To Putin – it’s not the West you should protect Mugabe from

“Putin vows to protect Mugabe from the West” was the headline on an international newspaper website recently after President Mugabe’s recent visit to Russia. I could not help but laugh at why a country that is now desperately trying to re-engage the West as we are should need protection from it.

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By Vince Musewe

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President Robert Mugabe meets Russian President Vladimir Putin

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In my opinion the West wants to help Zimbabwe to get out of this mess and we as a country need them more than they need us-if we are to revive our economy. The West is also helping pay school fees for 1 million of our kids whose plight has been neglected while the government spends millions on luxury motor vehicles per annum, but cannot pay school fees for our children.

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We are the only country that actually expects our “enemies” in the West to invest in the future of our children and even feed us while we insult them.

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This rhetoric about how the West hates Zimbabwe is a myth that has been created by those in ZANU (PF) to protect them from scrutiny from their corruption and greed that is devastating this country. In my books, China is actually doing us more harm than good and we need economic protection from them otherwise our industrial base will never recover.

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Zimbabwe is now a big Asian tuck-shop. According to Zimstats, Zimbabwe’s trade deficit with key trading partners is becoming worse. The country’s exports for March declined to $188.7 million from $260.7 million recorded in the prior month.

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After South Africa, Zimstats reported that the next leading export destination was Mozambique which imported $26.1 million worth Zimbabwean goods and services followed by the United Arab Emirates at $19 million; Israel at $9.4 million and Zambia at $9.1 million. The Chinese export market continues to disappoint at a mere $47 000 worth of imports from Zimbabwe!

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With regard to imports, except for South Africa, the leading import market for Zimbabwe was Singapore as Zimbabwe imports from the Asian country were valued at $112 million. This was followed by China, India, Mozambique, Zambia and Japan with imports valued at $36.7 million, $22.3 million, $15.4 million, $14.3 million and $11million respectively.

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Clearly we are in trouble because an estimated 40% of our imports are non-essential goods and our look East policy has resulted in us buying more from them than them from us. This is why I am not impressed with China. It is evident that their so called “all weather friend” relationship is more about them than us, and yet we are the ones who need to be exporting more to them.

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Our economy needs protection from cheap imports from Asia and you will notice that we are hardly doing any business with Russia anyway where Putin has vowed to protect Mugabe from the West. Protect him from what?

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I actually think that President Mugabe needs protection from ordinary poor Zimbabweans who are reeling under his economic policies that have destroyed a once vibrant economy. They are angry and disillusioned at his leadership.

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He also needs protection from those he has purged from ZANU (PF) and who he has treated with utter contempt. Lastly he needs protection from the predator cabal that surrounds him which continues to lie to him about the state of affairs. This includes praise singers such as Manheru who continue to use their skills to reframe our problems, pretend that all is well and to prop up a dictatorship that has killed our potential as a country. How crass.

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There are dangerous men surrounding the President who are pretending to be loyal but are destroying this economy every time they open their mouths. He needs protection from them and not the West.

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We must always remember that every country first looks after its own interests. As educated as we claim to be, I don’t really know why we are so naïve as a country to believe that other countries like China and Russia really care about us. They certainly do not because if they did, they would have paid our debt to the IMF for us and invested billions to create real jobs in Zimbabwe. That is not about to happen.

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We are on our own and yet we continue exporting jobs to South Africa and Asia and have the audacity to call the millions of jobless vendors on our streets the “new economy”. That is idiotic.

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We need a radical change in our economic policy if we are to get out of this ZANU (PF) manufactured rut. I have said before that ZimAsset is a pipedream, a delusion manufactured through a cut and paste exercise. It is like the devil promising you eternal life in heaven- it’s not going to happen.

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Even if it had a chance of happening, it will mean that we would need to attract USD30 billion of new money into the economy. This is in a case where we cannot protect the property of foreign investors as we continually see not only in agriculture but in industry too as in the recent case of Telecel.

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As I have said before, Putin has only three interests – Putin, Putin, and Putin. China has only two interests- to dominate the world in commerce and create jobs for 70% of its population that lives in abject poverty. What are the interests of Zimbabwe- sovereignty and widespread poverty?

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It is embarrassing to see what this country has become. The sad part of it is that we have reports from organisations such as Afrobarometer that are far removed from realities on the ground.

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Zimbabweans might be disillusioned with the opposition political parties but this does not mean by default they love Mugabe. Anyway I am tired of those in the Diaspora especially your academics who are quick to criticise Tsvangirai et al. For goodness sake and come up with your own alternatives and let’s see how you do.

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Talk is cheap.

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Vince Musewe is an author and economist based in Harare. You may contact him on vtmusewe@gmail.com