LETTER FROM AMERICA: Brother Zhuwao has a point

LETTER FROM AMERICA: Brother Zhuwao has a point

Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment minister Patrick Zhuwao

BROTHER Minister Patrick Zhuwao made a statement that in seeking for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), we should look first to our own Zimbabweans in the diaspora. He was merely stating an obvious fact. While his proposal is worth looking into, there is a lot of house cleaning that needs to be done. I shall refer to that later.
Since the massive migration of 2000, diasporans have made numerous attempts to be included in the development future of Zimbabwe. My supreme brother, Attorney Daniel Molokele in South Africa sponsored an education initiative, whose aim was to match diasporans with schools in Zimbabwe. Our efforts were rewarded with sneers by ZANU-PF until David Coltart became Minister of Education. As I speak, for example, a rich woman wants me to donate an entire library to a school in Zimbabwe.
After Coltart’s departure, connections with ministry officials were indifferent. Zimbabwe officials are more interested in political affiliations than in simple straightforward developmental goals.
Zhuwao is correct on two fronts. “There is also a belief that FDI comes from the Anglo–Saxon world, it cannot come from India, China and other countries.” This reminds me of the time I visited Chief Nerupiri, as patron of his school. The chief expressed the opinion that blacks don’t give bursaries. I have just received a letter from Doubt Chamhungwe, now a senior in business studies at the University of Zimbabwe, who received the Mufuka Family Bursary while he was in Grade Two.
Zhuwao is also correct in his assessment that diaspora Zimbabweans may be sitting on an estimated US$50 billion in savings which can be invested back home.
Zhuwao is correct on a third platform. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank will give us a run around and are not likely to lend us money in the near term, within the next five-year period.
I first came into contact with the activities of these two predators in the West Indies, 1971-1975. Prime Minister Michael Manley, a brilliant economist educated at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) nationalised British Tate and Lyle sugar plantations. He also quadrupled the taxes of the big four American bauxite companies, raising their taxes from US$25 million to US$200 million.
Within two years, everything that could go wrong went wrong. The British withdrew their support of the Jamaican dollar. It was no longer recognised on the international foreign exchange platform. The British postal system lifted its big brother arrangement. International postal orders were no longer available. Last but not least, the Jamaican dollar fell by 100 percent.
My landlord walked into my apartment and doubled his rent, from US$350 to US$700 overnight. My income was US$750 per month. I left for the United States that month, never to return.
Overnight, the value of his US$200 million revenue inflow was halved. Civil service salaries became unpredictable. Then the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) descended on Jamaica like vultures, ready for the kill.
This is where Zimbabwe is now. Tanzania’s late Julius Nyerere visited my university and spoke to us in this way: “Should we starve our children in order to pay the IMF? Shall we dismiss our workers when our youth are already unemployed?”
Yes sir! The IMF and the WB are the new Shylocks of this world, they want their pound of flesh whether you bleed or not is beside the point.
Clean out your act
The Zimbabwe government is in a state of confusion. Either it makes up its mind to go IMF and WB, or it decides to find a third way. With them, one must bend or break. There is no third way for them.
It was Simon Khaya-Moyo who gave the President a new title of supreme orator for his speech at the United Nations. “Clearly the bullies of this world must have trembled to hear the President speak in their faces about the meaning of humanity,” he boasted with reference to gay rights.
While Zhuwao’s message was well received in London, where Philip Banana attempted to create a platform for FDI, diasporans know that Zimbabwe is giving mixed messages. Khaya-Moyo’s message is that Zimbabwe owns all the gold in Fort Knox, does not need help from bullies.
The different messages emanating from these brothers, Zhuwao, Christopher Mutsvangwa and Khaya-Moyo are contradictory. Mutsvangwa despises those “ministers in Cabinet who still think the white man is superior”. Equally offside is Mutsvangwa’s own belief that the Chinese will come riding a white horse to our rescue. Then there is another message from Patrick Chinamasa.
Diasporans are part of the western world. Many of us have married into the Anglo-American world and our children are of mixed race. There is need to adopt a new inclusive language and a new approach. The IMF representative, Christian Beddies, reported that: “Zimbabwe’s economic and financial conditions remain difficult. Growth has slowed, unemployment is rising and economic activity is increasingly shifting to the informal sector.
“The external position remains precarious. In light of their arrears to creditors (US$10,2 billion) low commodity prices, and the appreciating US dollar, external inflows remain constrained; the country is in debt distress.”
This “chap” cannot say to us, we are broke.
There are too many voices. The world does not owe Zimbabwe anything. We are the ones who are distressed. Clean up your act.


  • kwv

    I agree that the IMF etc are to be avoided. The way to do that is not to borrow from them in the first place and in second place for a country to live within its means. “We neat what we kill” in the famous words of Tendai Biti.

    Our problem in Zimbabwe has always been that those in control seem to view loans as grants or gifts and get offended when the lenders ask for their money back. This is not rational. If you borrow from a person or an institution, sooner or later they will demand repayment.

    It may be painful to remind many of the time before they were born that, as far as I am aware, the Rhodesian government before independence did not borrow from these institutions. And in those days Z$1 was worth US$2.

    Now we are burdened with about $10 billion of debt with seemingly no hope of ever paying it back. Where did all this money go? What has happened to the diamond money? I have also read that the “Land Reform” took about $22 billion out of the economy. As a nation, we MUST learn to live within our means. We also MUST make doing business easy and profitable, for foreign and local investors both.

  • chete chete

    Make farmland a tradeable commodity and a lot of recovery will happen.

  • Matsimba

    Zimbabwe is a unique country in that all the problems the country is facing, the ordinary folks can clearly articulate the genesis of logjam. It appears therefore the problem is located within the realm of the Politburo. Cadres jostle to shout the loudest about philosophies they themselves don’t believe in but find it as an opportunity to make political mileage. People take turns to propose the most bizarre policies which even Grade 7 students will find inappropriate. Re-engagement is a broad concept which should start at home. Zhuwao is correct in so far as pinpointing that the diaspora community is a captive market for investment funds but he should be bold enough and tell his colleagues the modalities of re-engagement with the diaspora. Internally the authorities should engage all the stakeholders on the way forward. So re-engagement with the IMF should be end of the process after Zimbabweans have discussed frankly about what needs to be done and agree on milestones. People should not preoccupy themselves with succession politics at the expense of the economy.

  • Ghost of Sparta

    How can you want diasporians money but you don’t allow them to vote. You can’t have one without the other.

  • Chitimkulu

    As long as someone can take what you have worked for without giving you a chance to contest the expropriation not much will change in Zim. No rocket science here.

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