By Tafirenyika L Wekwa Makunike
WHEN President Mugabe an-nounced that the time for bookish economics was over with the appointment of Gideon Gono as governor at the Reserve Bank, some thought perhaps we must
give this government the benefit of the doubt.
The confusion arising from the alchemy concoction of the so-called “Gonomics” to date, has resulted in what Professor Tony Hawkins once called voodoo economics.
For the Zanu PF government, it is fire-fighting to the hilt without an inch of strategic thought in sight. My fervent hope for the country is that if it cannot learn from its so-called enemies then at least it should take a leaf from the so-called friends.
On August 16, I had the pleasure of being invited to meet the delegation from Nanning City at the Palazzio Hotel in Fourways, Johannesburg.
On arrival I was showered with a nicely packaged capitalist present.
Nanning is the capital city of China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region of China which in 2004 won China’s Most Competitive City in Exhibition Industry.
The Vice-President of Nanning People’s Association, Huang Hanming in a characteristically capitalist, less than 10-minute speech, outlined their agenda.
He explained that they had visited because South Africa comprises 30% of the entire GDP of Africa, and the economy of Gauteng is 10% of the African economy and South Africa is the biggest trading partner of China in Africa. So to develop a good business relationship with Africa it was necessary to develop strong ties with Gauteng in particular and South Africa in general.
With pumped up music and nicely-animated slides they made a presentation which showed big companies such as Walmart, Macdonald’s and Phillips that have aided the annual growth rates of as much as 9% in the last 10 years. After that he then arrayed his team of Chinese capitalists.
Gosh! These guys are communists right but they have mastered how the capitalist system functions. China’s foreign currency reserves as stated in October of 2004 stood at US$540 billion.
A country cannot generate that kind of level with a head in the sand communist rhetoric but by systematic application of economic principles. Whatever China and the USA may say to each other in the political arena they are so steeped in each other’s economies that they will never do anything to damage that relationship.
China is up to its neck in US bonds and US companies are up to their necks in the Chinese economic frontier.
When I was still living in Harare and I had foreign visitors, I would take them to the Mbare and Glen View crafts people. The idea was not to parade our poverty but to show the resilience and creativity of common people.
Even now that I am currently based in South Africa, I sometimes take visitors to Soweto not just to show visitors that Nelson Mandela used to live in a Rugare-like home but to get them to feel the true story of the African people.
I am all for cleanliness but I am not for the unbudgeted haphazard destruction of the livelihood of people and the impairment of their dignity. If every government was to behave like Zimbabwe, then the Korean traders one encounters near the White House in Washington selling memorabilia, the Zimbabwean street traders in Johannesburg or Gaborone or the traders in London or Rome would not survive Operation Murambatsvina.
If we are to buy the story that too much black market activity was taking place in these areas then why punish only the poor foot soldiers while rewarding the rich dealers?
I understand the rich can now import 2000 litres of fuel, no question asked as to the source of funds and in case they are in a hurry they can use their black market-sourced dollars in Harare. My foot!
The basic laws of supply and demand cannot be violated. A call I received from Harare tells me that the rand is pushing beyond $7 000 and no-one can convince me this is good for the Zimbabwean economy. We are busy confronting the effects of the economic melt-down but not the causes.
The problem is that if a country persistently runs down its economy then its own people begin to have trouble in affording assets in their own country. Who is really working for the British: the MDC or Zanu PF?
Who has systematically run down local banking institutions and cast aspersions on the few surviving ones so that British-owned banks – Barclays and Standard Chartered Bank – can consolidate their positions in Zimbabwe?
Zanu PF decimated the middle class by various strategies to the extent that now, Zimbabwe just has the poor and the rich.
For the president to say he will not talk to the MDC is being disrespectful to the millions who voted for the party in urban areas just like it would be disrespectful to the rural masses for Morgan Tsvangirai to refuse to talk to the government.
It is colonial mentality for President Mugabe to only want to talk to British premier Tony Blair but not the local people. It is a rabid hatred of anyone with the same skin colour as oneself. It was the same mentality that allowed one to forgive Ian Smith but refuse to forgive Abel Muzorewa, the late Ndabaningi Sithole or Chief Kayisa Ndiweni.
Perhaps the man in Beijing should talk to the man at Number 10 Downing Street together with the man from Tshwane and invite the MDC and Zanu PF as observers?
Zanu PF has made Zimbabwe ripe for the picking by economic vultures. I would be more comfortable with national assets in the hands of Strive Masiyiwas, Mutumwa Maweres, William Nyembas, Mthuli Ncubes, Julius Makonis, James Mushores, and Nicholas Vingirais of this world than others from beyond.
Granted, some of them were turning into crooks but what was required was to fine them for their economic crimes and rehabilitate them. In any case, their dealings were all a result of the voodoo economics of the day. With Gono’s no-questions-asked policy Zanu PF-aligned dealers are making killings in fuel deals at the moment.
Apart from mortgaging the rest of the surviving national assets to the Chinese, SA conglomerates own all the platinum reserves in Zimbabwe.
SA empowerment companies own more than 60% of the gold mined in Zimbabwe. The economy has been mothballed to the extent that most locals cannot afford any of the assets judging by the comical slow uptake of the 15% in Zimplats.
Zanu PF has pauperised the Zimbabwean people and not empowered them. There seems to be a spontaneous hatred by Zanu PF for any black-owned businesses partaking in the national cake unless they are party folks. It was the Chinese who popularised the notion that the colour of the cat whether black or white did not matter as long as it caught mice.
* Tafirenyika L Wekwa Makunike is a Zimbabwean currently based in South Africa.