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Zimbabwe: Not in a thousand years!

02 Jul 2016 at 12:01hrs | Views
Let's start with a series of small, light-hearted but revealing anecdotes. Beitbridge. I am told there was quite some build-up of tension on both sides of the bridge, which means a build-up from South Africa and from Zimbabwe. The businessmen in Musina are angry. The cross-border traders from Zimbabwe are equally angry, and NewZimbabwe.com, so fond of framing Zimbabwe/South Africa relations as unidirectional - with desperate Zimbabweans braving crocodiles to reach menial jobs in South Africa - now reporting that Musina traders have confessed they cannot survive without traders from Zimbabwe.

They have now found common cause with their Zimbabwean customers, braving crocodiles of the Limpopo. Really? And this is the issue: the entrenched tendency among a cabal of cynical Zimbabweans — all electoral failures hoping to profit from pervasive pessimism — that through self-deriding and deprecation, power transfer and regime change may be effected. It won't. They tell us we are hopeless, a basket case.

Sunken, wilting like a willow

The economics of the two countries speak through the provocation which the ill-conceived Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 has wrought. Is that not so? Who is a burden to who? We have been stamping our buying power not just in South Africa, but in the whole region of course woefully to our detriment.

I saw similar rage at Forbes Border the other year when Gono changed Zimbabwean dollar. And it's a completely different argument to recognise our buying power in the region than to say Zimbabweans are trooping to South Africa for menial jobs for survival. Economies do interact and the key thing is whether that interaction is mutually beneficial.

Presently it is not to the extent that we are turning our country into a market, turning ourselves into traders. You cannot hope to re- orientate this economy by building on an argument falsely premised on Zimbabwe that is framed as a basket case. It is plain stupid. Why would businessmen from Musina demonstrate for the admission into their country of paupers without even a dime? We have allowed political failures to frame national discourse and see where the national mood stands: sunken, wilting like a willow. Unduly.

The black man called NEARIS Green

Whiskey. Who does not like it, that distilled drink of class and means? But as we gulp it down, have we stoked up some basic facts around its genesis? The makers of Jack Daniel's, America's favourite whiskey, have now admitted for the first time after 150 years of profitable sales that the fabled recipe of that substance owe to a black slave — yes, a black slave from Africa — called NEARIS GREEN.

Indentured to a Lutheran preacher — yes Lutheran preacher called Reverend Dan Call, Green was a master distiller who had brought his expertise from Africa, soon to lose it together with his freedom to his master, a holy man. And lose it for 150 years, a small, troubled part of which he lived under the festooned name NEAR IS GREEN, obviously under begriming poverty, uncelebrated.

I mean even the naming was an exhortation to fastidious duty to the master: he had to be near always. You lose your country, lose your family, lose your freedom, lose your culture, indeed lose your home-begotten technology. Ah, this earth my brother! And they start mumbling about theory of evolution, lately the Bell theory, all after gulps of whiskey they could never have produced in their lifetime! Without us, they would still be stuck with that dank fluid they used to drink in the middle of the industrial revolution, something akin to tar.

Pilfered knowledge, technology

The massive appropriation of African technology, including in the medical field — remember the Spaniards in the Iberian Peninsula? — which has gone unacknowledged and snowed under the myth of "saving souls and healing bodies".

Who writes a new history of Africa, of the African, of the Blackman, in which the lion draws the hunter? Who? We have to keep pecking, pecking, pecking like that little, sharp-beaked bird in the Savannah whose eggs are always hidden in the trunk of the dry tree. When boring the dry trunk, it goes ko ko ko chivangazuva, ko ko ko chivangazuva, all against the scorching sun. We have no reason to expect clement weather, or big gains at once. But small, unrelenting efforts assiduously applied to an indifferent world we must bother into a listening mind.

Remember the Commonwealth?

Enough of light stuff. Let's go deeper, go searching. Upsetting too. Only last week I gave my immediate reaction to the so-called BR-EXIT, the shorthand for Britain's marginally majority win to leave the European Union, their European Union. Partly because of the unsettling turn the debate on the matter has taken locally, and partly because I just found political developments at home fit for zvinhenjana — calves still on yellow milk — I decided I must re-intervene on the same matter in a more considered way.

What I found unsettling about the localised debate on BR-EXIT was the native wailing and whining derisively reminiscent of the proverbial slave in the kitchen. You could not miss the agony in the local pieces that Britain was leaving the EU, agony remarkably comparable to, if not surpassing, Britons themselves. A so-what-will-happen-to-our-Britain mentality. Your Britain? My foot! Did the Britons ever wail when Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth, their Commonwealth? Wail to say so what will happen to our Zimbabwe? Or even their Commonwealth from which they continue to draw colonial lucre without tag or opprobrium?

What started? Who wailed first?

What is wrong with us, we pioneer makers of a big history that teaches even the mother country, never mind after so long? We left the Commonwealth purely on the principle that membership to an international body must buoy, not threaten, a people's sense of sovereignty and profit. Dire predictions were made about Zimbabwe outside of the Commonwealth.

So many years after, we are still standing, albeit staggering from sanctions. But so what? Which nation ever built lasting ramparts of sovereignty without the test of imposed difficulties? Which in history? Now the British — slow learners — have caught up with the same truism, and have borrowed Zimbabwe's boldness, we sing "eureka" for them, ceding our invention. What came first ZIM-EXIT or BR-EXIT? Same with the policy of reconciliation. Same with 75 percent local content, now a South African fad.

Why? Or is history a prerogative of the master even when read (before the master writes) by the slave? Internalised obeisance, indeed a real vindication of Ian Smith's notorious "not in a thousand years"! When a people licks the grave of the very man who insulted and humiliated their father — licks it by be-decking it with flowers of fondness — the departed father cannot but feel a growl in his tired, misused loin. In vain, in vain, all in vain! Not in a thousand years.

How has Britain ever been European?

Let us situate this far-away occurrence which, with the folly of a mindless man who brings a log full of ants for the lizard to invade his home, we have decided to bring closer, nearer than our hearts. Led by neo-liberals like Ian Scoones — I notice even The Herald published his piece — there is so much African induced wailing for Britain's departure from the EU.

The aid, the soft power, trade, technology, tempering hand, foreign policy, multilateral negotiations, CAP, NGOs, etc, etc. Ah! All to mean what? That Britain has always been an invariable force of good in her dealings with Africa? Give me the timeline please? Starting when? 1884? Even before, what with the missionary do-gooders? Until now, what with our wailing that she has left the EU, their EU? So far away from us? Not geographically, but by way of fundamental interests. I mean why did we go to war if Britain was such a beneficent force?

Why the travails of decolonisation? Why national independence when we remain extended patients of every malady and madness that afflicts Albion? They have decided to leave their cold Union; that is their business. We have no business wailing. Ours is to strategise and maximise on opportunities that emerge from the fallout, the same way America and Europe, still do in the aftermath of the Soviet Union. They did not wail: Our-Russia, Our Soviet Union, Our fellow Superpower, did they?

Not to behave as if we share a stomach, a navel with that small great island. Or the vast subcontinent it has just decided to detach from formally, a powerful continent the geographical laws of continental drift had detached it from, from time immemorial anyway. Geographically, how has Britain ever been part of Europe? Except by way of will, war and interest, over geography?

How easier, more difficult?

Secondly, how does a country like Zimbabwe which has been on the receiving end of British policies, and by British influence and instigation, European policies, ever wail and whimper? Does it really matter where the ball falls? The Cameroon government has been quite charitable towards Zimbabwe. It has not wanted to be shrill, not wanted to pick unnecessary public fights.

That was good enough for us. As I write, there is courtship going on. But that does not expunge decades of Labour government hostility and ruin towards us. And the current courtship has nothing to do with the EU. Quite the contrary, the EU has been telling us normalise your relations with Britain and we engage you. I didn't know how engaging a now solitary Britain is any more difficult or easier than engaging an EU-crowded Britain. In any case do we know what EU rules came with the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe this far?

Each by her interests

More fundamentally, is it not foolish to think that what motivated a shared hostility on Zimbabwe was Pan-Europeanism? Let's not be naive. There are definite interests that each EU country was pursuing in relation to Zimbabwe, the only issue being that at one point those interests coincided, creating a decadal consensus. Once Chiadzwa came on stream, we quickly saw how divergent those interests became.

We don't secure our interests with the EU — whatever that means — with EU countries, and that means a lot in diplomacy, or with Britain, by fretting over EU members, by counting how many they are now, how many have left. We have always tackled the matter bilaterally, the temperament of the EU representative hear largely influenced by his country origin. It is not fortuitous that we made great progress under an Italian-born EU envoy. Let us not cloud matters. Or misdiagnose the problem. Zimbabwe's return to no normalcy will be on the basis of her bilateral appeal to individual countries.

Merely advisory

Thirdly, who says Britain has left the EU? Just a phoney test of affection between two uxorious lovers dramatising false estrangement is read anxiously by the two homes of the lovers? Meanwhile the two made mad love only the night before, even looking forward to lunchtime mischief. We need to read signals coming out of Europe and Britain itself. Especially out of Britain itself. Three key opinions. One cynically dismissing elections and referendums as outdated technologies for modern democracy.

What does the ballot box measure except the side that has won the mass hysteria game? It's not Mugabe making the argument; it is the British who claim to have invented that terrible box, boxed cross and count. Do we not see that we are being prepared for a set aside? Anyway, dismiss that one. Geoffrey Robertson QC says the result of the referendum is not decisive, "merely advisory".

The key issue is what the British Parliament decides, something which may not happen before November, by which time the full ravages of leaving EU would have become apparent to all, including the slender victors. The British people don't cast the deciding vote; nor do their mobs; only their representatives do. I hope you get that. There still has to be a Bill passed by Parliament validating British exit from the EU.

A happening that need not occur

Meanwhile, not only are Britons already ruing what they have just done; those leading in what they have just wrought are now in sixes and sevens. The campaign-time political cohesion of the 'leave" vote has disintegrated with amazing speed, with boorish Boris Johnson, the evil part of the piece being pelted in public, and refusing to be any near No. 10.

He will not run for premiership. How does a man desert victory so spectacularly? And there is cutthroat competition for premiership within the group. It does not engender voter confidence at all, does not consolidate the leave vote. Certainly it does not bolster a "leave" conscience in the event of matters coming to a Bill. And the Americans — Kerry — has hinted exit may be a happening that need not occur. Did you hear that? He is not a fool. The only fool there is is Trump but as you can see things are beginning to happen to him.

True, Americans do not do in their fools as fast as Britons (see where Boris is now), but they have no death-wish. Certainly the Anglo-Saxons were not going to have two Mavericks on both sides of the Atlantic. And it is not for nothing that the New York Times ran an editorial to say it's time to leave behind Benghazi. The way is being cleared for another government of Democrats, not because that is what America wanted, but because the Republicans produced a maverick. Very soon Trump will be a loner wailing in the wilderness. Already he has misread the British mood, laying bare his credentials as a foreign policy novice.

The master has another boy-ski for you

Another opinion from one Philip Allot. A very complex, hard-to-follow opinion, but very indicative. Even where British Parliament, in an act of collective folly decides to pass the exit Bill, the courts may, at the instance of an application, start a judicial review of that decision. And the issue is when a public body — government is — makes a decision, that impacts on all people, leavers or stayers, that decision cannot be treated as solely a prerogative of government.

It has to be tested through judicial review, the only requirement being that someone, British of course, approaches the court. And a key test, Allott argues, is whether the referendum was prompted by considerations of national interest or narrow party interest. Where the vote splits the nation nearly evenly, even splits the sponsoring party, you have a hard sell in court doing judicial review. So, weep not African slave; the master has another mansion. And boy-ski for you too.

Telescoping concern

Fourthly and lastly, both Europe and Britain have long ceased to be epicentres of the world economy. How many centuries do we need to stop this despicable and indolent habit of arguing from colonial loyalties and hangovers, rather than from considerations of the world as it now is? A thousand years? The epicentre has shifted to the East. And the East is more than China.

Technology now abounds everywhere. Development finance is everywhere and accessible once your policies allow. Trade is more diversified, and for Zimbabwe, the first European trading partner comes a distant fourth. It's not even Britain. Markets abound. We have made amazing progress in terms of intra-African trade. We have made some progress towards looking East. Is Agenda 2063 not more relevant to our fortunes than fretting about the numbers and cohesion in EU? Please! Please!

We have a net cereal deficit here in Southern Africa. Why worry about CAP, Common Agricultural Policy, when you have not even saturated the subregional cereal need, the way Zambia is trying to do with us? Telescopic concern. It is this continually offering of our stomachs from where the thongs come that is our bane. Kwadzinorohwa matumbu ndiko kwadzinomhanyira. Don't say I did not translate it for you, you non-Shona speakers.

Icho!

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nathaniel.manheru@zimpapers.co.zw

Source - the herald
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