VP Phelekezela Mphoko is right

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VICE-PRESIDENT Phelekezela Mphoko’s recent statement that Gukurahundi genocide in Matabeleland and the Midlands were triggered by a Western conspiracy is of course right! But he failed to identify the conspirators – Great Britain, Zimbabwe and North Korea.

Zimbabwe facilitated the training of a sectarian brigade by over 100 British military experts and an unknown number of their Korean counterparts.

The flaw in Mphoko’s charge therefore is that he failed to identify the trio. But even with that knowledge one cannot in all fairness to the man apportion all blame to him.

Part of the blame must go to the reporter who failed to ask the vice-president to identify those who were involved in the conspiracy.

This is a common failure that often leads to pitfalls of reporting.

Negotiations to assist Zimbabwe strengthen its military capability opened before Christopher Soames’ tenure expired. Mphoko could not have been unaware of the arrangement which provided for some Zimbabwean officers to be sent to British military staff colleges for specialised training.

The British government was concerned that Zimbabwe should not be burdened with a rag-tag army that might threaten its security on the onset of independence.

vice-president Phelekezela Mphoko
vice-president Phelekezela Mphoko

A base was set up in Nyanga and British officers, assisted by Zanla cadrés, were charged with selecting candidates for the new brigade.

It is arguable whether those who were recruited were not drawn from only one of three opposing groups represented by Zanla, Zipra and Rhodesian forces.

This is an ugly historical episode and Zimbabweans perhaps need their conscience to be jolted by what transpired.

A Zimbabwean officer flew home in 1982 to command the 5 Brigade. As an honourable send-off from the staff college, the British military top brass gave the officer a royal banquet in a posh hotel on the eve of his flight home to take command.

The British therefore were directly involved in atrocities that were committed during the eight-year anti-insurgency that followed.

Mphoko was not only explicit, but also quite honest in his charge. How could the British condemn the results of their handiwork?

A welter of words has been pronounced by other interest groups distancing themselves from Mphoko’s statement. Of interest was the position taken by Jonathan Moyo who suffered a personal loss at the hands of Gukurahundi.

He charged Mphoko with what he called “revisionism”, whatever that was intended to mean. Moyo reminds his readers of Mugabe’s statement that what happened was a moment of madness.

No one should have any quarrel with Robert Mugabe’s admission. But does that admission preclude the involvement of those who co-operated with him and his government in preparing the ground for the perpetrators to conduct their beastly acts?

Moyo makes another interesting point. He says the concerns and grievances of those who suffered loss were sufficiently addressed by the signing of the Unity Accord.

Moyo, would you care to tell the country how their grievances were addressed? Were they addressed by simply signing a piece of paper?

Mugabe’s sincerity in his much-vaunted admission is questionable because he punctuated it with a blunt refusal to facilitate compensation of surviving relatives.

He went further and promulgated legislation that protected the perpetrators against prosecution for life. In this regard, Mugabe has continued to angrily refuse to establish a truth and reconciliation commission to tell the world who acted in that moment of madness.

So those who urge that the people of Zimbabwe should not disturb old wounds should shut up. Moyo should know that he is not speaking for those who lost their kith and kin during that reign of terror.

Moyo, using the media facilities at his disposal, has of course appointed himself to speak for the surviving relatives of victims because he also lost a father.

The assumption that they have no business or right to speak for them needs to be re-examined and revisited. It has taken from the people their inalienable right to speak for themselves. No mortal has the right to deny them that right.

I am still waiting for an opportunity to agree with Moyo’s views or position on most issues of national import. The only time I ever came close to admiring his guts was after the Dinyani Primary School debacle when he spurned Mugabe’s pleas not to stand in Tsholosho North as an independent. As we all know, he won that election, only to lose the next time he stood for the ruling party.

Moyo has a hold on Zanu PF that only history will explain. He bounced back after the short-lived Tichaona Jokonya term and the patch-work of Sikhanyiso Ndlovu’s stint which became a fact to prove that the Unity Accord was still alive and kicking.

Last August American President Barak Obama and the United States business community hosted 50 African heads of State in Washington to discuss how the two continents should develop mutually beneficial trade and investment relations. The only head of state who was not invited to the Summit is Mugabe. Moyo was reported as describing the summit as a “none event”.

Among co-operation agreements signed during the Summit was a pledge of $7 billion to finance the construction of the giant Inga hydroelectric dam in the DRC.

South Africa announced at the Summit that the Republic would take 50% of the installed yield of that project. The rest will be shared by other African states to light up dark Africa. Call it a none-event!

Months before the Washington Summit Mugabe’s invited presence at an EU-Africa co-operation summit in Brussels was scuttled when the EU banned Grace Mugabe from entering Europe.

There was a frantic attempt to scuttle the summit by calling on African heads of State to stay away but the boycott call was ignored, sealing the president’s isolation. No doubt Moyo called this summit a none-event. Such pronounced drivel should not be tolerated.

Last July, the Brics development fund was founded in Fortaleza in Brazil to counter the free run monopoly of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. But countries like Zimbabwe must wait for another ten years to draw from the $200 billion fund that was set aside to launch it.

So, all that frenzy of excitement about the benefits of the Look East policy must be tampered with caution. The country is still far away from walking through the doors of the New Delhi-based fund to borrow money to finance its balance of payment. Remember you cannot draw from that fund to finance recurrent expenditure.

Zimbabweans must remember that the ZimAsset blueprint will not fly without the support of either the Brics Fund or that of the IMF-WB.

This frenzy of excitement about how the ZimAsset blueprint is about to solve all our problems goes only to prove how gullible Zimbabweans have become under the Zanu PF strangle-hold on media power.

Blueprints, good or bad, do not finance themselves. They need money to finance them. This country wonders of wonders does not have that kind of money now that it is struggling even to pay its civil servants on time.

One of the most amazing things to come from government policy formulators is the black empowerment policy which requires established investors to surrender 51% of their investment portfolio to unidentified beneficiaries.

This would have made it possible for Zanu PF to claim the platinum industry as an investment project of the party, like it did with the Chisumbanje ethanol plant after taking $10 million from the investor to set up a disputed community trust.

There is more but let me go back to the subject of the Look East policy.

Public and private investment inflows from the east have, at best, been tardy in coming and at worst almost non-existent to impact the sorry state of Zimbabwe’s economy. Even the country’s much-vaunted friend and ally, China, has been dragging its feet.

Ask yourself why this is so when China should have been the first country to sign an agreement with the government to refurbish Zisco.

This is despite the fact that every facility is being given to China to ship back home all scrap metal from train derailments in this country and elsewhere in Africa to stockpile for the rainy day. China believes there will no iron ore reserves left in the world to sustain heavy industries in the next 20 years.

Did Iran set up in the country the tractor factory that made the headlines when it was announced five years ago? Was Iran paid for the hundreds of tractors it delivered to bolster our land reform?

I beg your pardon if I have forgotten that the tractors were just a donation from a friendly country in the east! Can anyone in the world run an economy on a donor’s goodwill?