Saturday, January 09, 2010
By Christopher H Mutsvangwa
THE year 2010 could turn out to be the year of Zimbabwe’s meteoric economic rise. The country is set to shake off all the blues associated with the illegal sanctions imposed by the Anglo-Saxons and EU countries and join the ranks of fast growing emerging economies in a spectacular manner.
High Quality Human Resources
Soon after independence in 1980, H.E. Comrade Robert Mugabe made the momentous and fateful decision to educate all the Zimbabweans. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were at loggerheads with him when he pushed for universal primary education and subsidised secondary education.
His answer to them was: Can you help me choose which of the Zimbabweans I should remove from the huge numbers of all who were asking for school placement.
Today, Zimbabwe is at the crest of Africa’s literacy only topped by Tunisia. Its educated population is much sought-after for its readiness to acquire the skills of modern development. Now it is the object of envy and praise by all. Most important this high quality resource is poised to work on the recovered natural resources in a way that will propel the nation to much craved for prosperity.
Quandary on Illegal Sanctions
The initial break came with Zanu-PF embracing the MDC opposition in a political settlement that ended the state of political polarisation induced by the British former colonial masters and their allies. The resultant climate of national unity dealt a devastating blow to the pretext that had been behind the illegal sanctions.
As we talk, there is total confusion in the camp of the enemy within and without Zimbabwe. They are sitting on the horns of a dilemma as their sanctions policy has been overtaken by Zanu-PF and its mastery of politics and diplomacy.
Now they have to talk of "conditional" lifting of the illegal sanctions thus tacitly accepting the failure of the regime change agenda of the past decade. Most painful for the enemies and detractors is the fact that H.E. President Mugabe is still Head of State of Zimbabwe and is firmly in control of Zanu-PF.
Land is the Economy
Even worse for them, the people of Zimbabwe are stubbornly refusing to hand back their land which they successfully recovered from the colonial plunderers. Indeed that land is now the driver of the emergence of a new propertied class.
Hurrah! Zimbabwe is now firmly back on the rails of self-sustaining national economic development deriving from indigenous capital accumulation. This epochal event will be a beautiful novelty to an Africa continent whose five centuries of interaction with Europe brought about the bane of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism.
London and the Sulking Losers
In the mean time, Tony Blair and George Bush, the authors and practitioners of regime change are wallowing in the ignominy of political wilderness, totally discredited and thoroughly despised. Gordon Brown, their student is faring no better as he faces the specter of stark defeat at the national polls later in the year. He is likely to leave office without even as much as a face saver on a dead end policy of sulkiness and vindictiveness by Britain.
New and Unfettered Sources of Capital
The underlying rationale of illegal sanctions was to deny capital to the new indigenous landowners who were a product of "fast track" land reform. Without loans, the new farmer was to meet the fate of a grape that withers on its vine. Back in 2000, Europe, America and Japan had a juggernaut control on world capital markets.
The Breton Woods institutions of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and their offspring the Paris Club of Debtors had literarily the writ of death on a poor African country that would dare defy the self-appointed masters of the universe.
Their track was menacing enough. Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah and many others had been driven out of power and/or killed. The economies of Guinea Conakry, Mozambique and others were all wrecked in punitive and salutary vengeance for daring to defy.
The total starvation of capital to Zimbabwe was to be the prelude to a war of aggression to remove Mugabe and his hated Zanu-PF. Their crime was so grave that it warranted merciless retribution. The first count was that they had succeeded through the fit of modern arms to win back freedom from an offshoot of the British Empire. With the land reform they were compounding insult to injury by actually dispossessing the colonial offspring who were local guardians of the tangible and intangibles of the imperial heritage.
BRICS to the Rescue
The last decade of the 20th Century was a torrid one as Zimbabwe’s economy was buffeted by the merciless cyclones of relentless regime change. The assault spared nothing in its way, focusing particularly on the national currency. It was reduced to worthless paper as the nation’s social delivery system slid to medieval decline of cholera proportions.
But other global forces were coming into play. The rise of Brazil, China, India, Russia (the BRICs) was gathering pace in world economics. The BRICs were the front row representatives of a whole lot that would include Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, South Africa, and Malaysia in the so-termed Group of 20.
For Africa and Zimbabwe in particular, the arrival of post-Apartheid South Africa on the continental face signaled a new profile in world affairs. No longer could Europe continue to act against Africa and its interests without the compunction of unbridled arrogance as of habit.
The manacled grip of Western capital on Africa was facing determined and relentless challenge. The sumptuous dinners of the super-rich Group of Seven (USA, Japan, Germany, France, UK, Italy, and Canada) now had new gate-crashers.
The imperial excesses of the war monger but reckless George Bush eventually plunged the superpower economy of the USA in a massive financial crisis in 2008. The resultant quagmire went on to drag down all its allies. The economic saviour of the world was China and its other BRIC economies.
For Africa, Johannesburg is rapidly acquiring the status of a continental financial powerhouse that is fast loosening the hobbling tentacles of affected or discriminatory investment. New infusions of equity and loan monies from Shanghai, Hong Kong, Moscow, Seoul, Riyadh and Sao Paulo are translating into bruising competition to traditional fund managers in New York, Tokyo, London, Frankfurt, Paris and Rome.
The pan-African nationalistic streak in the Afrikaner investing class has come in handy in the new financial dalliance between Johannesburg and the cash-rich greater China financial centres of Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shenzhen as well as Singapore and Taipei. Last year, Standard Bank owner of Stanbic Zimbabwe got a US$6 billion equity injection from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the biggest bank by capitalisation in the world. As we talk, First Rand Merchant Bank is forging a partnership.
The banking love-fest between Beijing and Tshwane will soon extend to the field of mergers and acquisitions. After many years honing their manufacturing skills in the highly competitive domestic industrial environment, many Chinese companies are ready to break out into foreign markets. And the most developed country on the continent has much to offer in this domain.
South Africa’s Afrikaner intelligentsia is helping in this effort. Stellenbosch University has an excellent research centre that is refreshingly open-minded about the Chinese business engagement with Africa.
This is in direct contrast to the Euro-centric bigotry that has gripped the Zimbabwean commentary on economic relations with China, the newly emergent global power. It is indeed a sad reflection on an academia that is anti-national and is always inclined to fawn to inimical foreign interests in the manner aptly described by Malcolm X and his lexicon on "kitchen niggers" as opposed to "field niggers".
The internationalisation of the London-Harare bilateral quarrel is not much of a factor to this new capital whose primary quest is profits. On this sole criteria Zimbabwe is more tantalising than many fellow African countries. As we get our national political act together in the aftermath of the GPA, the new investors are not going to be persuaded by the cacophony of noise from possessive and frightened rivals of imperial legacy.
To the contrary they are most likely to be much enthused by the business opportunities that have been created by the breaking up of the land cartel of ex-colonial white landowners.
They are also eager to get their hands onto cake of the pie of the fabled mineral rights that were the hoard of the Anglo-Saxon resource giants. Neo-colonial relations had all along confined them to buying them through the London Metal Exchange even as Britain hardly has mineral resource of any note.
Prime Time Africa
The resource-rich continent is now basking in the limelight of rising demand for its oil, iron ore, coal and base minerals. Angola breaks into 2010 with four gleaming stadiums in four of its major cities. And it hosts a jamboree of African soccer competition to announce a total break with its image of ravage.
The scramble for African oil and minerals is fast being complemented by the attention to the continent’s fertile but under-cultivated agricultural land to help feed the choosy palates of the ranks of swelling middle classes in BRIC nations.
The resource boom is throwing to naught the onerous and negative credit ratings that had afflicted the continent. As new fund vaults are being opened to the continent, all sorts of infrastructure projects are being dangled to Africa.
The NGOs of the West, long touted as the saviours of the continent are being displaced by project manager technicians and land surveyors who are busy erecting ports, railways and bridges across the jungle. It is just wonderful that Africans, just like the rest of humanity can now rightly aspire to the trappings that come with modern civilisation.
It is not long ago that African leaders were being schooled by the World Bank mandarins to think smaller than "grandiose" projects. Their dreams were being limited to plead for that which could be transported by a 4x4 vehicle driven by an NGO aide. Needless to say most of these aides were types that were unemployable in their home countries.
The debt, the poverty and the hunger missionary roles assumed by faded pop stars like Bob Geldof, Bono and Madonna is fast being eclipsed and displaced.
Indeed it is about time that Africans interact with more useful strangers. Welcome to the banker, the entrepreneur and the project manager!
Zimbabwe and the New Constitution: Back to the Future
From 800 AD till the time of the Portuguese and eventually British interference with our civilisation march, Zimbabweans had built a thriving civilisation that takes pride of place in sub-Saharan Africa. The grandeur that is the citadels of Great Zimbabwe, Mapungubwe, Khami, etc are all testament to a past of glory and splendor. All this was possible because the people were in communion with their land and all its riches.
The Chimurenga II and the Fast Track
land reform restored
This is a normal relationship that had been lost to imperial plunder. Freedom, independence and the control of our resources are the enduring gifts of President Mugabe and his party Zanu-PF to Zimbabwe and its people.
The constitutional process currently going on is the final lap of our long road to prosperity. It is a process that will codify for eternity all the gains of a painful but rewarded history. This is the only worthwhile goal to be pursued.
With national unity now within grasp as the Sadc diplomatic process has helped to marginalize the forces of division and pandering within the national body politic, Zimbabwe will once again look forward to prosperity. Zimbabwe will soon join other trailblazing the BRIC countries in helping change the face of the global economy.