Connect with us

Dayo Sobowale: Zimbabwe, APC and Pakistan: Of siege economies and political control


Dayo Sobowale: Zimbabwe, APC and Pakistan: Of siege economies and political control

by Dayo Sobowale

Generally and historically, it is during war that combatant nations lay siege on each other’s territory and borders. The  Trojan War in which the Greeks laid siege on the ancient city of Troy and  gained access eventually with the subterfuge  and   lure   of  a  wooden  horse,  with Greek soldiers hidden inside, is  the  best   historical example of a   successful siege.

Today,  however,  I am not interested in such military sieges whether ancient or modern. Instead I am  drawing inspiration from them to talk of economic  sieges in modern times which have no territorial borders or  defined   locations. I  am saying loud and clear that in modern times and  in  today’s global economies, political and economic mismanagement  have  created  economies that have wittingly or unwittingly laid siege on the welfare and interests  of their electorates. In essence then, siege economies have emerged in which the electorate is like a prisoner in its own house; as politicians try to keep the status quo while the electorate squirms and frets at first,  and later gets desperate  to throw out the yoke of  the bad joke of    imprisonment  in what it knows it is its   natural  habitation  by right.

The  evolution of siege economies in modern times  and how political  leaders manipulate the  global and individual  political systems to maintain the status quo at all costs while the electorate or the masses struggle to throw off the shackles of imprisonment in their own house, is the topic of discussion today.

The  Zimbabwean Elections  of last Wednesday  which  the  PM  Mr.  Tsvirangai called  a farce  after ignoring the pre election charge of President Robert Mugabe to his supporters that the election was to be a do or die affair for them,  provides a good example of a siege economy  and the struggle  for political control. Also  the  registration of a new political party in Nigeria – the APC – by INEC, in  a nation in which the ruling party thinks it will forever win elections,  just  because of its size,  where oil  theft and mismanagement of the nation’s mono economy have turned its citizens into landlords of poverty in their country,  is another  good example of the  struggle for political control in a vintage siege economy  like Nigeria. In   addition, US  Secretary  of State John Kerry’s visit to Pakistan and his closed door meeting with Pakistan’s newly elected PM, Nawaz Sharif  on the Pakistani economy and the war on terrorism,  round up our examples for discussion today.

Again,  we start with Zimbabwe where 89 year old President Robert Mugabe‘s party was on course  for a smooth victory in spite of all odds  and expectations of majority of Zimbabweans for a change of government from the Mugabe regime which  has been in  power for 33 years. Even though international observers have said the elections have been largely free and fair and AU Chairman of Observers  retired  Nigerian General Olusegun Obasanjo was quoted  as saying that the first impression was that the Zimbabwean polls have been  free,  one cannot ignore the anomalies  highlighted  by the opposition.

The  first is that about 2m voters on the voters list were recorded as dead and as such could not vote for the simple reason that dead men don’t or cannot vote. The second is that about one million voters were disenfranchised for one reason or the other and could not vote . In  effect then Mugabe’s party  has won a costly electoral battle but cannot claim victory because it was  a pyrrhic victory  in terms of electoral breaches that denudes it of any legitimacy. This is a victory for 33 years of Mugabe’s rule that has ruined the Zimbabwean economy through EU sanctions and land seizures  that has crippled the nation’s  once buoyant  agricultural sector and fast growing economy that was once the envy  of the nations of  southern  Africa and indeed the rest of Africa. As  for Mugabe’s truculent pre election violent jargon that the election would be a do or die affair,  I presume the old Zimbabwean  Patriotic Front  warrior must just have borrowed a leaf  from  the book of another warrior, a Nigerian now election observer at the Zimbabwean elections General Olusegun Obasanjo, who used the same volatile vocabulary while campaigning for the late President  Yar Adua to succeed him at the 2007  elections. You  may call both of them birds  of the same feather and you could be right at least in terms of  usage of  combustible political vocabulary. But if you brand them as ‘experts’ at laying siege to their economies and manipulating its  control  through rigged elections like the 2007 elections that the ultimate beneficiary,  the  late President YarAdua  himself later  admitted was rigged;  as  well as  this  last Zimbabwean elections where living voters turned up at the polling booth to be listed dead and could  therefore   not  vote, then you have scored a bull’s eye indeed in that comparison.

The  registration  of the APC  made up  of a merger of opposition parties in Nigeria’s bullish, winner takes all political terrain on July 31  ushers in another cycle of hope that   Nigeria’s  difficult   democracy and siege  economy   may not crash land sooner than expected. At  least  not like the high flying  train in Spain last week which took a corner at a speed of 192 mph while its driver was on record as having a telephone conversation  and killed about 80 innocent passengers. A  big wig in  the ruling PDP once said that the party will rule Nigeria for the next 60 years. Just  this week another PDP chieftain said the APC cannot be a threat because it is made up of strange bed fellows. I wonder which  political party on earth is not made  up of strange bed fellows. Especially as politics is a game of who gets what, when and how and that has to be discussed, and negotiated amongst people of various background and interests,  who come together to fight a common cause.

Given the implosion in the PDP and its factional governors’ forum there  is little doubt that the ruling party is losing the consensus and common front that catapulted it to power which  it has tried to cling to by all means. The PDP should therefore be indeed wary with the emergence of the PDP and the political stature of those behind the party especially Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu co-author of Financialism. This is a brilliant book on how the financial system drains the economy.

Financialism could have helped the PDP leadership a lot if it had been published by the time they took office in 1999 when the foundation of turning Nigeria into a siege economy  was  laid and cemented with the political control PDP has had ever since, through successively rigged elections. With  the emergence  of APC   then, the ball is   certainly  in the other court and not the PDP, which obviously has run out of ideas to transform the Nigerian economy with the requisite knowledge  management base  to get the economy out of its rut and siege. What the APC needs to do is to be prepared  to fight rigging which the ruling party seem to have perfected to an exportable commodity for Zimbawe, to a stand still.

For  the new APC  and indeed Nigeria as a whole –eternal vigilance is the price of liberty – especially at this point  in time,   for the APC to change the   pervading, sickening and repugnant  climate of economic siege and claim political control in the coming   2015 elections.

Lastly  I  take on   Pakistan   together  in the context  of today’s topic and  I will illustrate with  the two personalities  involved and the issues they  are facing. These are the US Secretary of State John Kerry,   and Pakistan’s PM Nawaz  Sharif. The two  have two  things   in common and  these  are   focus and   principle and  again I will elucidate.

Before coming to Pakistan John Kerry had just kicked start the Middle East peace process. At  a press conference after both  sides  agreed to start talking, the Israeli peace negotiator doffed  her hat to the US Secretary of State for the firm way he told the Israeli  and Pakistani chief peace negotiators that failure was not an option in the renewed Middle East Peace Talks. In  Pakistan, Kerry will be visiting for the first time   since he took over from the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  He faced a newly elected PM Nawaz Sharif who has just  come to power and who has condemned the drone strikes which US  President Barak Obama asserts is a legitimate weapon   in the   war  against    terrorism, a   war in which  the US  and Pakistan are partners in fighting the Taliban, on the hilly borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The  war on terror has turned the Pakistani economy into a siege economy dependent on US largesse given the  Pakistani government to prosecute the war and fuel its economy as well. But the Pakistani army prosecutes the war and has done it half heartedly while the politicians  in power  cannot do much because of the fear of a coup from the military as the war is unpopular with the largely  Islamic population of Pakistan. Now Nawaz Sharif has spoken against the drone strike which the army and the other opposition could not do for fear of losing US funds and increasing the tension of a siege economy or losing political control  or relevance in the process  in Pakistan.

 Yet  I am sure that Mr. Kerry knows that Mr. Sharif  is man of honor and principle who has spoken on behalf of his nation and the US will respect his views  and concern on the drone strikes. Pakistan is lucky therefore in that it has a new leader that even the US  which oils its siege economy knows  as a man of principle in political    control who  should not be allowed to lose face in the   two nations partnership fight against terrorism. That  to me is mutual respect that is at first personal but which has a high convertible rate in sovereign and diplomatic relations and I think Pakistan was lucky this week that the leader  talking to John Kerry was Nawaz Sharif and not anyone else  in Pakistan. That was a lesson on the rewards of leadership focus and principle  in   high  diplomacy, and it has my total   and  sincere  admiration.

– This Best Outside Opinion was written by Dayo Sobowale

Click to comment
To Top