A fortnight ago Muckraker posited that Zimbabwe is being run by the Mafia, a Comorra-like establishment that calls itself Zanu PF.
A bit of background: the Comorra is the oldest and largest criminal organisation in Italy. The Camorra’s organisational structure is divided into individual groups also called “clans”. Every clan is headed by the “boss”. Comorra clans often act independently, but are prone to feuding among themselves.
In Italy, the main businesses of the Comorra are drug trafficking, racketeering, counterfeiting and money laundering. It is also not unusual for Camorra clans to infiltrate the politics of their respective areas. (Wikipedia)
For Comorra read Zanu PF; for Italy read Zimbabwe!
A report published by Maverick Citizen this week titled Cartel Power and Dynamics in Zimbabwe says nothing new except to confirm what every Zimbabwean has always known namely that Zimbabwe is in the grip of cabals (read cartels) fighting over its carcass and stifling efforts at democratisation.
When the late Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Sibusiso Moyo appeared on television on that fateful November 2017 day, he, in not so many words, confirmed the existence of these cartels without saying, of course, that he too was fronting a cartel that had hitherto been upstaged by the one loyal to Mugabe threatening its hold on power and on the different cash cows in its tentacles.
“We are only targeting criminals around him (Mugabe) who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country to bring them to justice,” Moyo said as he announced the coup.
What was clear to anyone who cared to think was that the coup had nothing to do with the democratisation of the country, but was a culmination of a feud between two clans fighting over Zimbabwe’s resources. One clan boss, Mugabe, had surrounded himself with his clansmen to the exclusion of other clans and that had to be stopped. Now another boss has taken over the running of the country and has or is quickly surrounding himself with his own clansmen. But this won’t end well because each clan has sub-clans which lay claim to their own pound of flesh.
In Zimbabwe, the businesses of the cartels, as Maverick Citizen revealed, are mainly in mining, transport, energy and agricultural sectors and now because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the clans are fighting over the health sector which has become another battleground due to the money that has to be poured in there to fight the disease.
But Maverick Citizen’s account on the origins of cartelism in Zimbabwe is grossly unbalanced. The publication, which says it is an online news publication which focuses on human rights, social justice and civil society activism, neglects to say how sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe at the turn of the millennium had a hand in the consolidation of the cartels which may have been in existence since independence, but at a much subdued level.
Many analysts have pointed out that when politicians and businesspeople are denied the opportunity to do business openly, they go underground. In Zimbabwe’s case, the embargoes thrown at the political and business elite by the West have thrown them into survival mode where they have to do anything to survive. A closer look at these cartels shows they were born out of a desire to bust sanctions which denied them the chance to trade freely with other businesses around the world, particularly in the West.
G40 clansman and former Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi explained it quite succinctly commenting on the latest round of sanctions slapped on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s allies recently saying such sanctions were giving some bigwigs in government leeway to engage in illicit financial outflows and massive corruption.
“My experience in government is that these targeted sanctions are victory handed to the hardliners,” he said. “How they are affected by this — one wonders. Sanctions busting becomes an excuse for illicit outflows and unconventional conduct. It has not worked before.”
So, yes, much as we acknowledge the debilitating effects on cartelism on the Zimbabwean economy, its origins and all the factors that consolidated it must be admitted, together with the capriciousness of Zimbabwe’s leadership.
Zimbabwe touts itself as the most educated nation on the African continent; so where are our universities. South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand has done Africa proud by quickly doing a trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine and quickly raising a red flag. In Zimbabwe we have not heard of any university that has come forward to help in the search for vaccines, let alone in the testing of foreign made vaccines to verify their efficacy on Zimbabweans.
A country cannot boast of its high literacy when it has nothing practical to show for it. This goes right to the heart of Zimbabwe’s education system. It has since been clear to everyone that the Zimbabwean education system is good at producing teachers rather than scientists who invent or produce stuff. All over the world universities are populated with Zimbabwean teachers applauded for their teaching prowess but very few, if any, have added anything to the corpus of scientific knowledge.
This points to an education system that is based on rote learning; all our scientists are good at is regurgitating onto their students what they themselves learned by rote. There is no room for learning through discovery; there is no disruptive acquisition of knowledge. This is showing clearly now more than at any other time in our country’s crises.
Up to now no one knows which coronavirus strain is prevalent in our country. About four strains have been identified around the world. Besides the original SARS-CoV-2 there is also the UK variant, the South African variant and the Brazilian strain. Many more are being discovered around the world. It would be useful if our own universities were also up to speed in detecting which of these variants is wreaking havoc in our own country or, if by any chance, Zimbabwe has its own strain, which is quite possible seeing how fast the virus mutates.
If Zimbabwean scientists had provided this information it would have helped the government make a decision on which vaccine to import. Right now the government is just accepting any vaccine that comes its way because there is no local pool of up-to-date scientists to consult. It’ll all be hit and miss.
Muckraker would not be surprised if there is a wave of vaccine hesitancy or outright rejection of vaccination by majority Zimbabweans when the foreign vaccines are eventually rolled out. The blame will be on the sleepy scientists manning our universities.