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Shameless propaganda

By Mutumwa Mawere

THE role of the West in undermining post-colonial democratic institutions is a subject that requires its own debate but is not a new subject. Many post

-colonial states have found in imperialism a convenient and potent defence against their own bad governance and human and property rights abuses.

The spin doctors of bad leaders in many of these post-colonial states now make it a habit to use terms like “economic saboteurs” to describe any behaviour that they deem to be contrary to the entrenchment and sustenance of misguided policies and programmes.

The reasons Africa continues to blame colonialism and imperialism for the poverty trap that it finds itself in are multiple, but the underlying agenda in the strategy is obvious and deliberate — to divert attention from the core problems that are humanly created.

With 53 countries, the African continent remains universally challenged to live up to the expectations of the majority of its citizens for a better life and its leaders appear to deliberately invest in confusion politics, with citizens bearing the brunt of the abuses as if to confirm the worst fears of the colonialists whose protracted defence of an exclusive society was premised on the fear of majority rule that could easily be manipulated by the dangerously wise.

We have unfortunately allowed ourselves to be abused by the few who have monopolised state power for personal aggrandisement.

The post-colonial experience has now been converted into an environment where having state power is synonymous with wisdom and integrity.

The rights that the post-colonial constitution purports to vest in citizens have now been alienated from citizens by a cabal of individuals who have made a significant investment in making citizens afraid of what tomorrow may bring.

In 2007, the African continent stood as one in making it possible that President Robert Mugabe was invited to Lisbon and, in doing so, the continent was sending a message that an injury to one is an injury to all.

The consensus among African leaders is that Africa continues to be poor because of the machinations of the West and as long as the colonial injury exists, no African state has found itself as a friend of post-colonial justice even in cases where it is evident that the victims are not only white.

It cannot be said that the victims of post-colonial Zimbabwe are race-specific given the arguments that have been advanced in the recent past suggesting that a list exists of enemies of the state even in the ranks of the ruling party.

At the ruling Zanu PF party’s congress last month, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono, in front of his principal, made the disclosure that national interest was being compromised by the greed of a few senior members of the party.

However, Mugabe could not challenge Gono to name them or even risk arresting him until he exposes the culprits. Instead, Gono chose to threaten to expose the alleged criminals not to the law-enforcement officers but to parliament for reasons that are well known.

The argument advanced and widely accepted by many Africans is that the West is up to no good and any opposition to bad governance by African citizens is necessarily driven by non-African interests and can never be owned by Africans themselves.

For how long can rational people blame third parties for what is patently obvious?

Even Gono has accepted that the demonetisation project was ill-conceived and yet no one can dare challenge him for fear of being exposed. It has been confirmed that Gono has a list (a long one for that matter) of all the people he has compromised and who would not dare refuse to be used like David Butau attempted to do. Any person who operates on the basis of blackmail will one day be the ultimate victim of his own actions.

Having successfully convinced the African constituency including Sadc leaders that Zimbabwe is not a victim of post-colonial bad governance, it is now apparent that the spin doctors have been at work trying to convince the Zimbabwean public that the West has planted evil seeds in selected African minds who masquerade as businessmen when in truth and fact (according to official propaganda) they are agents of imperialism bent on destroying the motherland.

In the post-Lisbon summit period, Zimbabwe has been plunged into another inevitable and predictable crisis in the form of cash. No one could have imagined that something that never happened in the colonial state could visit a proudly sovereign nation like Zimbabwe — ie citizens being denied access to their own cash assets and banks running out of cash.

To help explain this disaster just like has happened before, the governor of the RBZ who is the most visible propagandist against the targeted sanctions regime imposed by the West came up with the expected explanation that the cash crisis was a creation of nameless and faceless “cash barons”.

Gono has challenged citizens to expose his alleged criminal conduct fully knowing that he is in charge of all the law-enforcement authorities who in any event would not dare act against him. Evidence is plenty and even Butau must have what Gono does not want Zimbabweans to know. What is evident is that Gono is running out of steam and enemies outside the state machinery are now difficult to come up with.

What is significant about the cash crisis that is confronting the Zimbabwean economy among many other governance issues is that the finger is pointed at other people than the state itself.

While Gono chose to blame the cash barons and used the already financially compromised Butau as the vehicle for diverting attention, George Charamba, Mugabe’s official spin doctor who seems to regard himself as holier than thou and the only genuine revolutionary, conveniently stepped in using the now familiar argument that the West was responsible for the cash crisis.

In any normal society, Charamba would have been referred to a psychiatrist but it has now been accepted that his boss really expects to hear that behind every crisis in Zimbabwe, the West must be involved.

In a desperate attempt to implicate the West in the cash crisis saga, it was expected that given that Gono had run out of propaganda currency he needed the assistance of Charamba who may after all be also a beneficiary like Butau of the mafia-style goodies from the RBZ.

When Gono invited himself to a parliamentary committee chaired by Butau, those who know him very well would have known of the trap in which Butau was going to be the sacrificial lamb. The facts of the case are that Butau, like many Zimbabweans, did not know that by being a beneficiary of Gono’s assistance he had become a convenient instrument to be used when conditions called for it.

Even Charamba whose views and opinions represent the president has not dared challenge Gono even in the face of monumental policy bankruptcy suggesting that Butau may not have been alone in the Gono compromised individuals. To what extent Gono has corrupted the state machinery using the various so-called sanctions busting quasi-fiscal activities will remain a secret.

Given the manner in which Gono has been using the state media to whitewash and bamboozle the public, it may not be inaccurate to say that the president may not be fully aware of the true nature of Gono’s operations.

Butau joins the list of targeted individuals who may know who Gono is but are easily silenced in the name of national security. Anyone who stands in the way is easily labelled an economic saboteur.

Does Gono have a plan for Zimbabwe? This is a question that many enlightened Zimbabweans have already answered but it is evident that the majority of the citizens are in the dark when their future is being mortgaged and wasted by the corrupt few.

In an unprecedented manner, Charamba was reported to have caused stories to be published by the Herald on Saturday (December 29) entitled: “Govt raps West for sheltering fugitives” and another one published on January 1 entitled “Zimbabweans outraged at UK’s harbouring of fugitives”, in which he attempts to blame Western countries for the cash crisis.

He makes the outrageous allegation that the economic problems of Zimbabwe are being manufactured in the West because the victims of Gono’s misguided policies have been given sanctuary in Western countries.

The entry of Gono as governor has seen the criminalisation of many honest Zimbabweans for political expediency. New crimes have been invented and victims have been selectively targeted so as to protect the president from taking responsibility for the collapse of the state.

Under Gono’s stewardship, the informal sector has grown tremendously and is now more efficient than the formal sector that the post-colonial state proudly inherited from the colonial state.

Charamba would want the world to accept that the collapse of the state is being engineered by external forces and he has now turned his attention to the very victims of Gono who like many black Zimbabweans had to flee Rhodesia to the West.

Charamba may not be aware that in as much as he would like the gullible public to believe that the West is the problem, many Zimbabweans were given sanctuary by the West during the UDI days including Mugabe’s late wife, Sally Mugabe.

The list of Zimbabweans who were educated in the West during the colonial days is long and yet Charamba would want the victims of bad policies to seek sanctuary in African states fully knowing that Mugabe’s policies have been endorsed unanimously by the same states which campaigned for the EU to invite him to the recent Lisbon summit.

The victims of the government of Zimbabwe are not only white in colour but are also black like me. After the experiences of Chris Kuruneri and James Makamba who were remanded in prison only to be acquitted after serving time (with no judicial involvement), Butau was right to take the position that no justice would be served if he remained in the country fully knowing that the barbarians were at the gate with Gono leading the charge.

It was only James Mushore who naïvely thought that sanity had been restored sufficiently for him to go back to the lions’ den. He not only became a victim but also has affected the career of the Attorney-General who has since been suspended.

If Butau chose a country in Africa, then the long arm of Zimbabwean injustice would have caught up with him. As he rightly said, he would risk “rotting in remand prison” for a crime he did not commit.

Who is this Charamba? Judging from what Charamba is reported to have said, it is evident that he thinks he is the judge, jury and executioner.

He is quoted as having said: “The criminals follow the sponsor. Increasingly, it’s becoming apparent that we are no longer talking about mere economic crime; we are talking about economic subversion that has the blessings of foreign interests.

“When you follow the footsteps of criminals and indicted persons this suggests a new geography of crime which connects Zimbabwe to Britain, Australia, the US and New Zealand. And it so happens that these are exactly the same countries which take a negative stance against Zimbabwe’s politics of land reform.”

Charamba makes the allegation that persons like Zimuto, Makoni, Makamba, Chekeche, Muponda, Paradza and others including myself are pawns of the West and are, indeed, sponsored.

He and his gang are the authentic custodians of the state. What arrogance! We have seen this kind of irresponsible nationalism and patriotism take a dangerous twist over the last few years and it has now become necessary to respond to this abuse.

Surely, Charamba must be smart to know that Zimbabweans are smarter than what he wants to reduce them to. The attempt to privatise the state must be fought with the urgency it deserves lest Zimbabwe may soon become a den of gangsters masquerading as state agents. When Charamba speaks one must know that the end is near but what we know is that like Jonathan Moyo who is also alleged to be on Gono’s payroll, it is important that we critically examine what is being said and for whose benefit.

* Mutumwa Mawere is a businessman based in South Africa.

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