Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Mudenge misses the irony of ZanuPF’s waywardness

Editor’s Desk: Mudenge misses the irony of Zanu PF’s waywardness

Sunday, 30 January 2011 18:33

By Nevanji Madanhire

When Stan Mudenge joined fulltime politics a fellow academic rued the day;
he was quoted saying: “We have lost Mudenge the scholar; now what we have is
Mudenge the politician.”

Mudenge became a high-flying politician serving the Zimbabwean government
first at the powerful Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1995-2005) and then at
the Ministry of Higher Education, a position he still holds. Now it seems we
have also lost Mudenge the politician and in his place we now have Mudenge
the tribesman who would like to kill all the animals in conservancies and
“eat the meat”.

He was in Masvingo this past week telling all and sundry that Zanu PF was
planning to seize all conservancies in the lowveld areas and hand them over
to a Chinese cotton farmer. The conservancies are mostly owned by British
and American investors. He said, “Our top cash crop, tobacco is about to be
banned on the international market. We have to grow cotton to get forex.

Therefore we will take the conservancies where the soil is suitable for
cotton and give them to a Chinese investor who is into cotton growing. We
have already identified a Chinese investor in Masvingo who is into cotton

Using language that has come to be associated with the less civil of the war
veterans such as Jabulani Sibanda and Joseph Chinotimba, Mudenge spoke of
Zanu PF as an “unstoppable train”: “We are coming with much more
determination and resolve under indigenisation… the train is
unstoppable… anyone who thinks he can stand in our way is a fool. Nobody
can stop us.”

He must have been frothing at the mouth when he said: “We are not begging
anyone, the resources are ours. It is time to assert control. We have got
that right… it will not take us three months to destroy the
conservancies…after all what is a conservancy? Just a hut built with pole
and daga (mud).

Are we not able to erect ours? We can go and erect parallel structures and
kill all the animals and eat the meat. Our craving for meat is very big

Interestingly, the former scholar thinks that the Chinese are not
foreigners. “We are not benefiting anything from the conservancies as they
are in the hands of foreigners. We need to change that and take them. The
animals, the land, everything is ours.”

Mudenge’s soft spot for the Chinese is well documented. According to Africa
Confidential in April last year celebrating 30 years of bilateral relations
with China, Mudenge used robust rhetoric in China’s defence. In 2004, he
blasted Taiwan’s presidential election as a “sham” and “a danger not only to
the stability of China but also to international peace and security”.

Mudenge says the conservancies can be destroyed in three months showing he
is oblivious of the importance of these pieces of land. He seems to be
unaware of the huge role they play in the tourism sector. His exhortation
regarding the global ban on tobacco is too simplistic to come from a

But Mudenge is not new to destruction. Over the years he has presided over
the Ministry of Higher Education he had the chance to empower  thousands of
our young people who sought tertiary education but what has happened is the
opposite. He has presided over the destruction of arguably one of the best
education systems on the African continent.

The University of Zimbabwe, once one of the best in Africa, has gone the way
of Uganda’s Makerere University which was destroyed under the dictatorship
of Idi Amin.

Ironically Mudenge talks of indigenisation as a sure-fire way of empowering
the people but he doesn’t see that any empowerment project should begin with
a sound education.

In the past few years our universities were degraded to mere centres of
strife rather than scholarship. The best university teachers left for
foreign lands because they could not stand the lack of facilities that had
come to characterise the institutions. They were also poorly rewarded for
their excellent work and could not stand the thought of their status as the
brains driving the country’s progress being downgraded to the position of
mere temporary teachers.

Students were the most affected by warped policies that saw tertiary
institutions introducing tuition fees that were way above what their
guardians could afford. The suffering that the students were subjected to is
now legendary. Because of poverty the students became vulnerable to
exploitation. Not only did thousands of young women and men turn to
prostitution for survival but they also became subjects of ridicule. All
this was happening on Mudenge’s watch.

Thousands of students and former students must be dying everyday as we speak
of diseases that they contracted while fighting to survive at our tertiary

In recent years the ministry has introduced what it calls a cadetship
programme where government pays the fees and then bonds the graduates for a
certain period. But this has turned out to be a highly punitive programme.

Former students have said although government has paid part of their fees,
those who have finished their courses cannot access their certificates and
transcripts making it impossible for them to secure jobs. The whole thing
has become a vicious cycle; graduates are commonly seen on street corners
vending newspapers and other wares. Some have been spotted doing menial jobs
such as digging trenches around the cities for the fibre-optic cables that
are being laid out.

Each time Mudenge talks about indigenisation and empowerment he must stop to
reflect on what he has done to these people. He must also consider the
hypocrisy that he and those in the corridors of power have exhibited in
sending their children to universities abroad while the children of the poor
are subjected to substandard education created by him and his ilk.

While the children of the poor suffer everyday to access education, which is
a basic human right, the children of the rich politicians are scattered all
over the globe enjoying some of the best education money can provide.

It’s such a shame that our politicians miss the ironies of their wayward


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