This marriage, arranged by Thabo Mbeki and Sadc, has been in trouble since the beginning, although it has given the people of Zimbabwe a welcome respite from the polarised violence which led to the killing of 200 MDC activists, mainly its militia, and the destruction of tens of thousands of houses, cattle, goats, chickens and food stores of purported supporters of MDC-T.
What are the achievements and failures of this shot-gun marriage? On the positive side we have seen the end of inflation, which was reported to be over 200 000 000% in January 2009. The suspension of the Zimbabwe dollar was enough to bring about the end of inflation, demonstrating beyond any doubt that inflation was due to the 200 000 000% increase in the money supply.
Another achievement has been the influx of investors, mainly from South Africa. However, this was going on even before the GPA, as South African business people have been buying up Zimbabwean houses, factories and mining rights at cheap prices. The partial recovery of the health and education sectors ha also been an achievement of the GPA.
Negatives include the continued violence, both physical and through the hate media, against members of MDC-T. The justice system has also been used for political gain. Another negative is the failure to provide cash to the GMB to pay mainly communal farmers. Hence communal farmers are unable to pay fees and buy seeds and fertiliser, promising another year of even worse hunger.
The MDC-T has not managed to defuse the hostility of the armed forces, particularly of its leadership.
“Sovereignty” has been interpreted as taking land from whites, and giving it to blacks, this takeover being politicised and racist rather than targeted at real farmers. “Indigenisation” has also been politicised, meaning that mainly Zanu PF elites would do well. Unfortunately the majority haven’t done well. Indigenisation has meant naked capitalism, but is against outside capitalists.
What is the answer for Zimbabwe? We need to look at the interests of Zimbabwe and of the majority of Zimbabweans, and not at the interests of a small minority, whether this is the white minority of the past where about 4 000 white farmers held 13 million hectares of land compared to 1,8 million black farmers who held 19 million hectares of land, or the black minority of today (only a few hundred of the elite profiting from the wild printing of money whilst the majority, especially pensioners, were a pauperised by the same policy). We should definitely not return to the wild printing of money and the distribution of “goodies” only to the political elite.
Property rights are important. Leasehold for farm land is common in most countries, and this should be the same in Zimbabwe, with only two restrictions: land can only be owned and inherited by real farmers and land must be sold at controlled prices rather than at market prices.
This naturally stops serious investors. Government should look at advantageous agreements with multi-national mining companies rather than the practice of “jambanja”. “Jambanja” may be good for the violent few, but is totally disastrous for the nation as a whole. “Jambanja” does not bring development. Government should support Zimbabwean industries, by providing low interest loans linked to productivity and export income.
Finally we should move away from racism, whether this was the white racism of the past or the black racism of today. The answer to Zimbabwe’s future cannot be racism, a form of fascism.