Re-engagement with the West a fallacy

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THERE is nothing as frustrating as bursting your lungs running to some desired point only to realise you have been going in circles and you are nowhere near it.
It is no different from the guinea pig that sprints in the ferris wheel only to note that it has not gone anywhere when the wheel stops, regardless of the energy it would have expended while at it.
This is the feeling one gets when reading the letter penned by the chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Bob Corker, writing to US Secretary of Treasury, Jacob Lew, urging the US to continue strangling financial streams to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s Treasury has been making frantic efforts to repay its obligations to the Bretton Woods institutions amounting to almost US$1,9 billion in a bid to open new lines of credit from the West which had intimated re-engagement.
This was despite the fact that in 2001, the US Congress signed into law the Zimbabwe Democracy Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA), a piece of legislation which was meant to alienate President Robert Mugabe from the people by making the ‘economy scream’, to quote Chester Crocker, former US Secretary of State for African Affairs.
The Zimbabwean Government has been breaking leg and limb to honour its obligations to the Bretton Woods institutions.
Last year Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Reserve Bank Governor John Mungudya unveiled a strategy aimed at clearing the ballooning debt owed to the African Development Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) at a meeting held in Lima, Peru.
In the past, the Bretton Woods institutions had told a ‘white’ lie saying the reason Zimbabwe was not qualifying for new lines of credit had been because the country was regarded as a bad debtor.
And it is ironic to think that the West posit themselves as people who can keep their word.
During the tenure of former Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono, a large sum of scarce foreign currency had been expended towards reducing the country’s external debt and this is not to say that these monies were excess funds – it was a time when the country’s economy was bleeding from Western-induced sanctions and poverty was biting hard.
And so far in 2016 the story is almost the same.
At a time when Government is battling with dwindling revenue, an ailing economy, a liquidity crisis and yet to be paid civil servants’ bonuses, impossible as it seems, Zimbabwe had come up with a strategy to clear the external debt overhang by May this year.
Such is the determination of Zimbabweans to honour their obligations.
But the West cannot fathom the idea of losing to a black nation in ‘impoverished’ Africa that has more lives than a cat and has the propensity to spring a surprise when all hope is lost.
The Corker letter confirms the US’ hypocritical nature when it comes to democracy.
Even if the Americans were to give Zimbabwe a list of 1 000 guidelines which we would follow to the letter, as long as the bottom line does not translate to a puppet regime, the country will always lose.
The West prescribes principles for Africa that are anathema to African philosophy and values of ubuntu, like homosexuality, as a precondition to aid.
The aim is to keep not only Zimbabwe but other African states in the same predicament, at the mercy of the West.
But should we bow down to Uncle Sam, the world’s self-appointed ‘big brother’, cap in armpit and begging bowl in hand as if we do not have our all-weather friends from the East?
Hatiroodze amai nekuda kwenhamo.
The Look East Policy has irrevocably demonstrated the redundancy of the West.
Projects such as the Kariba South expansion project, the digitisation of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, upgrading of the Victoria Falls Airport and dualisation of the country’s major highways are at various stages of development thanks to the partnerships with China.
During Chinese President Xi Jin Ping’s state visit last December, a total of 12 deals were signed, 10 government-to-government deals and two private sector driven deals.
Apart from the US$1,4 billion Hwange and US$98 million TelOne deals, an agreement for the construction of Zimbabwe’s new parliament building – at an unspecified cost but previously estimated at US$145 million, was also struck.
The two states also signed agreements ranging from economic and technical liaison, aviation co-operation, pharmaceuticals, donation of equipment for wildlife authorities, policy co-ordination for state-owned enterprises and taxation.
Two private sector agreements were also signed between International Business of China and China Africa Sunlight Energy on the development of coal and methane gas as well as the establishment of a 600MW thermal power station in Gwayi.
The other agreement was between AVM Africa Limited and Beijing Automobile Assembly.
Unlike the West, the East does not employ the carrot and stick concept and it ensures the partnerships provide a win-win situation for both parties.
As Zimbabwe makes efforts to re-engage the West, the question is: Will the West do the honourable thing and create a level playing field?

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