Black mar­ket drag­net tar­gets big­wigs

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Kuda Bwititi Chief Re­porter

PRES­I­DENT Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa will in­voke the Pres­i­den­tial Pow­ers (Tem­po­rary Mea­sures) Act to in­tro­duce tough reg­u­la­tions to bring cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tors to book.

In his weekly The Sun­day Mail col­umn, the Head of State and Gov­ern­ment said it was in­con­ceiv­able that ram­pant black mar­ket ac­tiv­i­ties were thriv­ing with­out com­plic­ity of high-rank­ing State of­fi­cials.

In­for­ma­tion gath­ered so far, he said, in­di­cated that “an in­tri­cate net­work of cur­rency spec­u­la­tors mostly in high places and in places of trust”.

Fur­ther, a po­lice spokesper­son in­formed this pub­li­ca­tion that they had made ar­rests of il­le­gal cur­rency deal­ers who were linked to prom­i­nent peo­ple, and would soon make the find­ings of their in­ves­ti­ga­tions pub­lic.

In his col­umn, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa said: “Con­sid­er­ing that more than $9 bil­lion is pass­ing through dif­fer­ent elec­tronic plat­forms and leav­ing an ‘elec­tronic trail’, it is in­con­ceiv­able that th­ese il­licit trans­ac­tions have and can ever go on un­de­tected or un­no­ticed. It sim­ply can­not be.”

Spec­u­la­tive ac­tiv­i­ties, es­pe­cially il­le­gal for­eign cur­rency trad­ing, have caused a marked de­pre­ci­a­tion of bond notes and RTGS bal­ances against the United States dol­lar, trig­ger­ing hikes in the prices of ba­sic com­modi­ties, panic-buy­ing and prod­uct short­ages.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa re­vealed he had tasked his top le­gal ad­vi­sors to craft com­pre­hen­sive leg­is­la­tion to plug loop­holes that al­lowed black mar­ke­teers to op­er­ate with im­punity.

“Cur­rently, we have no leg­is­la­tion to deal with cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tors. We there­fore need ur­gent and ro­bust mea­sures to deal with this fi­nan­cial men­ace.

“Ac­cord­ingly, I have now in­structed the Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, Le­gal and Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs to work closely and ex­pe­di­tiously with the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral in or­der to pro­duce a new set of reg­u­la­tions which will be pro­mul­gated un­der tem­po­rary law-mak­ing pow­ers which I, as Pres­i­dent, am al­lowed by the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“Th­ese reg­u­la­tions will re­main in force for a statu­tory pe­riod of six months, dur­ing which a Bill will have to be pro­cessed for con­sid­er­a­tion by our Leg­is­la­tors,” Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa said.

The new law will be in line with in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices, where sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions are au­to­mat­i­cally flagged and in­ves­ti­gated.

Ju­ris­dic­tions such as the United States also trace if such trans­ac­tions are be­ing taxed.

In a “cash-lite” econ­omy like Zim­babwe’s, such a drag­net would quickly dredge spec­u­la­tors as most trans­ac­tions are e-based. Yes­ter­day, Zim­babwe Repub­lic Po­lice spokesper­son As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Paul Ny­ati said they had made ar­rests in con­nec­tion with il­le­gal cur­rency trad­ing linked to big­wigs.

“We can con­firm that we have made some ar­rests with re­gards to some of the prom­i­nent peo­ple who are be­hind the il­le­gal cur­rency deals.

“You are aware of the Gov­ern­ment po­si­tion to deal with such deals which are caus­ing eco­nomic dam­age to the coun­try. Very soon, we are go­ing to re­lease full de­tails of some of th­ese cul­prits and the na­ture of the crimes,” he said.

At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Ad­vo­cate Prince Machaya added: “Some time at the end of last year we at­tempted to ad­dress it through a Statu­tory In­stru­ment that we in­tro­duced, read to­gether with the Ex­change Con­trol Act.”

Statu­tory In­stru­ment 122A of 2017 em­pow­ers po­lice to seize money from peo­ple sus­pected of il­le­gal cur­rency deal­ings.

Part of the SI reads: “In re­la­tion to any deal­ing in cur­rency, an au­tho­rised of­fi­cer or a po­lice of­fi­cer act­ing to en­force any or­der (a) may, for the pur­pose of hold­ing the cur­rency as an ex­hibit in a sub­se­quent prose­cu­tion, seize any cur­rency upon a rea­son­able sus­pi­cion that the pos­ses­sor thereof is deal­ing in it un­law­fully, that is, in con­tra­ven­tion of any or­der or any pro­vi­sion of the Act or th­ese reg­u­la­tions by virtue of which the or­der is made.”

Lawyer Mr Jonathan Samkange ac­cused mone­tary au­thor­i­ties of sleep­ing on duty by fail­ing to de­tect sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions.

“It is well within the man­date of the (Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe) to track all sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions, or at least watch over the banks so that they can fol­low up on such trans­ac­tions.

“The law em­pow­ers them to have such over­sight. It ap­pears that they are not do­ing so and the ques­tion that has to be asked is why are they not?

“It’s the norm across the world for any huge trans­ac­tions to be ac­counted for. For ex­am­ple, I have a daugh­ter who is at uni­ver­sity in a for­eign coun­try and when­ever I pay fees for her, I have to jus­tify such a trans­ac­tion.

“If other coun­tries can raise alarm on such trans­ac­tions, why do our mone­tary au­thor­i­ties choose to re­main quiet when mil­lions of dol­lars are moved every day?” he ques­tioned.

LAST Thurs­day, Dr Ibbo Man­daza’s Sapes Trust hosted Zen­zele Ndlovu’s once-upon-a-time doc­u­men­tary. The Guku­rahundi film took its tour to the cap­i­tal af­ter its pre­mier in Bu­l­awayo some weeks back.

With the pro­lif­er­ate lib­er­ties defin­ing the char­ac­ter of the Sec­ond Repub­lic un­der Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa, I see the doc­u­men­tary be­ing taken to every cor­ner of Zim­babwe.

In the not so wildest of an­tic­i­pa­tions, I fore­see the doc­u­men­tary be­ing screened by our na­tional broad­caster. Yes, our own ZTV! You heard me right. Who in the wildest of our dreams ever thought that some­day we would watch pro­ceed­ings of a court con­tes­ta­tion on a “rigged elec­tion”?

But on the 22nd of Au­gust it hap­pened. And alas, Sec­tion 27 of Posa was re­pealed.

Th­ese are steps in the right di­rec­tion as far as the State’s grant­ing of lib­er­ties to cit­i­zens is con­cerned.

It’s a clear and prag­matic in­di­ca­tion of a shift from nar­row con­struc­tions of na­tion­hood char­ac­terised by ar­rest­ing civil lib­er­ties.

I de­lib­er­ately men­tioned Sapes Trust in the in­tro­duc­tion of be­cause a few years back no one would not dare host di­a­logue on Guku­rahundi mat­ter.

In 2010, Owen Maseko — a Bu­l­awayo-based vis­ual artist was in­car­cer­ated for his Guku­rahundi Ex­hi­bi­tion. Like­wise, Bhekimusa Moyo had his Guku­rahundi play sus­pended from a live show­case at the Gwanda Fes­ti­val in 2015. To­day we are wak­ing up to a Gov­ern­ment that af­fords Zim­bab­weans op­por­tu­nity for ret­ro­spec­tive sur­veil­lance un­der the aus­pices of the able Na­tional Peace and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion (NPRC).

As a happy in­di­ca­tor ser­e­nad­ing this mem­ory of the fu­ture, Zen­zele Nde­bele’s “Guku­rahundi: 36 Years Later” at­tracted to its au­di­ence NPRC Chair Re­tired Jus­tice Nare and some of his com­mis­sion­ers.

Of course, there are those who ar­gue that the pub­lic show­case of this film should not be ex­ces­sively ac­cen­tu­ated as it is a nor­malcy and is not worth cel­e­brat­ing.

To the con­trary, I ar­gue that this is a hall­mark achieve­ment in our demo­cratic growth, which Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa has em­pha­sised as part of his trans­for­ma­tive agenda.

This serves as a mea­sure Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s fine state­craft as a demo­crat. This is not to say Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s pre­de­ces­sor out-rightly failed to re­con­struct the na­tion from the cri­sis that gave birth to Guku­rahundi.

The Unity Ac­cord of 1987 ex­on­er­ates him as a na­tion builder who re­pented from a “mo­ment of mad­ness” and found ra­tio­nale in re­viv­ing the creed of na­tion­al­ism which was reignited in Novem­ber 2017 when the peo­ple re­stored a legacy whose per­pe­tu­ity was un­der siege.

The Sec­ond Repub­lic is clearly ex­ud­ing new light at the end of an ar­bi­trary tun­nel, and those taken cap­tive by the iron fisted tyranny of old would con­cede that the time for progress is here.

Cer­tainly there is now fer­tile ground for pro­duc­ing fresh ideas and redefin­ing the fu­ture of a re­branded im­pe­tus to na­tion­hood.

Our cre­ative minds must be at the fore of an­gling that imag­ined re­con­struc­tion of the fu­ture un­der the re­cast lead­er­ship style and the new ar­chi­tec­ture of our demo­cratic land­scape.

This is firmly grounded on the idea of “the na­tion as an imag­ined com­mu­nity” which is pro­fessed to be the cre­ative ge­nius of men and women of let­ters.

Hence Hadebe (2018) re­vis­its Hux­ley’s (1959:50) anal­y­sis of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween lit­er­a­ture and the na­tion: “Na­tions are to a very large ex­tent in­vented by their po­ets and nov­el­ists.”

Writ­ers “play a role that is con­firm­ing of the na­tion as a po­lit­i­cal or cul­tural en­tity, (em­pha­sis­ing) its unique­ness and its right to a state of its own”.

Un­der­stand­ably, Corse (1997:24) states that “na­tional lit­er­a­tures have be­come es­sen­tial char­ac­ter­is­tics of a na­tion-state”.

In ad­di­tion to the pos­i­tive po­ten­tial con­tri­bu­tion of lit­er­a­ture to the na­tion (like iden­tity cre­ation, na­tional con­scious­ness, shared mem­ory and loy­alty), “lit­er­a­ture can be used to de­con­struct, or even sub­vert, a na­tional project in favour of an al­ter­na­tive . . .” (Suleiman 2016:2)

The toxic na­tion­al­ism of re­press­ing and re­strict­ing ac­cess of “truth to power” should be stuck in our past and not in the fu­ture.

We need to nav­i­gate to­wards be­ing gen­uinely post-colo­nial and the Gov­ern­ment’s cor­dial re­cep­tive­ness to di­a­logue on con­tested no­tions of power and na­tion­hood is a char­ac­ter­is­tic of our imag­ined fu­ture.

In Homi Bhabha’s (1989) per­spec­tive, this pro­vides a build­ing block for re-mem­ber­ing — a process he ar­tic­u­lates as “. . . putting to­gether of the dis­mem­bered past to make sense of the trauma of the present”.

Hav­ing been a sov­er­eign post-colo­nial state for close to four decades, were we dis­mem­bered?

In 2016, be­fore any­one ever imag­ined that to­day we will be in a Sec­ond Repub­lic, Pro­fes­sor Ng­wabi Bhebe, Ter­ence Mashin­gaidze & Ger­ald Mazarire di­ag­nosed the fault lines of our na­tional ques­tion:

“. . . achiev­ing con­sen­sus on how com­mu­ni­ties should heal and rec­on­cile seems dif­fi­cult to achieve in most so­ci­eties in tran­si­tion.

“Of­ten times, such so­ci­eties con­front a com­plex mix­ture of di­ver­gent po­lit­i­cal ideals, di­vided mem­o­ries, con­flict eth­nic and po­lit­i­cal his­to­ries, con­test­ing def­i­ni­tions of po­lit­i­cal harm and vic­tim­hood and le­gal loop­holes . . .

“The in­ter­min­gling of the afore­men­tioned in­con­gru­ent in­ter­ests to­wards na­tional heal­ing frus­trates the es­tab­lish­ment of com­pre­hen­sive na­tional peace-build­ing projects and all-in­clu­sive state-mak­ing.”

In mir­ror­ing this past di­vid­ed­ness of a peo­ple and a na­tion, we need to go be guided by both pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives of the past to learn and un­learn our course into the fu­ture.

One of the mis­takes we made, as ar­gued by Sa­belo Ndlovu-Gat­sheni (2009), was to make a State in­stead of a na­tion and a peo­ple.

“. . . the na­tional project is in no way a de­nial of the im­por­tance of African na­tion­al­ism and the sig­nif­i­cance of the African na­tional project it­self.

“Far from it, the main pur­pose is to in­ter­ro­gate the of­ten taken for granted ques­tion of the mak­ing of Africans in gen­eral, and Zim­bab­weans in par­tic­u­lar, as a col­lec­tiv­ity in pur­suit of a po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural ob­jec­tive.”

Hence the need to de­part from a na­tion­al­ism that was se­lec­tively pro­gres­sive.

In his prog­no­sis, Ndlovu-Gat­sheni so­lic­its an on­to­log­i­cal cre­ation of a na­tion — not that which is com­mem­o­ra­tive and not in­clu­sive, yet lim­ited to nar­row texts of pro­pa­ganda de­cap­i­ta­tion of dis­sent.

On that note, Ndlovu-Gat­sheni states that early con­struc­tions of mem­ory build­ing were meant “to prob­lema­tise those is­sues taken for granted by ‘praise-texts’ in their in­ter­ro­ga­tion of the com­plex his­tor­i­cal and po­lit­i­cal pro­cesses of iden­tity-mak­ing and for­ma­tion”.

Ndlovu-Gat­sheni, how­ever, stresses that “. . . his­to­ri­ans and jour­nal­ists wed­ded into cel­e­bra­tory ap­proaches sim­plis­ti­cally saw the achieve­ment of po­lit­i­cal in­de­pen­dence as coter­mi­nous with the mak­ing of Africans as cit­i­zens. They for­got the com­mon Ital­ian na­tion­al­ist mes­sage: ‘We have made Italy. Now We Must Make Ital­ians.’”

The in­trin­sic faults in the on­tol­ogy and epis­te­mol­ogy of na­tion­al­ism in the past have stag­nated the dream of re­al­is­ing how we can re­con­struct the past and reimag­ine the fu­ture.

This could be a time for us to take ad­van­tage of the new state spon­sored lib­er­ties to cre­ate Zim­bab­weans.

Con­clu­sively, Zim­bab­weans must now ex­ist.

As long the Sec­ond Repub­lic lives, the tribe, ne­po­tism and par­ti­san po­lar­i­sa­tion must die.

Cur­rent laws em­power po­lice to seize money from peo­ple sus­pected of il­le­gal cur­rency deal­ings.

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