A question about Zimbabwe (was: Re: Timor again (sorry Lou))

Patrick Bond pbond at SPAMwn.apc.org
Wed Nov 17 10:42:41 MST 1999

> > From: Macdonald Stainsby
> > Both Mandela and Gusmao ... sold their soul for a little bit, to give up the
> > real game. Something that Kabila and Mugabe appear not to have done, keeping
> > them on the "bad" list.
> Could someone (one of the South Africans, perhaps?) give us a bit of
> information on what Mugabe is doing these days?  I've read that there is a
> bit of popular opposition to him.
> Alan Bradley

Well, comrade Macdonald isn't looking too closely, I have to
say. Being on the "bad" list doesn't mean not selling their soul.
Both have. Kabila to US, Canadian, SA and Zimbabwe capital (and in
the latter case generals). Mugabe to the IMF, to which he turned
over virtually all state power via an August 1999 US$193 mn loan.

I can go on at length here but won't unless someone insists
(I did so in the 4/99 Monthly Review under the title "Political
Reawakening in Zimbabwe" and in a 1998 book, Uneven Zimbabwe,
published by Africa World Press, http://www.africanworld.com). The
"workers' party" -- officially the Movement for Democratic Change --
has all manner of class forces still vying for influence. The 9/99
launch of the MDC manifesto was quite inspiring, and branch launches
across the country still draw thousands of virulent working-class and
poor Mugabe-haters. There are many good reasons for the widespread
popular hatred of Mugabe. I hope one is that while he sometimes talks
left, he nearly always acts right. But it's also a general disgust at
price hikes and job losses... in turn the result of Mugabe's sell-out
to the IMF and World Bank (dating to the early 1980s, but
particularly to the onset of formal structural adjustment in 1990).

Again, more if desired. There is some hope that we see the MDC emerge
as Africa's first post-nationalist and post-neoliberal ruling party.
There is also a chance that like in Zambia we get a trade unionist
who is forced to become yet more neolib than his nationalist
predecessor. Morgan Tsvangirai (outgoing leader of the Zim
Congress of Trade Unions, incoming president in 2002 I'd wager) knows
the lesson of Frederick Chiluba though, and doesn't want to go that

But only struggle will clarify the programmatic direction.


PS: I must say, I'm just back from the very first SA protest at
the World Bank office in Pretoria, and at a fancy Bank meeting in a
5-star hotel immediately afterwards, which warmed my heart.
Comrades were very very strong on structural critique. I'll give
you a sense of the issues in this article from today's bourgeois


Business Day, 17 November 1999:

                   Will the World Bank halt corruption
                            and cancel debt?

by Patrick Bond and David Letsie

Today, in Pretoria, the World Bank meets on corruption associated with
the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). Bank president James
Wolfensohn is said to have a strong interest in this case, and he now
has a chance to put his money where his good-governance mouth is.
After his speech to last month's Transparency International conference
in Durban, expectations are high.

     But they have been high in relation to Third World debt
cancellation, too, because of the worldwide Jubilee 2000
movement. Wolfensohn has disappointed the Jubilee campaign
by providing stingy relief tied to onerous conditions (such
as his 1998 demand that Mozambican public health fees for
impoverished clients be quintupled, in exchange for a meagre
9% annual payment reduction).

     The Jubilee 2000 South-South Summit is being held later
this week in Midrand. More than 200 representatives of debt
groups from across the Third World are demanding that
Wolfensohn fulfil his historic duty on the eve of the
millennium, or face calls for a boycott and disinvestment
campaign against World Bank bonds.

     But the simpler issue on the agenda of today's Bank
meeting is corruption, specifically the padding of Katse Dam
construction costs by a "dirty dozen" multinational
corporations, so as to fatten at least one official's Swiss
bank account by at least R12 million.

     The Bank catalysed the LHWP, project-managed many core
components, lent Lesotho $150 million (which it should now
cancel), and established a secret London trust as a way of
circumventing mid-1980s anti-apartheid financial sanctions.

     It was revealed in late September that the Bank also
gave official support to the terribly corrupt LHWP head,
Masupha Sole. In 1994, more than six years after Sole's
reign of bribery began, a senior Bank official sent a
strongly worded letter to the Lesotho government insisting
no action be taken against Sole because it would "seriously
jeopardize the progress of the project." Dubiously, the Bank
claimed it was unaware Sole was about to be fired for

     A closely-related background issue evokes corruption of
a different type: the role the Bank plays behind the scenes
in persuading South African officials to adopt its
controversial views on water pricing and privatisation.

     The Bank's March 1999 South Africa Country Assistance
Strategy claims that Bank LHWP taskmanager John Roome's
October 1995 "power-point presentation [was] instrumental in
facilitating a radical revision in South Africa's approach
to bulk water management." In stingy Bank style, Roome
advised then-minister Kader Asmal to drop proposals for a
free lifeline tariff and rising block tariffs because
municipal "private concessions [would be] much harder to
establish"; to establish a "credible threat of cutting
service" to non-paying consumers; and to be "very careful
about irrigation for `previously disadvantaged' South

     Moreover, a proposed $750 million World Bank loan for
infrastructure apparently now under consideration would, if
deputy resident representative Junaid Ahmad has his way,
promote municipal services privatisation, including
Johannesburg's controversial iGoli 2002 corporatisation

     The iGoli plan also envisages a mass transition of low-
income Johannesburg residents into pit-latrine ghettoes.
This followed the argument by Ahmad in a 1994 plan for
urban infrastructure--adopted in revised form in 1997--that
the SA government should not provide water-borne sewage
to low-income households.

     Ahmad offered this advice with no reference to the
public health, environmental and gender implications of
dumping excrement directly through porous dolomitic soils
into a high water table--even though in 1991 when such a strategy was
applied by apartheid bureaucrats in Winterveld, cholera broke out.

     No wonder Johannesburg's policy has been nicknamed
"eColi 2002."

     But Johannesburg now faces a spectacular contradiction
associated with Bank advice: the enormous waste of money
associated with the first two LHWP dams.

     The main reason why Vaal water which until 1995 cost
R0,30 per cubic metre is being augmented by Lesotho water
that is five times as expensive, is that the Bank overestimated
the expected demand for LHWP water in Gauteng by 40%, it=20
now admits.

     The same mistake is being made with the Mohale Dam, now
under construction, which should be delayed for many years
while tough water conservation and redistribution measures
are adopted.

     A triple threat is therefore emerging for the World

     * firstly, that when more Bank loans for Lesotho dams
     are pushed upon unwilling Gauteng water consumers, they
     will be increasingly--and justifiably--unwilling to pay;

     * secondly, that Bank ideas about water infrastructure
     policy --especially mass pit latrine installation in Johannesburg
     --will be rejected by the "beneficiaries"; and

     * thirdly, that municipal worker, community and
     political protest will derail the privatisation of

These errors of technical and political judgment are coming
to a head, just as Wolfensohn addresses the LHWP
corruption crisis. A wide range of social, community and
labour movements have united in protest, including the SA
Municipal Workers Union, SA Students Congress, Jubilee 2000,
township civic groups, and the Campaign Against Neoliberalism in=20
South Africa.

     For not only have Ahmad, Roome and other staff erred in
policy and project work, so too did Wolfensohn probably
overstate his institution's commitment to fighting
corruption at the Transparency International conference in
Durban last month. After all the hype about how corruption
causes poverty, and how the Bank must fight corruption to
fight poverty, expectations are high that Wolfensohn will
debar the major corporations implicated in LHWP bribery.

     Many of the dozen companies--which include ABB of Switzerland,
Impregilio of Italy, Dumez subsidiary of France, not to mention SA's
Concor and Group 5--are still active in current Bank projects,
including = the Mohale Dam.

     But will Wolfensohn have sufficient will to blacklist
the big firms whose big Northern governments ultimately pay
his salary?

     Sadly, his lack of will on Third World debt cancellation
is telling. Minister Alec Erwin was right to label Northern
reluctance "criminal, just criminal" at a World Economic
Forum meeting this year.

     The same anger will emerge today, if Wolfensohn and Bank=20
staff merely wink and nod at the dirty dozen.

Patrick Bond is a Wits political economist and David Letsie is an
Alexandra activist. They submitted invited testimony to last week's
World Commission on Dams Southern African hearing.


From:             "George Dor" <george at sn.apc.org>
To:               "cansa"<cansa at wn.apc.org>
Date sent:        Tue, 16 Nov 1999 00:10:30 +0000
Subject:          17/11 WB Picket, 18/11 Jubilee South Summit
Send reply to:    george at sn.apc.org
Priority:         urgent

Announcement for two events:

Stop the World Bank

Barely a month ago, James Wolfensohn, World Bank President, blamed
third world countries for corruption at the Durban anti-corruption
summit. On 17 November, his organisation will be meeting to cover up
the World Bank's role in the alleged corrupt activities of twelve of
the biggest dam-building companies from the North. The World Bank is
also guilty of selling out the promises of the RDP and preventing
social delivery by supporting the iGoli 2002 plan to privatise
Johannesburg. And through debt and structural adjustment programmes,
the World Bank has re-colonised the African continent.

Shut down the Lesotho Highlands Water Project
Stop iGoli 2002
Scrap the Debt
End Poverty

Send the World Bank and IMF home!
JOIN THE PROTEST! And the mock trial!
Support the Africa Day of Action Against Another of the Wicked
Triplets, the World Trade Organisation (WTO)

* Outside the World Bank Offices
   Pro-Equity Court, 1250 Pretorius Street, Hatfield, Pretoria
* On Wednesday, 17 November
* From 12 to 2 pm


For further information, contact Nicolas or George at 011 648 7000 or
cansa at sn.apc.org



>From 18 to 21 November, debt organisations and social movements from
Latin America, Asia and Africa will meet as the South to thrash out a
common southern perspective on Third World Debt, International
Monetary Fund and World Bank structural adjustment and Northern
domination over the South.

You are invited to the opening session of the Summit

* At the Eskom Conference Centre, Midrand
* On Thursday, 18 November
* 5.00 pm onwards

Welcoming Address and Outline of the Summit Objectives:
 Molefe Tsele, Chair, Jubilee 2000 South Africa
Keynote Addresses:
 Bishop Mandlate, Mozambique
 Archbishop Ndungane, Cape Town
The Significance of Debt in the South African Context:
 Blade Nzimande, South African Communist Party

To be followed by The Debt Play, performed by artists from Cape Town

For further information, contact Donna Andrews at 082 370 7999 or
donna.andrews at usa.net, or Nicolas or George at 011 648 7000 or
cansa at sn.apc.org Campaign Against Neo-liberalism in South Africa
60 Isipingo Street, Bellevue East 2198
 South Africa
Tel: (27) (11) 648 7000
Email: cansa at sn.apc.org

Patrick Bond
email:  pbond at wn.apc.org * phone:  2711-614-8088
home:  51 Somerset Road, Kensington 2094 South Africa
work:  University of the Witwatersrand
Graduate School of Public and Development Management
PO Box 601, Wits 2050, South Africa
email:  bondp at zeus.mgmt.wits.ac.za
phone:  2711-488-5917 * fax:  2711-484-2729

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