Monday, 13 April 2015

The Zulu King who lacks 'Goodwill' and abets Xenophobia

By Bernard Bwoni

The inequalities from South Africa’s apartheid era remain unresolved and the anger and resentment continue to simmer into deep-rooted and irrational contempt for foreigners. That could just be an excuse some may say, maybe South Africans are inherently ‘nasty’ and hate foreigners? That of course is a broad generalisation because not all South Africans hate foreigners. South Africa as a nation has enjoyed cordial relations with its neighbours and all other African countries. President Zuma recently welcomed President Mugabe into South Africa for an official state visit and the love and respect for the two neighbours was all evident for the world to see. There are many foreigners who get one with their lives alongside South Africans and are made to feel at home. However the recent irresponsible and ill-thought remarks by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini have certainly boosted xenophobic feelings in South African communities and has seen the escalation of heinous killings of foreigners. It could be a total collapse of the social and moral fabric that is driving these despicable and illegal cremations of foreigners. Unfortunately the King Zwelithini’s  (where is the Goodwill in that?) comments seem to have legitimised xenophobic attacks in the Rainbow Nation. As things stand in South Africa this situation has barely been addressed as there is widespread impunity for acts of xenophobia and insufficient, if any, official condemnation. It is as if the authorities condone these deplorable acts of violence on foreigners, no let me rephrase that,  'as if the authorities condone such despicable acts of violence on Africans. The first person who should have shown ‘goodwill’ and come out condemning such abominable and inhuman acts is King Zwelithini but he has since gone into hiding whilst foreigners continue to be incinerated alive. Yes I mean burn as in someone lighting a match and setting a human being on fire in front of jeering and cheering crowds. Whole communities that is. It is all thanks to the King with ‘Goodwill’.

The South African authorities have to launch urgent public campaigns to denounce xenophobia and there is no other way of correcting this crude ailment that has pervaded the Rainbow Nation. There has to be consequences for torching another human being period!. These shocking attacks on Africans by South Africans deserve urgent attention, people being burnt alive deserve urgent and immediate redress. It is not enough for President Zuma to simply say ‘stop killing foreigners’ because this is not going to stop these murders. King Zwelithini’s comments should have received official condemnation right from the start before they set the veld fire. The King himself should have come out publicly stating that he was quoted out of context or denouncing these hate crimes.

There are numerous videos of foreigners being burnt alive in South Africa and that is happening in the full glare of whole communities. There are some harrowing and gut-wrenching videos of children fatally feeling the full impact of the xenophobic purge in South Africa. And the perpetrators are unforgiving as they traumatise the defenceless foreign victims. It is always the poor and most vulnerable who get caught up in these unimaginable acts of barbarity. There is the video of a four young persons with their hands tied and car tyres round their necks. One of them is just a little boy barely a teenager looking dazed, confused and unaware of the cruel fate that was about to befall him.  The despair, the forlorn sense of defeat, the hopelessness and helplessness was heart-breaking to watch. The gloom on the poverty-stricken faces,  despondent end of hope and the emotions of despair were all too unsettling to even watch the burning itself. The little boy was innocently looking around the unforgiving mob that had encircled them for the purpose of the human bonfire seemingly oblivious to the impending torment and torture that awaited him. The trauma was evidently erased by the sure dearth of hope. This is not meant to blackmail readers emotionally, but rather the reality of  humans being burnt alive for being foreigners in South Africa.

That is one of the most distressing scenes of human barbarity  ever captured on video and yes they all met their end ablaze. The thing that worried me the most was the gathering community that jeered and cheered at such inhuman behaviour. The young boy alongside four others was set alight in the full glare of the community. A member of the gathering community handed over the box of matches to the men who were meticulously making the preparations for this unethical burning ceremony.  This begs the question, was it the man who lit the match or the individual who handed over that match to burn these children responsible? No it was not an individual who did that, it was not an individual who handed over the matches but the whole community did. Every single person who stood by watching and did nothing handed over that match and took part in the gruesome murders. The King who is supposed to have ‘Goodwill’ might as well have handed over that match with his irresponsible utterances. By handing over that box of matches and everyone letting it go unchallenged the whole community participated in this murder and subsequent murders against foreigners in South Africa. I am hurt for them all especially the little boy who had his hands tied behind his back and too traumatised to show any signs of fear. It starts with being irresponsible and labelling nationalities as King Goodwill Zwelithini did his ‘foreigners must pack their bags and go home’ statement. Society takes cue from such irresponsibility. The innocence on the little boy's face before he was set ablaze is haunting and heart breaking. It is a harrowing and distressing depiction of the hideous face of xenophobia in the Rainbow Nation. My brothers and sisters from the Rainbow Nation cheering and jeering as human beings are burnt alive just for being foreigners.

Where is the compassion, the conscience and that degree of self-control that separates us from animals? How can a whole community stand and watch as young defenceless souls are set alight not in random acts but carefully planned manner? Any society that stands by and watches such savagery and brutality without objection is difficult to classify as a developed society. That is an opinion not a fact and most likely the level of violence inflicted on these young men evoked so much emotion that might cause opinions to overlap with facts and vice-versa. There is a sense of denial in terms of accepting responsibility and accountability for such actions by society collectively. Compassion, philanthropy and empathy are the hallmarks of any nurtured and matured society. How any society treats the most vulnerable, how any society accepts the most vulnerable and how any society welcomes the vulnerable from outside is what distinguishes it from the animal kingdom. A degree of self-control and that empathic outlook sets us wide apart from animals. This is about what individuals or groups of individuals collectively are prepared to do and prepared to forego to put themselves on a path towards a matured society. The senseless brutality associated with xenophobia is happening in the full glare of society and not a single soul raised any objections.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Sanctity of Zimbabwe's struggle and independence

By Bernard Bwoni

From the limelight of otherwise trivial political careers to the obscurity of political darkness, the likes of Mutasa, Mliswa, Gumbo and the ‘Mother’ have been humiliated (rightly so) and subsequently embittered by the realisation that they have accomplished nothing but a free-fall into the twilight of their productive political years. This political near dearth experience soon to be political oblivion has wounded them and their response has been to make counter spurious claims of ‘People First’. The thing with quislings is that they talk as if their choice to cross the floor was about 'People First' and as if they put 'People First' when in fact the reality is that it is all about their own egotistical quest and their insatiable desire to follow the undignified pathway that come with the trappings of power. The thing with such individuals is their inability to stand for any real principle and hence the undependable wobble into the opposition ranks and Western handholding. They will swing from one end of the political pendulum to the next hopelessly hoping to land on the solid side of principle but they never do. Now they must live with the reality of an inevitable descend from self-proclaimed political importance to the darkest depth of political obscurity. There is no 'People First' in any quest for a regime change agenda. There is only one ZANU-PF and the PF stands for Patriotic Front and those who claim 'People First' do not for one second have the patriotic marrow in their deoxyribonucleic acid. Those who attempt to weaken the party that liberated this country are reckless and careless to say the least. The sanctity of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle and independence must never be compromised by the likes of the crooked Mliswas, uncles and ‘mothers’ at the expense of the majority. Zimbabwe is on the way up and as our independence approaches again we must never forget the sacrifices.
Independence is that beautiful realisation that one is free from physical, mental, political and economic shackles. What a lovely feeling indeed. It entails the reorganisation, the rebranding and the rebuilding of the victim's emotional, economic and political infrastructures to support the independent entity's trajectory. Zimbabwe's independence was not and is not the final journey's end but rather the beginning, the bridge that connects and enable us as a sovereign nation to drive up national processes, to determine our own destiny and ensure the country remains on course. 18th April 1980 removed the many obstacles that limited our potential as a people and put in place opportunities. It is true that many challenges remain but the shackles have been totally eliminated. With the shackles of Rhodesia out of the way any challenge can be and will be overcome. As we celebrate our hard won independence let us all remember that where there are challenges there lie in great opportunities. Challenges obstruct opportunities and as President Mugabe rightly stated at the South Africa-Zimbabwe Business Forum, it is about creating opportunities for present and future generations to own the country’s natural resources. President Mugabe said that in some African countries independence was only a ‘half measure as those countries do not even own their natural resources’.

There is definitely a lack of patriotism among those who have been working underhandedly to dismantle the structures of the ruling party in Zimbabwe and it is such a shame that some of them actually participated in the sacred struggle to liberate the country from those who they are now working towards serving. The liberation struggle in Zimbabwe was fought and won by men and women with the patriotic marrow and blood that flowed patriotically through their spirits, blood that flowed in the land we call Zimbabwe today. These sons and daughters of Zimbabwe fought a just war and put the country ahead of all distractions and trappings. The priority was the liberation of the country and all its component parts. The likes of Temba Mliswa do not possess that patriotic marrow in their spineless bones and yet they start to believe they are bigger than the sacrifices of those who liberated this country. ZANU-PF is way bigger than the unstable and self-serving Mliswas and uncles and they must never be allowed to undermine the honourable name of the revolutionary ruling polity. These are just but very small individuals in the grand scheme of things and the party is way bigger than all their treacherous simple minds put together. ZANU-PF is that bigger picture built on the collective strength of the people. The revolutionary ruling party is way bigger than the insignificant and irrelevant Mliswas and uncles. These errant turncoats are exactly where they belong and the spirit of those who gallantly fought for the independence of Zimbabwe will guide them towards the permanent political dustbin.
It is the likes of Mliswa and uncles who have gleefully embraced CIA agents like Erick Little in the na├»ve quest to undermine Zimbabwe, to aid and abet the regime change agenda that continues to seek to undermine Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s national security is constantly under threat owing to the actions of the overzealous and over-paid perfidious few who are touting the lame ‘People First’ ideology and publicly courting the dysfunctional opposition in the hope of toppling the ruling party. This is no way to suggest that the likes of Mutasa, Mliswa, Gumbo and others should not differ with the ruling party ideology but when it comes to affairs concerning the integrity of that bigger and sacred entity called Zimbabwe then national pride and duty dictates that it is unethical to invite alien onslaught to further own ailing political careers. The reality is that those who have been kicked out of the ruling party will never in their lifetime empower the black indigene but rather continue to further the interests of our erstwhile colonisers as the local opposition has done over the years. I would not at all be surprised if Mliswa does not start calling for further sanctions against Zimbabwe.
The one thing that is certain is that patriotism has indefinitely abandoned those who have been rightly ejected from ruling party. Wining and dining with known CIA agents the likes of Eric Little is an unpatriotic assault on the country and Zimbabwe unfortunately is being bruised from all angles by these unpatriotic renegades and as expected the MDC-T. For one to have a patriotic commitment to Zimbabwe they have to uphold the principles of protecting and preserving the country’s virtues whatever it takes and not to undermine it to further own ambitions towards the upper echelons and corridors of State House. The sad thing is that those who are abusing the sanctity of Zimbabwe’s liberation are supposed to be the very same custodians of national sovereignty by virtue of having participated in the struggle to liberate Zimbabwe.
The lack of patriotism in the likes of Mliswa and uncles has yielded a self-obsessed and mercenary attitude as we have seen and that has a profound effect on the country as a whole. Patriotism is not a part-time promise to uphold national principles but the dedication of a lifetime to national trajectory. It is that sense of shared sense of identity for the preservation of national pride and identity. Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle provided that platform and it is up to the people of Zimbabwe to proudly uphold. Quislings like Mliswa do not inspire and will never build nations. It is compound and united structures like the ruling party that build nations. The nation is the complex entity with its people being the component parts defining it. Tampering with the core of this unique entity has a disastrous cumulative effect on all the micro component parts. Those errant comrades who have been shown the door out of ZANU-PF were tinkering with the nucleus that anchors the nation as a whole.
The gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who fought for the liberation of Zimbabwe were ready to sacrifice all for the greater good of the whole country and not only the individual pieces that make up the whole. The young men and women who liberated the country were patriots who were committed to uplifting all Zimbabweans from the mire and mud created by the racist Rhodesian system. Zimbabwe’s independence did not come free of charge, many a young men and women lost their lives and for the likes of Mliswa to cosy up to known CIA agents insistent on undermining and compromising the ideals of the sacred struggle is morally unrefined. As Tsvangirai has said to Didymus Mutasa “If you are proposing love to a girl you do not do that in the media or in public. Mutasa has not approached me and if he really wanted to engage me at that level he would have come to me through the right channels,” What more can I say, birds of the same further flock together.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Robert Mugabe- cooked-up threat to US foreign policy

By Bernard Bwoni

The case of the economic sanctions against Zimbabwe has seen the truly ugly face of ‘imperialism’ raise its head again and again with Mr Obama fronting the cause of the establishment. The narrative and the level of dishonesty has been breathtakingly unforgiveable and the dubious double standards are not coming from the Zimbabwe government side but Mr Obama himself. The architects and engineers of these illegal economic sanctions have continued with this carrot and stick game at the expense of the sanctions-induced destitution of the masses in Zimbabwe. The local opposition has been handheld into abyss and the outcome of their naivety has been the continued attempts at meddling into Zimbabwe's internal affairs through the illegal regime change agenda and the accelerated economic chaos that followed. The US President, Mr Barrack Obama recently came out stating that the US will continue to maintain the economic sanctions against Zimbabwe because “President Mugabe and his policies pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States”. What is so ‘unusual and extraordinary’ about an African leader reconstructing the biased colonial legacy where the indigenous population was deliberately dotted onto the margins of all economic activity in the country? The EU on the other has continued to show willingness to re-engage Zimbabwe and that has to be acknowledged and applauded.


The economic sanctions against Zimbabwe were never about the hollow and high-sounding themes of democracy, rule of law or civil liberties as the local opposition marionettes and those who hold the strings would try to make the world believe. They were never about 'championing for the rights of the downtrodden ordinary people of Zimbabwe'. They were never about the love for the people of Zimbabwe. The reality of the matter is that the sanctions were meant to separate the people of Zimbabwe from the meaningful and potent Mugabe policies of economic emancipation and the land reform which addressed and redressed a colonial wrong (there are no colonial rights by the way). History should have taught Morgan Tsvangirai and his bunch that American foreign policy only caters for American interests and not some uninspiring opposition leader in Zimbabwe. The sanctions are meant to further US foreign policy and anything or anyone who goes against this poses a threat to US foreign policy. President Mugabe and Zimbabwe fall in that category and hence the continued use of economic sanctions against the country as punishment.


What threat to US foreign policy is Mr Obama talking about? Surely Morgan Tsvangirai's High Seas voyages are more of a threat than what President Mugabe is trying to achieve in ensuring that the indigenous Zimbabwean is empowered to enable them to participate fully in the economy and benefit from this participation. That cannot be classified as a threat to US foreign surely? Could it be that Mr Obama is concerned about the increasing Russian and Chinese engagement with Zimbabwe and the emerging closer ties? There is no point in being vague, Mr Obama should just come out and state clearly what this threat is. Why should ordinary Zimbabweans continue to shoulder the burden of the economic sanctions for another year for an imaginary or cooked-up threat that does not exist?


Zimbabwe's current economic misfortunes are a direct result of these illegal and unwarranted economic sanctions against the country. Mr Obama is more concerned about US foreign policy, not the depravation and destitution that has been inflicted on the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe. The economic sanctions were never and will never be about the people of Zimbabwe but the permanent interests of those who imposed these sanctions. It is the poor ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe who have to bear the full brunt of the sanctions so if these sanctions were indeed about the people of Zimbabwe then they should have been lifted unconditionally to alleviate the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. It is disturbing and disheartening that Mr Obama is reducing the sanctions-induced suffering of the people to mere politics of imaginary threats to US foreign policy.  The engineers of these economic sanctions against Zimbabwe have always been less than sincere and their sole purpose has always been to advance their own interests whilst coercing defenceless victims like Zimbabwe into submission. This is tantamount to economic bullying through deliberate and direct sabotage of the economy and the Zimbabwe economy bears testimony to that. Zimbabwe has been reeling from the full force of this direct hit at the core of the country's economic engine which has seen the economy descend into an unstoppable tailspin. These economic sanctions against Zimbabwe have caused upheaval and disintegration socially, politically and economically. That is exactly the intended outcome of the US and EU foreign policy to make the people suffer into submission and turn against their leadership and institutions. The social malfunction, the economic disintegration and the political meltdown that followed is what Mr Obama is pointing out as the consequences for 'threatening US foreign policy'. The fact of the matter is that US foreign policy is in fact imperialism in disguise. Zimbabwe as a sovereign country should not be exposed to regime change agendas and that is more of a threat to Zimbabwe’s own internal policy than a threat to US foreign policy.


It is disingenuous for Mr Obama to make such claims that it is “necessary to continue this national emergency and maintain in force the sanctions to respond to this threat”. What threat? But then you have to forgive Mr Obama because he is only reading from the script. Zimbabwe does not and has never posed a threat to any other country's foreign policy. It is in fact the US which poses a real and direct threat to Zimbabwe's domestic policy through the continuance of these illegal and devastating economic sanctions. For Obama to act as the mouthpiece of these overtures of a former imperial establishment is disconcerting to say the least. The US and EU have come to the realisation that their Tsvangirai Project has failed dismally and as such cannot continue with their usual excuses for maintaining sanctions. They have now craftily coined it 'the threat to US foreign policy'. My foot! The only threat that exist is the continued and unabated economic decline due to these economic sanctions and further suffering of the ordinary people of Zimbabwe.


At the end of it all we all know that these economic sanctions against Zimbabwe are illegal and inhuman. Zimbabwe does not pose a threat to US foreign policy in any shape or form. The US is not at all concerned about all those high sounding nothings of democracy, rule of law or good governance which the local opposition was trained to recite as their gateway to the Presidium. There are many real rogue regimes that have repeatedly violated their own people’s civil liberties and have no idea what democracy is yet the US and her allies continue to enjoy very good relations. This has always been and will always be about permanent interests and nothing else. The US main concern is to punish Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe for going against the grain and pursuing policies that seek to empower the indigenous people. Zimbabwe's thrust towards economic emancipation goes directly against the imperialistic agendas of exploiting developing countries of their natural resources. The erstwhile imperial powers continue to get richer and richer whilst the victim countries continue to wallow in perennial poverty and destitution. The threat which Mr Obama is talking about is the fact that these policies are resonating well continent wide with other African countries and that pose a threat to the unrestrained exploitation of resources these former imperial have enjoyed. That is the threat President Mugabe poses to US foreign policy.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

What the heck has the London Mayor been smoking lately?

By Bernard Bwoni
The Telegraph published London Mayor Boris Johnson’s article entitled ‘Happy Birthday Mr Mugabe with special love from Labour’ on the 22nd February 2015 and this got me thinking, what the heck has this man been smoking seriously? The Conservative Party and the ruling party in Zimbabwe have enjoyed cordial relations from way back then before the country’s independence and the Lancaster House Conference and as such this confused and confusing article would have made a lot sense coming from Tony Blair himself. I bet Mrs. Margaret Thatcher would be turning in her grave at this unwarranted and nauseating tirade against President Mugabe. Mayor Boris Johnson started off by calling President Mugabe’s 21st February Movement ‘an event of truly spectacular ugliness’ and he wonders ‘who on earth would want to there?’ The simple answer to Johnson’s lazy question is, the many Zimbabweans who voted the man into power would definitely want to be there. I am convinced Mayor Boris Johnson wrote this article whilst under the influence of something that is not legally available on the open market. For starters how on earth did he come to the conclusion that Zimbabweans eat lion meat? He calls those who were going to be attending President Mugabe’s birthday celebrations a ‘meat-maddened mob’ and ‘brain-washed Zimbabweans’ who will sing happy birthday ‘to the man who has impoverished their country’.  From there onwards his article became a mish-mash of contradictions and confusion.
The fact of the matter is that in the last general election in Zimbabwe 61% of the electorate voted President Mugabe into power in an election endorsed as free, fair and credible by the SADC and African Union observers. These were the observers who were on the ground and that is the democracy which Mayor Boris claims to champion. So for him to call those who decided to celebrate President Mugabe’s birthday as ‘brainwashed’ is not only condescending but an attempt at muzzling people’s democratic right and downright dirty. President Mugabe is a hero for many Zimbabweans Mayor Boris and the fact that he is not your hero does not make those Zimbabweans who see him as a hero ‘brainwashed’.
Reading through Mayor Boris’ article one is left wondering where on earth he got his facts from to come up with this fiction of an article. He makes spurious claims that all teachers across Zimbabwe had been forced to contribute $10 each for these celebrations. I initially gave Mayor Boris the benefit of the doubt but decided to check with a few of my friends in Zimbabwe who are teachers just to make sure and none of them was aware of such a call. So where did Johnson get these distortions from? Or did he just make it all up in this moment of madness?
Mayor Boris then goes on to make a revealing admission that it was the Labour Government under Tony Blair who played a ‘shameful part in the disaster’ and that is absolutely right. It is this ‘shameful part’ that meant that the British Government reneged on funding the Land Reform process in Zimbabwe as agreed at the Lancaster House Conference, Tony Blair and his bosom buddy George Bush’s economic sanctions against Zimbabwe have indeed caused the untold suffering of the ordinary people in Zimbabwe. Mayor Boris rightly points out that the British Government agreed to fund the land reform at Lancaster and he rightly places the blame on Tony Blair and Claire Short for going back on the arrangement. Now the question to pose to Mayor Boris is why the uncalled for attack on President Mugabe?
It is the British government betrayal of the Lancaster House agreement that led to the Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe and it is because of the Fast Track Land Reform that the EU and the USA imposed economic sanctions against Zimbabwe. It is the economic sanctions that have led to the ‘malnourishment of children’ and ‘the companies going to the wall’ that Mayor Boris was going on about. He then goes on to the pluck figures out of thin air in his drunken state I assume and makes yet more unsubstantiated claims that Zimbabwe is now the ‘poorest nation on earth’ and talks about the ‘ravages of HIV’, the ‘emaciated figures listlessly on street corners’ as his evidence of Zimbabwe being the poorest country on earth ‘beaten only by Congo’. I am left wondering what indicators Boris used to come up with such ridiculous claims?
Let us get things right about Zimbabwe and Congo which Mayor Boris again decided to conveniently omit. These two countries are extraordinarily rich in natural resources and they are not playing ball with Western capital and hence Mayor Boris’ frustration. He goes on to patronize Zimbabwe and the liberation war by stating ‘readers will remember the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement, by which Margaret Thatcher granted independence to Rhodesia’. This man is mad! The Zimbabwe independence did not come on a silver platter Mayor Boris, but it was the protracted liberation struggle that brought the Rhodesians to the negotiating table at Lancaster. The liberation of Zimbabwe was not handed over to the people of Zimbabwe, arms were taken up against the unrelenting Rhodesian government, and blood was shed until that priceless day on 18th April 1980 when Zimbabwe attained its independence.
Mayor Boris puts that blame on Tony Blair for reneging on the arrangements agreed at Lancaster as the reason for the cause of the Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe but then contradicts himself by claiming that ‘Mugabe’s long reign has been characterised by one overwhelming objective: to exterminate the last vestiges of white power’. This is totally unfounded because President Mugabe is the first African leader to coin the concept of National Reconciliation long before Mandela was credited as the icon of reconciliation. After independence the whites in Zimbabwe were left untouched and they continued to live freely. Ian Smith lived freely in Zimbabwe until his death and he is buried in Zimbabwe. President Mugabe embraced his erstwhile nemesis of the liberation struggle and even had whites in his cabinet. Mayor Boris then goes on to contradict himself again by stating that it was this betrayal of the Lancaster House Agreement that gave ‘Mugabe his pretext to launch his pogroms against the whites’.  No Mayor Boris, this was not an attack on whites but rather a case of addressing some historical inequalities and these had been tabled at Lancaster. The 6000 whites Mayor Boris mentioned owned over 70% of the arable land in Zimbabwe whilst the over 10 million indigenous black people of Zimbabwe were relegated to the most unproductive lands of the country and the margins of all economic activity.
The London Mayor goes on to say that the Labour government allowed Mugabe to ‘launch a racist tyranny’ and that it was Labour’s betrayal of Lancaster that gave Mugabe the ‘pretext for the despotic confiscations’. Let it be made clear that the liberation war in Zimbabwe was about the land and hence the agreement that the British Government would fund the process of redistributing the land to its original owners. The land reform in Zimbabwe, whichever form it took, was inevitable and necessary to redress the ruthless land tenure laws drafted by the crafty Rhodesian colonial system. The Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe was a case of correcting a skewed land ownership pattern where a few whites owned the majority of the fertile land at the expense of the many black Zimbabweans who had been forced into the rock terrains of the country. President Mugabe did not make up the provisions of the Lancaster House but these were agreed by all principals.
Mayor Boris is right about one thing throughout his article that Tony Blair and his colleagues were responsible for the breakdown of the cordial relations between Zimbabwe and the British Government. He nailed it when he places the blame on the Labour Government but then lost it when he went into this tirade against President Mugabe. It was the inexperience and hastiness of Tony Blair that the provisions of the Lancaster House Agreement were scrapped and President Mugabe had no choice but to redistribute land to the hungry and angry landless indigenous Zimbabweans.
Zimbabweans have celebrated President Mugabe’s 21st February Movement for years now and will continue to do so. Those who decide to go, it is their right and not for Boris to decide or ridicule. Those who go are not ‘a meat-maddened mob’ or ‘brainwashed’ but willing Zimbabweans. There are children, educated adults and elders who attend and no one puts a gun to their heads to attend this over-subscribed yearly event. Zimbabweans do not eat lion meat Mayor Boris so get your facts right before going to print. Mr David Cameron just like all the other Conservative leaders have always accorded President Mugabe a modicum of respect and that is the bedrock of the Zimbabwe-British relations. Mayor Boris got it terribly wrong when he launched this attack on President Mugabe. Whatever he is smoking these days has to be banned.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Zimbabwe sanctions: power games versus strong mindsets

Bernard Bwoni

His Excellency President Robert Mugabe reached yet another extraordinary milestone when he turned 91 years old on the 21st February 2015. May I take this opportunity to wish him a happy birthday and wishing him many more years to come and conquer, and he is still as sharp as a needle. The outstanding son of Africa has stood the test of time and only a handful can say exactly the same. The man has put brakes on the imperialism carriage and has invite intrigue and interest from the erstwhile former colonisers and their allies. The man has shown the way and continues to show the way for real African political and economic freedom. President Mugabe has stood firm and continues to stand firm, he has stood side by side with the principles that helped liberate Zimbabwe and to date continues to stand by the very same principles. Here is a man who is demonized at home and away for the principles and policies he stands for that is total economic emancipation of the indigenous people of Zimbabwe and Africa at large.

Robert Mugabe has posed real questions to the economic status quo created by the architects of imperialism and colonization, and with all their resources the EU and USA have failed to respond to these critical questions. Their only response has been overt and covert coercion to discredit the potent Mugabe questions. The architects and perpetrators of the tripartite evils of slavery, colonization and apartheid have resorted to such measures as the illegal economic sanctions against Zimbabwe. It is calculating and callous that the EU chose to announce that they would be maintaining the sanctions against Zimbabwe and President Mugabe on the eve of the President’s 21st February Movement celebrations. That is devious, deceitful and downright dirty play. It is ridiculous that President Mugabe and Zimbabwe remains under any form of sanctions.

The EU and USA will always try to save face even if it means their callous actions of maintaining economic sanctions on Zimbabwe will further put yet more hardship burdens on the already economically downtrodden people of Zimbabwe. By removing the economic sanctions against Zimbabwe and President Mugabe, the EU and USA will be conceding defeat and the fact of the matter is that these two allies do not and never offer concessions but only condescendence. The sanctions against Zimbabwe the country and President Mugabe, the Head of State are meant to block any business dealings with the country in a bid to trigger unrest. The blockade of any meaningful economic activity with Zimbabwe has the intended aftermath of ordinary Zimbabweans suffering because of the impact of these sanctions and the only person they see as the cause of their economic misfortunes is the Head of State who happens to be President Mugabe. The ordinary man, woman and child is traumatised by the hard-hitting effects of these economic sanctions that they will persistently deny the existence of a hidden hand in their suffering from the designers of these immoral economic sanctions. The hard-hitting reality though is that these fraudulent economic sanctions are the sole cause of Zimbabwe’s economic reversal, everything else is a symptom and a by-product of the economic sanctions.

What confounds the EU and the USA is President Mugabe’s unique brand of politics beyond the colonial era imbued in economic emancipation of the previously disadvantaged and dispossessed indigene. This brand of post-colonial politics has been resonating well with other people on the African continent and the sanctions on Zimbabwe and President Mugabe are meant to warn all those African leaders who try to emulate Mugabe to steer clear of the Zimbabwe economic model of economic emancipation. The EU and USA are now beginning to play a waiting game which is their last remaining hope of defeating the Mugabe vision of economic freedom for the Zimbabwean indigene soon to be cascaded down continent wide. The idea of announcing the extension of the illegal and unprincipled economic sanctions on Zimbabwe and President Mugabe on the eve of his birthday is part of the game and the hope is that the end of President Mugabe is the end of the ideas of economic emancipation.

The former British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd once had this to say ‘The trouble with Mugabe is that he thinks like us’. The truth of the matter is that the EU and USA have no answers to Mugabe’s assertive brand of African liberation politics save for the use of sanctions regime to try and stifle the spread of the ideas. Mr Hurd seem to have been suggesting that it is a privilege to ‘think like them’ but that is to the contrary. Robert Mugabe only seek one thing and one thing only and that is to redress a historically skewed economic ownership pattern in Zimbabwe that was crafted by the colonial structure that existed before 1980.
Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe is a free country and there are no two ways about that. It is only the disconnected, disjointed and misguided social media delirious outcries of the ‘confused free’ claiming lack of freedom who think otherwise. These are the mixed-up individuals sprawling and spoiling the African Unity Square in their purblind quest for ‘freedoms’ they already have and enjoy. These are the same individuals who publicly claim to have haunted the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairperson Rita Makarau out of her office and they freely walked back to continue littering the beautiful Africa Unity Square with their pointless journey to nowhere. And all this is under Robert Mugabe! In Ferguson, USA these thugs would have been manhandled mercilessly but not in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe.

In Zimbabwe there are those who subscribe to the Mugabe ideas and another group of those who are products of years of western media propaganda and conditioning. The latter group unfortunately and understandably has been left way too traumatised by the impact of the economic sanctions to see through these power games at play. It is not Robert Mugabe the flesh that is being kept under sanctions but the ideas he possesses and represents so that they do not spread throughout the African continent. These ideas pose a threat to western economic influence on the African continent. This is where it becomes a battle between the weak and strong mindsets. President Mugabe has shown mental stamina, the strong mindset to withstand the negative onslaught for years and now it is up to the coming generations to pick up the torch and carry forward with this Mugabe vision and see it through to its logical conclusion and ensure that the whole African continent aspire to the same. It is ideas that build national foundations and ideas do not stem from weak mindsets, and weak mindsets cannot see past the deceitful power games being played on the African continent. Ideas stem from strong mindsets and the ideas that have brought about the economic sanctions seek to empower ordinary indigenous people of Zimbabwe. The fact of the matter is that there is no other route to prosperity except for the Zimbabwe model of total economic emancipation and the freeing up of wealth that was previously a preserve of a minority.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Africa's only hope is Zimbabwe's Land Reform Model

By Bernard Bwoni

A recent report by the Oakland Institute revealed that there are billionaires from the West who have been buying and grabbing land in Africa at a very concerning rate. These investors and hedge funders are reportedly paying next to nothing for these vast tracts of land in some African countries. This is a worrying trend and puts into context the Zimbabwe land policy and reform. Interestingly in South Africa in his State of the Nation address, President Zuma said that foreign nationals will not be allowed to own land in South Africa but will be for long-term lease only. The land reform debate in SA has been taking centre stage with the country exploring a 50-50 Policy framework on rights to people who live and work on farms. The Zimbabwe Land Reform programme is a beckon of hope for the historically and perennially disadvantaged and displaced Africans. Any other African country in the same predicament as Zimbabwe was before the land reform will have to go through the same mire and mud Zimbabwe went through to regain their land. It is such a shame that some African countries are relinquishing their God-given heritage for a few pieces of silver. Zimbabwe is a unique country and all the hard work was not for nothing. There is no other route to land reform in Africa except for the Zimbabwe Model. Anything else is child's play.

There is no universal definition of the term property rights as everyone has an opinion and vested interest in the matter. The definition can and has been evolving over time, thus considering different perspectives, the historical context and background underpinning the Zimbabwe land and property rights issue is necessary. Property rights are not absolute but just a function of what society is willing to acknowledge, defend and enforce. They may need to be adjusted at some point because they do not evolve optimally on their own. There is not enough empirical evidence in Zimbabwe of how the complex property rights package influences economic behaviour and as such those who remain fixated on property rights as the panacea to Zimbabwe’s economic woes are unreflective and insincere.

The Development Economist Daniel W. Bromley in his book, Environment and Economy: Property Rights and Public Policy, argued “property rights do not necessarily imply full ownership and the sole authority to use and dispose of a resource”. To be secure, property rights should be of a sufficient duration to allow one to reap the benefits of the investment and should be backed by an effective, socially sanctioned enforcement institution. Zimbabwe has in place ninety-nine year lease in place and that is “a sufficient duration” for anyone to benefit from their investment, case closed.
The relationship between the rights of the individual and the rights of the community has been constantly changing and without doubt will continue to evolve. We live in a complex and dynamic world where conventional wisdom can be overturned for the good of the majority and it is important to acknowledge that changes in theoretical views on property rights do take place. During the unrestrained land grab by the colonial settlers the rights of the individual settlers took precedence over the collective rights of the indigenous community and in the new Constitution the Zimbabwe government addressed those inequalities created by these historical interactions.

Much of the early property rights literature was quite optimistic about the evolution of property rights towards economic efficiency. The available literature indicate that property rights form the cornerstone of every Western country’s economic modernisation and Hernando De Soto even calls the system of legal property rights the ‘’hidden architecture of modern economies’’ and “if a developing country is willing to succeed economically, property rights which have to be well-defined must be enforced”. De Soto of course did not factor in China which “recognises the right to private property but only as a right bestowed by the state and not as a natural right’’. And, by the way China, is by far the fastest growing economy in the world and is poised to edge the USA as the biggest economy in the world by 2016 or so. My argument is that the property rights construct and debate in Africa was distorted by the colonialism and imperialism’s accumulative streak and that makes De Soto’s claim invalid in the African context.

Property rights are theoretical constructs in economics and the discourse needs to reflect that especially on a uniquely multiplex case like Zimbabwe. Property rights are formed and enforced by political entities and they reflect the historical context, the conflicting economic interests and the bargaining strength of those affected. They are the social institutions that define or delimit the range of privileges granted to individuals of specific scarce resources. In the modern economic literature the argument is that it makes sense to have secure property rights as it makes it easy to access finance and credit from financial institutions and promote sustainable development.

Some contemporary development economists have gone as far as stating that sustainable development will only come from stable property rights and that markets are less efficient when property rights do not exist. From a theoretical economic point of view that is true however complexities in different situations need to be acknowledged. There is an element of imperialism that has pervaded much of the discourse of property rights on Zimbabwe. I have looked into available literature on property rights on Zimbabwe and there is absolutely nothing and the question is how do you make recommendations without empirical evidence from realities on the ground?

Those who remained opposed to Zimbabwe’s land reform have argued that separation of provisions on property rights from rights over agricultural land is fatal as the section in the new Constitution on agricultural lands restricts thus running against natural justice. Chapter 4, Part 2, Section 72 of the Constitution points out that access to agricultural land is seen as a “fundamental right” and that “every citizen of Zimbabwe has a right to acquire, hold, occupy, use, transfer, hypothecate, lease or dispose of agricultural land regardless of his or her race or colour’’. The new Constitution also notes that following the colonial occupation and the triumphant liberation war “the people of Zimbabwe must be enabled to re-assert their rights and regain ownership of their land”. If you read the above clauses then the issue of secure property rights is not as contentious as some would want the world to believe. The land reform in Zimbabwe is irreversible, and that is fact. Property rights with regards to agricultural land fall within the limits set by the State to avoid abuse and the government has set up the Land Commission to address issues of abuse through a transparent land audit which is still pending, and this is all within the bounds of international law. Chapter 4, Part 2, section 71 of the new Constitution addresses the overall issue of property rights fairly and again in line with international law. The rights are extended to all people and the rights to compensation are recognised. However the issue of property of agricultural land needed to be and was addressed in line with the need to “redress the unjust and unfair pattern of land ownership that was brought about by colonialism”. Conventional economic wisdom tells you that economic progression is based on strong foundation of secure property ownership, but what it does not do is take into account complex interactions on the ground.
Chapter 4, Part 2, section 72 of the Constitution seeks to protect the continuing rights of persons currently occupying or using agricultural land under a lease or other agreement with government and states that the State must take appropriate measures ‘’to give security of tenure to every person lawfully owning or occupying agricultural land”. The Constitution states that, not all agriculture land will not be State land and “owners and occupiers will be allowed under the provisions and limits of the law to ‘transfer, hypothecate, lease or dispose of his or her right in agricultural land”. It is important to understand the fact that the property rights issue is insufficient in explaining why capitalism has succeeded in the West but failed dismally in other parts of the world.

The issue of property rights surely cannot be absolute without taking into consideration the realities on the ground. The choices we make today are often constrained by the decisions and actions of yesterday. History does matter and it is history that shapes our futures. The shifting relationships of property and property rights in the Zimbabwean context are contentious and as such it is important to adopt a historical outlook to it to garner a better understanding. The discourse around the issue of property rights needs to be reflective and all encompassing for better outcomes for all Zimbabweans.