Friday, 17 May 2013 23:16
COMMENT - There have been several articles that are of interest and are mentioned in this article.
(ZIMBABWELAND) Difficult lessons from Zimbabwe that some South Africans just don’t want to hear, prof. Ian Scoones.
(IOL) We can learn from Zim’s flourishing farms
April 30 2013 at 09:22am
By Max du Preez
And Max Du Preez' follow-up article:
(IOL, THE MERCURY) What we CAN learn from Zim
May 14 2013 at 09:51am
By Max du Preez
(HERALD ZW) Zimbabwe: What Future White Viewpoint?
Friday, 17 May 2013 23:16
When a professor cannot read the day
We are headed for very interesting times I tell you. The MDCs do not want elections before or by June 29, which is when the life of Parliament extinguishes itself. Yet they harp on laws which need realignment with the new constitution when it comes into force, and all this before we go for elections.
This is increasingly sounding like a precondition. Those laws would have to be passed by Parliament, is that not so? Which means they have to be done and processed by June 29, right? And when they are done, what else remains in the way of elections?
Nothing! I happen to know that the Justice Ministry has been working tirelessly on all those laws that stand affected by the draft constitution as and when it ripens, which means what is being projected as an arduous task will be a one-day wonder, all parties willing.
Unless of course the MDCs decide to frustrate the legislative process, which they can do by the way, what with their stay-away model politics. I am not excited about a positive scenario where the MDCs play ball in relation to the legislative agenda. I am interested in that knotty situation which they provoke when they don’t. What happens next? Well, the country falls back on Presidential Powers by which the President can make laws, albeit for six months! Interesting times ahead of us, I tell you.
---------------When power-hunger is no emergency ------
A few days ago I engaged a high-ranking MDC-T official on why they now stomach an unconstitutional interregnum falling due after June 29. He berated me. “Don’t mislead the nation,” he fumed. “The Government in place remains in Office until the next President is sworn in.” Incorrect if both of us understand Government to comprise the three arms. If MDCs wish is granted, it means Zimbabwe will continue under the current Executive - not Government - for the next three or four months. It will be a short, bastardised epoch of an Executive and Judiciary, without the third leg, Parliament, which cannot extend its own term. It shall be a fraught period, one dominated by flying writs, most of them constitutional. I don’t know the disposition of the Bench on this one. Most probably it will do like it has done with MDC defectors who approached it for immediate by-elections, namely rule in favour of elections without further ado. If so, you wind up with a lonely, discredited Executive. You don’t need any exceptional skills to know that the extension envisioned and granted under the current constitution which has been retained in the present draft is meant for emergencies, or for an unavoidable short overspill beyond the life of Parliament. And power-hunger is not an emergency, although its consequences may very well create one.
-------------Dictatorship by opposition consent-------
But all that is not the exciting part. The real exciting part is the fact that the two MDCs are gradually driving the country towards a situation where everything else is speed-able, indeed gets speeded up except harmonized elections. It boggles the mind how anyone who can fast-track a sensitive document like the constitution, can plausibly drag on anything else. If you can sire a God in one month, why can’t you sire a mere mortal in much less? Or in slightly more time of its fornication? Through dilation, the MDCs are slowly making the prospect of turning the President into a sole lawmaker real. The same President whose powers they wanted drastically pared down in the run-up to the draft! Much worse, they want him to run a Government without Parliament. The same MDCs whose “democratic” argument was “to give Parliament its real teeth”! The MDCs are systematically repudiating those values around which they wove their claim to opposition, indeed on which they pitched their vision of a new Zimbabwe. What is going on? Whose values have they been espousing all along, values so vulnerable, so susceptible to their power-craving whims? Do they realize the absurdity of their current position, where they are poking a President they have all along termed an autocrat, towards real dictatorship, seemingly by oppositional consent? And if they consent to that, why then do they fear their impending defeat? Because in their lore it will be a Mugabe dictatorship which they do not seem to mind, as long as it is with their participation as ministers! Dictatorship is always a problem, until it gives you a place in the inclusive sun! What a peculiar New Zimbabwe.
--------Parroting Government Work Programme----------
Has anyone seen the MDC-T document over which they are congregating in the name of working out a vision for a new Government which they dream as theirs after elections they dread? You go through the policy documents of the Inclusive Government, themselves wholly derived from the Zanu (PF) era, and you immediately see the parentage of the MDC-T documents for their policy conference. And by the way, all ministries in Government recently came under real pressure from the about-to-be-defunct Prime Minister’s Office to give reports on their policies and activities, all in the name of a review of that stillbirth called GWP, Government Work Programme. Politically conscious ministries did not cooperate. Those which did today realize that they provided fodder for the MDC-T manifesto, an unacknowledged, thankless pilfering effort. So much about change, making remarkably true the age-long saying that the more they change is the more they stay the same. You don’t make a new Zimbabwe out of a blueprint for legendary dysfunction, which is what the Inclusive Government was all about. Why is there this mental atrophy in the MDC-T, which cannot come up with a simple manifesto? We need to peep into the state of white thought which launched them in the first place. Let us do so now.
-------------When a professor cannot read the day -------
Just before the recent referendum, Professor Tony Hawkins was invited to proffer his views on the event. He had this to say: “All the signs are that it will be something of a non-event because the three political parties who drafted the constitution have all supported it and there is no active campaign against its acceptance. There are certainly civil society organisations who have opposed it, but there is no organized campaign and it seems quite clear that it will go through with very little opposition, with probably very apathetic electorate and a very low turnout of less than 20 percent, if not less, of the voters.” But the referendum result would prove the intellectual clairvoyant woefully wrong. Well over 3,3 million Zimbabweans voted, the highest figure ever recorded so far in all elections this country has held so far. And of these, about 3,2 million supported the draft constitution, giving the document an above 94 percent approval rate, something of a history given the almost instinctive No stance in past referenda. Again confounding the good professor, the Nay vote garnered just over 179 000 votes, quite a far cry from Hawkins’ “no organized campaign” against the draft. This hefty misreading of national disposition by our seers got me thinking, this inability to read a cloudless day.
------------Swimming with the current? --------
A few days before our Independence Celebrations we had a surprising piece from the Commercial Farmers Union indicating this all-white farming body, or more accurately put, the scarecrow of it, was giving up its opposition to land reforms and would not “continue swimming against the current”. Said its vice-president, one Peter Steyl, “We have finally realized that the land reform is irreversible.... There has been a change of heart. We have realized that we cannot carry on like this. The overall concept is to empower agricultural stakeholders and investors, past and present, in an inclusive way that brings sustainable benefit to all sectors of the Zimbabwean economy.” This ringing statement amounted to a major climb-down by a body that historically has been the bedrock of white power and white politics in this country from colonisation and beyond. Except it is coming a good 13 years late, well into our land reforms, well after the deluge, well after the current and all is settled. Again, another clear day misread!
---------When Bloch takes back his words --------
Two weeks back I read through a piece by Eric Bloch which attempted to review a recent publication on land reforms co-authored by Joseph Hanlon, Jeanette Manjengwa and Theresa Smart. Its title, Zimbabwe Takes Back its Land, is militant and assertive, loudly marking a departure from the Mugabe-takes-white-land-and-ruins-commercial-agriculture-and-once-viable-economy intellectual mantra.
Eric Bloch benevolently differs with these writers stressing: “Although the authors undoubtedly formed their opinions and expressed them in good faith and they are well-intentioned, those opinions and conclusions are regrettably at pronounced variance with the realities.” His view is that so bad is the land reform that “its benefits are grossly exceeded by its negative consequences”.
It is a conclusion which will find favour with white farmers who lost land in these wide ranging reforms, but hardly in the Africans who feel they recovered their heritage, directly or vicariously, and are eke-ing a living out of it. I notice even the MDC formations, themselves a political expression of anti-land reform politics, today concede that land reforms area irreversible. Indeed one outcome of their so-called policy brainstorming retreat shall be to recognize the salutary impact of land reforms, while priggishly hiding behind the miasma of “land audits”.
-----------When even a Devil cries “Amen” ------
Hardly a week or so ago, a white Afrikaner senior journalist, one Max du Preez wrote an extensive admission that South Africa has to cast aside its pride and admit that Zimbabwe’s land reforms are not just working, but a veritable way out of rural poverty. “Zimbabwe’s radical land redistribution has worked and agricultural production is on levels comparable to the time before the process started. What is more meaningful is that the production levels were achieved by 245 000 black farmers on the land previously worked by some 6000 white farmers.... Mugabe cronies own less than 10 percent of the land. Many of the small farmers (a few hectares) make a profit of about R90 000 a year while some of the more commercial-sized farms have turnovers of more than R1 million.” And he gets to amazing conclusions: “The first is that most new black farmers can actually farm successfully and commercially if given enough time and help. There are far too many South Africans who believe the opposite. The second is that an ambitious land redistribution programme can play a large role in alleviating poverty and providing employment and dignity to large numbers of marginalized people.”
------------Dominant ideas, dominant class -------
Du Preez is an Afrikaner, part of the Volk enjoying a stranglehold on land in South Africa. This group traces its roots as far back as 1652. They contest their African roots, making it clear they know no Europe, no Holland, no Dutch language. The Afrikaners are wedded to the land and it takes far more humility than Bloch ever needs, to admit that indeed the land can be merited by any other race other than Afrikaners, let alone to acknowledge that land can be productively used by anyone else outside the Afrikaner Volk. Compare this with our Eric Bloch, our Freeth, our Bennett, our Buckle, our Hawkins and many others of the same ilk. It got me wondering: Is white opinion valid anymore in this country? Is there room for it anymore? Can it ever dominate once more?
Most of us recall that Zimbabwe from the eighties right up to Two Thousand was a paradise of white thought, opinion and sensibility. Collectively, we remained a colonized mind, whatever had happened at midnight on 18th April, 1980. And it got one really cynical. Was 1980 a mere rearrangement of 1890 ideationally? In the media, themselves mirrors of the national mind, white thought dominated, especially in the area of business. The authorized knowers were white. The viewpoint that mattered was white, with black mouths, black thoughts, only featuring in public relations puffery. We were a marginal thought, that speck of thought on the fringes.
A bit of advice from Karl Marx: “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, that is, the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.”
For those not familiar with the works of Marx and Engels, this piece is culled from The German Ideology, a must read for social analysts.
---------Into the castle of their skin ------
With the white man in charge of land, industry and commerce, it was little wonder that our farcical dominance of politics would soon give way to ideas founded and espoused by those in charge of the means of material production. Our marginalization ideationally thus mirrored our true and correct place and position in the post-colonial society, if post-colonial it ever was, concretely. That position has since changed, somewhat. The white man has been toppled from the pedestal that gave him a stranglehold over land. His citadel for hegemony over industry and commerce is being shaken, thanks to Indigenisation. He is now an outsider, while the outsider in history is slowly inching towards the centre. This massive change is showing in terms of mental production.
As for people like Hawkins it is much worse. Their hellfire vision in the wake of land reforms is slowly being challenged by the good things happening in the countryside. The rules of the game have changed and their thinking, all of it founded on a challenged orthodoxy, on a vanishing status quo, is now incongruous, a clear misfit. Made worse by the fact that their attempts to venture into political commentary or denial, runs into another formidable wall. They seek to read the mind and behaviour of an African who resides in Chitungwiza, Dotito and Buhera, grounds where no white angel dares tread. Remember Simon Chimbetu: “KuChitungwiza uko kwatinogara havawanikwe”? Beyond lost place, the white commentator faces a stiffer problem of a different habitat from those who now make, move and shake Zimbabwe. It is a complete disorientation, one likely to see many whites whine, wail and whimper. Or much worse, withdraw into the castle of their skins.
“There are THREE very important topics when the MDC-T wins power:
1) Unemployment, Unemployment, Unemployment! Heeee!
2) Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! Heeee!
3) Economy, Economy, Economy! Heeee!
?) Corruption, Corruption, Corruption! Heeeeeeeee!
These are the THREE issues. Heeeeeeeeeeeeee!” Little, confused bird chirps: “So what is three? The issues, or the stress?” And the village cur barks back: “The issues, if your count is juicy!” Happy Conferencing Mister Prime Minister!
Icho once more again to the power of 3!