By Sapien Sapien
A SOMBRE atmosphere is, at this point in time, engulfing the entirety of the once-serene and tranquil southern Africa region with orgies of violence escalating at an alarming rate in countries that constitute the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) regional bloc.
Images of dastardly deeds of looting and usage of heavy weaponry were not synonymous with, and to, Sadc but viewers and observers within the region were accustomed to such happening within the “Arc of Instability”, an area above the equator, specifically Middle East and North Africa, commonly referred to as MENA.
It is a sad chapter for the region, a chapter that needs a holistic introspection and a factual analysis of the evolution of violence that now is proving to be endemic to the region.
Violence that proliferates in South Africa goes beyond the logical definition of xenophobia.
What we are witnessing is an exponential increase in violent extremism, a manifestation of behavioural radicalisation and escalation of anarchy, despondency and a disintegration of the post-colonial African state and its models of societal cohesion.
It is sad to recognise that sub-Saharan Africa is composed of a bludgeoning youth bulge, which bulge can be a source of opportunities, but which bulge can also prove to be a vulnerability that can erupt at any time if intricate measures are not taken to guarantee security of person from both natural calamity and man-made catastrophe.
South Africa is burning and images coming out of the rainbow nation are not good.
Vigilante groups are beginning to sprout under the guise of “protecting property”, a function that is the prerogative of the state.
The army has been deployed to restore law and order, a realisation that anarchy is setting in whilst an evidently overwhelmed President Cyril Ramaphosa made a dangerous situation worse by suggesting that there seemed to be evidence of ethnic mobilisation happening insofar as the violence presently manifesting in South Africa is concerned.
Of late, racially-driven executions are beginning to emerge, which point to another seismic point as the conundrum brought about by the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma of South Africa quickly gets out of hand.
The situation is tricky for countries such as Zimbabwe whose economic supply lines are inherently linked to the South African economy.
Zimbabwe depends upon South African and Mozambican ports for most of its maritime trade.
Both countries are under siege at the moment, with bandits and criminal elements wreaking havoc, compromising the already vulnerable economy of a country reeling under numerous calamities such as sanctions, Cyclone Idai, moribund systems that allow vices like corruption to escalate and the corrosive and evidently potent Covid-19 pandemic.
This is a wakeup call for Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe as a country must rethink its economic models and ensure that it attracts capital that definitely is going to run away from these neighboring countries at a speed that betters that of Usain Bolt.
This is an inevitable reality. Capital flight was synonymous with Zimbabwe post-Land Reform in 2000. This, despite obvious evidence of racial undertones and structural rigidities, was a consequence of consensus over fundamental issues. However, all conflicts got a post-conflict phase.
The government of Zimbabwe has been making dedicated efforts at luring investors.
Pragmatism must now follow pronouncements for, if we do not embrace pragmatism and rational thought, any implosion in neighboring states will have debilitating implications on Zimbabwe as a young state.
The vaccine tourism thrust, first experimented with in the resort city of Victoria Falls, can be expanded to lure more people to the country.
The benefit of attaining herd immunity was seen in Europe during the just-ended Euros where thousands were able to attend stadiums to watch their beloved countries play for the motherland.
Those are lessons that can be embraced and used to lure investors for, with the level of potency presently being witnessed with the Delta variant, another composite threat beckons in South Africa once anarchy is contained — the unmitigated spread of Covid-19.
Protection of private property is an important aspect of international trade and commerce.
The stability in Zimbabwe can be used to leverage against the risk of losing access to important corridors of commerce. An environment that is friendly to, and for, investments can be used as an innovative bargain to circumvent the risk of economic isolation that can come to the fore as a consequence of instability in neighboring states.
The instability in our neighboring countries is an opportunity for land-linked Zimbabwe and a threat to land-locked Zimbabwe.
It is high time we used our “core competence” or rather, “comparative advantage”, whichever is apt, to convert threats into opportunities for progress. This needs pragmatism.
I pray for peace in our neighboring countries.
I call upon foreigners, especially in South Africa, to shy away from the temptation of joining the looting spree
- Sapien is a trade and security analyst