths. Zimbabwe’s control freaks want to edit or, better still, author all reports about the country to be presented at international gatherings. But the devil can never exorcise the evil in his own heart!

Allegations of poor governance contained in the ECA report are not new. This does not make them any less important. In fact, they bolster other reports which have been prepared on Zimbabwe before.

The state media back home was celebrating Moyo’s attack on the report and the “applause” he received from delegates. We were also offered excerpts of Moyo and Mangwana’s jagged exchanges with the ECA secretariat. Men of valour in a distant land or just bully-boys holding fort for the incumbent? Zimbabwean diplomacy has become consistent with the character of a serial bully who wants to undermine and destroy anyone perceived to be an adversary, a potential threat or who can see through the mask.

Zimbabwe’s government ministers are becoming past masters of this subterfuge and getting more brazen about it back home.

But this will not cleanse Zimbabwe of the bad boy image it has earned over the years courtesy of poor governance and economic mismanagement.

Officials at international fora who have buckled under pressure and admitted that Zimbabwe should be treated differently, have become hostage to fortune. We did not hear many complaints by other countries mentioned in bad light in the report, except Kenya which argued that it was in fact doing more than most other African countries to fight corruption. We still don’t know what Zimbabwe was accused of or what Moyo and his team were mad about. What was the applause for?

Lack of a strong rebuttal by other Africans have served to bolster Zimbabwe’s conspiracy theories that all negative reports on the country are compiled by our enemies feeding from the hands of Tony Blair and George W Bush.

The Zimbabwe government has alleged, albeit libellously, that the ACHPR report was compiled by local NGOs and individuals such as former Law Society of Zimbabwe president Sternford Moyo. Conspiracy theories are also being concocted to rubbish the latest report.

Sapes Trust which helped to prepare the report this week said the document was handed to the Ministry of Foreign Affair prior to the meeting.

Zimbabwe has as a result escaped censure, creating an ideal environment in which to incubate retrogressive systems of governance at home. Regional countries have not voiced concern over Zimbabwe’s blatant disregard of tenets of the Sadc Electoral Principles and Guidelines recently signed by President Mugabe.

Other countries on the continent have opened themselves up to peer review. They are prepared to defend the issues coming out of reports and, if need be, make corrections. The success of the Nepad peer review mechanism (which Zimbabwe can never join in its current state of paranoia) depends largely on states submitting themselves to peer review.

Nepad steering committee chair Prof Wiseman Nkuhlu in April told the second African Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa that “part of the purpose of the peer review mechanism is to show why countries such as Botswana and Tanzania are able to attract foreign investment while others are not able to do so”. Countries that set up good governance systems are rewarded with increased investment.

Zimbabwe’s manoeuvres to black out all reports critical of the state and the incumbent are poor diplomacy in every respect. Blocking reports on Zimbabwe will not move the country beyond the radar of international attention. In fact, it is an advertisement of diplomatic thuggery that will not endear the country to the international community. Zimbabwe badly needs investors, markets for its primary goods and balance of payment support. Cheerleaders do not bring food on the table.

This infantile preoccupation with swaggering and bluster has become the hallmark of our foreign policy. The world is watching the charade and waiting for the next prank — probably at the ACHPR’s 36th Ordinary Session in Dakar, Senegal next month.

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