OPINIONBy Tichaona Zindoga
ON February 17, an organisation called European Interagency Security Forum (EISF) published a paper titled, “Zimbabwe: A Crisis Unfolding” that was grim in prognosis of Zimbabwe’s political situation, even though it was not totally unexpected both in form and content. EISF describes itself as an independent network of Security Focal Points who represent European-based humanitarian NGOs operating internationally, based in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
It will be useful to dig a little deeper as to ascertain its full identity.
According to information available, and according to its website, EISF began in 2006 as an initiative of security managers from several European NGOs, creating an informal alliance for information-sharing within a network of Security Focal Points, with 81 Members (as of January 2016).
EISF is currently funded by the Office for US Foreign Disaster Assistance, Department for International Development, UK, the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation and member contributions.
That said, the February 17 piece carries a lot of interesting submissions, most of them couched in alarmist and exaggerated tones.
Some of the information is downright wrong — like that Zimbabwe is facing the worst drought in 35 years and 4.4million people are starving — but reports like these are not only important in-so-far-as they tend to inform policy bases in Western capitals but, inadvertently communicate to us the rather dark wishes of these forces in relation to Zimbabwe.
According to EISF, Zimbabwe is facing an “imminent crisis that will require an international humanitarian response in the near to medium-term future, with appropriate security measures for humanitarian workers.”
This crisis is lodged in the main sectors of security, health, finance, fuel and logistics; and immigration.
The paper claims that amid factionalism in the ruling Zanu-PF party, the Army is divided and weakened.
“As its grip on power splits, the prospect of escalating civil disturbances and a potential military coup become more likely,” speculates EISF, forecasting a “rapid deterioration in national security”.
It says “healthcare in Zimbabwe has broken down”, necessitating “medical evacuation” of Zimbabweans to South Africa.
EISF notes that with shortage of money in the country and, “With the price of commodities falling in international markets, the government finds itself backed into a corner.”
Incredibly, we are told that 5000 people leave Zimbabwe each day into neighbouring countries.
“If large numbers of migrants return to a country unable to support them, then the stage appears to be set for a humanitarian crisis with the potential to destabilise both Zimbabwe and its neighbours,” speculates EISF, again providing for “evacuation” and “crisis response”.
But it is not finished.
It concludes: “Zimbabwe’s position appears grim. Zimbabwe has become internationally isolated due to its internal and external policies and has burnt its bridges with agencies such as the International Monetary Fund that could have offered possible lifelines. The humanitarian community should prepare to intervene and operate should Zimbabwe’s fragile systems finally collapse, in what will be a challenging and difficult environment to operate in.”
We have already noted above that this reports carries some disturbing smell regarding mainly its authorship and the intentions of its funders.
It is also safe to point out that it may have been churned out by some NGO hacks in Harare, all for the purposes of seeking to draw funding that is a source, albeit dwindling, of livelihoods for a good number of people.
It has to be acknowledged that Zimbabwe is facing problems, some of which are blown out of proportion in this and similar reports.
It has been pointed out that some of these predictions and scenario actually represent the wishes of Zimbabwe’s detractors and their parasitic organisations.
Read in that context, Zimbabwe cannot afford to give them the pleasure of seeing that doom crisis unfold.
There are several ways to do so.
The humanitarian systems have to command particular attention and happily Government embarked on the Command Agriculture programme that will address food security in the country.
Hunger is probably the most menacing of crises the country can face, a fact that is not being helped by inclement weather that has seen recurrent droughts over the years.
Hunger is also bad for national politics.
Command Agriculture is set to remove this spectre and so far, in its inaugural year, it has held immense promise, which can only manifest more in the coming year or two with smoother implementation.
Heavens have been generous with the rains this year and successive years of good rains mean that the country can avert a hunger-driven national crisis.
It also saves money, millions of which have been spent on imports.
Good agriculture is good for other economic sectors.
That the health sector in the country is in a bad state, marked by poor resource allocation and under-functioning systems, is hardly anything new.
The country is often wracked by crises such as cholera outbreaks.
However, these have remained under control and is it not particularly interesting that the biggest crisis, that of 2008, coincided with the height of Western regime change agenda in Zimbabwe as the US and UK conveniently blamed the about 4000 deaths on President Mugabe?
It will be recalled that at that particular time, the two super powers called for a military intervention in Zimbabwe under the dubious Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
The health sector in Zimbabwe is surely limping yet it is far from sleepwalking into another 2008 abyss.
In fact, on the balance of probabilities, nothing will.
Not even on the financial, fiscal or macroeconomic levels that gave us 3008 along with its record hyperinflation.
The bond notes that the Government introduced last November have given the economy a needful fillip and for all the prophecies of doom, they are just not about to unfurl.
Inflation is in check, even so in the economically cold negatives, and the black market is not as bustling towards burning the economy down as is often wished for, or feared.
Bond notes will stick for longer.
Fiscal and monetary authorities in the country are much wiser and prudent in the year 2017.
Pressures remain, and this cannot be airbrushed.
Yet they are not as terminal as to predicate a crisis.
Not in 2017, at least.
It will thus incumbent to point out that the single most factor with destabilising potential reposes in the arena of politics and watchers such as EISF view this as the ace in their chaos scenarios.
Needful also is it to point out that whole schools of thought have been developed over the years on the so-called “post-Mugabe” permutations.
The good Dr Ibbo Mandaza comes to mind.
A particular scenario is one which sees the behemoth of the security sector crumbling and turning guns on each other and plunging the country into civil war.
It is a very attractive proposition for an African country in “transition” — one which is so attractive to the extend that it fulfils some self-serving prophecies of doom and create a lot of jobs, in the NGO sector not least, including potential arms sales.
But the fact is that this is Southern Africa and this is Zimbabwe.
And without belabouring that point and prospect, it has to be remarked that a stable Zimbabwe is, and will remain possible.
In fact, the prospect of a unified and stable Zimbabwe under Zanu-PF is something that even some Western countries including, and in particular Britain, have come to accept going I to the future.
It is something the chaosists do not particularly like to hear.
It is interesting and disturbing that there is manifesting a streak even in Zanu PF that is angling for a chaos scenario, based of course on some narrow interests and ego problems.
However, it is a safe bet that chaosists will not prevail because of solid structures and systems that go beyond parochial and superfluous troubles and troublemakers.
In this sense, Zimbabwe will not give the luxury of chaos to its detractors, including some, mischief makers in the ruling party itself.