Friday, November 20, 2009

I give you the future of South Africa

This morning, while browsing the news, I became interested again in the dealings of South African companies doing business in Zimbabwe.

The article that started the thought process is “Army out as investors go in”

It is an article about the blood diamonds in Zimbabwe, and a small mention of Old Mutual made me remember previous blogs about companies of shame in Zimbabwe, and obviously the role Old Mutual has played and is still playing in Zimbabwe.

I started to read and research Old Mutual in Zimbabwe, and stumbled onto an article “Old Mutual has failed Zimbabweans in more ways that one”

You can go and read it yourself.

I got more interested in the comments to this specific article, and am going to share 2 of these comments with you.

The one is from a white Zimbabwean (Rhodesian) that tells a sorry tale of the decline and shame put onto the white population of Zimbabwe, and are the future of white South Africans.

A very apt quote from the comments is:
“One cannot alter the past. One can and should use the present to alter the future.”

The second comment I am going to share with you is the clarification the author of the article gave, that gave a glimpse into the suffering of black Zimbabweans.

To those that make and made the claim that what happened in Zimbabwe will never happen in South Africa, read these comments, and make sure that you understand the future of South Africa.

Comment number one

You presume too much.

For a start, judging by your stated age, you were not around in the time of Smith or his version of the Herald as a party campaign arm. Furthermore, and therefore, I have lived in Zimbabwe longer than you. Prior to that – not through choice – I lived in Rhodesia; castigated for being a pommie and not fighting in an unjust war. My family were caught in the Woolworth bomb blast which earned one of them a perforated eardrum and a meritorious medal, (somewhat disillusionary more to the Smith propaganda benefit). After Zimbabwe independance I apparently became a racist white, a Rhodesian, and an ex soldier (currently awaiting my Selous Scout promotion). My first wife worked at Mpilo hospital as a radiographer, and documented forensic x-ray evidence of the gukurahundi atrocities in Matebeleand.

Laterly, as a teacher in a private school, I apparently was either fostering an elitist white/ rhodesian culture or alternatively brainwashing scholars into an imperialist doctrine when it became apparent that 98% of the students were black (and included government ministers and ZANU-PF apologists).

I have in the past dealt extensively with the Zimpapers propaganda machinery by putting them on a strict paper rationing scheme according to our production capacity – much to their annoyance; and remained steadfast in their restrictions despite intervention and threats from numerous levels of ZANU-PF government heavies.

Marriage to my second wife earned me the distinction of outcast from the white community and her outcast from the black community, each labelled as traitors, turncoats etc etc. Our two sons fared no better and were looked upon with a mixture of disgust and shame by both sides. My two daughters from the previous marriage are Zimbabwe born also and steadfastedly count Zimbabwe as their home.

My mother-in-law in Nyanga North has had cattle appropriated by ZANU-PF activists, forced to attend ‘meetings’ and had her aid packages of seed, oil, salt and beans stolen or stopped by ZANU-PF. My sister-in-law, a teacher has suffered to no mean extent, as has her colleague teachers in rural areas – you’ll have heard, or read of what I allude to in the news.

I have witnessed firsthand injustices by diamond dealers in collusion with the police force in subverting the course of law and justice.

Currently, in UK, my family is in disruption as my wife is refused entry – whilst I and our two sons suffer largely due to UKBA scepticism resulting from the flood of so-called refugees from Zimbabwe who use this status all too often as an excuse to sit in the UK for the sake of the latest cell phone and Stella Artois. Currently notching up two years plus of court cases and weekly consultations with lawyers and MP’s.

Do not try to shoot me down by presupposing that I am unaware of the Zimbabwe situation and it’s problems and the faults at grass root level by asking leading questions about my visiting Highfields, which you obviously hoped I could not equate with. I lived in Chikanga and it environs for 7 years and am well aware of the community structures and its problems and sentiments.

This is just the tip of the ice berg. There is much more – I am disinclined to justify my status further.

As for your 50c balance at Standard Bank – for all we know you only had 75c to start with. Besides, your lifestyle may not be conducive to good budgeting.

As an IT professional, (and teacher of such to many of your age) I would not consider OM’s endeavours in an internet cafe as a charity, when it is used in the main for facebook and downloading illegal Akon and Soulja Boy mp3s.

I am not of a pension age – I just saw good sense in not pouring more good money after bad, and cashed in the policy. The ‘pension’ was part of the redundancy remuneration after the company I worked for, a farmers’ co-operative, went bust, largely due to the loss of the viability of our farmer customers due to the land distribution exercise.

Comment number two

I feel it is important to answer you as you seem to be confused, angry and lost. Your generation of Zimbabweans stand today with few role models of courage and ethical action and so that is why more often than not when I ask people why they stand by and watch as evil is meted out, they answer me, “What can I do? I am alone. I am not the one.” This is exactly the attitude that helps keep tyrants in power.

I have heard many South African activists, people who fought in their own liberation struggle, complaining about the lack of courage amongst Zimbabweans, and who cannot understand why the people of Zimbabwe have never taken to the streets to demand change. They shake their heads in despair over the passivity of the average Zimbabwean. Yes, it is terrifying to stand against the enormous evil of the Mugabe created monster, but without unity of purpose we will never defeat that monster.

Please don’t get me wrong, I am not for one second advocating violence, but imagine if every Zimbabwean were to get off his and her bum, walk together, like was done in Belgrade, to demand the changes so desperately needed in our nation.

There are a few points you made that have to be addressed directly as you seem to have missed the point of what I wrote.

1. You wrote, “This makes me so sad. When people can’t get the change they want immediately they lose sight and begin to attack anyone or everyone.”

First of all change is long overdue in this country of ours, and I do agree that we must always be practical, change is never immediate it takes time to build a solid house, “Rome was not built in a day”. I am not advocating for a violent or irresponsible take over of power, but for a playing field in Zimbabwe that is free and FAIR.

Yes, it is far easier to attack Old Mutual than to get on the street and march for change, but that is not going to happen as remember what I said the average Zimbabwean holds firm to the maxim, “I am not the one.” So I signed the petition because I felt I had to DO something, and not sit around waiting for someone to do for me.

But more important is what I believe is the right way for OM to handle their investment in Zimpapers, and as I said, “One would think that the ethical thing for the Chairman of Old Mutual Zimbabwe to do would be not to prevaricate, but to demand that Old Mutual take up their full right to have a seat on Zimpapers board and thereby input corporate responsibility into the policies guiding the running of the company.”

I don’t want OM to close, but I do want them to act responsibly and in accordance with their own policy. OM Group Chief Executive, Julian Roberts, states on their website, “Corporate responsibility is now one of the core components of our Group strategy. This strategy is applicable across the Group and each business unit reports on their performance against it.” This company has to be measured by its own yardstick.

2. You wrote, “I never heard you when they had stock in the Rhodesian paper under SMITH no-one protested then.”

To a degree you are right, but do not forget the thousands of people who did stand up to Smith, in and outside Zimbabwe – external sanctions eventually brought collapse here. Old Mutual was possibly not criticised for their role during the Rhodesian days as far as I know, but old wrongs don’t make a right and they should not use the excuse that they bought these shares in the times of the Rhodesian regime. In fact, I would like an answer from OM to my more immediate question: “does that mean Old Mutual has a historical policy of supporting hate speech and giving voice to governments that oppress their own people?” Does Mayor Masunda think it is OK to make money (or in this case lose his shareholders’ money) from an organisation that daily denies the rights of the people of Zimbabwe to free speech?

3. You make it clear that you are angry about an attack against OM because you believe they are charitable and community minded.

First of all if a man gives charity to an orphan, but goes home and beats his own children is his brutality deleted by his charity? Or should he be congratulated for his charity and held accountable for his brutality? Again Kudzai, nobody is asking OM to shut down or stop their community based activities. If you looked at the petition you would understand that Passop are not advocating for OM to close, but that they desist from being part of an organisation that is supporting a regime bent on destroying its own people. Really, you must admit that neither the Herald nor the Chronicle are newspapers that support democracy.

4. You ask, “Must I stop paying my taxes because it goes to the government and therefore members of ZANU PF?” Had you asked me that question before the inception of the GNU, I would have shouted, “YES!” But that time is gone and as it stands things are far more complicated.

A more significant question to you Kudzai is, should our public servants, the people who are paid by our tax money, be allowed to squander that money on fancy cars and ridiculous expense accounts, regardless of their political affiliation? Are you happy to pay ghost workers? Are you satisfied that Gono admitted to funding the youth brigades for their campaign of violence last year? Do you think it is acceptable that your tax money pays for the charter of a private jet to ferry Mugabe and 60 of his apologists and pay for their luxury 5 star hotels – all to attend the United Nations food security conference where he rants against the west, blaming them for the failure of so called “land reform”?

As tax payers you and I have the right to say no. It is also our responsibility to act when we know something is wrong.

5. You ask about pensions.

Of course you must invest in your old age. Do it soon, for you never know what life has in stock. Please remember I stated that I do understand that OM were also victims of the mismanaged Zimbabwean economy. But OM now need to revisit their pay out policies, take some of their profits and give them back to the people who believed that their years of hard work and investment in OM would mean they would be looked after in their golden years.

A word of warning to you and your friends Kudzai, beware of the NSSA, the greatest scam of all. If you go back in the archives of Sokwanele you will see they wrote about the performance of this organisation and it is high time they too were made accountable. I do not know anyone who can live on the pension pay outs from this government run scheme.

6. And now the banks…

Of course it is not the banks themselves to blame, although many, if not all of them, need to revise their own policies, ethics and efficiency. The blame for the fact that your savings have been eroded to a fraction of their original value lies squarely on the shoulders of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Gideon Gono being the chief architect for the pathetic state of our economy. I would not expect you to rail against your bank for your loss of savings, and believe me I know exactly how you feel, but I do think that the blame should be levelled at the right abusers.
The reason so many Zimbabweans of all ages are impoverished is because we have allowed ZanuPf to carry on.

So, let’s have a quick look at a layman’s view of the policies and practices put in place by RBZ for exporting companies over the past few years, remebering that these are the companies that have brought the desperately needed foreign reserves into Zimbabwe:
Companies that exported goods, from manufactured products to gold, had to surrender between 25-45% of their hard earned foreign currency to the RBZ under the export retention scheme.

The percentage taken by RBZ was repaid to the exporter in Z$ at the ridiculous bank rate. So in effect, many companies were forced to shut down or retrench staff as they lost their viability as a result of RBZ carrying out ‘theft by conversion’. I wonder where all this forex went to.

Then last year in the run up to the elections many of the companies who still survived rape by the RBZ, as well as most NGO’s, had their Foreign Currency Accounts “raided” by Gono to finance the violent and fraudulent 2008 elections. Some of the funds were repaid, but to date some are still not.

Then in February of this year our economy was dollarized. So, in a quick slash of a pen the companies and individuals who held Z$ in their bank accounts suddenly discovered their savings were worthless as Z$ were no longer legal tender.

Minister Biti recently said that the Z$ in question have not yet been repaid via the banks, because his ministry is still investigating the many cases of people enriching themselves through the “burning of money”, which was so prevalent during the days of soaring inflation and black market currency dealing. The system of burning was used by RBZ itself to expand its forex and through access to cheap forex Zpf fat cats were able to become rich very, very quick.

I am so glad that OM has benefited our communities through the provison of internet cafes and that young Zimbabweans like yourself are able to read the real news on the internet. Rather than being angry with me for calling for accountability, use your position as a well educated and literate Zimbabwean to speed up the process of change. The next time (and hopefully there will not be a next time) you witness the horror of the Zanu regime like you did in Mbare, use your telephone, or borrow one, to take a picture. Send it to Sokwanele to make sure that the Zanu bullies cannot hide behind their lies. Make them accountable.

Like you Kudazi, I LIVE IN ZIMBABWE. I care about what happens and most important of all I care about the principles of truth and justice. For too long the Zimbabwe Government has operated without accountability and there are many companies and individuals who take their lead from Zanu. You hold the torch that will be passed to the next generation, use your voice, use your skills to make sure that we are not the victims of a violent and deceitful system.

1 Opinion(s):

Exzanian said...

The first comment makes a lot of sense and it is clear this person has first hand knowledge of the rise of Zanu PF thuggery and black supremacy. It is worrying that the ANC lauds Zanu PF and supports them as so called "liberators"