That is why, the first order of business for his administration was to make as much noise as possible that ‘Zimbabwe was open for business’.
This mantra was never intended for ordinary Zimbabweans to attain a better standard of living, but was for his own welfare – to safeguard his hold on power.
Mnangagwa is not a fool!
He has been in the political field for a long time, and knows how the game of global geopolitics is played – and he is spot on.
Global politics has absolutely nothing to do with democracy and human rights, but about making money and business – and, as long as these are guaranteed, then the leader’s hold on power is also guaranteed.
Mnangagwa not only learnt this from global politics, but from his own mentor – Mugabe.
When Mugabe came into power at independence in 1980, it was after he had guaranteed the British – the then colonial master – that their business interests, and those of their kith and kin, would be protected by his government.
If he had not done this, the British would not have allowed him to be leader – as the 1980 elections were fraught with irregularities, in order to get Mugabe into office, as the ‘anointed one’.
He fulfilled that promise to the letter, with utmost loyalty – earning him numerous accolades in various Western capitals.
Whilst, he was being bestowed all these prestigious awards – which included honorary degrees, a knighthood from the British monarch, and many others – he was busy slaughtering tens of thousands of innocent and unarmed men, women, and children in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces with impunity.
The West never said a word, let alone impose sanctions on him – in fact, he continued globetrotting to all their capitals and receiving more accolades.
Actually, the British were part of Gukurahundi, as they supplied Mugabe’s military with the requisite weaponry to eliminate as many people as possible.
I would want to believe that he had convinced the West that ZAPU, and by extension – the Ndebele – were communists who would nationalise all their business interests.
Only in the year 2000 did Mugabe make his biggest mistake – touching Western interests, through his ill-fated, chaotic and murderous land redistribution exercise – thereby, breaking his earlier promise.
Only then did the West start talking about human rights abuses and rigging of elections.
…and only then did they impose sanctions on Mugabe and his regime.
If there is one thing that Mugabe had been right about throughout his later years in power, it was that, the sanctions imposed on his regime had nothing to do with democracy and human rights, but were a direct result of his land reform programme.
He should know, because he committed the most heinous human rights abuses during Gukurahundi, and the West looked aside – whilst, awarding him, as long as he continued to protect their interests – yet, when he took White land and killed some of them, the whole world was suddenly up in arms against him.
Maybe, it was his advanced age that got him to make such a grave error of judgement, because – as he had known the Western world’s psyche for such a long time – if he had simply killed all the opposition to ‘win’ the 2000 and 2002 elections, rather than touching “Whitemen’s” land – the West would have given him more awards, instead of imposing sanctions!
This lesson was not lost on Mnangagwa.
He also has seen how the West has propped up similar tyrants in the past and present – as long as their business interests were, and are, protected.
Let us not forget that the West has supported, if not engineered, countless military coups in the past, in order to install a leader who would protect their business interests.
On 11 September 1973, Chile’s General Augusto Pinochet ousted socialist Salvador Allende, in a Western-backed coup – as he guaranteed their business interests.
Similarly, General Muhammad Suharto of Indonesia ousted Sukarno in 1967, in a military coup engineered by the West for business purposes.
The 1953 coup in Iran, to remove the democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh was the brainchild of the British, so as to strengthen the Shah, who would safeguard their business interests.
Furthermore, numerous other tyrants were supported and protected by Western powers for similar reasons.
These included leaders as Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos, who terrorised and brutalised his own people – as Mugabe did – whilst, the West conveniently looked the other way.
In fact, when the people of the Philippines finally ousted him, the United States (US) swiftly airlifted him to safety – together with billions of dollars he and his wife Emelda had stolen from their country.
Today, the script has not changed at all.
Saudi Arabia’s tyrannical monarchy, as well as other Gulf states, are all good buddies with the West – despite their brutal crackdown on their own people, and the massacre of thousands of innocent civilians in Yemen – as long as they continue to do multi-billion dollar business deals.
The Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) is currently engaged not only on a callous crackdown on his own people but is also brutally repressing any rivals from within his own royal family – under the veil of fighting corruption.
Yet, he is welcome to all the Western capitals with open arms – having recently completed a whirlwind tour that took him to Britain and the US.
Similarly, China continues to slide down the path of dictatorship – with the recent Communist Party resolution to remove presidential term limits, and thereby, effectively rendering Xi Jinping their life-president -yet, the West never uttered a word.
In fact, the recent tariff increases imposed by United States (US) president Donald J. Trump on numerous Chinese imports had nothing to do with dictatorship and human rights abuses in that country – and it was never mentioned – but everything to do with business and trade.
China can jail political opponents as it pleases – in fact, according to the latest figures on global executions in 2017, the country killed the highest number of people in the whole world.
However, as long as they are open for business to the West, then no action will ever be taken.
Xi, as MBS, has also been persecuting any rivals within his China Communist Party, such as Bo Xilai, Fang Fenghui, and many others, under the pretext of fighting corruption.
Token protests by the West may be made against Chinese expansionist policies in the South China Sea – just to appease its allies, who have counterclaims to islands claimed by China – but, that is as far as that goes.
The folly with countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, and even North Korea, is that they have shut their doors to Western business interests, and thus, invited its fury.
If Raul Castro, Nicholas Maduro, and even Kim Jong un want to oppress their people with impunity, whilst the West act as if nothing is happening, then all they need to do is open their countries to Western businesses – Period!
Iran’s Hassan Rouhani knew that very well.
Ever since he took office in 2013, his mission had been to normalise relations with the West – leading to the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran Nuclear Deal, which resulted in the lifting of sanctions by most Western countries – in spite of the continued grave human rights abuses in the country – including religious, and political repression, as well as being in the top three in the highest number of executions.
The only reason the US has not been playing ball with other European countries is that it needs to show its loyalty to Israel – Iran’s sworn enemy.
That is the lesson our dear president Mnangagwa has so effectively learnt – and he could practise it with the utmost perfection.
Those who are pinning their hopes on Western countries to observe the forthcoming elections with an unbiased eye are only fooling themselves.
All countries, such as the European Union (EU) and the US, truly want guaranteed are their business interests – and as long as they feel that they are safe, then all else pales into insignificance.
Mnangagwa – as his mentor and predecessor Mugabe did in the 1980s – can slaughter tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children, whilst blatantly stealing the forthcoming elections – but, the West will not do anything, as long as their business interests are guaranteed.
The people of Zimbabwe need to realize that they are all alone!
The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) have over the past two decades already proven that they can not be trusted – and will always support the incumbent, no matter how flawed an election was.
It is then up to us to be brave enough to ensure that democracy in Zimbabwe prevails, and be willing to face any consequences in order to safeguard our valued rights.
The struggle, from now on, will be more difficult, as Mnangagwa will never repeat Mugabe’s mistake of stepping on the toes of the Western world – and as such, there will not be anyone to stand up for us.
As we have already established, the West values business interests more than democracy – therefore, all their talk about waiting for free and fair elections is all talk…and nothing else.
They just did not want to be seen to be accepting the new military dispensation in Zimbabwe too soon.
However, the very fact that they are already cosying up to an obvious military coup-installed leadership is proof enough of where everything is going.
If they had been serious about democracy, they would not have accepted the military coup.
In fact, they would have swiftly issued statements condemning it, and calling for the restoration of democratic rule.
They would not have invited Mnangagwa to the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos – until after democratic elections.
Actually, they would have increased sanctions against the country – in spite of Mnangagwa’s assurances of free and fair elections – until after they had been held.
Zimbabweans be warned and be careful – as we have entered even more uncertain times.
Indeed, ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’, but let us all just be careful that this is not more than what this mantra says!
° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is the Programmes Director with the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice). Please feel free to call/WhatsApp: +263782283975, or [email protected]. Please also ‘Like’ the ‘ZimJustice’ page on Facebook.Post published in: Featured