The report that StanChart, a British multinational and financial services group, is extending a US$100 million loan facility to Zimbabwean private sector; will be seen as the British are down-playing, at the very best, President Mnangagwa’s apparent failure to keep his promise to hold free and fair elections. At worst, it will be seen as the British meddling in Zimbabwe’s political affairs, to extend Zanu PF’s corrupt and undemocratic rule in total disregard of the long-suffering masses desperate for meaningful political change and economic recovery.
President Mnangagwa and his junta’s dawn chorus of “Zimbabwe is open for business!”; all dress up in their colourful scarfs – a rendition of southern ground hornbill dawn and sunset calls; had failed to impress. The would-be investors have continued to shy away from Zimbabwe because they do not believed Zimbabwe is, indeed, open for business, after being closed for decades.
Zimbabwe closed her doors to investors in the late 1990s when IMF, WB and other financial institutions stopped lending the country all financial assistance because Harare was failing to repay its debts. The situation was made worse by Zanu PF’s total disregard of property rights, exemplified by the wholesale farm seizure; the country was considered a pariah state ruled by thugs. No investor wants to do business in a pariah state.
When President Mnangagwa seize power in last November’s military coup, his dawn chorus was meant to assure the investors that Zimbabwe was no longer a pariah state. Investors are a shrewd lot, they are not so easily fooled.
President Mnangagwa scrapped some of Mugabe’s obnoxious laws, stopped using Mugabe’s in-your-face anti-Western rhetoric, etc. A good start but still not enough to end the country’s pariah status. Investors wanted to see Zanu PF give up its dictatorial powers.
President Mnangagwa promised to hold free, fair and credible elections. Sadly, this was the one promise the regime has made and, it was clear even in the first few weeks after the coup, had no intention of honouring. The regime has pointedly refused to implement any democratic reforms without which it is impossible to have free and fair elections; proof that Zanu PF is still a party of lawless thugs.
The genesis of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown and political chaos which have seen unemployment soar to 90% and the ruling party implode with no political alternative respectively is the country’s failure to hold free and fair elections. For the last 38 years Zimbabwe has been stuck with a corrupt and tyrannical regime that rigged election to stay in power. It is therefore not surprising that the nation’s number one priority for the last two decades has been to implement the democratic reforms, hold free, fair and credible elections and thus finally break Zanu PF’s political strangle hold.
Until we end this rotten political culture of rigged elections; nothing of any substance can ever accomplished being it on the economic or political front. Nothing!
President Mnangagwa and his coup junta promised to hold free, fair and credible elections. The regime has been reminded on countless occasions it must implement the democratic reforms, so it knows what is expected of it. What is required now is for the investors, ordinary Zimbabweans, international elections observers and all those genuinely interested in seeing Zimbabwe end the economic meltdown and the political chaos to all be united and resolute in their demand for free, fair and credible elections.
President Mnangagwa and his coup junta have promised to hold free, fair and credible elections; they must now honour their promise and there must be no negotiation or compromise on the matter. By extending this financial assistance, at this point, the British are certainly breaking rank.
The message they are sending is that the British will do business with Zanu PF regardless of whether the regime hold free and fair elections or not! We already know that the regime had no intention of holding free and fair elections and will only see this as encouragement rig the elections.
Some people have argued that Zimbabwe should just concentrate on economic recovery for now and put free and fair elections on hold. What these people assume is that the other nations and investors will follow the British’s lead and do business with the vote-rigging and corrupt Zanu PF dictatorship. This is just a fallacious argument that must be dismissed with the contempt it rightly deserves.
To start with, no one can guarantee that Zanu PF would ever implement any reforms and risk losing power in free and fair elections. It is no secret that after the November coup it was agreed that President Mnangagwa will succeeded by VP Chiwenga; the ordinary people have no say in that.
There are also no guarantees that other nations and investors will follow the British’s example and invest in Zimbabwe, particularly when it is clear the country is still a pariah state ruled by thugs who have no intention of ever holding free and fair elections. None! The next regime change will have to be another military coup or violent street protests.
After being denied their basic freedoms and human rights all their lives and paying dearly for the decades of ruinous Zanu PF misrule, it is inhuman that anyone should be asking of the long-suffering masses of Zimbabwe to accept yet another rigged election. The sheer duplicity and hypocrisy of the British in seeking impose this Zanu PF autocracy on the people of Zimbabwe is sicken particularly given Britain’s checked past.
It is sickening enough that the Chinese are propping this vote-rigging Zanu PF dictatorship, with their mega deals worth millions to hide their looting worth billions; without the British joining in as the Chinese’s acolyte!
If these elections are not free and fair then the process must be declared null and void and a new administration appointed to implement the reforms and hold the country’s first free, fair and credible elections. President Mnangagwa promised to hold free and fair elections, if he cannot do so then he must ship out! There will be no negotiation and no compromise on this, not this time or ever!