Deliver the Greenbacks

DO Africa’s liberators lack the guile to match their high principles? 

The tide of liberation sweeping across communist East Europe after decades of state rape produced leaders of the moral stature of Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa.

Africa too has had more than its quota of leaders like Ken Saro Wiwa, prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for his abused and neglected people in the Niger Delta. Why then are so many of Africa’s Iron Curtains still standing?

Morgan Tsvangirai should have his requiem composed now, when many still remember the good intentions, the sacrifices he made.   Why wait another year, by which time his squabbling and infiltrated party will have been completely outfoxed?  And his lieutenants will have stripped the gravy train of the last toilet seat?

He should consider the permutations. Sanctions are lifted — the state parrots will say that is what had brought Zimbabwe so low.  Sanctions are not lifted — they’ll say the weekend farmers were denied the opportunity to get Zimbabwe’s agriculture back to pre-1997 levels.

Consider that the MDC pulls out of the 2011 elections, citing abuse of food aid and agricultural inputs, youth militia, the suborned public media, Tomana’s selective use of the judiciary to punish electoral violence — and it is accused of putting self ahead of the suffering masses. It goes through the election, and is accused of being a bad loser.

What happened in the MDC’s tactical department that even on the currency front, tails it loses and heads the other side wins?

The nightmare of queuing in banks for worthless Zimbabwe dollars is receding into the past. No currency per se could ever be a magic wand.  It only provided the window of opportunity to restore confidence in the economy.  Give him another year and Gideon Gono will be riding back like a knight in shining armour with his Zimdollars as much in demand as ever, while the MDC fails to deliver “its” US dollar.

A currency is nothing more than a means of rationing, of levelling the ground between those with the willingness to produce and those with the appetite to consume (not always evenly matched between nations or even classes within a nation).

The Chinese yuan has a tendency to be strong — very strong. But the Chinese have been castigated for unfair competition for years by US manufacturers for keeping it weak.

Moving to the opposite end of the spectrum, Hugo Chavez defies orthodoxy and tries to keep a weak currency strong.  He is increasingly and predictably failing to provide his people with electricity and other essentials, despite having vast reserves of oil.

Our demand that the Zimbabwe dollar stay strong became an invitation to foreign producers to smash and grab.

Many revolutions have compromised too much at the last hurdle, when the race for future generations is lost or won.

They found the ghosts of the ancien regime, like the Securitate in Romania or the crony capitalists in Russia, lingering on long after the night of euphoria had faded when Nicolae Ceausescu and his grasping wife Elenor were lined up against a wall and shot, or the Iron Curtain was dismantled.

Mr Tsvangirai, sir, if you have decided that there is nothing that the ruling party (for that is what it remains) can do that is so bad as to justify the MDC pulling out of the unity government, Zimbabweans have indeed lost their nerve at the final hurdle. Our liberation has not begun with the US dollar and rands pouring in from the diaspora and the donors.

It will begin when US dollars and rands flow from the sweat of all Zimbabweans falling on our own soil.

John Bennett is a Zambia-based commercial farmer.

 

By John Bennett

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