The Sunday Mail
TO many with a pronounced affinity to Afrocentric thinking the engagement and re-engagement turn was received with so much resentment.
For a moderate anti-colonial capital proponent, the seemingly simplistic pronouncement of “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” appeared to carry a less pro-poor policy distinction.
To those aligned to the anti-capitalist/ Marxist this proposition can be misconstrued to suggest a deliberate intention to make our sovereignty subservient to white monopoly capital.
The local and foreign streamlining of investment lines seemed to conflict with the erstwhile normalcy of the First Republic’s closed and radically inward-looking approach to economic control.
However, these insecurities are normal especially if emanating from the trauma of directly suffering from colonialism and having to bear the pain of neo-colonial haemorrhage that Africa’s economy continues to suffer from.
After centuries of being on the receiving end of the global asymmetrical order defined in terms of Global North’s coercive diplomacy towards the Global South –not to mention how we have been victims of the catastrophic effects of the inter-generational crises suffered by the West culminating in slavery and colonialism.
Today Africa is still suffering from the effects of wars that were never fought on the African soil.
Having been agonised from the unattended dehumanising aftermath of colonialism, the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP), land distribution inequalities climaxing in the imposition of illegal sanctions, Zimbabwe has been chiefly associated with a de-westernised approach to international relations.
Even up to now, this has served as impregnable self-preserving political and philosophical will to delink from West and its time immemorial script of exploiting Africa.
In our conviction of disobeying the white criminal land looting which was constitutionally sanctified as property law through the Lancaster (dis)agreement, the post-land reform delinking from the West remains a great ideological achievement in post-colonial Zimbabwe.
By de-orienting ourselves from the detriment of constitutional illegality by means of unlearning the rule of law premised on protecting white minority property interests, we attracted demonisation and well-orchestrated smear campaigns in the global financial and ideas market.
Therefore, the ‘Blair keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe’ declaration by former Head of State Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe served as a crowning assertion of a people who had resolved never to be ‘a colony again’.
In 2017, the New Dispensation’s strategic turning point of engaging those we had resolved to ‘disengage’ as a matter of policy and guarding ‘national interest’ could be easily likened to ideological compromise.
The opposition in its neo-colonialism vanguard role by virtue of its white capital preservation deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from the outset was unashamedly the first to criticise ZANU PF for aborting its nationalist leanings to attract Western validation.
As an anti-land reform born opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and all its latter-day factional offspring –the CCC has enjoyed the monopoly of Western sponsorship such that its criticism of the current re-engagement initiatives with the West is deceitful by all standards.
The Zimbabwean Government’s ongoing dialogues with the European Union (EU), United States of America (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK) only curtail the opposition’s proximity to the West.
So the re-engagement policy with the West creates an existential crisis to the opposition body-politick. This explains the incessant smear campaigns on the engagement and re-engagement policy by the opposition and some sectors of the civil society in Zimbabwe.
The success of the Government in re-engaging the West also means an end to misappropriation of donor funds for some humanitarian entrepreneurs guised as non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The continued engagement efforts will go a long way in exposing the dramatised ‘Zimbabwe Crisis’ which has become a multi-billion-dollar industry for some civil society organisations (CSOs).
The re-engagement agenda eliminates the long overdue opposition-CSO joint hobnobbing with the West in popularising a choreographed crisis aimed at justifying the imposition of illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Then when ZANU PF invests in creating strategies that call for the unconditional removal of these illegal Euro-American sanctions and restoring Zimbabwe’s sovereign claim to global markets that is narrowly labelled as conformity to imperialist validation terms.
If anything, the Government of Zimbabwe’s demonised efforts to engage the makers of the illegal sanctions only proves how much the opposition wants to have an unfettered monopoly of proximity to the West. No amount of smear campaigning should compromise the Government of Zimbabwe’s call to reach out to the world. Therefore, it must be well-communicated to the people of Zimbabwe that the ZANU PF-led Government in all its seasoned political clarity of thought will never dialogue with erstwhile colonial powers from a politically disenfranchising standpoint. After all, this is a Government that owes its loyalty to the peasants, the working class, artisanal miners and the countless entrepreneurs who have made the economy to tick since 2000 in the absence of Western direct investment.
There is every analytical mischief in associating the engagement and re-engagement policy with a paltry number of countries in Europe and America and forgetting other friends we have in Eastern Europe, Asia and our numerous loving neighbours on the continent.
For this reason, fellow liberation cousin States have continued to collectively call for the unconditional removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. Therefore, we have enjoyed the beauty of bigger neighbourliness that has substituted our isolation by a few in the West.
Zimbabwe’s protracted era of disengagement has proved that strong persuasions to permanent national interest can consolidate State power in the face of extreme isolation.
On the other hand, the propensity to engage and re-engage best serves the purpose of reclaiming the lost market share dividends of our hard, but now reconsidered nationalism. Therefore, there is no way, Zimbabwe can be ‘open for business’ in a manner that goes against the ethos of national liberation, national sovereignty and the protection of the national economy.
This was eloquently articulated by President Mnangagwa in a piece published in this paper last week.
The article titled Zimbabwe: Navigating between Global and Local highlighted Zimbabwe’s anticipated economic incremental gain through the engagement and re-engagement policy in the face of uneven Global-North and Global South relations.
The article clearly demonstrated that the call to open Zimbabwe for business is alive to the shrinking multilateralism which is induced by global climate change, the raving effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and global supply disruptions emanating from Russia’s fight against American hegemonic infiltration of the Eastern bloc through Ukraine.
All these observations were made from Zimbabwe’s recent participation at the recently held World Economic Forum in Davos.
Therefore, the polemic talk about Davos being ‘useless’ is inconsistent with the above observation. Davos provides an assessment platform of the prevailing market realities upon which Zimbabwe is interested in capitalising on.
For this reason, the President has made a very instructive point of departure that we need to be more inward-looking.
Consequently, any opportunity to engage and re-engage must provide surfeit learning experiences on global trends for us to define the economic development we want.
For instance, the Covid-19 pandemic has proved how much multilateral value chains can be compromised and against that givenness, there must be predetermined national commitment to self-sufficiency mechanisms, hence the President’s instance on the ‘Make Zimbabwe’ strategy which must be executed:
“…efficiently and competitively so Zimbabweans can be persuaded to buy Zimbabwe rather than elsewhere. This means moving away from reliance on antiquated production technologies so our production systems are technology-driven. ‘Making Zimbabwe means ‘retool Zimbabwe’ and ‘digitalise Zimbabwe’. It also means ‘reskill Zimbabwe’.
These must be the new slogans for our industries, which must outgrow antiquated, sunset technologies they have been running on.”
This submission illustrates that the whole effort invested in ‘Leaving No One and No Place (of the world) Behind’ is also about drawing lessons from the experiences of others.
Engagement and re-engagement is a new national interest pivoted position of traversing the external political-economy outlook and the domestic with a view to protect the noble cause of sovereign integrity and enhancing the economic fortunes of Zimbabwe.
In the same article, President Mnangagwa indicates that this can be achieved through enhanced agricultural development and protecting the gains of the land reform programme:
“The farmer and the worker are the bedrock of the Zimbabwean economic miracle. Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy, which means foremost, our liquidity must go into our land! Both in our national budget and with respect to portfolios of our financial institutions, our consolidated financial might must be felt on the land.
It makes us food secure –as a nation; it triggers several value chains which must set us off as an economy. Anything that prevents this goal must give way.”
As result, it is irrefutable that the agrarian revolution gains will never be reversed at any point.
Due to that, our engagement and re-engagement trajectory is and will never be oblivious to that emotive philosophical standpoint. This is what constitutes the ‘afro-imperative’ direction of making ‘Zimbabwe Open for Business’.
Richard Runyararo Mahomva (BSc-MSU, MSc-AU, MSc-UZ) is Director for International Communication Services in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services. He writes in his personal capacity. Feedback: Twitter: @VaMahomva & Email [email protected] .