Zimbabwe: a pearl thrown to swine?

OPINION – Zanu PF’s calls for elections this year have become feverish in the past few months. These calls have left many people wondering what the party is up to.

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Having lost the harmonized elections in 2008, one could not expect the party to be on the fore front, calling for another round of elections hardily three years down the line. What has the former ruling party has to offer to the electorate which it failed to offer for the past three decades.

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Having managed to turn the continent’s breadbasket into a basketcase, how does the party intends to turnaround economy after failing to do so in the past decades? 

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Zimbabwe attained independence in 1980, inheriting one of the strongest economies in the continent.

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But if I may  borrow from the Holy Bible, Matthew 7 verse 6 to be precise: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

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And Zimbabwe which at independence was like a pearl was thrown before unscrupulous people who have destroyed it through corruption and poor governance. And it is really shocking that the same people who plunder the economy in the past 31 years still need more years of pilferage.

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And when Zanu PF is going to the electorate it should look in the mirror and ask: What have we done for the people of Zimbabwe?  Definitely the party should not claim ownership to independence as millions of Zimbabweans participated in one way or another during liberation struggle. Many people lost their lives, property and livestock supporting the liberation struggle which Zanu PF today claims ownership.

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The economy of Zimbabwe shrunk significantly after 2000, resulting in a desperate situation for the country and widespread poverty with 94 percent unemployment.

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The participation of the country in the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 1998 to 2002 set the stage for this deterioration by draining the country for hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Hyperinflation became a major problem from about 2003 to 2009, when the country suspended the Zimbabwe dollar. The economy deteriorated from one of Africa’s strongest economies to the world’s worst.

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This was also compounded by the fast track land reform programme which Zanu PF members have termed, highly successful, had serious repercussions on the economy.

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Since 2000 the Zimbabwean government took most of the farmland previously owned by white farmers and reallocated it. However most of this happened in a corrupt way and land went to senior politicians from Zanu PF. Short term gains were often made by selling the farms equipment, and selling the crop left by the former white farmers. The loss of agricultural expertise also triggered a loss of agricultural financing and market confidence which made recovery almost impossible.

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But since the formation of the Inclusive Government following the signing of the political agreement in 2008 after the June 27 2008 sham presidential run-off, the economy is now going back on the rails.

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Three parties Zanu PF and the two MDC formations are now part of the inclusive government.

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Zanu PF and MDC have all claimed that each one of the two was responsible for turning around the economic. And jingles have been composed by the parties to put their messages across.

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Now the question is: Which party should be given credit for turning around the economy? Now get me right here I am not a member of any of the two political parties but I give credit where it is due.

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Finance Minister Tendai Biti recently said Zimbabwe’s economy will grow about 8 to 15 percent in 2011 but any attempts to push through an election could deal it a devastating blow.

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“We have been very conservative. Our growth forecasts are for 8 percent,” he said on the sidelines of the Global Poverty Summit in Johannesburg recently.

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He added growth could be as high as 15 percent if there are no elections or major disruptions to the recovery in the impoverished state.

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The state media reported Zimbabwe was not going to postpone elections President Robert Mugabe’s party wanted by end of this year.

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Critics say rushed polls without political reforms, including a new constitution guaranteeing basic rights would result in a sham election.

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“A unilateral unplanned election would basically be a bloodbath. Capital will flee. I have to discount robust growth figures because of the fear of a violent election,” said Biti, a minister from the rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

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Biti said the economy should benefit from high commodity prices, a bumper crop, overseas investment heading toward emerging economies such as Zimbabwe and growing tourism. He saw GDP at about $6 billion.

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Zanu PF has been in power for donkey years and has presided over the collapsing economy and here it does not need a rocket scientist to tell you that if Zanu PF failed to do it in three decades definitely it can not do it in two years. It is that simple. Most of the Zanu PF ministers have been in government for years and to expect them to come up with new ideas now is stretching our imagination too far.

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I remember Biti telling a business meeting in Mutare that if you talk of a mouse in cabinet meetings you will see Zanu PF ministers running around looking for sticks to kill the mouse. The only mouse they know is the small rodent, which is also a delicacy in Zimbabwe, not a computer mouse. That statement though said in jest, however gave a picture of the crop of ministers from Zanu PF. Imagine a vibrant Minister like MDC’s Nelson Chamisa sitting in the same meeting with Zanu PF’s Didymus Mutasa. The two are worlds apart.

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Now during election time Zanu PF must answer these questions: How does the party want to turnaround the economy if it failed to do so in more than 20 years?  Does the party has anything new to offer?

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 Don’t tell us about empowerment or sanctions or the liberation struggle. We all played our party to liberate the country and it is time for us to enjoy the fruits of independence and we want deeds not words.

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And it could be naïve on the part of the electorate to give Zanu PF another chance, come election time.

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