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Tsvangirai, Mutambara: If it ain't broken, fix it; if it's broken praise it

25 Feb 2012 at 05:55hrs | Views
The one thing I have always rued about being Zimbabwean is this our propensity to ensure our total compliance with the Sabbath, total compliance with the ten commandments. Zimbabweans would rather they are not born at all than offend against the holy Sabbath. It is that commonsensical: being unborn or dead is the easiest and completest way of total obedience and compliance with the Sabbath. So religiously we oppose our coming into being. So religiously we oppose those things that nourish us for full being so we exist enough to beware of the holy Sabbath. And because this is a preference for piety, we cannot be accused of self-flagellation, can we?

Better starve than
I don't expect any of my readers to contest the foregoing mundane truth about being Zimbabwean. No, I don't. Why should I?

If our sense of holiness, our sense of commitment to the Sabbath and the commandments did not go as far as negating our very being, why then would we be more fastidious about lesser, concomitant values like transparency, rule of law, democracy etc, etc, than we are about our very existence as a people, as a country, as a Nation?

Have we not asked the British, the Americans, the French to invade our country for not being compliant with the Western tenets of democracy? For recovering its land from white farmers? Have we not preferred the life-threatening misery of sanctions to offending against the commandments of good governance as handed down to humanity through Tony Blair? Or suggest that no diamond mining, no diamond revenue should accrue to us before full compliance with the holy commandments handed down to us by the omnipresent KPCS, read and interpreted to us by the omnipotent US, enforced against us by apostles like Saint Farai Muguwu reading the holy scriptures of Rapaport?

We can suffer hunger, suffer typhoid, suffer starvation wages meekly until we get it clinically right in Chiadzwa. That is us, a principled, determined people!

More NGOs than factories
We go a little further, often surprising ourselves. Admirably, we prefer launching an industry around policing our prospects for diamond mining, around locally enforcing America's frivolous demands on diamond mining using the guise and pretext of the KPCS, to launching a diamond mining and processing industry. Look now what we have, what we are! We have not a single diamond sorting company; we have not a single diamond polishing company. Yet we have uncountable well-funded NGOs and advocacy groups on Marange, on America and the KPCS.

We have generated treaties on human rights before diamond mining, than we have on the mere colour or corners of a rough diamond. We prefer few dirty dollars from an America so happy that we are helping it block us from our diamonds, to getting millions, nay billions, we stand to reap from defiantly mining our just claims, our just mineral rights, all of them God-given. To every unworked claim, so many policing NGOs, policing for the West. Factories of and for NGOs galore, factories for diamonds none!

We hold the book of commandments; the hold the nourishing sins. That is us, Zimbabweans fully schooled that man (read African) shall not live on bread alone, sorry, on bread at all! A "Thou Shalt Not" people!

Acolytes of the great Belgian King
"Your essential role," ordered King Leopold of Belgium to colonial missionaries in 1883, "is to facilitate the task of administrators and industrials, which means you will go to interpret the gospel in the way it will be best to protect your interests in that part of the world. For these things, you have to keep watch on disinteresting our savages from the richness that is plenty in their underground. To avoid that they get interested in it, and to make you murderous competition and dream one day to overthrow you. Your knowledge of the gospel will allow you to find texts ordering, and encouraging your followers to love poverty, like 'Happier are the poor because they will inherit the heavens' and, 'It's very difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God . . . ' Your action will be directed essentially to the young ones, for they won't revolt when the recommendation of the priest is contradictory to their parent's teaching. The children have to learn to obey what the missionary recommends, who is the father of their soul."

And then came the quintessence of colonial wisdom: "You must singularly insist on their (savages) total submission and obedience, avoid developing the spirit in the schools, teach students to read and not to reason"! And the worst was to yet follow: "And make sure that niggers never become rich. Sing every day that it's impossible for the rich to enter heaven. Make them pay tax each week at Sunday Mass. Use the money supposed for the poor, to build flourishing business centres. Institute a confessional system, which allows you to be good detectives denouncing any black that has a different consciousness contrary to that of the decision-maker. Teach the niggers to forget their heroes and to adore only ours."

Gentle reader, consider this against our amazing Zimbabwe and tell me whose cow gets gored! Consider especially that this was said in the 19th Century and we are in 21st Century,  good century-plus since. Are we any better from what Leopold wishes us? Tarry thee Jew/ and weigh thy chances with an even hand!

Laughing at ourselves only a little
Or another of our national traits I rue: that of fixing what ain't broken and breaking what's fixed. In local parlance we say kukokorodza dzava mudanga, rounding up a herd already in the pen! I don't want to hurry to illustrate this unique, admirable national trait. It will become apparent eventually, towards the end of this piece, as should also another one, again best conveyed to the reader in local idiomatic parlance: manomano emuroyi kunyepera kutya dzvinyu iye akamonerera nyoka muchiuno. Roughly translated this saying laughs at the hypocrisy of a village witch who feigns mortal fear of a small gecko, while actually carrying a huge viper, all coiled round her waist.

To be Zimbabwean may mean to be all of these heroic things, alongside other stupefying oddities. Let's laugh at ourselves. Just this week, please?

A political rite of passage
Last week Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his new-found sidekick, Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara, went to Chiadzwa for a maiden tour of the much-maligned diamond fields which, ironically, have become an open sesame to all manner of national troubles and challenges. Biblically, Marange Diamond Fields have become the stone which the builders once rejected, but now fast becoming the head cornerstone of national coffers.

Judging by the private media hype around this journey, the two saw Chiadzwa as some rite of political passage, a real proximate to a much-awaited, a much prayed-for heavenly destination. And the fact that this is a protected area certainly puffed their starving, anaemic egos. Gaining admittance to especially protected zones  surely implies special status and credentials, does it not? And during and soon after the tour, all seemed well, all seemed happy and contended.

The Prime Minister confessed to discovering a world-class diamond operation, a claim clearly made hyperbolic by the fact that this is the Prime Minister's maiden visit to any diamond field at all, but a claim also arguably made credible by the fact that until his later days as part of the Zimbabwe labour aristocracy, the Prime Minister worked at a big mine, Bindura Nickel Mine to be specific. To that extent, the fish was in water, somewhat.

Principal or subaltern?
Then came Saturday February 18. The Prime Minister, again in the company â€" or more accurately, his Deputy Prime Minister in tandem â€" surfaced in Victoria Falls at a roundtable conference for that rare breed of business people with this gift of visioning and scoping Zimbabwe as a US$100 billion economy 30 years hence. Both were invited guests; both loved it, especially Mutambara who is beginning to relish occupying the gap left behind by the ailing Madame Khupe.

One wonders why Welshman Ncube is taking too long to notice, taking too long to re-designate Mutambara Tsvangirai's deputy. Or is he being inhibited by his impetuous donation of Mutambara to Zanu-PF, a party that is being hurt daily by the misdeeds of the supposed donation? Surely pointing that out would close the frivolous legal chapter, would it not? At least in the court of public opinion? Who did not see Mutambara shine refulgent in the ambience of Tsvangirai and his garden at Strathaven? I mean that week of the Press conference that purported to represent principals?  Can you visualise Mugabe going to give a Press conference at Tsvangirai's home? Or vice versa? Not quite the role of a principal if you ask me. Or even of Government officials. Or Government communication. By that's all to digress.

Nyika yopera takati pweshe
Victoria Falls saw the two travellers from Chiadzwa chime harmoniously, albeit hierarchically. As with the Press conference, the elder broached the subject, while the restless younger one picked the baton for the longer, winning stretch. In his presentation, Tsvangirai overwrote his initial praise of the mining activities at Chiadzwa by what sounded like an alarmed lamentation.

Nyika yapera takati pweshe kuHarare, he said. The country is finishing while we seat happily and unconcerned in Harare! Earth-moving monsters were tearing down the country, to scoop riches that are not reaching the capital, the country, the people, he said. He spoke in some type of English tethered in local parlance. We have grown used to this style, born more out of literal translation than literary virtuosity. His act was firmly pedestrian, meticulously keeping away from articulating matters beyond his ken. As always he bowed out of the stage, to give professorial eloquence a chance.

What did he see in Chiadzwa?
Before long eloquence came gushing, came in torrents that swept away memory, swept away strictures from past utterances. "We are being savaged by the players in Chiadzwa because we are signing foolish claims, we give them a claim worth billions for free," roared the DPM, gestural histrionics galore. "I don't know how much minerals under the ground are worth, but I am sure they are not worth nothing. They come here to mine our resources after investing only US$30 million and they will pay off their investment in just two sales."

Still his outrage and rage were unappeased: "I was with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Chiadzwa on Thursday and I asked one company there how much their claims were worth and they refused to tell me. I then got information of how much they expected to mine so I did calculations based on the least prices one can get per carat I came up with US$500 million. We won't have a US$100 billion economy in 2030 if we don't stop what I saw at Chiadzwa. These companies are raising money to start mining our resources based on our claims, but we cannot even put value on them."

But life is not simply about houses
A few days ago, the Prime Minister came back to the same theme, at a private Press brief. He spoke from a prepared statement, and was thus more expressive than he could under extempore conditions at Roundtable Conference in Victoria Falls.

"I visited the displaced families at ARDA TRANSAU and I appreciate the decent houses the mining companies have built for them. But life is to simply about a decent house. It is about sustaining livelihood through personal enterprise and the resettled families still have genuine concerns about their land being inadequate for agriculture, among many other concerns. Those diamonds will mean nothing to the country if they fail to transform people's lives, starting with the Marange community itself and so far, it appears diamond proceeds can still do more for this country and for the Marange people if there is more transparency in the disposal of this resource. The hypocrisy of government on indigenisation is more than exposed in Chiadzwa. If we are genuine about community share ownership schemes, why have we not accorded the same shares to the communities in Marange so that these people benefit from the resources around them? The companies mining there including those owned by the government, have not done that which we are forcing companies to do."

His presentation highlighted the all-important commandment of transparency, transparency! But hey, he seems now keen to press Government to make true its commitment to empowerment. Welcome aboard Mister Prime Minister!

Don't fight Chinese for Americans
I don't know what the Deputy Prime Minister saw in Chiyadzwa which must be stopped for us to reach 2030 a US$100 billion economy. I thought his gripe was that he didn't see much, didn't get answers. But his sentiments were clear: the Chinese are ripping us off, taking advantage of our ignorance of our worth. Indeed this is how the story evolved from Victoria Falls.

Let us play back a little so we subject the DPM to a basic consistency test. In June 2011, the DPM fielded questions in the lower House. Responding to a question from MDC-T's Zaka West MP, one Festus Dumbu, on Chinese business activities in the country, he responded thus: "Most of the criticisms of the Chinese in Africa are initiated by their competitors from Europe and America. Africans are being used to do the bidding for them," adding pointedly and poignantly, "You should not fight the Chinese on behalf of the Americans. You should not fight the Chinese on behalf of the Europeans." He went further: "As long as you are clever as a nation, you should be able to extract and unlock value from the relationship with China. What I am emphasizing is that China has 1,3billion people and has already overtaken Japan in terms of GDP. It will overtake the US on 2015. China is the future. We should protect our interests but we cannot avoid the Chinese, they are part of the global economy. Let us not fight the Chinese, let us make sure we protect our industries and work with them. We need a win-win framework."

And well ahead of his eventual odyssey to Chiyadzwa, he added: "Why can't we work with them to process minerals in the country so that we can cut diamonds in Zimbabwe and sell jewel leery, so that we can process our chrome so that they will take finished products? That's what we call beneficiation. We are saying let us determine the terms of reference between ourselves and China, that is one thing we need to dobeneficiation, value addition or move up the value chain with the Chinese and not allow them to take raw materials from this country for a song to China." That was in June last year. And to show this is no fickle thought, far back in October 2010, the DPM had thrown his burly weight behind VP Mujuru's idea of adding the Chinese yuan to the basket of currencies in use in Zimbabwe. At an UNCTAD meeting in Shanghai, he not only endorsed the country's Look East policy; he also posted an eloquent endorsement of Chinese ideological evolution since the days of Chairman Mao. He intoned: "There is no need for regrets over the past. Without Mao there will be no Deng Xioping!" One hopes the DPM continues to read his own mind, while benefitting from its excellent advice.

Different realities on the ground
Dear reader we needed this thought ecology so we relate to the two men's views fairly. Let's get a few facts clear. Chiyadzwa has at least four diamond mining companies, three major ones being Anjin, Mbada and Marange. Government has shareholding in all three, a controlling share in all three at that. Anjin partners Ministry of Defence with the Chinese. Mbada partners local interest with some South African miners. Marange Resources is wholly owned by Government. That means the Chinese are in only one concern, even then without a controlling share. This does not quite bear out the anti-Chinese sentiment, does it? Or quite justify the silence on the white South African component in Mbada. Equally, it does not quite appreciate how Zimbabwe leveraged this shareholding, this Chinese and South African presence, to get the better of its enemies in the KPCS process. Or could this be why? By he way, except for Mbada, the agreements paving the way for operations in Marange were known to Government well before operations on the ground. If there were any delays, these owed to conflicting views on sanctions which saw  the MDC formations playing listening post to the West on this one matter which the West knew was sure to blunt the weapon of sanctions. That environment of western hostility and western expectations on players in the inclusive government should never be lost in this whole matter. Here was an avenue for sanctions busting about to be scorched in the egg.

When diamonds are already forever
I go much further. With the Americans, Canadians and Australians defeated in the KPCS, Zimbabwe was free to trade in its diamonds. I don't quite recall the Prime Minister or his Deputy saying anything at all to get Zimbabwe to win this war. Nothing, nothing at all. Only incriminating silence. It was only  Biti, even then as a maverick vis-a-vis the politics of the MDCs, who said something, who continues to say something in support of Zimbabwe's right to sell its diamonds. I think that stance owed more to the scorching realities of running the country's empty finances than to his innate politics. He owes it to his Ministry, never to his party, assuming it is still one. And when Zimbabwe started trading its diamonds, and this largely in 2011, diamonds delivered $150million to the Fiscus by way of revenue. This is a Ministry of Finance statistic, not mine. This year, 2012, the Ministry of Finance expects US$640million from the diamonds of Chiyadzwa. Again a Ministry of Finance statistic, not Manheru's.

Just one mineral in just one area
Even then, the point remains small and obscure until another very important statistic - again from Ministry of Finance - is imported into the narrative. Against the starting contribution of $150million from diamonds in 2011, Zimbabwe got under $180million from all of its minerals including diamonds, as royalties. All its minerals, all! This year when Zimbabwe is poised to get the $640million from Chiyadzwa diamonds alone, she will get $190millon - a mere US$190million -from all her minerals including diamonds, as royalties! The $640million comes to Zimbabwe by way of dividend from investments in one mineral in just one area. We are not talking about our diamonds in Midlands, in Beitbridge where so-called  FDI heroes are active. We are only talking about Chiyadzwa where the greedy Chinese and poor Zimbabweans who should prance lasciviously on the ramp to attract diffident FDI, have combined to invested. The miners at Chiyadzwa have been footing the bill. These are the facts available to my Prime Minister and my Deputy Prime Minister as leaders of our Government. Right in front of them as Cabinet minutes, assuming their memories come short! Against this, what points were they making in Victoria Falls? What is broken, Chiyadzwa or the rest of miners who give his rich Nation a farthing against billions in earnings, in the process pushing into some miasmic mirage our hopes for 2030? What's broken, what's fixed?

Breaking the fixed, protecting the broken
More facts. Anjin is the only diamond company in Zimbabwe that has relocated displaced persons on new amenities by way of the modern village at ARDA TRANSAU. Government provided the land and both provided food, seed and other inputs to mitigate  the costs of the translocation. This even the cynical Prime Minister could not but acknowledge, albeit grudgingly. Was this not a great lesson in how to accomplish social responsibility? Was the roundtable not the best table to challenge these fat cats to do at least the same, to do more given what they have taken out of our soil? I challenge him to point to any village in Buhera which is a quarter as good as what he saw at Transau. Or do I make the point clearer by asking him to tell this Nation what Dorowa Minerals - historically Rhodesian, only now quasi-governmental - in his Buhera has done for his in-laws who got displaced by it back then in Rhodesia, all to meet the needs of white commercial agriculture? Or better still Bindura Nickel Mining which he worked for and which has been tearing up the holy grounds of Masembura, home to people of vaera Gumbo, the people of the Leg? What has that enormous company done for the Masembura people, before his days, during his days, and now in his premiership? How dare he pooh pooh a company which has done well before mining what his own erstwhile employers are still to do after years and years of tearing the same land, scooping the same minerals? What honest point is being made here? Why such negativity from a leader whose own salary draws from the activities of Anjin? Why? Why not fix the broken at BNC? Why this critical rigor on Chinese and Government which have made a beginning, and deafening silence on monopoly capitalists who have fleeced this country for all these years?

Owners who don't know
More facts. Minister Biti in one of his most recent budgets alluded to setting money apart for the formation of a Government company to carry out geological mapping and surveying of the whole of Zimbabwe. The Rhodesians went away with their maps. Companies like De Beers have been keeping these maps as heavenly secrets. The Canadians who did a comprehensive survey just before and into early Independence will not share their data. They are beginning to use that data to lead their companies where their sanctions-ridden politics fear to tread. The Russians, too, have satellite details on our highly mineralized country. They have been more circumspect, striving to carry us with them, against a mining regime and bureaucratic mentality slavishly sold to western mining interests. We do not know this country as a mining proposition, which is why this column has called us the most unenlightened shareholder ever known in history. We don't know our worth and DPM Mutambara is right to point this out. But only that far.

The log in the eye
Why does Mutambara think it is the business of miners in Chiyadzwa to tell him - he who occupies the third rung in Government - the value of their respective claims? Are they Government Departments? And he sits there in his cosy office watching his tummy distend disproportionately, watching his fat eyelids close languidly like those of a happy Buddha in a pagoda, busily getting more and more ignorant about the country he governs? And snootily hoping and demanding that Anjin, or Marange, or Mbada tell him the value he governs? Calling himself a principal even? Of what?

Is Chiyadzwa all we should know?
I am not yet done with him. Both he and Tsvangirai have been to ZIMPLATS and many other concerns run by western mining conglomerates. What is the worth of our platinum deposits? Of our gold? Of our other diamonds? Of our chrome? Of our coal? Of our iron? Of our copper? Manganese? Uranium? Vanadium? Nickel? If the ugly things he has seen at Chiyadzwa must be put right before we achieve a $100billion economy, what more does he need to know, get outraged by, report to more Roundtable conferences, before he acquires a $100 dollar knowledge before 2030 about the country he governs? Admittedly he won't be in Government then, on fact is set to leave it much sooner should elections be called. What happens to his searching mind when he gets to these white-owned mines? Does he ask these questions he glibly asks those at Chiyadzwa? Or he supinely follows, on a mute guided, wholly grateful for innocuous information crumbs that gild his ignorance? Has he pressed Biti to make good his promise to fund the creation of a company which would do a survey of the country, thereby giving him the answers he badly needs as part of Government leadership? Has this been an issue at all in the Council of Ministers, Mister Prime Minister? Or it's all about BAZ, ZBC, Tomana and GWP, latter day Sabbath for modern governance scriptures? Expending energies on the smalls of governance, forgetting the dying bird, that is us! Anyway, would the two gentlemen ever dare raise disconcerting questions before the round men occupying the tables in Victoria Falls?

Living on royalties alone
I am not done with both of them. What do the above statistics tells us about how to get a mere billion for Government,  before we even dream about getting $100billion for 2030, sorry, forZimbabwe in 2030? That we must continue to wait for royalties at $190million a year? Let Mutambara's agile mind tell us how many billions of years we will need to wait before we get $100billion. What grand vision do we get from two enormous men in leadership  so fixated by small, impertinent questions in circumstances of a neo-colony? It never occurs to these giant midgets that the whole architecture of this economy has to be "demolished" if ever we are to reach that dream. Or could it be that the are talking about white dreams, Rhodes' dreams transposed onto black tongues, the dreams of Rio Tinto, Anglo, LonRho, etc, etc? The dream of jobbers? OH? Teach the natives to read, never to reason!  Give them our heroes not theirs. Make them petty, not big minded!

Chiyadzwa, where the nigger read and reasoned
Chiyadzwa has fixed a big problem, that of making us spectators or a mere factor of production in the exploitation of our finite resources. It has shown what needs to be done, namely to own, never to job. It has shown us what can come to the country when we become shareholders, not mere workers or bureaucrats craving to collect royalties. Indeed it has shown what drastic improvement visits the native, visits the nigger when he reads to reason and reasons in reading. Chiyadzwa ain't broken. Why pretend to fix it? Improve it, yes, through beneficiation. And you do not do it from a stance of negativity that we saw in Victoria Falls, all purveyed to delirious white pleasure. Except to arm Americans in their chairmanship of KPCS, why would a Zimbabweans politician, with any claim to any sufficiency in national consciousness raise such impertinences only a week after a very negative report from the pro-western Global Witness, only a few weeks before the next KPCS meeting? Is this to arm the enemy? Who is Mutambara criticising the Chinese for, to turn his own question against him?

The deep end we dug
As should be clear, the broken portions in the natural resource sector of our nation lies elsewhere with those multinationals who give us a pittance while scooping billions for stashing overseas. What is broken is a Zimbabwe with a Prime Minister and a Deputy Prime Minister who interrogate those who are beginning to do things right, while remaining silent or even  pampering those who should have long been in our cells for flagrant pillaging. It is more deplorable when this interrogation comes from a man whose own biography tells us how hard it was for him to get a decent house from BNC, how hard it still is for him to get the same BNC to do half of what Anjin has done for Chiyadzwa in Masembura from where it has scooped resources from time immemorial. He was not even sitting in Harare when that happened. Indeed he was a participant, a self-glorifying machine operator who made sure the merciless machines ate a people's heritage. Directly machining the process of devouring the earth he now so pines about, leaving all of us at the deep end, literally. It cannot be hypocrisy. After all he is a Zimbabwean.

Not another Jonathan Swift
And when such a pitfall in national consciousness shows itself at leadership level, need we be surprised that it resonates loudly in our lesser institutions, the media included? I mean we have coverage in succession on little Chinese workers somewhere in Bikita who help themselves to zvihambakubvu. And we go to town about it? Mere tortoises which some of our communities eat here? What is so unusual about some ordinary Chinese catching these for the pot? We cite the rules of CITES so eloquently, playing avid police-people to a convention which stops us from offloading tasks from elephants, all of them dead? How much of our wildlife has been lost to us since the days of Selous the hunter? Who controls the safari business today? How many homesteads have these white safari-owners built for families daily marauded and menaced by wildlife? And to deport these Chinese for a mere 40 tortoises? Please! That is not too friendly Zimbabwe? With so many smuggling our minerals and getting away with small fines? So many white mining rascals, treasure hunters  getting citizenship overnight, so they steal well from us while waving a Zimbabwean passport, while hiding a British, Canadian, American passport?  Why such fastidiousness with little, inconsequential issues, to the exclusion of big things which matter? Are we that small? Until when shall we continue to think we were meant for the Sabbath, we the fastidious ones, we the "thou shall not" people? Inventing rules, borrowing more to incapacitate ourselves?

Ahhh! Why do I "hear" a smell, pick a stench from myself, I the Zimbabwean?  Oh no, no, no, not another Jonathan Swift. No misanthropy please.
Or is it natio-santhropy?


Nathaniel Manheru can be contacted at

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