Find us on Google+

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Bankrolling Mugabe

Dispatches investigates how Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party are still clinging on to power in Zimbabwe, focusing on the businessmen who are benefiting from or supporting his campaign of political violence. The stuff was pretty ordinary, until "Billy" showed up, grabbing land from black Zimbabweans. It certainly turns the Mugabe spin on its head :


  1. Racist crap. They use Roy Bennett, former Selous Scout, as a character witness?

    This is what they do with their newfound 'freedom' - villify the country that gave them greater access. This is a blatant abuse of freedom of speech - in fact the use of freedom of speech to create propaganda against the country, based on lies, is an attack on freedom of speech itself.

    This is why these scumbags were banned in the first place - they do nothing except propagandize for the MDC, and their corporate backers (try: LonRho).

    A court in Botswana found that taking land stolen from black people because of their race, and given to white people because of their race, was 'racist', because land was only taken from whites and only given to blacks.

    It is a ridiculous verdict. You wouldn't understand that from the first clip.

    "It's like a warzone" - then don't hang around.

    They are trying to gin up public opinion for an illegal invasion of Zimbabwe, so they can more completely steal the platinum.

    " it is worth remembering that several million people are starving, and the country has been brought to it's knees "

    By US and UK sanctions, which put a credit freeze on the country, and has since 2001 - the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001.

    These people are just propagandists. I wonder why no one at the BBC recalls them.

  2. " A cholera epidemic 'sputters' on ", our British propagandist says.

    Not according to the health minister, Henry Matzorera:

    Zimbabwe says cholera epidemic 'is gone'
    by Lebo Nkatazo
    30/07/2009 00:00:00

    THERE are no more cholera cases in Zimbabwe, Health Minister Henry Madzorera said Tuesday.

    The minister also reiterated that there is no reported case of swine flu in the country.

    Madzorera said the last cholera case was reported in June following months of fighting an epidemic that ravaged the country since the first case was detected in August last year.

    “The cholera epidemic is finished now, it is gone … We are declaring that cholera has now ended,” Madzorera said, adding that the new power sharing government had put in place systems capable of containing a future outbreak, even in the coming rainy season.

    “Most of our clinics are functioning.


    Look, what is clear is that 'the BBC' or whoever runs that institution now, have only used the opportunity for greater oppenness to abuse it. They are still pushing for 'regime change', and want to grab Zimbabwe's platinum mines. I am sure this 'journalist' is getting paid handsomely for being a propagandist against Zimbabwe - which might explain his unique combination of hatred and enthusiasm. You can almost see the dollar signs rolling in his eyes.

  3. Zambian Ministry of Health has confirmed suspected cases of Swine Flu in the country as well as a rising number of cases over the last week.

    Countries in the region reporting first H1N1 Swine Flu case between 6 July and 22 July 2009: Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania

    Countries in the region already treating patients as of 6 July: Kenya, South Africa

    The first working vaccines are expected "sometime around September" (source: WHO-Global Alert and Response)

    Mapping the spread of this pandemic is not rocket science. If I were Zimbabwean I would be ashamed at a Health Minister who seems more concerned with bragging that it hasn't arrived yet than preparing the public for an arrival within days or weeks. Like most flu viruses, H1N1 will hit the most vulnerable segments of the population the hardest, and without a current vaccine other prevention measures are key to slowing the spread. It is a pandemic, avoiding it is not really an option.

    As for cholera, that's not going away anywhere in world until the local water and sanitation systems are functioning properly, though it is good that the Ministry has regained the ability to treat the inevitable outbreaks properly. Of course, this isn't the first time that the Zimbabwean government has declared cholera "gone" with smug self-righteousness towards "foreign propagandists", only to be forced to repeat the declaration a few months later.

    Media access should not be predicated on printing stories favourable to government. The platinum concession has been effectively sold to the Chinese already, so if that is the BBC's game they are playing the second half from several goals down. It's not as though being banned from the country has prevented the BBC, CNN or others from running stories critical of the government, if anything it has only given them a more plausible excuse for their hostility. Censorship is bad policy because it seldom works better than the alternative. The morality of censorship versus press freedom and the public's collective search for truth is a separate issue.

  4. MrK,

    This was done by Dispatches NOT BBC.

    Dispatches is an outsourced independent programme of Channel 4.

    Channel 4 is very liberal and would find any excuse to defend dictators.

    This is the Channel broadcast Iran's President campaign messages against ublic outcry.

    What I was hoping you will address is "Billy".

    Especially, since we know that this cartel is in Zambia as well, playing around with mine deals.

    When I was watching RP Capital jumped into my head!

  5. Cho,

    I am not a fan of any of the 'oligarchs' that have dealings in the DRC.

    However, as things to, Zimbabwe and Rautenbach play only a small role compared to such tools of the West as Maurice Tempelsman, the Blattner family, Dany Gertler, Moshe and Mandy Gertner, Dany Steinmetz, etc., of which this program (and no program on the BBC) makes any mention - mainly because they funnel Africa's raw materials to the West.

    Check out this article, which is very illuminating:

    Gertler’s Bling Bang Torah Gang Israel and the Ongoing Holocaust in Congo (Part 1)
    by Keith Harmon Snow / February 9th, 2008

    Maurice Tempelsman is one of the top funders of the Democratic Party who has funded Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Templesman was the unofficial ambassador to the Congo (Zaire) for years, but a new Israeli-American tycoon has replaced him. In the world of bling bling and bling bang, some things change, some stay the same. The CIA, the MOSSAD, the big mining companies, the offshore accounts and weapons deals—all hidden by the Western media. The holocaust in Central Africa has claimed some six to ten million people in Congo since 1996, with 1500 people dying daily.1 But while the Africans are the victims of perpetual Holocaust, the persecutors hide behind history, complaining that they are the persecuted, or pretending they are the saviors. Who is responsible?


    From personal correspondence, I know Keith Harmon Snow is no fan of Robert Mugabe (my opinion is a lot more positive of the man). Billy Rautenbach is also mentioned in this article, but only as one of many of these types of individuals who are fleecing the Congo.

    And by the way, keep an eye on Dany Gertler, because he owns RP Capital Partners of the Cayman Islands, which is evaluating ZAMTEL for privatisation. One of Gertler's companies is Nikanor PLC, which he co-owns with Steinmetz and the Gertners.

    By the way, TalkZimbabwe saw it fit to publish my response on the BBC's 'return to Zimbabwe' as an opinion piece.

    The BBC and Colour Revolutions
    MrK - Opinion

  6. I think I have a good idea why this piece of propaganda was created, and why? (And what is 'a hardline president'?) From The Post:

    Clinton will push South Africa to pressure Mugabe
    Written by Reuters

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will press South Africa to use its influence with Zimbabwe's hardline President Robert Mugabe when she is in Pretoria next week, a senior American official said on Thursday.
    Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, said Clinton would urge the regional diplomatic heavyweight to get Mugabe to fully implement a power-sharing deal with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai so that impoverished Zimbabwe could return to democratic rule. More...

  7. Good for her! Maybe if we get rid of Mugabe we won't have to listen to these unreasoning, knee-jerk defenses of anything and everything ZANU-PF does.

  8. I mean, how dare the American Secretary of State urge, on behalf of her government, that the President of South Africa in turn urge a fellow regional President to fully implement the terms of an agreement he signed? The unmitigated gall of this American woman is appalling!

    No doubt George Kunda will soon join the chorus of African Leaders who proclaim how unfair it is for the rest of the world to try and implement universal human rights declarations, when African governments can't possibly be expected to treat their people with respect! Can't we go back to the good old days where the only continent where George W. Bush was popular was Africa? The "Conservatives" only cared about profits, like the Chinese, and things were oh so much simpler! Like the Cold War days, when one didn't have to be for anything, as long as one was against communism or imperialism, take your pick. (Ethiopia is one who did an admirable job of presenting both faces to the superpowers).

    C'mon MrK! I had a better opinion of the intent behind the content of your missives than simple party loyalty! I saw in your writing a perspective that trumpeted the worth of the common person, the hard experience wrung from a hard life placed side by side with the elite and coming away none the worse for the comparison. No government or corporate elite is spared your scrutiny, save one, that of the ZANU-PF party of Zimbabwe.

    There and only there does your writing display the same characteristics that you so rightly condemn in others as blatantly partisan. Believe me, I am open to "lesser of evils" arguments, as I believe are most of this blog's readership. For the most part, we all accept that sometimes hard choices must be made, and in some circumstances human suffering is unavoidable and authority figures should only be judged on their ability to mitigate and not prevent. Why is it then that it is so incredibly difficult to wring from you a simple admission that sometimes and in some ways ZANU-PF has failed to provide the best solutions for the people they represent?

    Nobody reading this is unfamiliar with the concept of democratic failures by every single government we discuss, without exception. Why can't "Billy's" inclusion in the inner circles of ZANU-PF raise alarm-bells? Is it really pertinent to bring up the greater threats in war-torn and lawless DRC when this wanted criminal is acting unchecked in a country whose government claims to have total control? This smacks of "spin-control" and other PR euphemisms.

    Apparently Murambatsvina was not enough, so I suppose I should not be surprised now, but where do the ZANU-aPFologies end?

  9. Yakima,

    There is no 'party loyalty', however, I do not get hoodwinked by western propaganda. I do not side with a party which depends on lies to get to power. Whether it are the Republican party which uses lies as a campaign tool ("Barack Obama has two autobiographies, but not a single bill to his name [Lugar-Obama, Coburn-Obama]" - Sarah Palin).

    The MDC lied to get to power. Listing their lies:

    1) There are only 'targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe'

    They lied and lied and lied about the existence of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, ZDERA, which put the country of Zimbabwe on a credit freeze. They helped draft this legislation, which turned double digit inflation into world record hyperinflation.

    2) Only 'friends and cronies of Mugabe' benefited from land reform

    Over 314,000 people benefited from land reform, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. By the year 2003, already 234,000 people had benefited.

    3) We know what to do on the economy

    They have a blatant neoliberal agenda, which will strip the future and the assets of the people of Zimbabwe, through the privatisation of state assets, deregulation and opening up the economy of Zimbabwe for international corporate capital. Of course, if they ever campaigned on the return of ESAP, they would not have received a single vote, but that is what they stand for. And if they ever try to turn back land reform, and throw over 314,000 Zimbabweans off Zimbabwean land to make place for 4500 Rhodesians, there will be a civil war.

    In other words, they have always been wolves trying to dress in sheep's clothing.

    President Mugbe:

    1) Introduced Democracy to Zimbabwe.

    There was no democracy in Rhodesia. And it is absurd for the Parliamentary Opposition to chant that Robert Mugabe 'is a tyrant, a dictator'. If he was, they would not be in parliament. No court would ever find against the government. No opposition press would even exist, to criticize the government.

    2) President Mugabe returned the land to the Zimbabwean people

    President Mugabe made good on the goals of the Zimbabwean people, the goal of every Chimurenga since the 'pioneer column' of 1890, which is the return of the land that was stolen from them. Because this example could be followed by South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, etc. the people of Zimbabwe (not Robert Mugabe, but the people of Zimbabwe) have been punished with a credit freeze, which Hillary Clinton helped sign into law. This is the same Hillary Clinton, whose family friend, Maurice Tempelsman, was involved in the murder of Patrice Lumumba. The same Hillary Clinton who decided that running on a racist meme pitting white voters against the Democratic party's African American base was her ticket to the presidency.

    So Yakima, my position has nothing to do with 'party loyalty'. I am way too independent a thinker to belong to any organized party.

  10. MrK,

    I think my main problem with your assessment is actually your "counterfactuals".

    So when I ask you. Is Mugabe good for Zimbabwe? The answer I get is that MDC is bad or Americans are poor.

    In Zambia, I can never accept that sort of argument. If I asked is RB good, if you answered PF are bad or UPND is poor, I would regard it as dismissing the question.

    I never really drag myself too much on Zimbabwe because I find the discussion immediately turns ideological and both positions become entrenched.

    I can't understand why we cannot assess Mugabe in isolation from disparaging MDC.

    So I ask again:

    Can you please tell me what BAD POLICIES Mugabe has done?

    I want to hear from you as an independent and valued analyst, what you think are some of the BAD POLICIES Mugabe has implemented.

    I know what you think about the GOOD. We have blogged together for a while now. What I want to know now is the opposite.

    I think you make very good points on Zimbabwe which are echoed by many experts, but people never get to hear what you think about the other side.

  11. Cho,

    So when I ask you. Is Mugabe good for Zimbabwe? The answer I get is that MDC is bad or Americans are poor.

    I don't get the question. How do you mean, 'Is Mugabe good for Zimbabwe'? What is the alternative? The MDC is certainly bad for Zimbabwe. If the West had left Zimbabwe alone instead of trying to destroy the economy through ZDERA, the land reform program would have been a success, at least eventually. Who knows what would have happened without the currency being destroyed? Or do you mean - should we hold Robert Mugabe responsible for the retaliation by the West, and not hold the West responsible for that retaliation?

    Let me put it this way - if you look at the strides made since independence, however hamstrung that independence was - the universal healthcare and education, indepence and democracy itself, then yes Robert Mugabe has been 'good for Zimbabwe'.

  12. Cho,

    Can you please tell me what BAD POLICIES Mugabe has done?


    1) Suppressing ZAPU when it failed to completely disarm back in the 1980s got out of hand and

    2) Land reform could have been better handled - more preparation, more capacity building beforehand, etc. But there is no way I am going to disagree with land reform itself.

    The problem is that everyone only wants to hear bad things about Mugabe, but at the same time excuses the countries around Zimbabwe for the same misdeeds - and the only reason I can see, is that they do not challenge western ownership of their economies, even though this keeps their populations poor.

    What I am saying, is that I am not leaving any of President Mugabe's policies uncriticized, but I really can't find much fault with what he has done. Am I for land reform - yes. Am I for indiginisation of the econmy - of course. Am I for telling the IMF and WB to take a hike - absolutely. Am I for supporting a fellow African government who is under attack from western sponsored 'rebels', and do so through SADC - yes.

    If I have any criticism, it in the execution of those policies, but not the policies themselves.

    Add to that, that virtually everything we hear about Zimbabwe comes through the filter of western propaganda (corporate media, state owned in the case of the BBC), and it is hard to tell where fact ends and propaganda begins.

  13. MrK,


    As a general point, I wouldn't worry what everyone wants to hear. Best to focus on the person asking you the questions. I am not searching to find evidence that paints Mugabe negatively. We have published pieces that defends Mugabe, ad part of our 'Alternative Perspectives on Zimbabwe' thread.

    That said, I would like you to specifically address the question of VIOLENCE.

    You did not mention this as part of his bad policies.

    Why is that?

    Also media censorship. Do you think Mugabe's media policies are a beacon for Zambia to embrace??

  14. Cho,

    On violence. It is impossible from western media reports to discern who has done what. Remember the '80 missing MDC activists'? You would have thought that they were in mass graves somewhere. And yet, all of that has been ironed out. Remember the Sekai Holland story, where she claimed that 39,000 militiamen were being paid $100 per day to beat up MDC activists during elections? Well that story has blown up too. Sekai Holland has retracted it, Morgan Tsvangirai has denounced it, only the BBC has not apologized for printing misinformation.

    On press freedom. Countries that are at war or under attack do not do well with press freedom and other civil liberties. Look at England in the 1980s during the pub bombings. That were just a few cells, and all of a sudden Gerry Adams was no longer allowed to speak on tv (he had to be dubbed over by a voice actor). Look at the West's response to a single terrorist attack (Patriot Act, all kinds of restrictions). So how should we expect Zimbabwe to free it's press, when it is under a relentless propaganda and potential military attack from the United States and Great Britain?

    So if anyone wants to see more press freedom in Zimbabwe, the place to start would be to stop the propaganda campaign, and to stop threatening to invade the country. And remember that Zimbabwe fought for it's freedom. In fact, Roy Bennett who is used as a source of information in this Dispatches hitpiece, is a former Selous Scout.

  15. MrK,

    On Violence:

    Just so that I understand you, are you saying you agnostic on whether Mugabe has inflicted significant violence on his opponents because you have no access to credible information?

    On Press Freedom:

    Again, some clear answers would help here.
    Is there Press Freedom that you are happy with in Zimbabwe or not?

  16. Dear fellow bloggers -

    I have read these debates with great interest. It is entertaining to read the policy-oriented debates about Zimbabwe between what certainly seem like economists or at the very least well informed armchair commentators. Clearly a lot of the commentary bears the cynical undertones and frustration of racial and neocolonialist politics. All perfectly understandable when examined in a thorough historical and global context, and remarkably well-informed I might add.

    But stepping outside the question of policy and who did what to whom (which we can debate endlessly without conclusion), perhaps we can use the citizenry as our guide as to what is right and what is wrong. Policy and government action only matter when they are to the benefit of the citizenry. And the measure of governmental success is in practical terms, the benefits at many levels that accrue to the citizens and their ability to have basic rights met. In addition to the right to own land, surely safety, good health, education, and the promise for a better future are good measures. Even for countries under great duress (such as Cuba) these remain the metrics we should use to evaluate government and policy, however undemocratic the institutions of government and political systems may be.

    In the case of Cuba one can clearly see it does score well at many levels despite its challenges. And there are many examples of governments that are largely or questionably undemocratic and still find a way to ensure that benefits accrue to the citizenry.

    If one subscribes to that, I can only say that the citizens of Zimbabwe, particularly those that don't have the benefit of patriachal family connections in government or business, or the education and family connections that allow for safe migration, are the real victims. If only they could understand the insult to them of casually justifying their deprivation on a blog. And if only they had the opportunity to enter into a debate over historical precedent and the inequity of global politics, armed with the academic facts of history and its injustices, I suppose they too could contribute to this blog (assuming they were given a fair education, perhaps some shelter and clothing, oh, I forgot food as well, and hopefully access to decent medical care...and of course jobs, etc.etc.). One need debate nothing else. That's what's wrong. No government of a country with the resources of Zimbabwe can have any sound judgement in the aggregate when its citizenry have so few of their basic rights met, however wrong the inequities of the past or present.

    And while we're at it, perhaps we can extend that yardstick to Zambia (for all my Zambian brethren on this blog) and accept that in actual fact, we're not doing much better. We may take a "holier than thou" view on Zimbabwe now, and it certainly feels good considering we were viewed as the basket case compared to them for such a long time. But further free-wheeling mortgage of Zambian land and minerals, coupled with the alarming increases in government corruption while blatantly ignoring the benefits of the citizen, are not that much different directionally than Zimbabwe...perhaps only by order of magnitude.

  17. JP,

    Thanks for sharing your perspective with us! While I do think that it is important to examine the cause and effect of public policy decisions by governments, I concede that there are multiple measurements by which individuals will evaluate any given policy. Certainly you are quite right that when and where policies fail, the consequences are most dire for those already most vulnerable in society. No government is immune from failure, even with the best of intention, and it may just about be time to conclude that the power structure created by the generation that won the revolution and the subsequent internal power struggles is perhaps not the best suited to confront the nation's difficulties in the present circumstances. They do however seem to be providing for their own comfortable retirements quite successfully, should they ever decide to actually do so. Unfortunately, that statement made in Zimbabwe, and if construed as "prejudicial" to the State under the Public Order and Security Act, can result in arrest and prosecution.

    Years of bad economic policy in the US brought us the "credit default swap derivative" in all its unregulated glory. Years of bad economic policy by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) brought us the "escalating realized quasi-fiscal loss" and its unprecedented inflation multiplying power. ZDERA was a largely symbolic piece of legislation, since the Bush era appointees to international lending institutions were disinclined to vote for loans to Zimbabwe already, and accumulated interest payment arrears to the World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank, and the others listed in the Act had already exhausted most of the country's credit lines with international lenders by then. China holds a trillion dollars or so of US debt, so if the only thing wrong with the Zimbabwean economy was a lack of international credit, why didn't the Chinese jump at the chance to lend to RBZ? The financial accounting processes being employed by the RBZ during the hyper-inflationary period and the government driven spending patterns and priorities that they demonstrate were in effect can actually describe what happened to the Zimbabwean currency far more convincingly to me than the vague assertions about vast international conspiracies to put Rhodesians back in power being advanced by State Media.

    This analysis of "Central Bank Quasi-fiscal Losses and High Inflation in Zimbabwe" by Sonia Munoz (IMF African Department Working Paper, April 2007), was quite helpful to me in understanding the financial mechanisms involved. Available in 270k .pdf format from multiple mirrors via the Social Science Research Network:

  18. JP,

    On access to education. The ZANU-PF policy, EXACTLY as happened in Zambia, was that there must be universal access to education. Like in Zambia, this was done away with and replaced by fee-based access, which of course restricted access to education by the poor, and like in Zambia, was done as a pre-condition by the IMF and World Bank. Please check out the brilliant Antonia Juhasz article:

    The Tragic Tale of the IMF in Zimbabwe
    by Antonia Juhasz
    March 7th, 2004

    ... In essence, Zimbabwe was forced to implement every radical economic policy in the Fund’s arsenal immediately, without any concern for the impacts of those policies on the populace. In order to radically reduce government spending, the government fired tens of thousands of workers, gutted the pay of those who remained and drastically reduced spending on social programs. At the same time, taxes were reduced (the idea being to encourage both increased spending and businesses to locate to Zimbabwe), and the country was opened to foreign competition - hitting the manufacturing sector particularly hard. Because the Fund fundamentally underestimated the impact of these changes (in the words of the reviewers), the programs designed to address the social costs were completely inadequate.

    The impacts were devastating.

    Both employment and real wages declined sharply. During 1991-1996, manufacturing employment fell by 9 percent and wages dropped by 26 percent. Public sector employment fell by 23 percent, with wages dropping by 40 percent. While pocketbooks shrank, food prices soared, increasing by 36 percent. Private consumption levels declined by about one-fourth with urban households being particularly hard-hit. Worse still, the economy did not respond as the Fund had hoped and the government deficit increased. This put the country into a "debt trap" where it was losing money while simultaneously having to pay interest on its loans owed to the Fund and the World Bank. This created a losing spiral of increasing indebtedness and poverty.

    Health Care Crippled

    The impact on the health care sector was particularly severe, this after a decade of improvements prior to the entry of the IMF. As the report found, "There is no doubt that the previous trends of improving health outcomes were reversed during the period of the reform program."

    During the 1980’s, the government put significant attention and resources into improving health services with remarkable success. For example, the infant mortality rate declined from 100 to 50 between 1980 and 1988 and life expectancy increased from 56 to 64 years. However, the entry of the IMF reversed this trend by imposing enormous cuts in public health spending which dramatically reduced access to services for the poor.

  19. Spending per person on health care fell by a third from 1990 to 1996 with cuts in services outpacing cuts in wages to health care workers. Thus, between 1988 and 1994, wasting in children quadrupled and maternal mortality rates increased. After many years of decline, the number of tuberculosis cases began to rise in 1986 and by 1995 had quadrupled. Friends of the Earth reports that prenatal care, which had previously been free, now required a fee, while primary care fees increased by over 500 percent. Low-income exemptions were all but eliminated, forcing the most vulnerable population to either pay for services they could not afford, or go without health care services altogether. The result was an easily anticipated decline in prenatal clinic attendance and an increase in the number of babies born before arrival at the hospital.

    Making the cuts in health care significantly more disturbing is the fact that Zimbabwe had, and continues to have, one of the worst AIDS problems in the world, leading the IMF reviewers to conclude, "what is, however, evident is that during a period in which the demand for health care was rising enormously and predictably [due to the HIV crisis], the resources devoted to public health care were dramatically reduced."

    These outcomes are made all the more tragic by the constant reiteration of the reviewers that the impacts were foreseeable and avoidable. The IMF imposed conditions that were too harsh, too quickly and without regard to the impacts on the society.

    It is clear that Zimbabwe was in trouble in 1990. It is also clear that the government was willing to work with the financial institutions and the global community to address its problems. Financial capital was needed, as was reform. However, what was offered by the IMF was geared towards opening Zimbabwe to foreign enrichment rather than bettering the lives of its populace. It even failed on this account.

  20. MrK and Yakima - thanks for your perspectives.

    To be clear by no means do I suggest that institutions like the IMF and other governments didn't play a significant role in the onset of economic difficulties in the 80's and 90's for both Zambia and Zimbabwe (not to mention a host of other countries). No question there. And even if one doesn't subscribe to the idea that the IMF in their 80's and 90's policy vintage was a neocolonialist force (in the Frantz Fanon use of that term), then one cannot argue their role in using "3rd world countries"(as the term was used then) as economic petri dishes for their various and sundry academic experiments. As we know, many a Phd has been granted on the very study and proof of this (and I suspect to some of the contributors to this blog).

    But issues of currency strength, economic fundamentals and liquidity in the last 10 years cannot be solely attributed to these policies any longer. Not when we were (and in my opinion still are) in the greatest commodity cycle in history, eclipsing even the generous gains of the 60's and 70's. The increased contribution of non-Western economies as drivers of aggregate global demand is inevitably happening, and we can fully expect to see a decoupling of western demand from the rest of the world. Base metals and energy commodities will serve as the feedstock for this growth, and as it turns out Zambia and Zimbabwe have a very healthy supply of a variety of metals that can play such a role.

    Add to that the hare-brained efforts of Bono and his ilk, had the one virtuous output of helping Zambia and other countries to have their foreign debt forgiven in one fell swoop after having attained illustrious HIPC status.

  21. continued from above...

    So combine general de-leveraging of foreign debt, add significant commodity price inflation accompanied by unexpected FDI from China and India, and one would imagine we would have the perfect opportunity to do something right for the people of both Zambia and Zimbabwe, even accounting for the corruption that is inevitable with all governments. But that's not what we see. In fact what we see is that the lack of care for the common person so unabashedly permeates and envelopes the government consensus, that they continue to hold the people at ransom so that the scale of their injustices can increase.

    This is what I say is completely avoidable, and why I suggest that the yardstick we should use to measure the governments of both Zambia and Zimbabwe for the purposes of this particular topic (i.e. bankrolling Mugabe), is the value to their citizens in the last decade. This is particularly so because the last decade was one where the moons aligned to create such opportunity for fiscal stimulus, entirely exogenous to the growth models of any bank, NGO or funding institution.

    In the case of Zambia, we've traded massive foreign debt for massive domestic debt, on the backs of increased government spending without increased welfare to the citizens, which is a complete travesty. We still continue to score poorly on every measure, and this has nothing to do with the policies of the IMF in the 80’s and 90’s anymore. Which is why I bristle at the discussion about Mugabe that so quickly reverts to the crutch of blaming Western neo-colonialism, and illustrating all kinds of soap-opera-like sinister and cunning power mongers from the West taking advantage of our natural resources and conspiring with high-powered officials from Western governments (RE: comments about Tempelsman, Gertlet, et al). Sounds like the same script that has played in the story of southern Africa in the last few centuries. And to be fair, this is what I found so na├»ve about the Dispatches article. They also are looking to revive this script and play to the emotions it stirs, rather than speak to the fundamentals of the situation within the context of the region. So if our discussion is to be more insightful than the Dispatches article and if it is to provide some value beyond catharsis, I hope it is that it shows that we cannot continue to forgive the failing of government and leadership with reference to the past.

  22. JP,

    But issues of currency strength, economic fundamentals and liquidity in the last 10 years cannot be solely attributed to these policies any longer. Not when we were (and in my opinion still are) in the greatest commodity cycle in history, eclipsing even the generous gains of the 60's and 70's. The increased contribution of non-Western economies as drivers of aggregate global demand is inevitably happening, and we can fully expect to see a decoupling of western demand from the rest of the world.

    And we would be benefiting from that if: a) the mines were still in Zambian hands or b) the foreign owned mines were heavily taxed.

    Unfortunately, what we have is a government that enthusiastically joined in on the race to the bottom, privatising without any kind of restriction on expatriation of profits, demands for reinvestment, use of local suppliers, demands for the treatment of labour or the environment, and which boasted of having the world's lowest royalty tax - 0.6%.

    In fact what we see is that the lack of care for the common person so unabashedly permeates and envelopes the government consensus, that they continue to hold the people at ransom so that the scale of their injustices can increase.

    Which is a consequence of the total focus on (foreign) corporate interests. Because they were bribed, they now look on foreign corporations as their 'friends' and patrons, and only look at the Zambian people with scorn, not in the least because they know they can manipulate the elections in their favour.

    Which is why I bristle at the discussion about Mugabe that so
    quickly reverts to the crutch of blaming Western neo-colonialism, and illustrating all kinds of soap-opera-like sinister and cunning power mongers from the West taking advantage of our natural resources and conspiring with high-powered officials from Western governments (RE: comments about Tempelsman, Gertlet, et al).

    The problem is - there are forces ligned up against Zimbabwe. Hillary Clinton is a co-sponsor of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, which from 2002 to this day has put the country of Zimbabwe on a credit freeze. Even as we speak, she is using up political capital to get the president of South Africa to put pressure on President Mugabe to step down. The presidency of Zimbabwe, may I remind everyone, is none of the business of the United States.

  23. And it is no figment of anyone's imagination, that the very same corporation that exploited Zimbabwe's raw materials under colonialism and UDI, LonRho (London-Rhodesia), has created a fund called LonZim, which is set to buy up Zimbabwean states assets for cents on the dollar - that is what 'privatisation' is.

    We still continue to score poorly on every measure, and this has nothing to do with the policies of the IMF in the 80’s and 90’s anymore.

    The reason Africa overall is underperforming Asia, is precisely because most of Asia ignored the 'advice' from the IMF/World Bank, and Africa did not. Asian economies did not open their economies up to foreign ownership onlyl. Chinese corporations are all Chinese owned. The same for Japanese and Korean corporations. Most companies in Taiwan are parastatals. And look what is happening to ZAMTEL as we speak.

    And the present situation has everything to do with the environment created by the IMF, and will not change until we can get the IMF out of our business, or until they change policy. The forced multi-party democracy of 1991, the forced privatisation of the mines in 1999, the fact that today we are stuck with a neoliberal government and a series of neoliberal opposition parties who have no confidence in their own people and think economic salvation is going to come from abroad.

    So it is not an either/or, they are all part of the mix. I wish Zambia and Zimbabwe's problems could be reduced to a domestic responsibility only, because then they would be very easy to deal with.


  24. The condescending racist 'reporter' who continously needs to be 'in charge' is Aidan Hartley, who was born in Kenya in 1965 to a family of landowners. I remember him dressing up in some kind of bush hat creating a fake news story.

    Gee, I wonder who he'll side with.


All contributors should follow the basic principles of a productive dialogue: communicate their perspective, ask, comment, respond,and share information and knowledge, but do all this with a positive approach.

This is a friendly website. However, if you feel compelled to comment 'anonymously', you are strongly encouraged to state your location / adopt a unique nick name so that other commentators/readers do not confuse your comments with other individuals also commenting anonymously.