OPINION- Africa’s Future Belongs To Builders

By Mutumwa Mawere – Our civilization has evolved and contemporary African civilization is dualistic with one part based on laws and other institutions underpinned by a market system and another that is based on what can be described as African norms, traditions and custom.

I was born in Zimbabwe and I must confess that there is nothing that prepared me to be a businessman of the scale that I have been privileged to engage in.

The political, social, moral and economic morality that informed the colonial constitutional order did not allow natives a large measure of freedom in seeking profit through voluntary exchange and, therefore, my worldview has been influenced by my own personal experiences.

When I started writing my weekly columns, I had no idea that my views on a number of issues would resonate with many of the people who have been kind enough to share their comments with me.

As a businessman in post –colonial Africa, I sometimes find myself lonely with very few friends and family who understand and appreciate the impact of moral capital deficiency on Africa’s development and growth prospects.

I have come to the inescapable conclusion that business development is unsustainable without moral capital investment.

This view is not only supported by my personal experiences but by the notion that markets and morals evolve together and are, therefore, aspects of the spontaneous order of any society.

In the following 20 articles, I will examine the viewpoint that morals and markets should evolve spontaneously with a view to better understand the connections, if any, among moral capital, commerce and economic performance.

In searching for the reasons why Africa lags behind other human societies in reducing the frontiers of poverty and ignorance, it is important that we use our own experiences to demonstrate the need for building Africa’s moral capital as a sine qua non for economic prosperity.

I submit that the depletion or absence of moral capital can result in economic deterioration.

In post-colonial Africa, it has been argued that the lack of development is a direct consequence of the conspiracy of a diminishing number of white settlers and the machinations of imperialists.

We rarely pause to reflect on the impact of moral capital deficiency in undermining Africa’s future.

It is often easy in human affairs to point a finger at others forgetting that lack of investment on moral issues can cause more harm to progress than due to alleged conspiracy.

In these articles, I hope to provoke thought about what kind of society we want to see and live in and more importantly what we can do to enhance the inventory of moral capital.

I start with the connection between moral capital and justice because I believe that although morality in all forms is conducive for business development, justice has a special significance.

I, however, need to preface my insights with an observation that the relationship between native Africans and justice has not been a pleasant one.  Notwithstanding, I submit that the rules of justice are indispensable for commerce.

The nature of our knowledge and institutions demonstrates that accumulated experience is the source of human moral rules.

As human beings we do not have the foresight of the future and as Adam Smith correctly observed the idea that we can derive from reason the first principles of right and wrong is “altogether absurd and unintelligible”.

Every step that we make into Africa’s future is made with blindness of what lies ahead.  Great nations are a consequence of human action.

Africa like may nations has produced brilliant people but the genius of human progress can and should not be located in the minds of people with a capacity to reason but in the spontaneous and unintentional coincidences of human behavior and the retention by communities of practices that reward them.

Generally people learn the rules of justice through the experience of exchange and barter.  Such rules are formed by practice and their existence and value dawn on all of us as we are exposed to daily experiences of life.

What is fundamental in any progressive society is that exchange takes place between voluntary contracting parties.  For every transaction, there must be willing contracting parties.

Accordingly, it would be difficult for a person to exchange anything that is not acknowledged by others as belonging to him/her.  Title is, therefore, critical to both the buyer and seller and exchange requires the stability of possessions in any civilized society.

Where there is justice there can never be property and the converse is equally true.  Exchange requires promises to be kept and trade can be constrained by lack of trust.

So when I read the article published by the Herald on 18 June 2010 entitled: “Its not over yet for Mawere” http://allafrica.com/stories/201006180047.html I could not help but use the words of Minister Chinamasa, Minister of Justice and Legal

Affairs, of the Republic of Zimbabwe to expose what a deficiency or depletion of moral capital can do to a nation and more importantly why the silence of the many can actually lead to moral capital decay of the order that can pose a toxic threat to progress.

In response to my de-specification, Minister Chinamasa who accompanied by the Attorney General, Hon. Tomana, attended the hearing of a case before the Supreme Court on 17 June 2010 challenging the constitutional validity and the actions and decisions of the Minister and the Administrator appointed pursuant to the operation of a decree promulgated by President Mugabe allowing for the extra-judicial placement of my group of companies under the control of a state appointed Administrator; he said that the de-specification by an administration of which he is part of had no bearing on the criminal charges that I was facing.

This is what Minister Chinamasa is reported to have said in a statement published by the Herald: “Mr. Mawere and several other organizations stood accused of prejudicing the company of various amounts of money as declared by the Administrator, Mr. Gwaradzimba. As the Administrator was not persuaded to amend his culpability statement, he was obliged and did apply to a judge in chambers for confirmation of the culpability of the culpable persons.  The Application is pending before the High Court under case number HC6684/06.  It will be apparent from the afore-going that Mr. Mawere has, therefore, been declared culpable in accordance with the provisions of the law.  What remains is for the judge to consider the confirmation of his culpability.”

It is important that we interrogate the statement by Minister Chinamasa to better appreciate the challenges that Zimbabwe is facing in building its moral capital.

The facts of the matter are that the company in question, SMM Holdings Private Limited (SMM) is and has been at all material times a private company.  How then did SMM become a state matter?

SMM is a wholly owned subsidiary of SMM Holdings Limited, a company incorporated in England that in turn is owned by Africa Resources Limited, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.

In order to obtain control of SMM, the first person to be attacked was I.  A warrant of arrest was issued on 22 May 2004 followed by an extradition application in South Africa.  On 25 May 2004, I was then arrested and appeared before a South African court on 27 May 2004.  I was then remanded on bail for a 30-day period to allow the Zimbabwean government to present their case before the court.  On 28 June, I appeared before the court and the case was dismissed leaving Minister Chinamasa with egg on his face.

He then responded on 9 July 2004 invoking the Prevention of Corruption Act by issuing a specification order on the same allegations that informed the extradition application.  This was followed by the specification of SMM and related companies on 26 August 2004. Minister Chinamasa appointed Messrs. Mangoma and Saruchera as Investigators of me and SMM, respectively.

Section 10 of the Prevention of Corruption Act sets out what a specified person can and cannot do and more significantly prohibits any other person from dealing with the assets of a specified person.

Notwithstanding, barely 10 days after the appointment of Saruchera as Investigator, Minister Chinamasa issued a reconstruction order in respect of SMM and related companies and in so doing allow for the creation of an Administrator to do precisely what is prohibited by Section 10(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The reconstruction order was granted using state of emergency laws and it is significant that the regulations did not allow for judicial involvement in contravention of the provisions of the Constitution.

Notwithstanding, the Administrator was given powers that can only be possible in an undemocratic constitutional order.

It is significant that the Minister makes an issue that Gwaradzimba identified me as culpable for allegedly prejudicing a company that I am a beneficial shareholder of.

If the state were a bona fides creditor then there would be no need of a new legislation to protect such a creditor.

For any rational person when you hear a Minister in a democratic constitutional order saying that a finding by a partisan tribunal needs judicial confirmation then one must know that something fundamentally wrong has taken place.

Under the constitution of Zimbabwe, an independent tribunal can only adjudicate a dispute between two contracting parties.  An Administrator is a creature of statute and was appointed Minister Chinamasa and can, therefore, be hardly described as independent.

Only a court should determine and not be reduced to a rubber stamp of the culpability of any person.  However, the words of Hon. Chinamasa exposes the kind of morality that informs his actions and decisions for a country that is in urgent need of investment.

The fact that Hon. Chinamasa can confidently issue this kind of statement confirms that the morality that informed the pre-inclusive government is very much entrenched and crystallized.

Any investor in Zimbabwe would be aware of the implications of the law that Minister Chinamasa now relies upon to justify actions and decisions that serve to undermine the credibility of the state and its institutions.

In building a sustainable and predictable society, it is not the actions of evil people that determine the future but the silences of the many who choose to be spectators while instruments that threaten business confidence become the order of the day.

The words of Hon. Chinamasa have to be carefully analyzed as they project a viewpoint that is prevalent in the minds of many policy makers that moral capital is irrelevant to commerce.