Thursday, June 25, 2009

Garikai Agenda Chimuka: COMESA has lost its credibility

Monday, 15 June 2009 - Garika Chimuka [ Harare Tribune]

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) which seeks to deepen trade and integration of economies among the block’s estimated more than 400 million members has clearly lost any iota of credibility .Despite launching the block‘s customs union amid pomp and fanfare recently in Harare, its now a foregone conclusion that the block is heading for a gigantic harvest of thorns

The success of any trade and investment regime the world over is based on the credibility of its leadership. On this score COMESA is tragically wobbling towards extinction

After being headed recently by an electoral thief in Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, the chairmanship of this all important block has been now handed over to Zimbabwe ‘s Robert Mugabe

Every fool in town and the world over clearly understands that Mugabe represents everything that is the antithesis of trade and investment

For the cornerstone of trade and investment in this era of globalization is premised on the recognition of the sacred and sacrosanct principle of the respect of property rights and the rule of law. Private capital has been the cornerstone for centuries upon which trade and investment can take place

The COMESA brand is epitomized by its leadership. Having a soiled and failed brand like Mugabe atop any trade and investment initiative is a definite recipe for disaster for the man epitomizes anti-trade and anti-investment. Given his propensity to ride roughshod over trade and investment laws like encouraging primitive looting under guises like land reform, blatant disregard of the rule of law and his personification of murder, its now a foregone conclusion that with Mugabe at the helm, the block has ceased to exist as an instrument to promote regional trade and investment

If one is to throw in the mix characters like Sudan’s Al Bashir who was given a red carpet treatment in Harare despite his massive sponsoring of the worst genocide in history against our innocent black brothers and sisters in Darfur through his notorious Arab Janjaweed milita, that represents the turning of the block from a trade and investment to a club of the continent’s worst dictators

Across the globe, consumers are increasingly conscious that they can not support goods and services fronted by human rights abusers in a movement currently gaining much traction particularly in America and Europe. This has led to the increasing awareness to such issues like the promotion of fair trade products where consumers only purchase products that meet the requirements of fair trade from the primary, secondary up to tertiary production stage

With characters like Mugabe, Al Bashir, Museveni and Mswati at the helm of COMESA, it does not need a rocket scientist to realize that informed consumers will snub any product with the made in COMESA brand

The elevation of Mugabe to the leadership of COMESA has totally completed the transformation of COMESA from a trade and investment block to a club of bloodthirsty dictators whose only common denominator is genocide, abuse of human rights, property rights and the rule of law

That is why it was not surprising that one of the resolution of the non-event disguised as COMESA summit that took place in Victoria Falls was to call for military intervention in a small peaceful country like Madagascar just because the dictators’ side kick, Ravalomanana was swept aside in a widely popular orange revolution by the people of Madagascar in favor of the youthful and charismatic former DJ, Andry Rajoelina

The club of Africa’s worst dictator’s seating in Vic Falls under the Chairmanship of an electoral thief had the audacity and temerity to declare that they are prepared for military action to restore democracy in Madagascar when the first port of call for democracy restoration should have been clearly the place where the summit was taking place

It is thus clear from the recent events of Mugabe’s emergence as COMESA chief that the epitaph has now been written on COMESA grave in as far as trade and investment is concerned and its now time for all progressive countries under COMESA to take the bull by the horns and either sponsor a vote of no-confidence in Mugabe before it is too late or leave the unholy alliance of the continent’s worst dictators before their economies are affected by the negative contagion of associating with this most retrogressive group in African history

Garikai Chimuka is the Senior Political Analyst at GMRI Capital. He is based in the Netherlands and can be contacted at garikai@gmricapital.com