Saturday, 11 August 2007

Zimbabwe: King-makers and king-minders

Zimbabwe: King-makers and king-minders

The import of the Jonathan-led media strategy for British interests here are quite clear: regain initiative for the British by turning the aftermath of the price blitz into widespread disenchantment and even dissent.

Which is why this week’s issue of the Independent is solely devoted to this one matter, with clear indications of more soaking coverage next week and beyond. It is a campaign which has been boosted by the more emphatic entry of dollar-wielding Americans into select newsrooms, with a good number of journalists drawing dollar payments for the dirty propaganda job they are doing for America.

About this, I shall have occasion to say more in future. Suffice it to say a frantic minds campaign is in full swing. It is important to situate it. Its most obvious form is the suggestions of deep divisions within Zanu (PF) and its Government, pitting supposedly powerful political figures against that Party and the policies pursued by its Government. This includes suggesting that the Governor of the RBZ is not only opposed top the whole campaign, but is slowly finding new political parentage in certain camps.

Ironically, hardly weeks ago, the same organs depicted Gono as a victim of those same camps. The propaganda works by deracinating Gono from his natural policy habitat, namely the Party and Government, all to make him look like a reasonable man trapped by Zanu (PF) madness. Which is why Gono’s policy advice to Government on prices was smuggled to South Africa for a judicious leak through the Mail and Guardian, itself part of this mind strategy. Or the recent leak of innocuous Central Committee minutes by the same forces. The gift is publicity freebies.

Indecent copy

It helps to recall that soon after Goromonzi, the same Jonathan sponsored the idea of a widening opposition to President Mugabe, even declaring that the so-called Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions had stumbled on new and sizzling love, and were soon to combine effort to bury Mugabe, their common enemy. He is at it again, yarning another impossible theory, which, as before, is set to be mocked by events. None of his scenarios ever obtains, which is why none, except the most gullible or dogmatic, still regard him as decent copy.

Pound for principle

At a less obvious level, the above thrust is limping Anglo-American coalition, trying to regain initiative after the failed Dell-announced, price-based, regime-change attempt. It is to get shelves empty through boycotts by an embittered colonial white bourgeois class. It is to get ordinary Zimbabwean consumers to react to those empty shelves, hopefully by taking to the streets. After all, the Anglo-Americans reason, urban people are a purchasable people, fickle creatures of expediency and tempting offers.

They pawn pound for principle, a tribe of no fixed loyalties. The same way these urbanites wrecked Dell’s price-led regime change strategy by embracing Zanu (PF)’s price blitz counter, is the same way they are likely to jettison Zanu (PF) in the wake of current shortages.

The hope is, with a few sweeteners, they will re-embrace the same old politics regime change. And what a better way of accelerating this mind change, than by suggesting a government cleft into two: from the Presidency right down to the villager!

In such a psyche — and the Independent is key to generating it — the recently won over urbanite will feel insecure about Government pricing policies, lose confidence in the sustainability of those policies against a "crippling" response from those who put bread, meat and salt on the shelves.

Surely greater power is with he who stops man from living on bread, than he who declares a good price for non-existent loaves! That insecurity, once created, is then redirected against President Mugabe and his Government. And, of course, a campaign against Mugabe needs a figurehead, needs leadership.

Dissenters who will not resign

Which explains why this whole thrust by the Independent to undermine the price war, is underlaid by a not-so-clever attempt to carve sense and reasonableness out of certain politicians the Anglo-Americans have always sold as sole alternatives to President Mugabe and his Government. So and so has stood against "Mugabe’s price madness" in the Politburo, in Cabinet . . . blah, blah! It is to project certain elements as both reasonable and brave, real internal counterpoints to Mugabe and his Government. Seen that way, the link and continuity with the post-Goromonzi discourse and objectives becomes very, very clear. I suppose the only new element is that Jonathan’s British-inspired support and membership to this supposed political wing is now much more obvious, much more blatant and confident as we predicted it would be, in the count-down to March 2008. He needs a home, ahead of March 2008.

Smiting revolutions, stroking egos

The temptation is to read a message solely from the political behaviour of this motley crowd, in the process erroneously suggesting it is a political player in its own right. It is not, never will be until Kingdom comes. The British and Americans are looking for an effective instrument for destroying President Mugabe and his rabidly nationalistic politics of liberation, which for them is the bane of the Southern African post-settler state. With their disappointing experience with Tsvangirai and his MDC, the two imperialists have concluded that such a weapon has to emerge from within liberation movements themselves. That means encouraging dissent from within, or turning whole movements into dissidents against their old sensibilities of liberation.

And the template for this paradigm runs the whole gamut of dissent: from the bloody and protracted form it took in Angola, Mozambique, and half-heartedly and uncharacteristically short in Namibia’s Caprivi, to seemingly suave and even constitutional but nevertheless destructive form it has and is taking in Zimbabwe, South Africa and again Namibia.

In our case, running parallel to the demonisation of the President is a glamourisation of certain figures and persons of obvious frailties, handicaps and primitive vices. Seemingly, these must be the alternative to Mugabe, indeed the much-yearned-for successors to "post-Mugabe Zimbabwe".

Washed and oiled by fawning British.

But this glamourisation is bedimmed by the obvious questions it provokes in the minds of the enlightened and conscious. There is a vain attempt to make these glorified figures surpass and live outside the same "culpable historical moment" the British and Americans so delightfully replay and exaggerate to "convict and condemn" Mugabe.

Ironically, it is a history they not only lived abundantly and fully, but one they made and must therefore defend. They were there as players as nascent Zimbabwe grappled with the challenges of statehood and nationhood, and thus accountable for both the goodness and madness of those times whose excesses the British now play up to self-serving ends. But the British have washed them immaculate, washed their "sins", oiled their sheens! And this is the core contradiction from which they should have, but failed, to read the Anglo-American intentions on Zimbabwe. Why does Albion selectively condemn, selectively absolve?

Fear of militant recidivism

Well, simply to harness them as tools – blunt tools – with which to bludgeon and remove Mugabe, and pacify his restive aftermath. Blunt tools, weapons of limited assignment, weapons which should be very quickly destroyed soon after use. British and the American overarching goal here is to defeat the ethos of liberation for which Zimbabwe is the rallying point. And a campaign to defeat this baneful ethos can never install elements bred by that revolution. Iraq dramatises fully the dangers of recidivism as characters hewn from militant liberation politics relapse to those disruptive politics. In the case of Zimbabwe where post-Mugabe Zimbabwe must mean a Zimbabwe dominated by the ousted white landed gentry, those fears are real.

Real kings versus king un-makers

One truth stands out from this: the so-called Mugabe’s successors will never be kings themselves; they can only hope to unmake Mugabe’s "kingship" for foreign interests. Imperialism considers them thoroughly unsuitable for the so-called "post-Mugabe era", both on account of their personal deficiencies, and on account of these Anglo-American designs and calculations for Zimbabwe and Southern Africa. In the unlikely event that the imperial strategy triumphs here — and God forbid — the next president of an obeisant Zimbabwe will walk straight from the womb of the West, never a half-caste walking from a schizophrenic womb of part liberation, part post-independence titular capitalism under Western eyes.

This is why Arthur Mutambara has better credentials and prospects for a British-shaped post-Mugabe Zimbabwe than the so-called Zanu (PF) reformists all combined to the power of two! The deep selling effort we saw recently on the BBC Hardtalk programme is important from that point of view. As for our reformers, it is clear that their very foibles and the so-called "sinful" history which Britain and America today so readily and calculatedly gloss over, shall be re-hashed and used to knock them out of the race for Zimbabwe’s future president. They shall never be kings, not even makers of kings, for the succeeding history will be both unfamiliar and unfriendly, making them and their people mere bystanders for a start, and then chattels for a very long time into an unknown future they will no longer be at ease with.

Shaking off the blasé

Which means what? Well, simply that all those associated with the Zanu (PF) revolution have to shake off the very dangerous blasé attitude we are notorious for, when it comes to the defence of this State to emerge from the struggle. Partly because of its past achievements and victories, partly because of the deluding weaknesses of the made-in-England opposition, Zanu (PF) underestimates the threat that the country faces.

Or overestimates its security against existing threats. Of course, one does not want to raise needless alarm. After all, it is a fact that even though facing formidable enemies, Zanu (PF) is not under any serious threat. Although facing many challenges, Zanu (PF) and its Government are as strong as ever, with any angles of vulnerability being only those it allows, in order to manage this false opposition by granting it an illusion of making headway in its ungodly enterprise. But as we always maintained, post-Blair Britain is very hostile, very desperate and therefore more dangerous. It has been trying schemes here. We need to raise our collective vigilance, deepen our political work in mobilising the people to defend their sovereignty.

Securing power’s neighbourhood

It is true that urbanites have a dollar price tag, true that they are creatures of impulse, whether from pain or from pleasure. They are not moored the same way the rural people are. Yet they live in the neighbourhood of the power we wield and use to defend the revolution, the same way that peasants who created it, live quite away from it. A very close and percipient friend recently reminded me of Amilcar Cabral, specifically Cabral’s warning that unrelieved difficulties can de-legitimise a just cause, indeed can turn the people against their very interests. From that point of view, Zanu (PF) needs to manage the aftermath of the price blitz. A clever and durable revolution is one that tackles the vast social questions, while ministering to the concrete and immediate needs of the ordinary man and woman, whose embitterment and want could be disruptive.

I daresay imperialism has seen an opportunity in the present price blitz for boring a chink in the hardened armour of Zanu (PF). The strategy is to harp on non-availability of basics, while traducing the broad goals of making goods affordable. Imperialism is cynically telling the common man and woman that Mugabe’s good prices have driven essential goods from the shelves! And Mugabe, it claims, is now saying let them eat good prices! Compounded by claims of divisions within the leadership to hint at paralysis, to suggest a Government is at its wits’ end.

Wrong brags and grabs headlines

It is a situation not helped by the absence of visible political work and rallies by politicians of the ruling party. It is as if we are indeed at our tether’s end, as if we are completely overwhelmed by the so-called empty shelves, and are even feeling guilty about it. Except for Gono, all those within Zanu (PF) who are said to be opposed to the price blitz seem to like the confirmatory stance of non-rebuttal. And no one has had the courage to challenge and goad them to resign, itself the only politically sensible way of showing meaningful objection and dissent to policies that you claim prick your conscience.

All this has created a brooding environment where just men and women appear wrong, isolated and besieged; where turncoats appear correct, reasonable and in the majority. A new culture of conspiratorial silence is besetting the environment, a culture where wrong brags and grabs headlines, while good is made to appear unsure and defensive. That has to end. Neither placement in the governing structures nor role in liberation history places anyone above compliance with programmes and protocols of the Party which is supreme. If anything, both make deviancy even more culpable. Which is why people must speak out, calling a spade a spade.

Defending the hand that feeds

But the present times place responsibilities on all who have gained from the Third Chimurenga. Many have got land; most have been accessing various facilities for which people like the President and Gono have had to be persecuted on the heinous charge called "quasi-fiscal expenditure". And now many are in receipt of agricultural equipment which will lift their fortunes to meteoric heights. Frankly, many have made money, good money from the Third Chimurenga, now besieged. Is it not about time they requited this beneficence?

When children devour their revolution

The beef which is artificially short and around which imperialism is making political capital, does not grow in coldrooms. It grows on the farms which these beneficiaries control. So do the many things these white merchants are withholding to browbeat the revolution. Is it not about time we came forward as the newly made force of Third Chimurenga, itself the source of all the conveniences wrongly credited to OK Zimbabwe and Greatermans? Anyone on the land cannot understand those who claim Zimbabwe has no food. He or she has all that is needed on the farm. He or she has surplus, marketable surplus which he or she might be withholding in the hope of plenty.

Inadvertently, we have become part of the politics of regime change — children devouring their revolution, to give the Jacobin terror a new twist. In so doing, we imperil our prospects, both collectively and individually. Which is why the old wartime slogan again recalls: iwe neni tichine basa!
When nonsense crosses the border
What is all this hype about Zimbabweans leaving the country in droves meant to achieve? Frankly, the story is just getting downright stupid, and anyone lending veracity to it – whoever they are – is an idiot. Cross-border shopping is not a vice. Please. It is a virtue of nations that live in contiguity, a prime source of integration of peoples and nations. Zimbabweans who are going to Musina, Livingstone and beyond, are expressing Zimbabwe’s buying power. Fullstop. What is the problem? Who has a problem? When a false story did the rounds in South Africa that the Zimbabwe Government was about to stop Zimbabweans from shopping in South Africa, South African retail businesses immediately lobbied their government to get assurances from the Zimbabwe Government this was not so. For towns like Musina would have shrunk, shrunk overnight. Who has a problem? Today they boom on Zimbabwe’s purchasing power. Why allow these bloody white Rhodies space to play dangerous politics with buoyant trade relations that keep neighbouring tills ringing, roaring?
Blaming Mugabe for colonial history
Does not the same go for our highly skilled and disciplined labour force, today the motor of agricultural South Africa? And why allow white political parties whose constituencies are, in fact, the sole beneficiaries of cross-border shopping and labour migration, to play politics with makers of their wealth? Why give it a veneer of veracity? Historically, we have had Zambians crossing to Victoria Falls for daily supplies, indeed many Zambians who drove to Zimbabwe to buy basics, both for their homes and businesses. The practice only relented a few years ago. It was not a big deal. The Tswanas send their children to be educated here. In Bulawayo. In Harare. Again, no big deal. Historically, the bulk of Rhodesia’s labour came from Zambia and Malawi. Historically, the bulk of South Africa’s labour came and still comes from the whole of Southern Africa. Both are consequences of asymmetries of colonial development. They were not made in Zimbabwe, still less by bloody Mugabe! Come on, why do we allow Anglo-Saxon bastards to incite us, to lecture us from on high? Are they not the culprits for the distortions we have lived through, both in history and presently? Don’t we see through their depraved strategies?
Creating refugee camps, making a case for UN
In case we do not, here is the strategy laid bare. The “big” idea is to inspire a violent sense of xenophobia among neighbouring peoples who will begin to view Zimbabweans as threats to their well-being, indeed as explaining their ever declining welfare. It is to create a scapegoat for black Southern Africa’s irreversible sinking into abject poverty, long after nominal uhuru. If the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe got hermetically sealed, allowing no Zimbabweans to cross into South Africa, would the slums and convulsive indigence of black Soweto end? Would black South Africans emerge the next day as owners of Sanlam? Or would the massive extraction of Zambian minerals currently madly going on, stop? Beyond creating scapegoats for the ever-deepening poverty levels, it is also to encourage the hunting down of well-meaning Zimbabweans in order to create artificial refugee camps for Zimbabweans in South Africa and other neighbouring states. That way, Zimbabwe becomes a subject of the UN. Does it not? We had many refugees from South Africa here in the days of apartheid; many refugees from Mozambique during the days of Renamo. We never created refugee camps here, no. Instead we integrated these neighbours, keeping them well for better times. Not a single cent from the UN. Or from the so-called concerned donors. One hopes our neighbours do not seek to bask in the present bitter assault on Zimbabwe for her just and non-negotiable pursuits, which is soon to end. It will be a big mistake. Icho!
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