Friday, 21 November 2014

Stating the Obvious : Sanctions are Real

By Nick Mangwana

A few decades ago in my Kutama days we were always told that to pass an exam you had to state the obvious. This is not an exam, neither am I trying to triumph in anything. I am just a simple man stating the obvious. Nothing sophisticated. Nothing you haven't heard before. And definitely  nothing ground breaking. Just a few home truths.

President Putin says that sanctions imposed by the West against Russia are illegal because they were not imposed through the United Nations.  Sounds familiar? Since these sanctions, the Russian currency called the rouble has tumbled. Russian economy is stuttering. Consequently Russia is now reaching out to cultivate tighter economic relationships with China; déjà vu. We have absolutely have witnessed this elsewhere.

The sanctions regime against Russia is packaged as travel bans against certain members of the Russian government, Duma, State allied companies and businessmen.  In its usual grandiloquent parlance, the West uses terms like "Smart sanctions" , "targeted sanctions" or "travel embargo". Again familiar words calculated to mislead.

Russia is a powerful country, in any man's language. It has oil and gas whose revenues account  for half of its budget. It is the world's second largest oil exporter. It is a very large country with a population of about 144 million. It is technologically and industrially developed with a diversified base.  Some still consider it a super power. In August 2014 Russia had a stockpile of $472 billion in hard currency and $1.5 trillion of assets. Seemingly enough to withstand the effect of the Western sanctions against it.

However this has not been the case. Its economy is now struggling. Russian banks have been cut off from accessing international finances. In response they have tightened their own lending to local banks.  State companies like the oil giant Rosneft have already started showing signs of financial distress. Rosneft has already asked the State to bail it out with $25 billion from the reserves for it to be able to refinance its debt. The growth rate is flat-lining with most objective analysts settling on 0.2%. If these things happen to a tree that is green (Russia), how much more would have happened to a dry one (Zimbabwe). Add 15 years of the same and you stop wondering why the obvious happened; the economy burned. It's a either a miracle or dextrous statecraft why we are still standing.

I can hear my nephew Courage sighing, "Here we go again. The sanctions rhetoric starts". You see, when the EU announced with a lot of bedlam that they had lifted sanctions against Zimbabwe, he sent me a text saying that now I should never write about sanctions or Zim Asset. He said he would stop reading my pieces the moment he sees those words. He said that people were tired of those words and the sanctions excuse (as he calls) was a fagged out argument. He said that Zanu PF should just raise its hands and admit to its failures.  Well, muzukuru Courage, firstly this is not a sanctions rhetoric, secondly and more importantly Zimbabwe is still under sanctions.

I would like to first concede a few points;  Zanu PF government has made some mistakes. It therefore is responsible for some failures. Of course, it is a government run by mortals and there cannot be infallible.   But to deny that ZIDERA 2001 and the EU Special Measures (sanctions) did not play a major role in the economic decline of our country is disingenuous muzukuru. This is quite obvious, isn't it?

In the same spirit of stating the obvious, here is another admission of guilt;  The current goings in my Party Zanu PF's as an exordium to the Congress is damaging the economy. Oh yes. I have said it. Now let's also talk about those sanctions packaged as travel bans against the First Family. It always starts in a village.

I grew up in a village. In a neighbouring one, there was patriarch known as Mr Magodoza.  Mr Magodoza  was maliciously accused  of  some heinous crimes against his daughters. The stigma of the accusations against the old chap caused so much suffering to the rest his clan. Mothers discouraged their daughters from marrying into that clan. Fathers and uncles kept away their sons and nephews. Those daughters who persisted had a king's ransom tagged for lobola. Even some of those who had already married suffered premature matrimonial dissolutions. It was not only nuptial issues that were affected.

Community relations were that.  it was normal for people  borrow salt, sugar  or fire. For those not familiar with the latter let me explain what might seems obvious to the rest. In the village when one wanted to ignite a fire, they would use a match. In many cases there would be none. One would then have to send a child to the next homestead to borrow some burning coal from their hearth to use as a kindle to fire up their own hearth (kugoka moto). This was very important otherwise you would not have a cooked meal.  Magodoza's clan suffered such social isolation that this very simple transaction became anathema to the rest of the village.

 In the village we had a cattle  exchange system or loaning system known as kuronza mombe (of the mombe yekuronzerwa kama wakaringa nzira fame). One who needed a cow for milk would swap with one who needed an ox for tilling the furrow. This is just day to day village life. With the Magodozas these  transactions were not only rescinded, but when they did happen they were so lop-sided and unfair. 

The stigma from the accusations against Magodoza  affected all inter-clan and kinsmen transactions.  Even though it later emerged that the accusations were malevolent the clan had already suffered from structural cleavage. Decades later they are still recovering from it. A patriarch is the nexus of all clan kinship, transactions and social organisation. By the same token a head of state is the sovereign embodiment of a nation's being. 

I am sure the reader has heard enough of my village story and folklore.  I apologise for going on and on. It would be helpful if the reader would now connect Magodoza's story with the sanctions against the First Family. Alternatively, let me state the obvious again at the risk of sounding mundane and banal.

When a Head of State is placed under sanctions. It can appear innocuous to the citizenry. You hear people asking why they would care if Mugabe and wife are stopped from going shopping in Europe.
No Cdes, if I were a rich president would I waste my time moving between racks of clothes checking sizes and trying out? Most of us hate the dressing and undressing in changing rooms that comes with buying off-the-rack clothes. Those with money and power normally call in an exclusive designer to come and take their measurements and outfit them. Bespoke fashion would be the obvious choice. I wouldn't need to go shopping in Europe.  My European tastes would come to me. History is replete with examples of such( Mobutu's extravagance for starters). They import extravagant luxuries from all over the world. They don't have to be physically there to do it. Doh.

 These sanctions are not  about that. It's not about travelling, it's not about shopping, it is neither about filthy lucre stashed away somewhere.  it is about stigmatising a country and demonising it. The religious Cdes will know that if you strike the shepherd, the sheep will scatter. You put a sanctions stain on a head of state, you blight the whole country and its economic system.

The country struggles to service its debts.  A country under sanctions has a very low credit rating as it is considered very risky. It cannot access lines of credit or attract foreign direct investment. Joint ventures with foreign companies are near impossible. Most of us saw the exchange between young Takunda Chingonzo and President Obama. We also know that his company Saisai and him personally were never on the sanctions list. Despite this he articulated how substantially affected he was by the so-called targeted sanctions. Here was an example of how effective the stigma and resultant stealthy sanctions have had on Zimbabwe and its employment capacity.

Let us remember the patriarch Magodoza. Let us remember the great bear, Russia. If Russian economy is tottering on the brink in spite of its G8 status, how much more for our little Zimbabwe, which is  just a harmless flame lily? So yes, Courage wehazvanzi, before I stop writing about sanctions and Zim Asset I will always need to once in a while state the obvious. One such obvious is that, if the President is under sanctions, Zimbabwe is under sanctions. 


Nick Mangwana: Chairman; ZANU PF UK

Tsvangirai: ‘End-game’ into the ‘deep-end’

By Bernard Bwoni

Reminiscing, reflecting and remembering of the opulence and abundance previously presented and longing for another stint on the pampered boulevard of the government of national unity days. Musing over the mansions, the mini-skirts, the motorcade processions, the women, the High Seas, more women, the Savoy, tripping and tumbling in Berlin, the Renewal and more women. 

Many people might not be aware of it but the opposition MDC-T party recently held its elective or should I say selective Congress where Mr Tsvangirai charged without conviction that ‘We will mobilise and galvanise the nation for the end-game’. 

What is it about Tsvangirai’s preoccupation with ‘endgames’, ‘game-changers’ and ‘deep-ends’? 

These are the clutches and grasping at straws by a man and a party with no game, guile or guts, a man whose game ended a long time ago that is if there was ever any game. This is a man who fronts an increasingly irrelevant and disintegrating grouping that has got no game or game to play let alone change. As Mr Tsvangirai rightly predicted in his book the only way for the opposition is a slow but sure descend into the deep-end never to come back up. Right now all the games are happening on the ruling party court with the opposition as mere spectators gazing in awe at the intraparty democracy and reconfiguration.

Political Voyeuristic Disorder: Tsvangirai, Chamisa and
Biti tripping over each otherto read the ZANU PF Manifesto
The picture of Mr Tsvangirai, Nelson Chamisa, Tendai Biti and other MDC-T party leadership tripping over each other to read the ZANU-PF Manifesto just before the 2013 elections is telling and clearly illustrates the political voyeuristic disorder that we see and continue to see within this party. And Mr Tsvangirai could not resist ‘borrowing’ from ZANU-PF again as always during his address at this Elective Congress saying ‘the solution to the national crisis lies in none but ourselves’. None-But-Ourselves (Iwe Neni Tine Basa – Mina Lawe Silo Musebenzi) is the ZANU-PF ideology and it is clear as crystal that MDC-T idolises ZANU-PF hence the huff and puff and tantrums about leading demonstrations to ‘force President Mugabe to accept the need for reforms’. 

This is the same Tsvangirai who during his five years in the GNU made, sorry I meant shared tea daily with President Mugabe and the only reforms he called for were matrimonial ones. The only game Mr Tsvangirai changed during his time as Prime Minister was scoring own-goals and plenty of them for that matter. Nothing personal against Mr Tsvangirai but the trail is there for all to see.

 The fact that the opposition had this Elective Congress and very few people knew about it or cared less is a telling sign of party with no game to play or change or end-game. Even the MDC-T party itself was not very much interested in its own Congress and the leadership mainly preoccupied themselves with analysing and admiring the ZANU-PF internal politics and so-called succession battles. The only game in Zimbabwean politics right now is found in the ruling party where self-introspection, self-analysis and self-reconstruction is effectively at play. The opposition can only wish for the ruling party to implode but what we are witnessing in ZANU-PF is intraparty politics of uninterrupted self-reflection and growth, a party Constitution that works and works efficiently to draw the line, bring cadres back in line and carry the party forwards not backwards or side-ways, not splitting, spitting or splintering.

In his address Mr Tsvangirai stressed that ‘the protests will force Robert Mugabe to the negotiating table and build consensus on the need for a timetable towards a free and fair election’. What is evidently clear from this statement is that Mr Tsvangirai is looking for a short-cut to another GNU and he is enlisting the masses to shoulder his quest for and pursuit of the petal-littered path towards the trappings and luxuries previously presented to him when he was Prime Minister. The only end-game etched in the opposition minds right now is a return to the GNU and that is why they are not presenting any shadow strategy but rather but rather looking for negotiations into government. 

he elections have been, over and done with and the opposition ought to start presenting their own proposals to counter what the ruling currently has to offer. Let us not confuse this relentless quest for splendour and grandeur of the upper echelons of power with championing and leading demonstrations for this so-called desire for ‘constitutional reforms’. Tsvangirai had five years to clamour for these ‘constitutional reforms’ and he did nothing. This is a man who during his entire five years in the GNU frolicked on the High Seas and we have pictures to prove it. A man who wined and dined with the elites of Western capitals has no game to change because he was changed by the game. The only way unfortunately is via the deep-end.

The ruckus and fracas about friction within the ruling are a smoke-screen to confuse, conceal and throttle the the ZANU-PF led Zimbabwe ground-breaking beginning of economic liberation. That will not succeed as there is only one united ZANU-PF, one united Zimbabwe that will prevail at the end of it all. There is indeed is an invisible hand in all attempts to foil and misdirect Zimbabwe’s path toward real prosperity, real wealth and economic emancipation of her citizens. 

The many principled men and women in the mould of President Robert Mugabe who are the real drivers for African Renaissance have that difficult but essential task of addressing and redressing the inequalities created by the colonial system through empowerment of the indigenous people of Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe is an inspiration and even the incoming British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Catriona Laing rightly described him as ‘iconic’. President Mugabe is an icon yes, not an object of aesthetics, but pure substance. He is the glue that binds the nation and the history that will inspire future generations. It is up to the people of Zimbabwe to define who their real heroes are and no amount of modification or moderation is going to change that. 

The heroes who hold that fundamental belief in the African dear to their hearts are there among us. Those who sit on the fence, swaying in any direction the pendulum swings only tarnish the principles and pose a threat to the ideology that holds and has held this country together amidst the external economic and political obstruction. The only game left to change is to forge ahead with the economic emancipation of the people of Zimbabwe. Another GNU as being advocated by Tsvangirai and his party is all games. 


Cde Bernard Bwoni
Deputy Secretary for Admin; ZANU PF UK

It is Cold Outside Zanu PF Cdes

By Nick Mangwana

Makoni found it so cold outside ZANU PF that he became cosy
with the High Priest of Sanctions: Morgan Tsvangirayi
It’s just a few days to Congress. Zanu PF our revolutionary party is undergoing another revolution. Every analyst is speculating what will happen before, during and after congress. Speculators have said that the party will be split, weaken and even go into opposition. Nothing can be further from the truth. We are given examples of political parties that died like UNIP and Malawi Congress Party. The difference between such parties and our Zanu PF is simple; they did not get their independence through a liberation struggle. But that does not mean we should take each other or the people for granted.

People have left Zanu PF and discovered that it is cold out there (quoting a famous professor). So far we had Zanu Ndonga which was a splinter group formed by Zanu’s founding president Ndabaningi Sithole. This party achieved nothing and those that left followed him faded with him and never made a difference to the people of Zimbabwe. Granted, that party got a seat in Chipinge for a few parliamentary seasons, but that is as much as it went.

We then had our former Secretary General, Cde Edgar Tekere forming Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM). Here was a former stalwart with so much clout. But lo and behold his new party only 2 got seats in the House of assembly. Since then the party just suffered a natural a natural atrophy attributable to organisations based on protest and disgruntlement.  After a few years in the wilderness the much liked cde Tekere ended up home. Back in Zanu PF and was subsequently interred at the National Heroes’ Acre. Cde Tekere was arguably a big political player. But he could not be bigger than the party. Outside the Party, Zanu PF he found it cold out there.

Sithole: Outside ZANU PF his party faded into political oblivion
In 2008 a young technocrat who had done a good stint in Sadc, government and another good one in the corporate world left the party. There was a belief that this technocrat had enough political gravitas to shake the party. This was at the height of the sanctions regime. He benefitted from a protest vote after people had endured the eye of the sanctions storm. But for all the hype and ballyhoo he only got 8% of the vote. He had run as an individual. He expected people to vote for him, not because of what he stood for. Not because he had a vision or ideology. Not because he had been chosen by the people. No. None of the above. Because he was Simba Makoni. After the elections he went on to form a party called Mavambo-Dawn-Kusile. He found it cold out there and faded into political oblivion. He now enjoys a very fascinating relationship with the High Priest of Sanctions; Morgan Tsvangirayi. But when it comes to making a difference to the people of Zimbabwe, he has lost what could have been. 

Cde Edgar Tekere (right); Flirted with ZUM and came
back home to ZANU PF
He possibly could have been making immense contribution if he had remained in the fold. However Simba rehove riri mumvura (A fish will only retain its strength if it remains in the water).
he lost the strength he had as happens a fish he leaves water. As it is said in Shona folklore wisdom;
This is a call for unity. 
However it is not a call for the party to be blasé in its treatment of its cadres and leadership. It is also not a call for the party to be indifferent to the needs of our people. We made electoral promises. The people believed us. In those promises we were being sincere. However our sincerity will only be evidenced by our delivery of better outcomes for the people of Zimbabwe. If we fail to deliver those outcomes, at least let us show that we are trying. Right now we will struggle to do that. 

There is now so much suspicion within the rank and file of the party at many levels including cabinet.  The congruence that is needed to push our agenda via Zim-Asset is now scantly witnessed. We are tempting fate cdes. We are taking a very high risk for which we might pay a very high price. This is a high stakes game in which there is so much to gain but and much more to lose.

We shouldn’t condone treachery and betrayal. Betrayal and back stabbing by your own is not only vulgar but the deception is cruel.  By the same token we shouldn’t also betray the trust bestowed upon us by the people to make their lives better. Let us never forget that after all has been said and done, there is life after Congress.

In the same breath we should also say, it is cold out there, so whoever is flirting with leaving the party should learn from history.  Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeating it.  

Aluta Continua.


Nick Mangwana; ZANU PF UK Chairman