Zimbabwe Economy and Politics: The scourge of greedy political business people

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa
Zimbabweans are on tenterhooks as unscrupulous businesspeople pursuant to aiding and abetting the ambitions of some political losers who are seeking to blackmail government into a political union of sorts have engaged in economic sabotage by unilaterallyand illegally increasing fuel prices.

by Nobleman Runyanga

Since his defeat at the hand of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and ZANU PF, MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa and those of his hangers-on who pinned hopes on the very remote chance of him winning, have been looking for opportunities to wreak havoc in Zimbabwe to render the country ungovernable, thereby necessitating another Government of National Unity. Even if this objective failed, they would revel in getting back at President Mnangagwa and ZANU PF for denying Chamisa the opportunity of tearing away from his predecessor, Morgan Tsvangirai’s two-decade unenviable perennial loser’srecord.

Chamisa last weekend made clear his intention to unleash “war” in Zimbabwe soon after his party’s elective congress ostensibly “to give long suffering Zimbabweans some respite.” One wonders what kind of a leader Chamisa is, who professes to be fighting for the people by unleashing mayhem and suffering on the same in the name of liberating them.

Unholy alliance

Is it a coincidence that within a week of Chamisa calling for war against innocent Zimbabweans, some unscrupulous fuel retailers brazenly attempted to unilaterally and illegally increase fuel priceson Tuesday this week to push Chamisa’s agenda? They would argue that the decision was a business one, but since when have they been the ones who decide on fuel prices? The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) under the Ministry of Energy and Power Development has always been the one that reviews and announces fuel prices and it has acquitted itself very well in this regard. Even in South Africa, fuel dealers do not just wake from their beds and change fuel prices arbitrarily. That country’s fuel prices are determined largely by the prevailing Rand exchange rate to the United States dollar and the global petroleum prices. They are then announced monthly by the South African government’s Department of Energy.

While business has a place in the running of Zimbabwe’s economy as a key stakeholder, there is set protocol to be followed if it has any concerns. The fuel retailers should have followed proper protocol to seek audience with Minister of Energy and Power Development,  Advocate Fortune Chasi, if they really felt a pressing need to urgently review the prevailing fuel prices. The move was obviously calculated to push other retailers to respond by increasing the prices of other basic goods thereby causing chaos and mayhem in faithful fulfilment of the Chamisa war script.

In view of this background, how else can one explain the shameless attempt by some fuel industry players’ to usurp ZERA’s mandate and foist fuel price increases on Zimbabwean motorists, other thanto link it with Chamisa’s calls for war against President Mnangagwa and innocent Zimbabweans?

The abuse of the social media

The rogue fuel retailers realised that it would be a monumental task to convince other law-abiding dealers to follow their lead. They propagated contrived images of forecourt electronic price billboards, indicating fuel prices per litre in excess of RTGS$7 to convince other fuel dealers to follow their cue and instil alarm, panic and despondency among the public.

The aim was to create disaffection towards President Mnangagwa and Government, thereby propping up the political failure in the person of Chamisa as the only alternative. In their warped minds, the plotters were hoping to leverage this togarner support for Chamisa when he calls for his party’s protests which have come to be known for their violence and destruction. Fortunately, Zimbabweans are not as dumb as Chamisa and his clueless strategists. Most retailers refused to be dragged into the illegal fuel increase stunt and continue to sell the commodity at the gazetted prices of RTGS$4.97 per litre of petrol and RTGS$4.86 per litre of diesel.

The Chamisa war plot also included the deliberate propagation of false news around President Mnangagwa. The plotters also circulatedfalse and bizarre Whatsapp messages to the effect that the President was under house arrest without furnishing any meaningful details. They even dragged the normal round the clock police road blocks in some parts of Harare, which were characterised by some tent shelters, into their stupid plot and claimed that they were members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. A hare-brained scheme and its initiator are soon exposed. Contrary to the detractors’ claims, the President and the police road block teams went about discharging their constitutional mandates and, as the media carried out its informational role, it soon became clear that the public was being taken up a garden path by Chamisa and his followers in a desperate attempt to cause unnecessary alarm in the country.

Constitutional democracy

It is emerging that Chamisa’s calls for protests are not just his usual empty-brained calls to set in motion his party’s default strategy – demonstrations. Within a week of the calls the United States Embassy weighed in pontificating about Zimbabweans’ rights, including that of protesting as if citizens do not know their own Constitution.

“All citizens and their civic leaders, political parties, or civil society organizations have the constitutional right to peaceful assembly and association. All have important roles to play in contributing to Zimbabwe’s future and must be given the space and freedom to do so,” tweeted the US embassy in an unsolicited support for the MDC’s planned protests. In the rich Shona language and culture one nugget of wisdom says, “Kana bofurikatindinokurovarinengerineparakatsika(When a blind man threatens a fight he is standing on some unknown fall back solid ground).”

When the American representative spoke, it came to light as to which stone Chamisa and his retinue of followers are standing on when they threaten national protests. It became clear that they are playing his-master’s-voice to some bigger power somewhere. It is now evident that they are willing running dogs for the Americans who are dying to remove ZANU PF from power as part of its larger scheme to rid Southern Africa of all revolutionary political parties as they are viewed as a hindrance to its quest to exploit the region’s natural resources unhindered.

Chamisa, the MDC and the Americans should know that Zimbabwe is a sovereign country and no country should put its wart-covered hand into the southern African country’s affairs. Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy and Chamisa and his handlers should respect the electorate’s choice which culminated in President Mnangagwa’s election last year. Chamisa cannot claim to be a democrat and threaten national security and stability in a desperate attempt to gain the power which he was denied by the electorate because of his poor calibre as a leader. Despite being the watery lawyer that he is, Chamisa knows that the right to protest is not absolute. It can be taken away if the exercise thereof negatively affects other non-interested citizens.

Excitable youths should know that Chamisa himself never participates in demonstrations. They should therefore guard themselves against being abused by Chamisa for his own narrow and baseless political ends.

Way forward

Businesspeople are free to dabble in politics, but it becomes grossly wrong for them to use business aspects such as pricing against innocent citizens to advance illegal political enterprises such as removing a constitutionally-elected President from power for a dirty dollar. In other countries such as India Whatsapp group administrators face serious consequences for accommodating members who post falsehoods which have the potential to disturb national peace and security as happened in Zimbabwe this week.

Going forward, legislators could serve their country and its people by enacting the Indian type of cyber laws which ensure national peace, security and progress. Lawsshould be put in place to make organisers of protests such as Chamisa accountable and responsible for the resultant economic losses which have become the hallmark of the MDC protests over the years.