By Denford Magora
IT was a pathetic little attempt to grab the attention of the world powers. Zimbabwe has got uranium, President Robert Mugabe said. And we are going to use it to generate p
Do not believe a word of it. This latest assertion is as true as his claim that the country would have fuel in “a few weeks”. That claim was made several months ago and we are still to see anything at service stations.
Indeed, if this country had uranium, that special commodity would have been sold to the Iranians a long time ago, and the money used to pay for fuel, electricity and water treatment chemicals that have now made Zimbabwe the toilet of Africa.
As the newswire services immediately pointed out after President Mugabe had made the uranium claim, Zimbabwe also spoke brashly about getting a nuclear reactor from Argentina in the 1990s. Nothing has been heard of that since. The truth of the matter, it would appear, is that Zimbabwe has no uranium.
It is all a cruel joke played on the people of the country. Why, it may well be asked, would the president of a whole country promote such an untruth?
We can put a hypothesis forward. Of course, this same man told an untruth about fuel being available in abundance in a couple of weeks and then slunk around in silent embarrassment for months afterwards, thereby establishing a pattern that started long before the uranium claim.
Why this latest obviously discredited claim? Some of us will venture a guess. Could it be that our government is now so desperate for dialogue with the Western powers that it now pretends to have uranium? Is the hope that, when this claim reaches the ears of the West, they will turn around and try to befriend Mugabe and his crew in order to block any sales of uranium by Zimbabwe to the likes of Iran and North Korea?
It can be read as follows: Zanu PF is so desperate to engage in talks with Western powers that it will manufacture non-existent uranium in the hope of extracting promises to be bailed out of the hole it has dug for itself.
Certainly, this is how it is already being viewed in Western capitals, whose intelligence services dismissed this idea out of hand almost as soon as the words left Mugabe’s mouth.
Some have pointed out that, up until now, Zimbabwe was not known to have any deposits of the metal. The government is so broke that it has no money for its own bus-fare, let alone enough money to prospect for minerals.
And, indeed, we know that we have so few deals coming through these days that even just the promise of prospecting for uranium would have sufficed to send the whole of the state media into a frenzied mania.
So it is highly unlikely that a prospecting team from another country came into Zimbabwe, discovered uranium and then left for their own country without this wonderful thing being revealed even once. We have had to hear it from President Robert Mugabe, the international man of mysterious fuel deliveries at a low-key ceremony in Zvimba. Credible? Hardly.
What this tells the people of Zimbabwe is that our government has now reached the end of its wits, if it ever had any. This latest gimmick to try and panic the world into discussions with the ruling party should actually send shivers of alarm through all of us.
It says that our government is now clutching at straws. The scapegoats, as this paper pointed out recently, are quickly running out. Next year, the country will have nothing to eat even if it rains cats and dogs simply because Joseph Made and his Agriculture ministry have failed year in and year out to organise agriculture.
Didymus Mutasa has failed dismally to see the multiple-ownership saga come to a clean end. The excuse of drought will not wash next year and we wait with bated breath to hear what excuse they will have when the harvest proves inadequate? Maybe British premier Tony Blair is walking the fields of Zimbabwe sowing salt into the earth so that nothing grows! Stranger things have been seen to happen by our paranoid leaders!
Then of course there is the embarrassing incident with the fuel. The excuses we got first time were that fuel prices have gone up on the international market, hence we could not buy as much fuel as we wanted with our little forex. Details of the forex used for fuel were not given, mostly because the details were “zero”. Now, however, international oil prices are at a four-month low.
It is being forecast that oil will be trading below US$40 a barrel by January. Demand in the Western hemisphere was not that high this past winter, because of unusually cosy winter temperatures. So, the excuse about the high international price of oil has fallen by the wayside. And our government has gone silent, still can’t provide fuel, a basic ingredient for the proper functioning of any economy.
Undaunted, they mouth off platitudes about wanting an economic recovery, wanting to turn the economy around and about failure not being an option. It is just so much nonsense and everyone has woken up to that now.
Of late, Zanu PF has got into the habit of exhorting the people to “pull together”, to “play their part”.
There are calls to refrain from corruption even as alleged well-connected flour smugglers are let off the hook without a good enough explanation to the people of Zimbabwe.
Beaten and bowed, the state media has refrained from investigating this very real story. They are shortchanging the people by not exposing what “not enough evidence” means. Why? Because there is one law for the leaders of Zanu PF and their relatives and another set of draconian laws for the rest of the population.
If it was MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s nephew who had been accused of smuggling flour or gold, would we have heard the end of it?
Would he not have been paraded before all the papers and a link found to his uncle?
Would it have been conveniently found that there was “not enough evidence” against him?
Oh no! He would have been pursued high and low.
And herein lies the root of our government’s desperation. Like that proverbial monkey, it wants to free its hand from the hole in the tree-trunk, but refuses to let go of the nut that makes this impossible. How can you be fighting corruption when you yourself are so attracted to it, so reluctant to let it go?
Would you start a fire against this corruption knowing full that the fire will, in the end, consume you as well?
All these contradictions and half-measures are now catching up with Zanu PF as are the lies.
Desperately then, they see their last hope lying in dialogue with Blair that the president was begging for earlier this year, around the time of the talk about that non-existent “South African loan”.
Yes, dialogue with Blair and United States president George Bush is now first prize. But why should these two men who could live, nay thrive without Zimbabwe and Mugabe, talk to the rulers of Zimbabwe?
This is where the uranium talk comes in. It is Mugabe’s last hope. He needs rescuing and he needs it badly. So, some wit in his office must have counselled him that feigning the discovery of uranium would have the West beating a path to his door.
Whereupon our government would make demand upon demand and thereby buy itself time at the very least, if it was not able to actually get any monetary benefit from this concoction. It is sad and pathetic. But it is the Zimbabwe we live in today.
If, by some crazy chance, the uranium is indeed in existence within our borders, our failure to exploit it to bring foreign currency into the country would only be yet another damning indictment of this rudderless government. Uranium is in high demand for peaceful means all over the world, from France to even Iran itself.
Selling the uranium we have now would have been a walk in the park and it would have brought such a windfall of foreign currency that we would have managed to plug the forex gaps that have now turned into yawning chasms.
* Denford Magora is a Harare-based marketing executive.