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Mnangagwa 'regime change' pushes opposition into panic mode

24 Mar 2018 at 10:05hrs | Views
President Mnangagwa this week knocked out another pillar off the opposition's irksome electoral demands.

This comes after a multiple head cracker when ED announced at his inauguration address that not only was Zimbabwe open for business, but also that all who wished to observe Zimbabwe's next harmonised elections were welcome to do so.

That corruption would bring grief to perpetrators and much more. It was a new regime in charge, it was business unusual. The MDC-T always behaved like it owned the West and was the only one able to confer legitimacy on electoral outcomes.

And until now, hadn't fully grasped the meaning of former president Robert Mugabe's departure and that ED's new regime, riding on a firm foundation of land reform and black economic empowerment was ready to chip away at the opposition's feet of clay by implementing the same neoliberal policies it took as its sovereign turf under Mugabe's reign.

Now its shared friends and shared ideals, the epiphany has thrown the opposition into panic mode. It has no sensible narrative to sell except Nelson Chamisa's youth. But youth without an alternative economic programme is like faith without works.

A vital context for EU
The biggest departure from Mugabe is that ED's invitation extends far beyond African friends and accommodates hostile nations which maintain economic sanctions on Zimbabwe imposed over the fast-track land reform launched in 2000.

The European Union has been among the first to take up the invitation and this week sent a nine-member election exploratory team headed by one Patrick Costello. The team immediately got to work, meeting different stakeholders across the national spectrum, from traditional leaders, civic society organisations and political parties to Parliament and the Chief Justice and finally President Mnangagwa.

The EU team came hardly a week after Zimbabwe hosted the Sadc Electoral Advisory Council on a similar mission. A UNDP team has also been here.

EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Phillipe van Damme said of the EU delegation on Tuesday; "The team has begun its work positively and met the Chief Justice and Foreign Affairs officials."

Phillipe van Damme

This is an important beginning for ED, giving flesh to his bold assertion that "we have nothing to hide".

The EU had an abortive election observer mission to Zimbabwe in 2002 led by one Pierre Schori who came clandestinely on a tourist visa. He had an ignominious exit when his real motives were exposed.

Europe took umbrage at this; that anger endures in its sanctions regime to this day. ED has laid the red carpet for them.

It shows how far Zimbabwe has moved since 2000. Back then Zimbabwe was fighting a sometimes bloody war to reclaim its stolen land. The British Government was the key protagonist, but through ruse, race and shared economic interests as an EU member managed to drag into its war of spite America and the entire EU.

It tried and largely succeeded through racial collusion to reduce an existential matter like the land war to wilful human rights violations by the Zimbabwe Government.

Land war and sledgehammer
Lies and propaganda were used to mask the substance, that the violence which accompanied Zimbabwe's elections was not about keeping Zanu-PF in power for its own sake, but so it could defend and fight the land war to the end.

The opposition, largely, was on the side of Britain and its EU cousins, fighting to stop or reverse the process, where land had been reclaimed. It suffered collateral damage. (Even Mugabe repeatedly said they were not the real enemy.)

But for self-serving reasons, the mantra of gratuitous electoral violence and vote rigging has dogged this beautiful nation, and provided a pretext for the EU, America and the UK to strangulate Zimbabwe's economy in the name of democracy.

Millions of dollars have been spent in Zimbabwe sponsoring NGOs over the years who have turned the whole country to a warren they scan for victims of political violence and hence democratic deficiencies.

President Mnangagwa came to power end of last year. He has promised free, fair, credible and transparent elections. Zimbabwe has nothing to hide. There is no wish to establish a one-party state, hence no desire to destroy the opposition beyond its alienated, anti-Zimbabwe ideology against African land ownership.

On the whole, the physical land war is over, Zimbabweans own that land and the opposition signed up to the Constitution of Zimbabwe in 2013, whose living spirit is that the "land reform is irreversible".

The challenge in our relations with the West since the end of colonial rule is that Europe has tended to resort to its racial sledgehammer in situations where empathy would make it appreciate that for the African, land is more than its economic value, it has a spiritual role.

The same war we fought here is about to begin in South Africa. The West has a chance to demonstrate that its reaction to African causes is not influenced by a sense of racial superiority.

We underline this very important phase of our struggle so that the EU and all those coming to observe our elections this year and still maintain sanctions on our country realise a fundamental truth: Zimbabweans have causes for which they are prepared to sacrifice and suffer - such as the land.

Beyond a few spoilers who have founded a whole industry on choreographed human and property rights violations and exaggerated incidents of political violence, our visitors will find a Zimbabwe which has come of age, whose people are keen to develop their economy, a people who are peaceful and welcoming to foreigners of all races.

The appeal
Those who maintain sanctions on our nation should help us realise our dream of prosperity by removing them without patronising preconditions. They should engage Zimbabwe with an open mind, not preconceived, racist notions of Zimbabweans as a primitive people who must be hand-held along a path to democracy or to a peaceful election.

Those who come in search of political violence are bound to make prophesies of their own prejudices and interpret even an isolated affray as a microcosm of the whole.

That would be very tragic because at the heart of the new regime is a desire to be a part of the global community, but a nation ready at all times to put the interests of its people first - like everyone.

The President has extended an open invitation to all because Zimbabwe has nothing to hide. This is a body blow to an opposition which, bereft of ideas and national programmes, has made a campaign plinth of Western election observers. They are already invited. Mugabe must go; he is gone, regime change, Zanu-PF did it.

The NGO factor
They have been an unsavoury lot sometimes. Very uncivil. Playing nasty, political as an arrow in the West's quiver. Neck deep in politics, to a point where they want to dominate every space: influence who becomes chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, head of the police, the Judiciary and even President of the Republic.

We have already alluded to how they have become an industry and how any positive development in Zimbabwe, especially a free, fair, transparent, credible and non-violent and uncontested election won by the ruling Zanu-PF removes their reason for being.

Their very names condemn them: crisis this and that, heal this and that, human rights this and that. Without a crisis they are dead.

President Mnangagwa has been charitable in his open door policy, dramatically so, too. NGOs in Zimbabwe must have been caught flat-footed this week when he told an African Union plenary session in Kigali, Rwanda on Tuesday, that NGOs had a role to play in Zimbabwe.

This is what he said; "Civil society has a role to play. Yes, sometimes they offend governments by pointing out wrongs that they do, but it's necessary that these things be pointed out so that we can correct them."

Then this gem; "For us to remain in power, we must continuously correct the things that civil society says we are doing wrong and we remain ruling and ruling for more years."

If ever there was need for mindset change, it is the role civil society has played in this country in the past. Zimbabwe has moved on. NGOs can play a truly constructive role, not by supporting Zanu-PF or the Government, but by telling the truth about the positive changes taking place to make Zimbabwe a safe home for all.

His comments in Kigali signal that the animosity of the land reform is anathema under the new dispensation. But they were not being maligned, they know their mischief and why they were so succulently funded by the West back then in a nation under sanctions and are slowly being starved now. ED has given them the benefit of doubt.

LootList: a case for local currency
The LootList released by Government on Monday indicates $591,1 million had been repatriated. There was $826,5 million outstanding. That is to say $1,418 billion was expected from 1 844 entities and individuals suspected to have engaged in "illicit" financial outflows.

Unfortunately, the LootList did not meet the expectations of a nation used to surreal speculation and exaggeration, which had its own WishList. That is why there has been disappointment on many fronts, part of it grounded, some not so.

The Lootlist was always going to be problematic. The initial debate was whether ED would "name and shame" as promised. If he did, it was argued, it would all be G40. To name or not to name, his credibility was at stake. He kept the promise.

Then the WishList kicked in: who did he name and shame? A mixed bag in which it was hard to pick out a G40 or party official or private Ryan. Rumour and reality had a fatal clash and they wanted ED on the cross.

Analysts claimed a number of good reputations had been injured unnecessarily by the exposure, whose legality is under scrutiny. And a majority of the firms named are trying hard to use the CD1 time lag as a shield.

Leaving aside what the law says about externalising local money, we believe there will always be transactional challenges so long as Zimbabwe remains without its own currency. That is why there are so many individuals in the LootList.

For all practical purposes, the US dollar is foreign currency only in principle in Zimbabwe, otherwise it is the local currency, but we are not sure what the limit is on what one can take out of the country.

The LootList in effect only exposes those who used official channels. But we know more goes out because everybody deals in US dollars without the intermediary of a financial institution. The huge vehicle imports and other foreign products tell it all.

Having a real local currency will ensure the US dollar as foreign currency stays in the banks and people apply as needed. It will ensure tobacco sales, gold and other mineral exports make an impact on our reserves; it will ensure we have something to back the local currency and also that investors coming to Zimbabwe can be assured that they are able to repatriate their profits without a hassle.

Goods consumed in Zimbabwe must be paid for in local currency. Back to the LootList. For those complaining of reputational damage, Government has a leg to stand on. The list was accompanied by what amounts to a disclaimer: "Despite concerted efforts by the authorities and banks to request these entities and individuals to account for the externalised funds, the entities or individuals failed, ignored or neglected to respond to the amnesty."

They evidently did not believe ED wanted to name and shame.

The WishList on the other hand doesn't require an apology. It was a WishList. You can't blame somebody because your wish or prophesy didn't come true. If the suspicion had a basis that Mr Individual "illicitly" externalised, the chances are he believed ED would name and shame and took advantage of the amnesty to bring back the money and, as pledged, with no questions asked.

Why should such be on the LootList? ED would have broken his pledge and destroyed his own credibility. The LootList exposes only those who "failed, ignored or neglected" the amnesty period and now cry foul. Fair and simple.

We hope though that lessons are being learnt, very fast too. It's far better to promise less and deliver more.

Fear that validates POSA
Back to Nelson Chamisa and an opposition scared to death and in panic mode. The new regime has pulled the carpet from under its shaky feet. It has been completely disarmed and disoriented by the changes taking place on all fronts, they have resorted to threats and ridiculous demands as fig-leaf for the coming electoral drubbing.

Chamisa manifests the panic. He is fast morphing from an excitable student activist to a dangerous demagogue, obsessed with power for its own sake in the face of defeat. Not to mention that he is resorting to the old script - boycotts, violence, demonstrations, lawlessness.

When he met the EU delegation this week, the spout erupted. We are familiar with most of the MDC-T's perennial demands. He said he had already written to President Mnangagwa over electoral reforms. We doubt he disclosed to the visitors that ED had extended an earlier invitation to all party leaders for a meeting ahead of elections, which conceited Chamisa has spurned because he is "special".

Among the most ridiculous demands, Chamisa says he wants ED to tell him why former ZEC chairwoman Rita Makarau resigned last year. Then he demands that "all stakeholders must agree on the identity of the company that will print the ballot papers as well as audit the quality of the ballot paper itself". Is he aware all Zimbabweans are stakeholders? Is he demanding a national referendum on the ballot papers, because his party doesn't represent all Zimbabweans?

Failure of which he threatened to mobilise activists for street demonstrations.

Then he declared; "This election is going to produce one outcome, and this is victory for the MDC Alliance. We are not going to allow them (Mnangagwa & Co) to reverse the will of the people." If you are guaranteed victory, why resort to street violence? If this is not voter intimidation then we require a new nomenclature.

It is people like Chamisa who validate the need for POSA. He has a militia which beats up party rivals, so far with impunity and now he wants the lumpen proletariat to join in to unleash mayhem, just when investors were gaining confidence in what the new regime is doing.

Plus, we can't talk of free and fair elections when a leader of the main opposition party threatens violence unless he wins. Do we see a Raila Odinga? We wondered what they were doing together at Tsvangirai's burial - despite age difference!

Source - the herald