Zimbabwe Review

Reflections on Zimbabwe

Struggle for Zimbabwe freedom may not end with Mugabe’s exit as vultures circulate

Posted by CM on June 20, 2007

From The Southern African :

A common picture in the drought prone Savannah landscape of southern Africa is of a flock of vultures stalking a wounded or starving animal as it struggles against all odds to stay alive and avoid providing an easy meal for the lazy birds.

You get that feeling when you follow how the international community is preparing itself for the imminent demise of President Robert Mugabe’s hold on power in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is very much the politically and economically wounded animal and the vultures are readying themselves for sumptuous meal, that is, a nation free for investors and humanitarians to “assist” in economic recovery.

In this regard, donor countries have apparently drawn up a list of Zimbabwe’s needs, including a US$3 billion five-year economic rescue package to be released the moment Mugabe leaves office.

This is contained in a report championed by the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) whose package has already been broken down into :

· $150 million in food support in the first two years, $125 million in the first year;

· $500 million for land agrarian reform over five years;

· $325 million for health services and education;

· $550 million for infrastructure;

· $1.7 billion for various emergency aid programmes; and

· $1.3 billion for balance of payment support and budgetary support.

Business Report in South Africa reports that a report by the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa), released by deputy executive director Ivor Jenkins, notes that a national economic and land reform programme would be necessary to lift Zimbabwe out of its economic crisis. This programme must be accompanied by the gradual lifting of sanctions and the generous injection of international relief aid and development assistance, says the Idasa report.

Rapid disbursements of development assistance, in the form of balance of payments and budget support, are also necessary.

Meanwhile, the UK department for international development (DFID) recently briefed a meeting of the British foreign and commonwealth office and officials from governments active in donor co-ordination in Harare, including Sweden, the European Commission, Australia, the US, the Netherlands, Canada, Norway, New Zealand and Germany.

In response to a DFID paper entitled Zimbabwe – Economic Recovery, focusing on macroeconomic stabilization in the country, participants said it was clear the country would need “hundreds of millions of US dollars per annum.”

This group of donor countries is reported to be “increasingly focused” on improving its readiness to play an effective and co-ordinated part in Zimbabwe’s recovery process.

The report says the devastated farming community is likely to require donor-funded compensation for evicted farmers, while the distribution of agricultural inputs and produce “must be market driven and involve the private sector.”

********************

“Donors” and well-meaning helpers, or vultures? Sure Zimbabwe will need lots of help to get back on its feet, but consider the neo-colonial arrogance of a group of European countries meeting, without the natives,  to decide what path reconstruction will take! And all this talk of millions of dollars in assistance is coming at a time when there is a growing debate on whether this model of simply throwing “aid” and debt at Africa is really the best way to get the continent moving forward. Does this sort of “assistance” benefit the recipients or the “donors” more?

If we are getting to the brink of change which will attract international help, I hope that it will be the kind of change in which these sorts of questions are asked before we throw the country willy nilly back into the clutches of a new dependency; hooked on expensive, non-beneficial loans to western countries for decades and generations.

I hope that we will be able to keep our wits about us and separate the widespread desire for Mugabe to go with caution about the motives and the knowledgeability of those who will suddenly come bearing seductive but possibly enslaving gifts. We have a continent-full of evidence of how the typical western prescriptions for how to get ahead have been disastrous for Africa.

I wish I could say I look around at the various forces that are lined up to offer themselves as the post-Mugabe future of Zimbabwe and say I have confidence that they will ask the right questions and do what is best for Zimbabwe, but I don’t. I don’t care for the ruinous Mugabe, but neither do I care for the neo-colonial alternatives that some quarters are too eagerly banding about.

The struggle for Zimbabwe’s freedom may not end with Mugabe’s over-due exit from the stage, but merely take another form.

Chido Makunike

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