Kasukuwere wrong to insult Mzembi, but . . .

Saviour Kasukuwure
Saviour Kasukuwure

Communion with Bishop Lazarus
No matter how great the provocation, there can be no excuse. Kasukuwere was wrong to retaliate. However, Mzembi and his ‘moderate’ supporters had it coming. Their hypocrisy is breathtaking. Kasukuwere was responding to public remarks by Mzembi that there should be a sober approach to indigenisation in the wildlife industry; the obvious insinuation being that the current approach is not sober, or, more specifically, that it is drunk. Ouch!

Mzembi was speaking in reference to a ban by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) which suspended imports of sport-hunted African elephants from Zimbabwe and Tanzania over alleged questionable management practices and weak governance in park estates that had led to uncontrolled poaching and a decline in the population of elephants in the two countries.

Mzembi proceeded to explain that under Francis Nhema there had been no such ban and therefore any blame for a change in US policy must lie on Kasukuwere. His insinuation was pretty clear.

With respect, this logic seems quite silly. Kasukuwere has not even finished his first year as minister.
It seems incredible that Mzembi would accuse him of being responsible for a ban that has been blamed on a decline in elephant populations in Zimbabwe and Tanzania.

Surely any such decline is measured over a period of time and cannot be the consequence of the past seven months. USFWS also cites rampant poaching as the reason for the suspension. Does it follow that there was no poaching during Nhema’s time and that as soon as Kasukuwere got into office the national parks were suddenly flooded with poachers?

Mzembi’s argument was unpersuasive but he then shed light onto his real grievance when he insinuated that the ban had something to do with Kasukuwere’s aggressive indigenisation campaign vis-à-vis the Save Valley Conservancy, a matter entirely unrelated to the well-being of elephants.

While his remarks are entirely speculative, if it is the case that the United States is indeed using strong-arm tactics to force Zimbabwe to shift policy positions then surely it is the United States that should be the object of Mzembi’s scorn. What I find especially problematic about Mzembi is his non-committal dressed in the charm of moderation. You cannot have your cake and eat it. On one end he wants to be part of, and take credit for, the Zanu-PF that championed the land reform and indigenisation but then on the other end also enjoy the benefit of being the moderate understanding guy that America “can do business with” not nasties like Kasukuwere. It’s shameful and dishonest.

It is important to note that indigenisation is not Kasukuwere’s baby. It was passed into law by an Act of Parliament in 2008. This was after years of internal discussion within Zanu-PF. Furthermore, Zanu-PF went on to campaign on the back of a manifesto that promised to indigenise. In that manifesto, Zanu-PF made some bold promises saying it would indigenise the economy and giving reasons why it would do so and the benefits that would emanate from that.

If there is to be a departure from this policy then one would expect Zanu-PF to explain itself.
You can’t promise things, change your plans and not have the courtesy to explain yourself. I can accept an admission on the part of Zanu-PF that it was wrong about indigenisation and will no longer be following that policy.

That would be embarrassing but honourable and would bring about considerable clarity. However, it is rather foolish to have the law on the books, have a manifesto you promised to implement and then offer nebulous suggests for sobriety.  Such sobriety must be explicitly expressed in policy and law and those advocating for it should have the courage of their convictions and express an alternative legal and policy path.

It seems outrageous that a senior Zanu-PF official can accuse Kasukuwere of implementing law and policy too enthusiastically. If the policy and law are not fit for the purpose then the policy and law must be changed.

Mzembi must come out clearly and articulate his views. If there is a need to amend the current legislation, then he should say as much.
If there is a need to renounce some commitments made in Zanu-PF’s manifesto then he should say precisely that and explain what concessions he believes should be made.

Kasukuwere is simply doing what Zanu-PF said it would do. He is advocating for the implementation of the law as it currently stands.
Those who disagree with his supposedly drunken approach should be brave enough to challenge the law publicly and state that the law is unreasonable. Going after Kasukuwere in his individual capacity is hypocrisy of the worst kind.

The effect of such utterances is to paint one group as the good and reasonable guys while those who actually implement agreed policies are painted as villains. There is a good reason why Kasukuwere and other ‘hardliners’ are on the American sanctions list while ‘moderates’ like Mzembi are not.

It is precisely because of perceptions of the good Zanu-PF the West believes it can work with as opposed to bad boys like Kasukuwere.
Similar observations can be made about the land reform. Those who went into the farms, like the late Dr Chenjerai Hunzvi, did the dirty work.
It is not uncommon to find smartly suited officials now taking credit for the land reform from their air-conditioned offices though at the time they were urging caution. Such double standards cannot go unremarked.

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  • Muchafunga

    Considering Kasukuwere’s lamentable performance and destructive methods applied during his last Ministry, one could question the logic of rewarding him another? Anyway, even President Mugabe has seen fit to ignore his past ‘expert’ advisors, and already slammed Kasukuwere for the confusion and chaos he caused to the indigenisation policy and damage to hopes of FDI renewal.
    We now know what to expect when Mugabe announces his next mini-reshuffle.