ONLY in Zimbabwe is speaking oneâ€™s mind to a gathering of colleagues regarded as â€œdisruptiveâ€. Arthur Mutambara tells his colleagues in government a few home truths and all hell breaks loose. Ministers walk out in protest â€” the same ministers who denounced MDC-T ministers when they walked out of cabinet!
Then, all the paid parrots in Zanu PF (and thatâ€™s a fair number) rush to denounce him in what has become their customary collective squawk.
But what exactly did he say to stir this hornetâ€™s nest? He said last yearâ€™s elections were â€œfraudulent, a nullity and a farceâ€.
But isnâ€™t that what everybody thinks? Didnâ€™t several regional heads of state say the same thing? Isnâ€™t that why Sadc sponsored a government of national unity â€” precisely because the polls had no legitimacy?
So why the melodramatic walkout? Very simply Zanu PF has been attempting to reinvent itself in recent months. It first of all pretended it had been the victim of violence. It now claims that it is the MDC-T which is dragging its heels on unfulfilled parts of the GPA.
Needless to say, the public donâ€™t buy this. But, living in a bubble of its own making, Zanu PF propagates a number of silly claims including the suggestion that it is more nationalist than anyone else! Hence the contrived outrage when Mutambara tells it like it is.
But what is lost here is that the DPM was talking about rebranding. It was impossible to brand a country in a positive way so long as its leaders behave badly, was his central point. This is a drum he has been beating for some time.
It is a very obvious one. But it doesnâ€™t fit with the delusional thinking at the top of the former ruling party.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the subject of sanctions. There will be no lifting of sanctions until the political situation has been normalised. That means an end to farm seizures and the vexatious arrest of MDC-T members, the removal of Johannes Tomana from the AGâ€™s office, the appointment of Roy Bennett to government, and the opening up of the media.
President Mugabe and his party want the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office to draw up a â€œconcept paperâ€ which can serve as an inclusive strategy for dealing with sanctions, George Charamba told the Sunday Mail.
â€œThere is a general appreciation that sanctions are the most outstanding of the remaining issues and indeed that their impact is pervasive and all-blighting,â€ he said in line with the new Alice-Through-the-Looking-Glass double-speak.
But this misses the whole point. The West will not lift sanctions until Zanu PF stops beating, cheating and lying.
So long as Mugabeâ€™s supporters persist in sabotaging the countryâ€™s agricultural base, continue to propagate hate messages in the state media and refuse to license alternative media, Zimbabwe will be regarded as a rogue state.
Can you imagine a state in which the losing party retains control of the mass media to conduct a rearguard offensive against the winning party and to oppose democratic change? Thatâ€™s the same as Burma!
Mugabe is reported as telling Morgan Tsvangirai that his â€œexpectationâ€ and that of his party was that there should be definite steps by MDC-T to have sanctions removed â€œbecause the party was responsible for their impositionâ€.
It is to be hoped that Tsvangirai reminded Mugabe that sanctions were imposed in response to electoral fraud and political violence. The MDC was on the receiving end!
The president reportedly told Tsvangirai that the MDC-T should make specific approaches to individual EU member countries asking them to remove sanctions. They are likely to remind Tsvangirai of the fate of Pierre Schori, head of the EUâ€™s election observer mission in 2002 who was booted out for being a little too observant!
And what should they make of a government that ignores rulings of the regional court in Windhoek that has declared the current wave of farm seizures contemptuous, lawless, and racist?
Zanu PF must stop dreaming. Sanctions will go only when the main obstacle to change has been removed.
The Zimbabwean carried an interesting statement by Zapuâ€™s interim chairman in South Africa, Dubizuzwe Joli, last week. He outlined the politics of patronage in Mugabeâ€™s Zimbabwe.
â€œIf you are connected to the ruling elite you become untouchable,â€ Joli pointed out. Those who refused to acquiesce in the system are victimised, he said.
â€œLook at what happened to Mutumwa Mawere. Just because he was not well represented at the top, we had the state taking away everything he had built from his own sweat, and after about five years of him living in exile, we have Gideon Gono eventually writing to Mugabe and saying: â€˜I think we made a mistake.
We were wrong on A, B, C, and Mawere should get all his businesses back because he committed no crimeâ€™.
â€œIf Mawere had remained in Zimbabwe he would have spent all this time in jail,â€ Joli added, â€œpaying for sins he never committed. He might even have died in there. That is not the way to govern a country and that is why we want Mugabe to go.â€
Can you imagine anything more damaging as governmentâ€™s recently announced policy on Bippas? It is as clear as mud. Foreign investors cannot be guaranteed security of tenure on the farms because their presence may be used â€œby people with ulterior motives to reverse land reformâ€, Patrick Chinamasa told the Business Herald.
This follows inordinate delays in signing a Bippa with South Africa.
The government would not tolerate any agreements that â€œimpinged on the sanctity of land reformsâ€, Chinamasa said. â€œIf they are agreeable to exclude land from the agreements, then the Bippas will be signed anytime.
â€œWe will however not agree to agreements that undermine and cause confusion over the land issue.â€
The South Africans were then told to stick to mining which they do best!
You can imagine how this went down in the boardrooms of Johannesburg.
Land grabs have hereby been translated into a holy mission which â€œcannot be reversedâ€. That presumably includes multiple-farm owners and beneficiaries of arbitrary expropriation.
No investor with a grasp of events in Zimbabwe will sink his money in the country in those circumstances.
And the MDC-T should speak up because Chinamasa is citing the GPA as grounds for a national consensus on this murky policy. Once again we see the peculiarly Zanu PF charge of â€œcausing confusionâ€ being brought into play. It is a serious offence to â€œcause confusionâ€ within the ranks of the party faithful.
Professor Welshman Ncube provided an example of the sort of confusion that can arise from a policy of cosying up to oneâ€™s former enemies.
There were many divergent views on the Bippa that needed to be accommodated, he said.
â€œSome of us were viewing the whole concept from outside and now we are inside our view is different,â€ he said.
Indeed, thatâ€™s what happens when you become part of the new property- owning elite!
By the way, what exactly does Bippa stand for? Is it Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement or Bilateral Investment Partnership Protection Agreement? Can we have some clarity.
Finally, we learn that the ZTAâ€™s celebrity host programme, which saw the likes of Joe Thomas and Luciano being invited to Zimbabwe, has been a dismal â€” and expensive â€” flop.
The Sunday Mail reported last weekend that critics have questioned the wisdom of these ambitious projects that have consumed huge amounts of forex with â€œno tangible resultsâ€. That in turn has led to more funds going down the ZTA drain when Nigerian partners called in to help produce The Zimbabwe I Know that sought to market the country in an â€œentertaining and creative wayâ€ had ideas of their own as to the storyline.
The Nigerians were only supposed to â€œedit a few thingsâ€ but soon took control, we gather.
â€œThey were supposed to edit and improve on the script that we gave them, but they changed everything and it has lost meaning,â€ ZTA boss Karikoga Kaseke told the Chronicle. â€œThis is supposed to be a destination rebranding film, but they just made it into another film,â€ he said.
The Nigeriansâ€™ attempt at â€œperception managementâ€ clashed with that of the ZTA, it seems, and the ZTA was â€œnot amused at allâ€ by the changes the Nigerians made to the script. After several costly visits to the country, the Nigerians had â€œgone quietâ€ we are told.
Definitely something wrong here. Whoâ€™s ever heard of â€œquietâ€ Nigerians?