Britain, America and The West Dump MDC

SADC Heads of State pose for a group photograph yesterday at their summit in Swaziland, where they once again told Zimbabwe they can help financially and can only try and lobby the west to lift sanctions. Prof Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti of the MDC said at the meeting that "the sanctions have had an effect on the economy". The Heads of State have pledged to specifically target the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act in the United States, lobbying for it to be repealed.

The MDC has now effectively admitted that it has been cut loose by its friends and allies in the West and has to instead seek the intercession of Zimbabwe's neighbours to talk to its former allies in the West about helping the limping Inclusive government.

Yesterday, Tendai Biti, the MDC Minister of Finance in this Inclusive Zimbabwean government, together with Robert Mugabe and Prof Welshman Ncube, asked the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State to intercede on Zimbabwe's behalf with Britain, America and other rich nations.

SADC itself repeated at the same meeting that they can not give Zimbabwe any money, as had been hoped for by Tendai Biti. Of all the SADC countries, South Africa is the only one that has stumped up some cash - they pledged US$30 million, to be disbursed in monthly US$10 million tranches over three months.

This is not even enough to cover the government wage bill, which stands at about US$50 million a month when you factor in allowances. Salaries themselves alone need US$30 million a month.

Interestingly, though, Biti adopted Mugabe's and ZANU PF language this week, after "touring banks" according to the government newspaper, The Herald.

Biti told the state-owned paper that he is "aware of saboteurs who want the Inclusive government to fail" because they are questioning whether the government can sustain the payment of foreign currency salaries.

It was Mugabe who said during his birthday interview that he did not think the payment of salaries in foreign currency for the civil service was sustainable because " we do not have the money."

So there is one saboteur right there.

But Biti also shoulders the blame because of his alarmist talk that the Treasury coffers are "empty". He carries blame for his statements warning of "chaos" unless the donor countries give him money to pay the salaries of this bloated government.

I feel sorry for the man and for the MDC in particular, because they are clearly in over their heads on this issue.

Biti is perhaps still learning that his words now carry a lot of weight as Minister of Finance. He is no longer an opposition politician whose words have no impact on the running of the country and he must realise this and start to work accordingly.

Still, even after those dire warning, except for the US$30 million from South Africa (enough for a month's salary bill), no other southern African country came up with any funds.

Even Botswana, the MDC friend in the region, appears to also be dumping the Inclusive government. They did not pledge anything. Namibia said it will continue working with the Zimbabwe Power utility, ZESA, to refurbish Hwange Power station. 

And that is it.

The bottom line appears to be that the West, the people with the "deep pockets", as Biti called them at the summit in Swaziland yesterday, are keeping their money deep in their pockets.

Was it not the MDC that always insisted that there must be good governance before aid is given to Zimbabwe. That good governance does only mean doing what the MDC wants, which is what the opposition thought before they joined government.

Good governance also means not buying luxury cars when taps are dry because water treatment chemicals can not be bought.

Good governance means setting priorities right, deciding whether it is better to bloat a government by providing "jobs for the boys" when there is no money to pay those "boys".

Good governance means coming up with workable policies to turn the economy around and not simply announcing an "it will alright on the night" STERP document, which is bereft of any policy except begging for money.

Good governance means demonstrating fiscal responsibility, deciding what is more urgent, furniture for minster's offices or US$1.5million to refurbish Harare Hospital (this is sum that Morgan Tsvangirai said was needed to get the hospital in top condition).

In effect, the West have dumped the MDC because the party has failed to demonstrate, just demonstrate, that its presence in the corridors of power has resulted in a shifting of priorities.

It is unlikely that SADC will succeed in garnering the aid that they have undertaken to demand from the west. Britain and American and the IMF and the Word Bank are not amenable and no one can force them.

Their position is still the same: they do not see any meaningful change in the way the affairs of the country are being run and they are not keen to part with their money under these circumstances.

With Biti cutting away all the infrastructure development provisions in the budget and leaving only consumptive budget provisions in his "hunter-gatherer" economy as he himself has insultingly called his new regime, there is no policy in place to stimulate growth of the economy from within.

Their hopes were pinned on others giving them money to spend on salaries and also money to start production in Zimbabwe.

South Africa, by giving away the insulting sums of US$10 million, is only looking after its own interests. As long as Zimbabwe does not have a manufacturing sector, South African companies have a dollarised market in Zimbabwe that will give them even more money and grow the South African economy even more.

Meanwhile, dumped by the West, the MDC can only flounder, together with its new best friend, ZANU PF.

Comments

  1. Hi Denford

    Has it ever crossed your mind that, the West holding back so that real change can come to Zim. The minimum conditions which they set for releasing financial aid have not been met:
    1. Rule of law
    2. Respect of property rights
    3. Media Freedoms
    4. Release of political prisoners

    They want to strengthen MDC's hand than weaken it. Thats my view...

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  2. @Much Nyatsine: I don't buy this at all. The MDC themselves are saying the situation is desperate. The Minister of Finance, who is MDC, is saying that failure by the west to come to the table will result in "civil unrest".

    As for property rights (farm invasions) and respect for the rule of law (ignoring SADC tribunal hearings on land invasions), the MDC themselves are now siding with Mugabe on these things.

    Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube told the Heads of State that "there are no new invasions". Like Mugabe, they told reporters that farmers whose land was taken are refusing to leave their farms.

    As for media freedom, the MDC are quite happy now that the Herald and ZBC are treating them with some form of respect and the licencing of private media has ceased to be priority.

    In essence, then, the MDC contradict your position, saying that witholding aid does NOT strengthen their hand, rather it weakens it.

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  3. There are quite a number of factors that are forcing the rich Western Countries from extending financial aid to Zim gvt. Firstly the rich nations are facing an unprecedent economic crisis, big companies are closing, In USA and UK the gvts had to bail out some of the companies and some have been left to close, so they want to see first whether there is good returns (financially) from any funds dished out. The big question being "What do we get from it"? The other reasons being that the change they expected came in the form they never wanted, it is a change that will make it very difficult for them to get the most and for cheap or little.
    The rest are never the real issues, they just smokescreens. how many gvts are they dealing with which have the worst records of the conditions they have set for us?

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  4. Denford I think its clear from all this that Zimbabweans have to do it the hard way yet again. Something we're quite clearly used to

    But lets focus on the private sector, specifically private investment. Could that not become our saviour? If we were to privatise our parastatals, raise some funding get electricity and water flowing, would that not benefit industry? Remember that industry failed due to prices controls and lack of inputs. We always were a low cost provider. Could that not save this country?

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  5. I am not sure the blame lies with the MDC here. At this point in time it is arguable at best that western countries are in a position to financially assist someone else. The US is going through the worst recession since the great depression and people are losing jobs at a rate of over 600,000 per month! The UK is contemplating getting assistance from the IMF as we speak, and I doubt the US will print more money to finance another country. I therefore do not find it useful to base anything on unrealistic expectations.

    But here we are insinuating that somehow the MDC’s (in)action to turn Zimbabwe into a squeaky clean country in a period of 6 weeks is the real reason for Zimbabwe not receiving “AID” from the western nations!

    If at all, we run the risk of doing exactly what the MDC was doing which is misrepresenting and assuming certain deliverables from the west. The donors on their own have never really explicitly talked of any deliverables and neither have they given us any measurable yardsticks to get to before they can perform. Instead a bone was thrown and we went into the forest to look for more bones! What property rights yardsticks do you place on a nation going through a land reform program? What is rule of law/media freedom yardsticks do you place on a nation that has embarked on writing a new constitution?

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  6. Denford may you please do some investgations on the romour doing the rounds in the millitary that ALL UNIFORMED OFFICERS WHO WENT ABSENT WITHOUT OFFICIAL LEAVE (AWOL) WON'T BE PARDONED EVEN IF AN AMNESTY IS DECLARED BY THE GNU.
    i heard even tsvangirai is supportive of this idea so that he crushes any uprising which may be perpetuated by the soldiers and policemen who left the country without resigning or properly terminating their contracts.

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  7. This article is well written Denford, keep it up.
    We can endlessly blame each other for the hole we find ourselves in but that won't get us out of the hole. What will get us out of the hole is advising the coalition government what they should do to get us out of the hole. The questions we should ask and answer are, "Now that there is no donor funding coming our way what should we do as a country to ensure sustainable economic development without depending on international donor funding?" What economic startegy should we come up with that will make us grow self-reliantly.
    It was with such questions and how I answered them in mind that I wrote the latest article on my blog. Care to read it.
    My blog address is http://peacelovehappiness-eusebia.blogspot.com

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  8. Hi Denford, I think it is a bit unfair of you to say that the West deserted the MDC, when in fact the MDC deserted itself by deciding to become part of Zanu-PF (and a very minor part too).

    Andrew

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