Friday, 16 March 2018

Capital’s Interest, Influence in Zimbabwe’s 2018 Election

By Takura Zhangazha*

At the risk of stating the obvious, the ‘ease of doing business’ is an inherently political term. Not merely because the ruling Zanu Pf party’s leader and current president of the country, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is using the term in each and every one of his major speeches.  Locally and internationally.  

It is a phrase that is always sweet music to the ears of global capital and by default, its local mimicking versions. 

Not because of their political affinities but because of what it portends. In keeping with neo-liberal fashion it means that the political leaders of the country are seeking favours from private capital. Political ones before they are economic.

And private capital appears to be catching the bait.  Economic pundits are talking about how the number of investors that are enquiring about Zimbabwe are in their numbers.  Even the Zimbabwean Diaspora is setting up initiatives to cash in on governments laissez faire policy. 

And so far a couple of what the state controlled media refers to as ‘mega deals’ have been signed or revived with a sense of urgency.  The Russian foreign secretary paid us a visit with such deals in mind.  Other promises of investment also keep popping up especially after government announced its intention to amend the Indigenisation Act. Or where the minister of foreign affairs announced a new creature (at least to many Zimbabweans) called ‘transactional diplomacy’.

So there is no doubt that the Zimbabwean government is on a neo-liberal path.  And that capital likes ‘free market’ environments.

But because there is an election scheduled for this year (2018), we have to ask a rhetorical question of who needs who more than the other? And why?

The easy reply would be obviously the ruling Zanu Pf party is desperate for capital (almost any form state and private).  This would be in order to succeed in its quest at retention of power in the scheduled elections.  Except that it has too little time between then and now to produce the ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ that its leader Emerson Mnangagwa has been promising in his speeches. 

What the government wants is a promise from capital for guaranteed investment in the event of their electoral victory and therefore longer tenure in globally recognised power. And this where the catch is. Because capital loves stability (never mind democracy), it is clearly keen on a government that is talking its language to stay in power.  So any ‘mega deal’ signed in the run-up to the 2018 election is akin to an electoral support pact. 

Private capital knows this.  So they are circling the bait (unlike say the Russian or British government related capital). But in order to be in with a fairer chance they will invariably take all sorts of risks to be in good books with the incumbent administration. And this is in the event that the latter wins the election.

This leads to the bigger question how much of private capital is backing the current ruling establishment in expectation of ‘favours’ after the elections? In 2013 we know that the Meikles Group helped purchase campaign vehicles for the ruling party and that went a long way in changing the complexion and undoubtedly influencing the final result, controversial as it was.

It is from this example that we can get tell tale signs of the undemocratic relationship that the current establishment has with capital.  As President Mnangagwa attends investment conferences, sends his ministers and emissaries to various countries and global capital events/meetings I would not be surprised if the whispered request would be, ‘support us in the next election and we will support you after with your (ease of doing) business.’

Again in neo-liberal lexicon this would be what would be referred to as a ‘win-win’ situation. The ruling establishment wins the election and private capital is left to roam the ‘free market’.
This unwritten but likely electoral pact between the ruling establishment and private capital will soon show itself as the electoral campaign gets into its rancorous full gear.  If you are a neo-liberal (including those in the mainstream opposition) this is the stuff that dreams would be made of.

If you are to the left of social democracy as I am, you would be aware what an undemocratic pact between unaccountable private capital and a resurgent ruling and repressive establishment can bring.  A withdrawn state, privatisation of social services and a singular dominant (almost electorally undefeatable) political establishment that has a revolving door between ruling party and capital. And as always with a sprinkling of formal opposition.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Origins, Futility of Contemporary Politically Motivated Violence in Zimbabwe.

 By Takura Zhangazha*

There is a sad and tragic continuing trend in Zimbabwe’s national politics. And this is the seemingly enduring challenge of politically motivated violence against would be opponents in contestations for state or political party power.

It rears its ugly head through the form of physical violence, hate speech and acts of exclusion (barring each other from meetings, censoring differing views in mainstream and social media). 

Recently there have regrettable incidents of politically motivated violence by alleged members of the mainstream opposition the MDC-T.  The assumed reason/motivation for the violence has been the issue of who succeeds the party’s late leader Morgan Tsvangirai.  Or at least who acts as president until an elective congress of the same party is eventually held. 

The party’s own leaders and even the ruling Zanu Pf have condemned the acts of violence with the former promising thorough investigations and bringing the culprits to book.  Some of the alleged perpetrators have also been arrested and questioned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).

There is however more to these unacceptable acts of political violence that must be examined if we are stop them recurring either in the short term electoral future but also as a dark part of our national political culture. 

There is therefore a need to examine the origins of a culture of politically motivated violence in contemporary Zimbabwean politics.  And some of these origins are historical where coercion and direct violence were tools of not only the colonial state but also ended being those of leaders of the liberation struggle. n fact the colonial state was the primary purveyor of politically motivated violence by way of both state structure and intention.  It meted out forms of violence not only by way of enforced physical dominance by a minority group but as the anti-colonial movement grew by atrocious levels of violence with impunity  that included bombings, parading deceased bodies of liberation struggle comrades, enforced encampment (keeps), abductions and evictions. Just to list but a few. 

With those that led the liberation struggle, violence was formally adopted as a necessary change of strategy against the settler state but it also had its own tendencies to be meted out against the people it sought to liberate.  Hence the jarring tales of violence at ‘pungwes’ or abductions and murder of those that were alleged sellouts in rural areas.   the settler state did not do the same. 

In the urban areas, again, the use of violence between rival nationalist movement camps Zanu and Zapu is well recorded in the urban history of what were the then African townships.  Add to this the perennial and overriding violence of the colonial state (riot police, abductions, confinements) and we have a compounding of a regrettable culture of violence. 

It is a culture that is carried over to post independence Zimbabwe through again the legacy of colonialism and the struggles against it. But more significantly it is instrumentalised by the ruling establishment to retain power. 

Though contemporary leaders of Zanu Pf would deny this, violence and exclusionary language was to reach its zenith with the rise of the opposition MDC in the late 1990s. And the violence also included the use of state apparatus’ such as the police, prisons and party leaders/youths.

In the conundrum that it became this violence also then lead to a developing culture of mimicry in the opposition.  Because the culture of violence had led to many opposition supporters feeling they had no option but to stand by their party(ies) and individual leaders, they copied some of the habits of the ruling party.  They also protected political turfs with youths, embraced subtle ethnic undertones to their politics and began to use the language of exclusion in public (making statements on how they have been there from the beginning of the party etc).

In both the ruling party and opposition the culture of violence is largely internal before it is meted out on others. And this is largely due to the lack of organic internal democracy in the parties (this includes even the smaller ones).  Perhaps with changes in leaderships of the main parties this culture might change but it looks less likely in the short term.  There is too much entitlement to political leadership especially by way of ‘long duree’ status in the ‘party’ and slogans such as ‘chine vene vacho’ (it has its owners).  Thelatter phrase having found its way into opposition lexicon after the ruling establishment’s ‘coup-not-a-coup’ change of leadership. 

And the thousands of unemployed young Zimbabweans will take the hand that they are dealt.  If not to make some sort of income but also just to belong to some forward looking cause.  Especially in an election year. 

But the reality of the matter is that acts of contemporary politically motivated violence are in the final analysis, futile. Both for the party and for the individuals involved.  They do not portend ideas nor do they inspire toward greater democratic consciousness and progress.  Instead they create fear and always the potential of victims becoming perpetrators if they survive it all. 

Those in the leadership of the various political parties including the ruling Zanu Pf and mainstream opposition MDC-T need to understand that it is not enough to condemn political violence.  They need to act concertedly to embrace internal party democracy and  also allow others to democratically arrive at leadership positions. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or race.  They need to allow in particular young members of their parties opportunities to lead at earlier stages of their membership and democratically institutionalize their parties more than they do the individuals that lead them.  ‘Vene vacho’ will then become not the individual but the values and principles that the party stands for.  And for an immediate posterity where politically motivated violence will become a thing of the past.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

The Electoral Scramble for Zimbabwe's 60% Young Vote

 Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba recently made an important national announcement.  Speaking at a Parliamentary committee on Justice and Legal affairs organised meeting, she made it known that thus far in the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process of the 5 million plus number of registered voters, 60% of them are between the ages of 18 and 40 years. The significance of this figure may have been limited where it not for the fact that Zimbabwe, again according to ZEC, has harmonised elections scheduled  the months of July and August 2018.  

If one expected the mainstream media to go apoplectic with this officially announced statistic, it didn’t happen.  Across the state and the private media in Zimbabwe.  At least in the immediacy of Justice Chigumba’s statement.

Social media on the other hand went slightly haywire. And this is particularly with reference to users sympathetic to the mainstream opposition MDC-T and its informal offshoot, the MDC Alliance. They expressed their optimism in lieu of the new ascendancy, controversial as it may seem , of one of the appointed acting presidents of the same party, Nelson Chamisa. 

The ruling Zanu Pf side of social media was understandably somewhat muted.  Probably because shooting from the hip about age and political capacity may be a slightly vulnerable point for them.  At least on social media. 

In both respects, and no matter how much raving, ranting or muting that may occur on social media platforms, I am certain that the main political parties that will contest the 2018 harmonised elections, should they be serious about their political ambitions, are probably frenetically crunching the electoral numbers.  And this should be in at least three respects.

Firstly, they need to crosscheck their own numbers (membership lists and so on) against those that the biometric voter registration process has produced so far.  That is to say, on their membership and supporter estimates, how many young people of the same did they get to finally become registered voters? In this they must then cross check their own figures with those of ZEC.  By polling station, ward, district, province.  

Then after putting together their figures and again, by way of the mathematical calculus that is ‘probability’, measure the likely voter turnout in what they perceive to be their respective strongholds.  And after such a serious process, work on the figures they perceive they do not have in areas that they know are not their traditional strongholds.

I know its a hard ask especially of a divided but more significantly deliberately repressed Zimbabwean political opposition.  Whether it be in the form of newfound attempts at an ‘Alliance’ or as various splinter or new parties. 

For the ruling Zanu Pf party, it’s an easier ask.  Mainly because it is a ruling party, an incumbent.  Even after a ‘coup-not- a –coup’ in November 2017.  It however has to contend with queries as to who mobilized the voter registration process in its own rural strongholds. And whether it can claim these new registered young voters did so as mobilised by the party or as a result of its own factionalism. And in the latter, which faction in or out of power can persuade them to vote for the party in its own perceived traditional strongholds. 

The second key consideration for political parties in the 2018 harmonised election is the fact that they have to think about the social aspects of the 60% young voter demographic.  Who exactly are these young people?  What do they do? Where and why? What is their gender?Where they understand this, they then fashion out policies that relate to solving problems that these young voters face in aide of giving democratic value to their campaign requests for support from these young voters. 

Should the political parties  hunker down to these key questions, they will find that a majority of young Zimbabweans are looking to survive.  Not only by way of subsistence (vendors, kombi drivers) but on a more ambitious, desired lifestyle basis (money-changers, car-dealers, informal wholesale suppliers, tobacco farmers, ranchers, urban transport/kombi owners). In their wildest dreams they want the materialistic lifestyle that benefactors can offer them.  

Or they want to be left in political patronage ‘peace’ to get there via the many patronage, religious and other networks that they are invariably part of.  

The third and final consideration is that of not forgetting the 40% by ostracising it in favour of the young voter.  This is particularly because in most instances the 40% remains decisive in ‘political’ opinion leadership and where it concerns the rural vote is in the great majority of socio-economic leadership positions (chiefs, headmen, teachers, businessmen, and clergy). But more importantly, there is no single political party that can win a majority of the 60% young voters. They will require significant chunks of both the 40% and 60% to win the presidency and have a majority in parliament. 

And even if ZEC’s final figures reduce the proportion of young voters to older ones, it will not be far from its initial registered young voters count of 60%.  Given our political realities that 60% alone will not win it for a singular party. But any serious political party will know that it has its work cut out to get a majority of these registered young voters on their side.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Friday, 23 February 2018

The Emerging Supremacy of the Political Party in Southern Africa

By Takura Zhangazha*

Southern Africa is politically unique on the continent.  A majority of its countries underwent anti-colonial liberation struggles or directly assisted those that did so.  This also meant that these liberation struggles had a direct effect on the regions peoples and continues to do so to this day.
And this influence is purveyed through former liberation movements and parties that have retained state power in the post-independence and post-colonial era. 

Of significance these parties are the Peoples Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the African National Congress (South Africa), Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Tanzania), Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo), the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), South Western African Peoples Organisation (Namibia) and the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu PF).  Other parties such as the Patriotic Front of Zambia also claim to be offshoots of former liberation movements. 

Over the years these parties have fortified their political hold on their respective countries and the region through formal and informal regional bodies as actions of solidarity.  The most formal of these regional bodies is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which in the beginning was the Frontline States (again a bloc established to further the liberation struggle cause in the in regional and to counter apartheid South Africa’s regional dominance).

It has generally looked out for its own in relation to how the region formerly interacts with the rest of the continent and the world. And in this, it retinas a relatively strong liberation struggle solidarity and value system.  Hence it has peculiarly found ways to prevent direct innervation in Zimbabwe during Mugabe’s last twenty years in power.

The more informal side to these ruling parties and former liberation movements is that they have regular meetings based on who they define themselves as. And there was an intention to set up a liberation struggle institute for the region which at some point former South African president announced in one of his state of the nation addresses.

I have illustrated the formal and informal elements to these regional former liberation movements cum ruling parties because of tow key developments.  The first being their acceptance of the resignation/removal of Mugabe from power in Zimbabwe and the resignation of Jacob Zuma in South Africa. Both of which appeared to be against both leaders' wishes.

One thing that these parties now appear to have embraced is a template that ensures that there is a regular change of party leadership.  There now appears to be an aversion albeit reluctantly and in controversial circumstances to long duree leadership of the party.  In this, the probable new dictum is that the party is supreme. And that it is the party that is in power, not the individual at its helm.   

Further to this, there is a resurgence in some parties of the narrative of ‘veterans’ of the struggle being the close equivalent to custodians of the party and ‘revolutionary’ history.  And this is a key element for now with almost every other leader having either been in the liberation struggle or very close to those that were/are its iconic figures.

But this does not mean that these parties are preoccupied with the past.  It is primarily an internal legitimation process that also helps them to establish some sort of power hierarchy to determine who is next in line for leadership. 

Externally the attempt popular appeal through government programmes that either lead to patronage or allow them to be viewed in good light by the international community.  On the latter point, they appear to have agreed on neo-liberalism as their economic selling point.  And they are willing to utilise their political power collectively to make it a regional reality. But also to ensure that their political policies at home are not over scrutinised by global capital and its parent powerful governments.  Essentially their angle is to present to global capital the Southern African region and its peoples as a ‘market’.     

In all of this, the parties that are ruling and also former liberation movements are intent on being hegemonic, at least politically.  They are working with younger politicians to ensure continuity to their long rule and ensure that while opposition to them may exist, it will hardly be strong enough to challenge them for power. 

*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Friday, 16 February 2018

Countering Neoliberalism by Embracing Contextual Social Democracy In Zimbabwe

By Takura Zhangazha*

A friend once vehemently argued that neoliberalism was good.  This was at an afternoon lunch with other activists where I had made what I thought were fair points on the new importance of what I referred to as contextual social democracy.  Both as an ideological mechanism of understanding the current challenges Zimbabwe faces  as well as a key pointer as to the nature of a preferable people driven and democratic state.

What I however did not immediately discern was that my friend had used the ‘liberal’ part of ‘neo-liberal’ in relation to arguments about human rights.  That is, his assumption was that as long as there was the word ‘liberal’ it related to human rights, a subject that was very close to his heart. 

And its not my friend alone.  It is a general and probably somewhat genuine mistake a lot of people make.  At least in Zimbabwe where they conflate issues to do with political ‘liberty’ and economic neo-liberalism. 

It however helps to put issues into perspective. The first being that liberalism is indeed about the individual.  And their rights to exactly that, being individuals.  In Eurocentric narrative, it means that the individual is always wary of the role of the state. And how it affects their (very) individual well being.  So liberals are generally skeptical of the state in respect of their rights.  As individuals. 

But this does not end in the sphere of political or civil liberties.  It also extends to the socio-economic sphere where liberalism then refers to how individuals must be allowed to undertake economic activities with limited interference from the state.  In this, the ‘free market’ becomes supreme and the state must retreat. 

It is closely tied to capitalism and regrettably in our African context tied to repressive political orders where certain rights were more significant than others in pursuit of profit/happiness.  Hence the slave-trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism. 

So when we discuss 'neo-liberalism' in our own African context, we need to understand that the concept is as political as it is economic.

Political in relation to its philosophical underpinnings of the democratic rights of the individual.  Economic in so far as it has become part of a hegemonic discourse that not only protects but also promotes global capitalism and its attendant free market (liberal) economics.

As we fought it during our own liberation struggles and our post independence struggles against poverty and (comparative) underdevelopment.

But if I revert back to my colleague and his (with respect) simplistic understanding of neo-liberalism, there are broader perceptions or lack of them that relate to the same political-economic concept.  Because we are so enamoured with an admiration of individual success that comes with assumed individual effort, we are prisoners of a false and non-contextual consciousness. (Ditto our new found popular and alarmingly superstitious religiosity.)

My colleague's acceptance of neo-liberalism as a progressive ideological pretext to resolve Zimbabwe's ( Africa's) economic problems essentially point to a trapped consciousness that does not intend to think outside of the postgraduate university qualification, economic conference and a ubiquitous consumarist lifestyle television/ social media output.

In itself that is not a bad thing.  The only problem is that when it comes to leading public opinion makers (such as my friend), it has a tendency to muddy the waters of a necessary search for progressive social democratic consciousness.

The rhetorical question that is asked by those that would accept neo-liberalism not only as an ideology but a way of life is what is the alternative?

In our Zimbabwean and African context, the alternatives are limited due to (again) the global hegemony that neo-liberalism has become.  Especially as maintained by global capital(ism).

But they exist and there is one key one that would take into account both the historical social and economic injustice that was colonialism and also the contemporary socio-economic challenges of our post independence polity.

I refer to it as contextual social democracy. That is an ideological framework whose characteristics are the organic intention to establish a social welfare state that respects human/individual rights but embraces a purposive belief of giving every Zimbabwean a fair start in life.  The latter would be an access to social and enabling services such as health, education, transport/communications, water, land and energy.  Such a fair start then enables the broader  pursuit of innovation that does not undermine the broader public interest in its democratic economic and political form.

At its heart is a people-centered understanding of our common humanity and equality.  And a society in which receiving medical treatment, going to school/university, moving from point A to B, talking on the telephone/internet and owning basic housingor turning on the tap for water is not viewed as the privilege of the few. But the rights of the many.

*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Saving the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC)

By Takura Zhangazha*

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) is a public asset. Initially moulded along the same sort of lines as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as the then Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation (RBC) it sought to serve the news and entertainment interests of a white minority.  These latter interests took on a propagandist tone during the war of liberation. When the struggle against settler colonialism ended our new liberators decided to prioritise the propagandist elements that they had seen with the then RBC. 

And they have never looked back. ZBC has had many things done to it since independence.  It has been commercialised, left for broke (amid allegations of corruption) and above all else, made to abandon any pretences at being a public service broadcaster.  Its role, as defined by those that have been in charge of government and the state owned media has been to prop up the ruling party at all costs. 

This is despite numerous advocacy and activist attempts to change its role from being a state propaganda outlet to being one that serves the broadest democratic public interest. 
Such attempts even led to a court challenge by Bernard Wekare and Musangano Lodge as to the constitutionality of a mandatory payment of license fees.  While the court challenge ruled in favour of the state broadcaster (yes its compulsory, at law, to pay ZBC license fees) it was a judgement that made and still makes it more urgent that it’s management and purpose be democratised.

But that did not happen in the Mugabe era. Instead ZBC became more embedded in the urling party’s factional fights and its electoral campaigns that specifically sought to malign the mainstream opposition. In this, ZBC became more apolitical broadcaster than it sought to provide public interest balanced and fair information/news or entertainment.

In the aftermath of the military intervention/coup it would appear ZBC has also not changed.  Or that there are no quick intentions to do so on the part of the ‘new’ administration. 

The only sign of potential change as indicated by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, George Charamba, is to bring in new players into the television broadcasting sector.  In early January 2018 he was quoted in the local media saying, ‘In a matter of months from now, I'll be dealing with licenses for new TV stations, such that this whole fascination with ZBC with cease to matter, to ensure the playing field is level".

The reality of the matter is that Zimbabweans are correct to be ‘fascinated’ with ZBC.  Not just because they must pay licences for it a t law but more significantly because its role is not akin to would be private and for profit television stations that are now set to be licensed.

The public service role of ZBC-TV should not be sublimated with profit motivated or market driven arguments. Especially before it has been changed from a state/ propagandist broadcaster into a democratic public service one.  

We have witnessed what has happened with the licensing of free to air radio stations that now compete with those run by ZBC.  The news content and angles is largely restricted to target audience entertainment and little time is committed to either investigative news or content that does not push the numbers and the profit margin. 

The evident intention of government is to make television commercial and to fundamentally treat the media as a business.  And in this it is increasingly evident that those poised for private television station licenses are already in other forms of broadcast and print media.  For example the Zimbabwe Newspapers Group (Zimpapers) already owns other radio stations such as Star FM (national free to air) and Diamond FM  (local commercial). 

Private players in the media also intend to do the same or have at least tried to do so.  AB Communications the proprietors of ZiFM national radio have not hidden their intentions to go into television as well.

What all of these manoeuvres by already established media companies’  and government's policy thrust point to is an emerging elite (and political) consensus on sharing media market spoils and creating media monopolies that are never in direct contradiction to the political wishes of government as the regulator.  It is also an undemocratic consensus of would be and existent media oligarchs in Zimbabwe.
In order to do this, they intend to get away with the democratic media value that is public service broadcasting.  Banking on a clear lack of popularity of ZBC, they would have us believe that their intentions to subject it to direct competition will improve it. This is a regrettable case of powerful persons being dishonest to the public. 

ZBC needs a radical transformation from within. It needs to embrace the democratic values of a public service broadcaster.  These values would include a democratic and transparent public service broadcasting charter, a legal and political guarantee to its editorial independence and maximum public accountability for its state and license fee funding. 
To put it out to the wolves is to commercialise and privatise the public interest dimension of news and entertainment.  It is also to seek to stave off responsibility for biased political content on our airwaves with the obnoxious reply, ‘its what the market wants’. A phrase that already is oft used in mainstream print media to the great detriment of independent, ethical and professional journalism. 

We already know that ZBC is coming from a bad place. And that the public’s trust in it, let alone its ability to get that trust beyond political partisanship, is a difficult ask.  But we cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater.  Transforming ZBC into a true public service broadcaster will not only help Zimbabweans remain true to themselves but will help deliver public interest information and entertainment for all sectors of our society regardless of class, gender and age.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Monday, 22 January 2018

#Davos2018 :Zimbabwe is Not for Sale, Mr. President.

By Takura Zhangazha*

Zimbabwe’s president is in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum (WEF2018).  And the run up to his visit has been characterized by a significant amount of state controlled media fanfare, private media encouragement and a decent amount of optimism by the  business sector.  One or two opposing parliamentarians have joined the praise-singing band wagon of the trip (and Mnangagwa's presidency) while broader civil society activists have chosen to avoid critique of the same. 

The broader public have not had much of a say on the matter but it is not expected that they would debate beyond what is presented to them via the mainstream and social media.  But suffice to say those of ‘middle class’ and our own version of a comprador bourgeoisie (wannabe rich) will no doubt celebrate the attendance of a president who is probably closer to their hearts after he announced that his administration is a free market oriented one.

In left leaning and altogether progressive local and global circles this is read as meaning that the Mnangagwa government is  ‘neo-liberal’ in intent and purpose. 

Its primary template as he and his advisors are on record as having said, is global capitalism’s mantra of the ‘ease of doing business’.  A template which basically means that the primary political function of Mnangagwa’s government is to enable the flourishing of private global capital in the country.  Or to treat the country and its population as one big market where profit by those that already have some spare ‘capital’ to invest, will invariably do so. 

So Davos 2018 is emblematic of Mnangagwa’s economic (and political) policy intentions in the short (electoral) and long term.  It makes it relatively clear that his is a neo-liberal but, to use his ruling Zanu Pf party phraseology, ‘commandist/ military intervention' (led) in implementation of open sesame 'free' market economics.  

He is promising a reversal of his predecessor’s badly thought out indigenisation  policy and introducing laissez faire to mining, manufacturing, financial services and with la slightly nuanced political radicalism, agriculture.  The latter is more couched in state capitalist ethos akin to China’s model as it will also applied to the intentions of infrastructural development (road, rail and air). Again via Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and long term mortgaging of same said public services to private capital.   

Social services (health, education, public transport, energy, access to water)  will be placed into the hands of private capital and ‘tenderpreneurs’ (cdes linked to the ruling party)  via  PPPs.  The primary value in such processes is ‘profit’ and not lives.  It is rare for any private company involved in social service provision to forego profit in order to serve the greater public democratic interest by providing a public good/service at a loss. 

Despite the multiple examples in the global north where neo-liberalism is not only on an ideological backfoot but basically failing, our government still insists on it as a panacea to Zimbabwe’s economic challenges. 

In reality we have been on this path before. Such an approach is Economic Structural Adjustment (ESAP) 2.0. 

But to explain to the new leadership of the ruling Zanu Pf party is to speak to a wall.  Not just because they are too eager to please capital but also as a result of their evident inability to think outside of an old box that is also coincidentally ahistorical. 

Where they have referred to their current leadership as one that resulted in ‘Operation Restore Legacy’ of the liberation struggle, their embrace of neoliberalism is neither historically grounded in people centered values nor by dint of the latter progressively revolutionary. 

Not that Mugabe’s approach was any different.  Leading by the spur of the global neoliberal moment that is the WEF 2018 or seeking a place at the table of global inequality and colonial legacies. 

So perhaps someone should tell  President Mnangagwa (and advisors) that #Davos2018 cannot be Zimbabwe’s own version of the Berlin conference of 1884/5.  Even with the exception that it is our own leaders that are making offers of land and other known/unknown resources .  Our country is not for sale.  Never has been. No matter the assumption of the false promises of a dying global neo-liberalism. 

Seeking to parcel out key national resources to the highest bidder may appear like progress  in am immediate post Mugabe era but that would be naive.  The 'market' has no friends, no values except profit.  the neo-liberal governments and private capital that we are seeking to curry favour from are seeking to re-confirm their economic approaches, together with their colonial hangover effects on us. Again.

So a well publicised moment in the neo-liberal sun will occur for President Mnangagwa at Davos 2018.  But it’s a moment that may not be as warm as anticipated.  It may signify the onset of a winter of austerity. Courtesy of playing to a neo-liberal and wintry Davos global capital gallery.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (