Friday, March 08, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Kasukuwere: Zimbabwe’s Julius Malema

Kasukuwere: Zimbabwe’s Julius Malema
07/03/2013 00:00:00
by Mai Jukwa

SAVIOUR Kasukuwere is a politician of muddied reputation. His acquisition of a stake in Interfresh remains a thing of controversy. In addition to those charges of impropriety, his public persona is poorly served by his boisterous style of delivery, a bulky well-fed frame and repeated accusations of corruption.

You see, the Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister paints quite the picture of the villain archetype, a rogue fat cat who represents everything opposition forces rail against.

This background – be it born of fact or fiction – has proved useful to Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono’s shrewd political manoeuvring. Kasukuwere presents an easy target; any charge laid against him is easily believed no matter how hollow.

Professor Jonathan Moyo has already laid out an impressive rebuttal of the allegations that were conveniently leaked by Gono to a gullible Daily News at the same time he was publishing his own indigenisation model. What remains is an examination of Gono’s motivations and the implications that follow.

In the commotion that has followed these allegations, a troubling thread has developed. Previously mute voices have now summoned the courage to publicly condemn the entire indigenisation policy. Finance Minister Tendai Biti is quoted as saying that he would, if victorious in the coming elections, move to reverse all indigenisation deals. The general spirit of conversation amongst opposition types is that the entire process has been proved corrupt as they previously alleged.

In all these howls of disapproval, we are not told how a company like ZIMPLATS ceding a 51 percent to locals personally enriches Kasukuwere. It is a brilliant political move by opponents of the policy and entirely founded on nothing more than innuendo. We are eager to see how the money eventually finds itself into Kasukuwere’s pockets but this is not forthcoming. Instead, we are treated to a hysterical type of journalism that continues to scream misleading headlines without regard for facts.

Before we examine Gono’s motives in deliberately setting off this storm, it is important we examine the facts on Kasukuwere’s actual handling of the indigenisation policy. The popular view is of a reckless and hurried execution, which has relied on brutish bullying tactics. The reality is not quite as colourful.

Consider the issue of banks. Foreign-owned banks are yet to come into compliance but have suffered no sanctions, this despite growing evidence that they are deliberately dragging their feet after been quietly encouraged by Gono in this insubordination. But one must realise that indigenisation is a national programme that was passed into law and cabinet has signed off the implementation. The brazen intransigence displayed by the banks is not against the Kasukuwere boogieman, as you would be led to believe. They are refusing to implement the law of the land for their own selfish reasons.

The developing narrative hardly paints the banks as lawbreakers. Instead, we are given a misleading picture of vulnerable banks resisting the menacing and corrupt demands of a rogue minister. The fact of it is that Kasukuwere’s implementation of indigenisation has been relatively tame and well organised. It is nothing of the radical sequestration being peddled by scribes of questionable objectivity.

Consider President Robert Mugabe’s view on the ZIMPLATS deal. In an interview, Mugabe said quite clearly that the 51% stake should have been acquired without compensation of any kind on the argument that the natural resources being mined entitle locals to that stake. Would ZIMPLATS and Gono prefer for Kasukuwere to be less radical and implement the policy as per the instruction of the President and simply demand the stake?

Those close to the process have explained that Kasukuwere has avoided such forcible acquisitions for fear of being dragged into international courts and tribunals by disgruntled shareholders. In the same way that our diamonds were subjected to various unfair restrictions, there is a very real risk of retaliatory action by Western nations barring Zimbabwean platinum citing grounds just as spurious as those used against the Chiadzwa diamonds.

One would be interested to hear Gono’s view as regards the President’s position that Kasukuwere should not provide any consideration in exchange for the stake but instead simply acquire it on the basis that the minerals belong to us? The picture of a corrupt Kasukuwere menacing businesses is quite clearly a dishonest one that has been painted by clever minds at the RBZ.

But one wonders what Gono’s motives are. His public record makes it clear that he wants to derail the indigenisation policy. He is cleverly feigning a mere disagreement with Kasukuwere’s methods but a reading of his alternative model makes clear that he is opposed to the policy itself. One wonders why Gono has taken to public podiums to attack the policy when he could discreetly voice his concerns to cabinet. Who is he pandering to?

Gono’s conduct becomes all the more suspicious seeing that he knows full well that Zanu PF is campaigning on the back of indigenisation. Why would Gono move to attack or diminish the prestige of a policy that his party so desperately relies on? One would imagine that the natural inclination would be to cover up any mistakes and raise them in private. This is especially true given Gono’s own glass house. The man is hardly a saint given how he sucked funds out of private accounts to fund questionable activities.

Indeed, if his motives were pure he would begin his charity closer to home by allowing a full independent audit of the RBZ. The questions then remains, why is Gono doing this?

Jonathan Moyo correctly identifies Gono’s perfidy. Gono is trying to drive a stealth bhora musango campaign. While feigning concern for propriety (which he has not practiced in his own office as Governor), he is achieving two goals. The first is that he is showing his hand to the MDC-T and Western nations as the Good Governor who always stood for truth. The import of his shameless campaign is to suggest that he is a moderate and should therefore have a seat at the table of any future government or at very least avoid any punitive actions that could be meted out against Zanu PF officials.

The second goal is the discrediting of Zanu PF’s key election card. One needs not be reminded of his duplicity that was exposed with the publication of the Wikileaks cables in which he shamefully alleged the President was unwell and would not last another three years.

Kasukuwere finds himself in the position of Julius Malema. The policies and ideas he is championing are noble and beyond contestation. However his opponents will seize on his person in an effort to discredit the policy he preaches. In the same way the Boer-controlled South African media fed the population with an endless drip of detail on the person of Malema without actually discussing the merits of nationalising mines, we will continue to see an obsession with the person of Kasukuwere as opposed to the actual policy of indigenisation.

Amai Jukwa is a loving mother of three. She respects Robert Mugabe, is amused by Tsvangirai and feels sorry for Mutambara

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