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Eric Bloch Column

Pot calling the kettle black

SMARTING from the outspoken attack by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, at the EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon upon Zimbabwe’s political hierarchy, that hierarchy and its

highly developed, albeit intentionally misguided propaganda machine, have responded vituperatively.

Seeking the most insulting words it could possibly find, it alleged that the German Chancellor was a Nazi. Not only was such an allegation specious and unfounded in the extreme, and inevitably most hurtful, but it smacked of “the pot calling the kettle black”.

The Nazi regime of 1933 to 1945 was one which was devoid of any regard or respect for human rights, property rights, democracy or justice.

It was one which unreservedly pursued acts of genocide, unhesitatingly enforced its will with cruelty, torture and total disregard for any fundamental rights of man.

It brought about the demise of 12 million innocent people, subjected many millions more to imprisonment in concentration camps, press-ganged many into being medical experimentation guinea pigs, and much else.

In pronounced contradistinction, the Germany of today is a total democracy, has an absolute respect for human and property rights, ensures unreserved justice for all, interacts positively, constructively and to reciprocal benefit, with all of the international community, save and except only for those who do not espouse similar principles, and is a very major development and humanitarian aid contributor to the world’s under-developed and developing countries, and the needy.

On the other hand, Zimbabwe is a country which triggered the ruthless deaths of thousands in the genocidal Ghurukundu operations in Matabeleland in the mid-1980s, vast misery and suffering in Operation Murambatsvina, less than three years ago, has imprisoned many without trial for extended periods, has used extreme cruelty in effecting arrests, and tortured many after arrest. And that is a country that has the temerity to unjustly dub another a Nazi!

Undoubtedly, the reality is that the truth hurts, and therefore the Zimbabwean political regime writhed in agony when Angel Markel (and other EU leaders) called upon Zimbabwe to change its ways, and that agony prompted the vitriolic attack upon Chancellor Merkel by Zimbabwe’s propaganda machine. And there lies another similarity between the Zimbabwe of today and the Germany under the Nazi rulership of seven decades ago.

When Hitler came to power, he appointed Joseph Goebbels as minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

Goebbels (according to very many sources, including the renowned Encyclopedia Britannica) lacked any moral code, save and except only for that of nihilist, without regard for truth or principle.

He unreservedly used state-controlled media in determined endeavours to brainwash the German populace. In particular, Goebbels firmly believed that if anything was repeated sufficiently often it would ultimately be believed.

There is absolutely no doubt that the Zimbabwean government and its propaganda machine believes likewise. Year after year, the Zimbabwean population, and the world at large, are told that the land reform programme is completed, and a great success.

Facts such as that agricultural production is at less than a third of that of seven years ago, and that Zimbabwe has had to import hundreds of thousands of tonnes of food, as against it previously supplying the region, are conveniently ignored.

So too are the facts that a vast number of recipients of the land do not endeavour to use it, and many others abuse it.

No regard is had to previous genuine ownership rights, or to bilateral investment protection agreements. But all are expected to believe that the land reform has been successfully achieved!

As if this does not suffice, the state-controlled radio services now triumphantly proclaim, almost half-hourly, that 2007/8 will be the “Mother of Agricultural Seasons”, notwithstanding the heretofore failure of much of the land reform programme, and the inadequate timeous availability of inputs.

In like manner, government continuously claims that save for drought impacts upon agriculture (mainly non-existent or minimal), all Zimbabwe’s economic ills are due to the evil machinations of Western countries, led by Britain, determined upon recolonisation of Zimbabwe and rigid, permanent control of all under-developed and developing countries.

To give credibility to those bogus contentions, the principal cause of the economic ills is claimed to be “illegal international sanctions”. What absolute, unadulterated nonsense!

As previously stated in this column, if sanctions exist, they would not be “illegal”, for any country has a right to choose which countries it will trade with, invest in, and give funding support to, and no law precludes it doing so.

Furthermore, with the sole exception of the Zimbabwe Democracy Act of the United States, which requires the US to veto funding support to Zimbabwe by international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), no economic sanctions have been imposed upon Zimbabwe by any country.

The sole sanctions have been travel, investment and educational constraints upon Zanu PF hierarchy and their families (albeit that children are being unjustly victimised for the offences of their parents). No other sanctions exist.

The Zimbabwean government contends otherwise, citing the absence of balance of payments support from the IMF, of development funding from international bodies, and of lines of credit from the world banking community, and others. The reality is that such funding is not forthcoming as an act of sanctions, but because Zimbabwe is perceived as a horrendously great credit risk.

On the open admission of Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance, Senator Samuel Mumbengegwi, when he delivered his 2008 national budget statement, Zimbabwe’s external debt amounts to US$4,1 billion. Of that amount, almost 66%, being US$2,7 billion is in arrears!

In addition, Zimbabwe has an economy on the threshold of total collapse. For at least the last five years it has had negative economic growth. Its projected fiscal deficit is 11% of GDP. Inflation has soared upwards, exceeding 20 000%. Businesses are closing down, and others down-sizing. The infrastructure is derelict and unable to service national needs.

Such an economy cannot fund settlement of its arrear debts, let alone fund new ones, and therefore none but the insane or very profoundly philanthropic, would make funding available. Not doing so is not sanctions, but normal financial prudency.

However, by constant Goebbels’ like repetition of its contentions that there are sanctions, government strives to convince the populace thereof so as to deflect attention from its own culpability.

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