Letter to the President: Don’t commit grave political mistakes, Your Excellence

If you hope, Sir, to end sanctions in a confrontational manner, you will, far from your engagement and reengagement motif, commit a grave political mistake.

Dear Mr President

YOUR Excellency, I wish to congratulate you for Zimbabwe’s achievement in March, when the country was named as Africa’s third happiest country.

This is despite the challenges we face.

Commenting on the achievement, one Zimbabwean remarked; “We might be getting no income, but muZimbabwe munofarwa! Chinyika chinofarwa ichi (We might be facing financial hardships. But in Zimbabwe, we find joy".)

This remark encapsulates the Zimbabwean spirit. Our people are resilient. Since you assumed office in 2018, you have said you are a ‘listening President’.

You have said 'the voice of the people is the voice of God'. You promised to hit the ground running, as you embarked on the engagement and re-engagement drive, which raised people’s expectations.

However, the first one hundred days of your tenure did not live up to Zimbabweans’ expectations. Despite announcing important programmes like the Kgalema Motlanthe Commission in response to the tragic events of August 2018, the path forward has been fraught with challenges.

You tried to engage constitutional commissions like the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission. You made strides in your efforts to compensate commercial white farmers, who lost their land during violent land grabs from 2000. 

Your efforts to address historical injustices are commendable. However, there are still divisions within your party — Zanu PF. Rival factions are viewing you through different lenses. Your Excellency, you established an ideological school, the Herbert Chitepo School of Ideology, to unify party members under a common vision, yet challenges persist.

Zanu PF has been accused of having a hand in weakening the opposition.

Some say the pastors you associate with are fake. Is it true?

Well, my letter is based on events in the last few months. I saw a clip where you were saying the United States thought you would thank them for removing comprehensive sanctions. You said you would not do so because the remaining targeted sanctions were still illegal.

It is possible that as a result of political advice, you saw it fit to respond.

If you hope, Sir, to end sanctions in a confrontational manner, you will, far from your engagement and reengagement motif, commit a grave political mistake.

Your predecessor, the late former president Robert Mugabe, failed to deal with this issue. You will remember he died in ‘splendid isolation’.

Mugabe, however, had the gift of persuasion. You remained a moderate when you did not take farms in the Midlands during the land reform.

The only problem confronting Zimbabwe is not oligarchic ownership, western imperialism and unpatriotic citizenry.

The problem is the absence of commitment to God, caused by political use of the church during election time.

The problem is the fake pastors who promise you peace when there is no peace.

It is also religious syncretism, where God competes with shrines.

The problem is religious capitalism, where the clergy coalesce around you to safeguard their property while they deny God.

Your Excellency, it is clear that three members of the Presidium have been sanctioned. This taints Zimbabwe’s political history, for Zimbabwe’s sovereignty cannot be safeguarded without building bridges.

Admittedly, Zanu PF has a political ideology of non-interventionism and anti-imperialism.

We saw pastors signing the anti-sanction petition. Sadly, these were only indigenous church leaders who did not have the time to preach to you why sanctions hurt Zimbabwe’s sovereignty.

Mr President, sanctions must not result in increased corruption and criminality in Zimbabwe. We know sanctions may strengthen authoritarianism.

Resources can be diverted. Human rights violations may increase. Political factions may be strengthened. A lot of harmful effects may be felt by neighbouring states, such as South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, and Zambia.

We saw in February that aid workers from the United States (US) were deported days after the targeted sanctions were imposed. What is it that the US aid workers were denied from inspecting?

I see one prominent businessman has been placed under targeted sanctions.

Will we see the increased role of the state in the economy? Will you allow Sir, yourself to continue witnessing the enhanced status of targeted individuals?

Mr President, sanctions are prohibition norms that create powerful incentives for evasion. Will you choose evasion?

This would mean black market contractors will continue to enjoy safe havens under your government.

Disguises of identity will continue through companies fronted by powerful individuals in procurement and philanthropy. We see rich sub-elites fronting corruption under the so-called ‘Mbinga’ tag.

What will happen to informal value transfer systems considering that illicit financial flows are also important.

Yes, we have the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), Zimbabwe Republic Police, Financial Intelligence Unit, Ministry of Finance, and your office.

But we also saw the hardworking John Makamure from Zacc being silenced.

Mr President, sanctions have a coping mechanism. Others engage in strengthened diplomacy.

I know you have a state constitution with foreign policy principles that value non-interventionism, international law and regionalism.

I read the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website and see your stance on friends and historical enemies.

We do not have stockpiled supplies to make the nation happy. We cannot be good on import substitution because we have bad taxes.

We pulled out of Kazungula but now we are fighting with Botswana over a square border peg. Who advised your government to pull out of the Kazungula project?

Mr President, I know targeted sanctions in Zimbabwe are unilateral. They are not supported by the African Union, European Union, Sadc, or the United Nations.

These are not coordinated multilaterally as was the case with Iran and North Korea (DPRK).

I think unilateral sanctions are a litmus test on your ‘production, production and productivity’ mantra and re-engagement motif. You promised Zimbabweans that you were going to change the rules and incline towards progressive democracy.

Rather than just saying the sanctions are illegal in public, Sir, tell us what is happening behind the scenes with the US.

Has someone taken the US to the International Court of Justice or any special tribunal on this matter?

Mr President, in conclusion, the leader of the opposition, who  resigned in January is not supporting AFM youths. Jesus was advised to silence his disciples.

But he said even if he wanted to; angels would make them sing. Maybe let me start with John the Baptist. John said that God will raise stones to worship him.

Please Sir, I know you have worn garments and uniforms of many churches during election campaigns.

But Sir, do not let God raise stones in Zimbabwe. It is easy for you to deal with an opposition where you can identify some people.

If Zanu PF destroys the opposition, then an ad hoc hypothesis is certain: the stones that are unidentifiable will emerge soon.

I wish the nation of Zimbabwe well, in the name of the Mighty one mentioned in the constitution.

Your fellow citizen,

Sharon Hofisi

NB: This marks the conclusion of our two-month exchange of letters. Our weekly column will recommence on July 5, inviting fellow citizens to engage and actively participate in our collective journey towards thought leadership and nation-building endeavours.


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