The Sunday Mail
In November 2018, His Excellency, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, boldly declared the open and unrelenting warfare against the evil of endemic corruption.
“In the Second Republic, we will not tolerate the culture of siphoning public funds through various nefarious activities for personal gain and enrichment.
“It is presently disheartening that the country continues to lose huge sums of money due to fraud, money laundering, procurement or tender manipulation, insider trading in stock and financial markets, among the ills in both the private and public sectors,” he warned at an annual public sector audit conference and financial management awards ceremony in Harare on November 8 2018.
This scourge of such corruption is grave on the national economic landscape.
It lies at the heart of the anaemic track record of the national economy for the past 140 years of our modern existence as a nation-state.
The inevitable consequence is the creation of blood-sucking monopolies, oligopolies, cartels and trusts that prey upon the general populace.
The poignant remarks by President Mnangagwa chime with the prohibitive actions of the American President Benjamin Harrison in 1890 as he signed the famous Sherman Act passed with overwhelming support by the American Congress.
This famous Sherman Act created the basis of the world’s largest economy that is the modern USA and the tantalising prosperity enjoyed by the generality of the American population.
It is a law that is against any and all monopolistic conduct in the American economy.
The ills that have historically afflicted the economy of Zimbabwe stem from its corporate colonial origin. It manifests itself in cartels of every hue and stripe.
These various monopolies were the stock-in-trade of the corporate entity that was Cecil John Rhodes’ British South Africa Company (BSACo).
It will be recalled that Rhodes had crookedly wrung out a Royal Charter from the obliging Queen Victoria. He went on to use the document to march into, conquer and occupy modern Zimbabwe. By dint of the said document, his writ would be exercised over every facet of economic activity in his new colony. Monopolies were set up to control mining, farming, agro-processing, retail distribution, labour market and external commerce.
Crucially, this gave the company the all-important control of the currency of the colonial state, and with it, the means to drain the country dry and sap its capacity to become modern and prosperous.
It also underpinned the pernicious doctrine of racial segregation.
Suffice to the ensuing “currency apartheid” bequeathed by Cecil John Rhodes and his corporate colonial enterprise of centralised “allocation” is the “mother of all corruption” in today’s Zimbabwe.
As of 1890, when the modern nation-state came about courtesy of the Pioneer Column, Rhodes, with his ilk, made sure that as chief shareholder, they enjoyed exclusive privileges as the private owner/s of their newly acquired huge estate of Rhodesia.
Prime among the benefits was an exclusively advantageous hard-currency regime while his ‘employee’ settlers were relegated to grapple with a phantom non-convertible local currency. Naturally, this did not go down well with the ‘kith and kin’ settler whites in that age of Aryan racism.
They were soon buoyed by their increasing numbers — of a princely total 32 000 by the mid-1920s — as they flocked onto this hospitable land plateau of Zimbabwe.
They would lose no time to agitate for and finally rebel against the oppressive discriminatory corporate economic regime of the BSACo in 1923.
Principally, this was against the economic disparities born out the poverty-inducing currency apartheid.
Seeing the weakness that was coming out of the fissuring white population ranks in a sea of African blackness, the ruling BSACo opted for racial sleight of hand.
It ceded all wealth ‘above the ground’ — for example, farming — to the irate settlers.
In the same vein, the BSACo retained the prime cut of the minerals ‘below the ground’ as its global portfolio of riches.
As a racist sweetener, the whites were then let loose to prey upon the vast stretches of African lands so as to deprive the indigenous majority of economic means.
And in the process create a proletarian labour pool as well as a contrived market.
Notably, the white settlers were awarded the pride second place in the pecking order of the allocation of hard currency.
The majority black population, whose age-old gold currency had engendered prosperity worth of the Great Zimbabwe and the legendary Munhumutapas, were relegated to the margins of a non-convertible local currency.
The shiftless nature of the white population of Rhodesia over the decades is explained by immigrants who would come to make a family fortune.
They would stash it away in hard currency back into lily-white England or apartheid South Africa, the USA and the safer dominions of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It would await for the day they would soon be emigrants from the Eldorado of Zimbabwe.
The 1970s war depleted the white population from a peak of 280 000 to 170 000.
Interestingly, none of those who were ‘gaping’ the war ever became subjects of United Nations refugee relief.
Let alone being paupers in those kith and kin destination countries.
Why? Because the hierarchical allocation of hard currency in Rhodesia assured them of ‘nest eggs’ wherever they gaped to.
Impact on modern economic architecture
This currency apartheid lies at the root cause of Zimbabwe’s negative development woes.
It manifests itself in the selective fungibility of the shares of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
It gives a favoured pedestal to a major finance house whose historical origin is the accounts/treasury department of the BSACo.
This is how political oligarchies operate over the ages, even as they spawn new derivatives with local comprador aspirants.
It gives the Zimbabwe nation a shadowy hard currency, the ‘Old Mutual Implied Rate of Exchange’, which operates on the global financial market place.
In the process, doing so outside of the purview of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
This permits the wholesale haemorrhaging of the national capital stock to levels that are worse than wartime devastation.
Just look at what happened to Zimbabwe after the year 2000 when the residual colonial corporate order decided to strike back against the land reform.
The Second Republic has bared its teeth and shown that it is really serious about corruption.
It has turned its sharp wits to this national rot emanating from the heritage of our corporate colonial birth.
Mugabe, by both commission and omission, allowed this ulcer to fester for another 37 years well into our independence.
That is where and how Singapore, his beloved destination, left us behind in the global prosperity rankings.
Hats off to the duo of President Mnangagwa and Minister of Finance Professor Mthuli Ncube. They are finally grasping the nettle of the currency apartheid.
The recipe is through a decisive shift from allocation of hard currency to the open and free demand and supply of the hard currency, just like any other commodity.
Incidentally, a right-wing currency professor, Steve Hanke, of the neo-liberal Cato Institute of the USA, blames Tsar Nicholas II for the bane that is the modern-day national currency allocation.
His disciple in Zimbabwe is a well-published former central bank governor. Hanke, a ‘Cold Warrior’, points his finger at the evil state of Russia as the birth place of modern currency allocation.
I beg to differ. The learned man of pecuniary figures has got his finance history mixed up. Cecil John Rhodes’ private colony of Rhodesia was doing that from 1890.
This is well before the 1905 Imperial Russia of Tsar Nicholas II he cites as the first culprit. This is incidentally well ahead of the Bolshevik Soviet Russia of 1917 that would elevate state allocation of resources to an economic religion.
The corporate colonial state bears the original sin of national currency allocation in the colonies of chartered companies.
Allocation as a means to run a modern national economy had its classic death knell in 1989. The collapse of the Berlin Wall announced the end of statist Soviet Russia.
Alas, the poverty of theory that was in the Mugabeist G4Os and their aging geriatric could not even read the signs of the epochal economic and financial times.
The discredited state allocation of hard currency would persist and endure with the vigour of the “G40 Mahumbwe economics”.
That’s why Zimbabwe today is in such a rut.
The Mugabeist G40 was the last oligarchic derivative of the monopolist tradition of Cecil John Rhodes’ BSACo.
The evil work of this comprador enterprise took earnest shape as of the mid-1980s.
An ominous Cabinet realignment took place in 1986.
Comrade Emmerson Mnangagwa was moved from the post of Minister of National Security.
Concerted and systematic compromise of the governance apparatus became the long-term project. It eventually metastasised into the G40 menace, particularly as of the year 2000.
As this political infiltration was going on, the newly empowered comprador of treacherous political pundits were busy at retooling and refashioning the colonial monopolies to their colour and taste.
◆ Continued online
◆ Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa is the chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association.
They singled out and focused on the procurement, distribution and retail trade.
By 2015, Cabinet had been transformed into a corporate body politic. With the former President in the chair, the coterie of G40 raucous ministers would pass a litany of kleptocratic resolutions for self-enrichment.
Sane and modern ethos of national economic management were jettisoned.
Crass and crude wealth accumulation became the order of the day as the national economy decayed to putrid levels.
The new comprador lost no time in forging close links with the historical post-colonial white figures of the monopolistic tradition.
Yet the template of exploitation was retained.
This time it had neither remorse nor compunction in its aggravated predatory nature.
The carcass of a dying national economy was being picked by soulless G40 vultures.
Let President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Minister of Finance Professor Mthuli Ncube continue to give us a nation that runs on proven fundamentals of modern economic management.
These are rooted in the supply and demand of hard currency.
◆ Christopher Mutsvangwa is the chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association.