It’s all about the Zanu-PF DNA

To be fair to him, his articles are a must-read for the simple and good reason that they betray the inner thinking of the more informed components in Zanu-PF. Of course, his writing style is loquacious and prolix which is typical of university students of his generation who thought that big words and verbosity are a sign of superior intellect. He is still to learn that communication is predicated on the defection to simple and efficient language.

The shorter the better, the simpler the more effective. In the article under discussion, three critical issues and conclusions are made which invite further debate. The first issue is the attempt and conclusion to reduce the fight between the shareholders of Kingdom and Meikles as a simple Manichean fight between Nigel Chanakira and John Moxon. The second, borrowing on Amilcar Cabral and Franz Fanon, is an attack on the black middle class in Zimbabwe, its immaturity and indeed its capacity to reproduce itself through legitimation by whites and white capital.

Thirdly, is the glorification of the current empowerment programme and the consequent question why black middleclass or elites who are the intended beneficiaries, are in fact opposed to the same. Questioning the black middleclass and its relationship to capital in the post independent state is legitimate. Indeed Amilcar Cabral, Franz Fanon and many others do a fantastic job in exposing the limitations of this class. There can be no question about the comprador role that this class has played and its limitations in defining itself other an intermediary accessory body that is content to serve as a managing class to white capital.

Part of the problem of course lies both in the pre and post colonial education system, which trains the African child to be a subservient seller of labour. The education system does not allow us to have bigger horizons other than being a teacher, nurse, doctor or accountant. African children are taught to write “application for vacancies” and to prepare curriculum vitae as opposed to “crafting business proposals” and strategic business plans. Glaringly missing in Manheru’s analysis is the responsibility the post-colonial State must hold in its failure to create a mature middleclass and indeed for that matter a black bourgeoisie.

It is my contention that the post colonial states in general, and indeed the post-independent Zimbabwe Government in particular, have been intoxicated by one thing and one thing alone, the power retention agenda. This is in betrayal of a proper developmental State underpinned by democracy, the rule of law, social protection and social justice under a vibrant social economy. In short, the post-colonial State and the post-colonial elites have failed to develop what Lenin calls the national democratic State, which is a precondition to the liberation of the potential of not just workers but so too the potential and the leverage of capital including black capital. Political power has failed Africa and political power has emasculated the growth and development of Africa.

At independence in the late ‘50s and ‘60s, the GDP of many African countries was comparable to those of many in Europe and South East Asia. Ghana for instance, had the same GDP with South Korea but 50 years later, the two countries are not comparable in terms of global competitiveness, GDP, per capita income and the quality of citizens’ lives. To be fair, there are some countries that have developed without democracy, Singapore and China being good examples. But what is critical in these countries is the existence of a genuine leadership and genuine desire to uplift and develop its people.

The fact of the matter is that the inheritors of the African state at independence had no craft competence and craft literacy to deal with state craftsmanship. Put simply, while nationalism was a good and sufficient instrument for the democratisation and the decolonisation of the colonial sate, it did not have an answer to the post-independence challenge of development, democratisation and upliftment of the people. Franz Fanon in “The Wretched of the Earth” is vicious in his attack over the rulers at independence. He states: “The national bourgeoisie steps into the shoes of the former European settlement …seen through its eyes, its mission has nothing to do with transforming the nation: it consists, prosaically of being the transmission line between the nation and a capitalism, rampant though camouflaged, which today puts on the masque of neo-colonialism.

“The national bourgeoisie will be quite content with the role of Western bourgeoisie’s business agent, and it will play its part, without any complexes in a most dignified manner. “But this same lucrative role, this cheap-jacket function, this meanness of outlook and this absence of all ambition symbolise the incapability of the middle class to fulfil its historic role of bourgeoisie.” Our very own Ibbo Mandaza makes the same point in his brilliant introduction to Edgar Tekere’s autobiography. He laments that the post-independent State was inherited by peasant teachers and headmasters who simply could not understand State craftsmanship and therefore maintained the status quo of conformity.

He states: “As former school teachers who had never pursued a balance sheet in all their working experience, university graduates with little or no exposure to their Statecraft or business, the Zimbabwe leadership at post–independence constituted more of a caretaker state, facilitating an economy which, two decades or more later, remains quite firmly in the hands of the former white settlers and international capital.”
It is too early to assess the extent to which that stronghold has been relaxed on the strength of the land reform exercise. But the latter appears to have provided yet another opportunity for the parasitic bourgeoisie and comprador classes to engage in voracious primitive accumulation, with little or no real improvement in production nor the requisite contribution to industrialisation and the related increase in employment and economic growth.

Indeed, today Zimbabwe is no nearer to establishing a national economy nor national bourgeoisie. This has been exacerbated by a bureaucratic bourgeoisie now characterised by rampant mediocrity and corruption: and leaders most of whom are not conversant with economic and financial issues, while simultaneously reckless and extravagant in the management of resources, including money which is simply printed in order to sustain and maintain an image of an “economic turnaround”. However, it is not just the lack of vision and the lack of craft competence and knowledge of Statecraft that explains the culpability of our post-independence rulers.

The lip service paid to the misunderstood ideology of socialism was also critical. That lip service explains the discomfort of Zanu-PF with capital and more importantly black capital. Indeed, black capital has been treated more harshly. Multinationals and the inward looking Rhodesian sanctions busting companies created by Ian Smith were allowed to flourish in the first years of independence. However, the same cannot be said for black capital. Indeed, the political elite managing the state has been suspicious of competing spaces created by black capital.

Thus, virtually every black person who has sought to graduate from petty intermediary capital to real ownership has been on the forefront of Zanu-PF attack. This includes the likes of Strive Masiyiwa, Nigel Chanakira, James Makamba, Shingi Mutasa, Nicholas Vingirai, Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Mutumwa Mawere, Mthuli Ncube and Jeff Mzwimbi, only to name a few. In July 2004, the biggest bank in terms of bank turnover was Trust Bank. Six months down the line, the bank’s primary drivers Chris Goromonzi and William Nyemba were in exile.

The black business that have survived has done so taking refuge in Zanu-PF, the likes of Phillip Chiyangwa, Saviour Kasukuwere, Ray Kaukonde, Sylvester Nguni and many others. Not surprisingly, Nigel Chanakira seeks to follow the same route. The latter group of people illustrates the subjective treatment of black capital by Zanu-PF and the inheritors of the State. The religion of this system has been patronage and cronyism and the economy has been the mere temple of this cult. Government tenders, licences including mining licences in Chiadzwa, the land reform programme have all been conducted on the basis of cronyism and clientelism.

Thus when black elites in Zimbabwe question the current indigenisation programme, they are not doing so on the basis that they are anti-empowerment. They are doing so on the basis of fear of precedent. That is, the mere knowledge that Zanu-PF is not capable of doing anything without resorting to its natural DNA of patrimonialism. It is the very same fear of Zanu-PF’s DNA that explains the public’s response to its weighing in into the Moxon-Chanakira affair. There is total mistrust of Zanu-PF’s objectivity. Objectivity and Zanu-PF are as close to each other as the same magnetic poles.

However, in mitigation it must be pointed out that the structural deficiencies of the colonial State were unlikely to produce any other post-colonial outcome. The colonial State was a narrow and intrusive construct with a false accumulation model based on the extraction of raw materials, agriculture and minerals for the metropolitan capital. It was a mere gatekeeper between the metropolis and the local environment. Thus Africa’s new rulers suddenly found themselves in control of a State which was not in control of its own resources.

African rulers were mere gatekeepers of an economy whose main role was to justify the externalisation of raw materials. Rather than democratising and finding an alternative developmental model, the gatekeepers surrendered to the venality of gate keeping. Their sole concern became that of controlling the gates and nothing else. Hence, the power retention agenda. These are hard facts missing from Nathaniel Manheru’s article. To the majority of the working people on the African continent, independence did not amount to the transformation of their lives.

There is now a generational responsibility on the post-nationalist generation to complete the unfinished business of nationalism. This responsibility means transforming the State, attending the issues of democracy, constitutionalism and re-crafting the social economy founded on the basis of social justice and social development. More importantly must be the crafting of a vision that subordinates politics to developmental issues. In simple terms, this generation has the monumental duty of the transforming the State into a national democratic State.

Icho!

Tendai Biti is the Minister of Finance in the inclusive Government.

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