Industrialist Anthony Mandiwanza is concerned about “distorted” representation of Zimbabwe and suggests that a “strategic response” is needed to demystify negative perceptions, according to a report in the Business Herald on Monday.
By The MuckRaker
Mandiwanza said some misinformed statements about the country reflected ignorance and stereotypes gripping the nation. He rejected the notion that Zimbabwe was a failed state.
Zimbabwe doesn’t come anywhere near any definition of a failed state, he said.
What was needed, he said, was a strategic response to “misunderstandings” on issues such as indigenisation.
An ideological gap
This project is bound to fail because it is based on a false premise. There are no misunderstandings.
Zanu PF has embarked upon a programme which seeks to satisfy the greed of a small coterie of party apparatchiks. Foreign investors should not be scared away, Mandiwanza said, but should consider partnerships with locals.
We all know what that means: hand over your businesses!
“The policy requires foreign-owned companies to turn over their majority stakes to black Zimbabweans,” he explained. “We hear simplistic comments around indigenisation, but fundamentally speaking, this is a conceptual ideological gap.”
So that’s what it is? An “ideological gap?” The “misunderstanding” on indigenisation, he says, “is an issue which needs to be properly presented, forcefully, so that people can understand.”
What people already understand perfectly well is that indigenisation is not a popular policy. Have you ever seen people marching through the streets with placards saying “We want indigenisation?”
It is part and parcel of Zanu PF’s damaging populist electoral campaign headed by a minister who is actually a failed banker who thinks this is a way to recover popular support. In fact, the MDC is right to promise to repeal it if they get in because nobody wants it and sees it for what it is; the product of a self-serving gang of discredited has-beens attempting to restore their fortunes via smash and grab.
This is precisely what Sadc wanted Zimbabwe to avoid so its contagion didn’t spread to other states. Yes, there are negative perceptions about Zimbabwe, and they are entirely self-inflicted.
Zimbabwe gets the reputatation it deserves. It is the reputation of a failed state. Mandiwanza should stop deluding himself. Once we get a democratic government, the problem of misconceptions will disappear.
One example is illustrative of the problem. Here we are in the midst of an economic crisis but resources are found to subsidise an event featuring Miss Heritage Zimbabwe 2013 and her companion Carnival Queen Zimbabwe 2013. The pair are honoured with a salute from the presidential guard, we are told, soon after their crowning at the event last Friday night. What a waste!
Meanwhile, Mines minister Obert Mpofu has been doing his party proud by denouncing the corruption that corrodes it at every level.
Speaking in Nkayi, he mentioned in particular the massive looting of farming equipment and maize donated under Mugabe’s input scheme.
“People did not want to vote for the MDC,” he said, according to NewsDay, “they did so out of sheer anger after realising lack of leadership among some of us.”
“President Mugabe loves his people,” Mpofu continued, “but the food and farming implements he donated have been abused, stolen by some of the cadres in leadership positions.”
“Some of us have become selfish,” he said, “to the extent that we do not want to help those who are suffering when we have plenty.”
“Food, seed and maize being donated by the president is being sold or given to relatives and friends. Instead of getting a bag of maize some are grabbing 10 leaving others with nothing,” Mpofu said. “This is killing the party.”
Mpofu’s remarks come at an opportune time. Publicists in Mugabe’s coterie have been suggesting that the land battle has been won and there will be “no going back”.
This is nonsense. The party in power will decide whether there is any going back. And given popular revulsion of corruption, the nation will want to see which individuals helped themselves to land and implements. Who, for instance, stripped Kondozi bare? Do those publicists around Mugabe really think they will get away with their ill-gotten gains? They will be held to account one day.
Congratulations to Archbishop Desmond Tutu for his incisive remarks on Zimbabwe. Quoted in the South African press, he said it was the deliberate decisions taken by politicians that had caused “the terrible situation in Zimbabwe, our neighbour”.
Zimbabwe had been a “showpiece country”, he said which was thriving to just a few years ago.
He wished we could return to those days.
“It seems such utter, utter madness,” he said, “the things they’ve done there, destroying a very profitable agricultural sector for example by handing over farms to people who weren’t really able to run them and left equipment to go to seed.”
Tutu came under sustained fire for those remarks. In particular, the Herald’s Isdore Guvamombe launched an attack calling him a “numbskull”. African leaders would be expected at that age to hail land reform, not denounce it, he said.
What Guvamombe doesn’t seem to understand is history is not on his side despite his protestations.
“All and sundry in Africa expect such elders to explain how Africans were dispossessed of their land and dignity,” he claims. “With elders like Tutu, the youngsters are guaranteed to be led off course.”
So Africa’s elders are expected to go along with Zimbabwe’s damaging and counter-productive “land reform programme”? If they see their neighbour’s house burning down, are they expected to set fire to their own? This is utter folly writ large.
Even if one is a beneficiary of that land patronage, they must still be rational.
Bishop Trevor Manhanga has given us a good demonstration this week of why he is no longer invited to do his Martin Luther King impersonations at embassy national day parties. He appears to have dropped off the list of countries which used to admire him so much.
And make no mistake, it was a tour de force. He spoke in the thundering cadencies of his American inspirers. But since then he appears to have strayed. He now believes we shouldn’t demand security sector reform.
“It must be clear to the discerning mind,” he wrote in the Herald this week, “that our service chiefs have gotten a bad rap. The discerning mind will interrogate the long repeated mantra that Zimbabwe needs security sector reform as nothing more than an attempt to weaken the very essence of our nationhood.”
Now whose agenda does that sound like?
“To say that those who gave so much to usher in the nation of Zimbabwe are stumbling blocks to the progress of this nation, is nothing short of practising selective amnesia at best and gross self-immolation at worst. No nation worth its salt assaults its security sector with a view to decimating it and then expects peace. It just is not possible.”
And so he goes on in the vein of what appears to be his new inspirers.
“Where would the DRC be today if our gallant forces had not intervened?” he wanted to know?
None of this will surprise those who have been following the good bishop’s career. It has not been a pleasing sight. And somebody needs to tell him that despite his ringing tones, he is not the man Martin Luther King was and will not be.