Editor’s Memo

All is good

Vincent Kahiya

MANY people argue that dictatorships offer the best hope for rapid economic growth in poor countries, often citing the experience of Asi

an Tigers in their theses.


Malaysia and Indonesia have become models of this experience, which many leaders from poor countries liberally cite to justify authoritarian rule. It is argued that open political systems like multi-partyism are not necessary for economic growth.


But political instability is a major impediment to economic growth. Instability, implying risk, limits investments and hence growth.


Zimbabwe has over the years been experiencing severe political instability which has inhibited economic growth.


Exponents of authoritarian rule have been quick to point the world to their immense achievements, which they always claim can never be attained in the so-called democracies. And even when the record is there for all to see, strongmen would like the world to believe that they are busy-bodies toiling to achieve common good. They insist their economies are on a recovery path even when the opposite is true. All problems are externally generated by those opposed to their rule. They are never wrong.


President Mugabe, who was in Maputo, Mozambique, on a three-day official visit this week, is a disciple of this subterfuge – all is good in Zimbabwe.

He told journalists just before his departure from Maputo that the economy was on the mend and political tension had eased.


“We are now, day-by-day, regaining a noteworthy political and economic stability,” he said.


“…Political tension in Zimbabwe is easing, the economy is growing,” he said.

But in which direction Mr President? How many jobs have been created or saved? How many new investors have come into the country over the past four years? Why are we scrounging for foreign currency in the diaspora if the economy is on the mend?


There are more poignant truths to debunk these presidential assertions. Perhaps the subjugation of civil society through strong-arm tactics and promulgation of archaic laws to counter dissent can be considered “noteworth-stability”.


Mugabe does not need to look far for signs of instability. War veterans have taken up the cudgels against the old-guard in Zanu PF. Violent campaigns by Zanu PF cadres have been reported in Mutasa and parts of Matabeleland as jockeying for the 2005 election builds up.


What about the tension created by Mugabe’s silence on his retirement plans? The opposition MDC’s decision to keep the nation on a knife’s edge by setting conditionalities for participating in next year’s poll has also added to the stability, we presume.


Zanu PF in its infinite wisdom has already declared that it will not accommodate a key MDC demand of access to the public media. Zanu PF has also bunked SA-sponsored talks meant to thaw relations with the MDC. And with it stability is being restored by day?


All is good in Zimbabwe.


The country has never had problems of its own making. The only instances we have admitted to having problems are when there is a drought or floods. Cyclone Eline-induced floods were the source of all our problems for a good three years.


At the height of the fuel shortages two years ago we were told Britain was “hijacking ships” on high seas and paying higher prices for fuel destined for Zimbabwe.


Now we have been told the country has a grain surplus. The government has imported thousands of tractors from China, France and Iran to ensure tillage problems are “a thing of the past”. All winter wheat will be harvested on time because there are enough combine harvesters. The best judges of this effort are farmers on the ground. We do not have to wait long for the verdict.


There is even more deception. The country will acquire planes from China. The Chinese would like to build the Harare-Chitungwiza railway line. Plans to implement the Matabeleland Zambezi Water project and the Kunzvi Dam project have been at an advanced stage for over two years now.

Failures are not of our making. We are born winners.


The latest excuse for our problems is Tony Blair and George W Bush. Next year’s poll has even been dubbed an anti-Blair election. How about this campaign message to the Zimbabwe electorate – “Vote against Tony Blair for jobs, housing and better health facilities”?


If his Labour Party loses the election next year, all our suffering will be a “thing of the past”.


But imagine this summation by Voltaire being enacted close to home in the 21st century.


“A Lucullus in good health, dining well with his friends and his mistress in the house of Apollo, can say laughingly that there is no devil; but let him put his head out of the window and he will see unhappy people; let him suffer a fever and he will be unhappy himself. – Philosophical Dictionary, 1764.


Tous est bien.

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