What do they think they are doing?

Everyone is still quiet after the latest stolen election. Perhaps they are waiting to see what direction Zanu (PF) takes. That is still a puzzle.

The business about water and electricity bills would be farcical if it wasn’t so dangerous. If they continue doing things as economically intelligent as if it had been thought up by Idi Amin, they might bankrupt ZESA and the urban councils, retreat behind their high walls with their generators and boreholes and, for a while “rule” over an electricity-less and increasingly diseased populace. That clearly is a road to disaster, even for those behind those high walls, so we hope the lunatic fringe can be reined before they go too far.

The same lunatic fringe evicted people, Zanu voters, who had been “illegally” sold building plots. But who sold the plots? There are a few signs that Zanu are trying to work out a survival strategy, but it’s hard to see the direction yet.

Giving Chinese friends all our minerals and whatever else they want is the quickest way to ensure that Zimbabwe is never independent again. Becoming a Chinese colony is no better than becoming anyone else’s colony. Someone in Zanu (PF) must be aware of that, or do they all believe they can only survive as puppets? They are incredibly optimistic if they do. Those Chinese have no permanent friends, just permanent interests.

There are indications that the Old Man would still like to become respectable enough in British eyes to have tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace again. If so, he has a hard task ahead of him.

The Brits, or at least their politicians and business people, are hypocrites. That makes them like most politicians and business people anywhere, but it does mean you have to make some appearance of respecting the democratic rights of your people and make a rather more serious effort to keep your country stable. Without stability, no-one, least of all the Chinese, will invest here.

Crushing all opposition in a permanent one-party state is not possible, however much they would like to try. They might aim for “dominant party state” with a permanent ruling party but some opposition officially allowed.

China is one example of that. There are several parties, appointed to represent different classes, in their parliament. Elections change MPs, but do not change the number of seats the small parties hold. Those parties are represented by the smaller stars on their flag. Unfortunately, they still need to use quite a lot of force to keep control because people want a bigger voice than this system gives them. A country which commits crimes like the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, still jails independent political voices and tries to control religion and the internet is unstable in the long run because these efforts will not achieve their aims.

Singapore, on the other hand, might be considered a successful example. Their ruling party has presided over decades of phenomenal economic growth and tried to distribute enough of the wealth to keep people happy.

Botswana is another example. In the early years of independence, there was only one newspaper, distributed free by the government, the one radio station only broadcast news about one party, and the BDP controlled patronage, which meant only their loyalists got higher education – and therefore the good jobs. They also cultivated powerful patrons, especially the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation, to build party structures a big party HQ and support from the emerging trade unions, But they did give enough to keep everyone else happy; health services, education, non-partisan food relief in drought years and opportunities to set up businesses.

So now they can afford to have private TV and radio stations, independent newspapers and free elections. Wouldn’t Zanu like to have that much control? But they’d need to go back to 1980, start again and do everything differently. It’s too late now.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis
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