Muckraker

Does the taskforce have a clue about forex?

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will be “restructure

d”, President Mugabe told the party faithful last Friday, “to make it much more of a developmental institution that protects the national interest”.


In other words, the last institution to hold out against Mugabe’s messy economics will be subverted to serve the ruling party’s agenda. Experts from the Malaysian central bank will be coming to assist with revamping the RBZ.


“The restructuring of the RBZ comes against the background of widespread public displeasure over its failure to monitor leakages in the foreign exchange market…” the Herald informed us, no doubt speaking for its handlers.


In fact the “leakages” in the foreign exchange market are the product of a fixed exchange rate that bears no relationship to reality. As the cabinet taskforce rushes to plug one hole in the dam, another will appear elsewhere as the pressure on the official rate mounts. Zanu PF is fighting a losing battle.


Malaysia succeeded in staunching the flow of speculative capital in the late 1990s because it had the economic muscle to do so. In other words it was well-placed to resist the dictates of George Soros and others and manage the exchange rate. Zimbabwe, thanks to Mugabe and his Crazy Gang, has ensured Zimbabwe has nothing to fall back on. It is in no position to go it alone.


The Malaysians, let us note, have persistently failed to put their money where their mouths are in support of Zimbabwe. Apart from the occasional housing project, none of the vast commodity deals or investments in the power sector they planned have seen the light of day. Instead they have invested in South Africa’s fuel and tourism markets where the dividends are higher.


Mahathir Mohamad, who sacked his supreme court in 1988 and reportedly advised Mugabe to do the same, at least knew when to bow out. And he left Malaysia immeasurably stronger by harnessing the skills of all his people. Can the same be said of Mugabe?


The attack on the RBZ is one more nail in the coffin of Zimbabwe’s economy. Does the politburo or the cabinet taskforce have a clue on how to tackle the myriad problems they have created in the economy? If so why haven’t they done so before?


And why do we need all these taskforces if ministers are doing their jobs properly? Are the taskforces not duplicating what government should be doing as part of its normal functions? Let’s hope ministers don’t receive any special allowance for attending these meetings. Jonathan Moyo, we must assume, is a forex taskforce member because he is good at spending it!


 Still on the subject of forex, exactly how much does Mugabe get as an allowance every time he leaves the country? Why isn’t that figure published? It is said if all the chefs repatriated the amounts they have banked abroad as a result of school-fee payments, consultancies, and travel allowances, it would go a long way to solving the country’s forex shortages.


But that’s not the name of the game is it? This is about targeting businesses and claiming a conspiracy. It’s about squeezing companies that are already having difficulty surviving in Zimbabwe’s toxic business climate.


 Zimbabwe Open University vice-chancellor Primrose Kurasha should be circumspect in her public comments if she wants to preserve the credibility of the institution she heads. Carried away by the excitement of the moment, she described herself as a product of President Mugabe’s dreams.


“Because of your dreams, new farmers are in the fields right now,” she gushed, cheered on by Gutu South MP Shuvai Mahofa. “Your Excellency and Chancellor, I Primrose Kurasha am also a new farmer and the Zimbabwe Open University is my field.”


Like so many other chefs, she clearly intends to reap where she did not sow! What is so extraordinary is that this enthusiastic recipient of presidential patronage has not weighed the significance of partisan remarks that will link ZOU in the public estimation to the discredited Zanu PF regime. Who will want to employ somebody who is the product of such an institution?


And why is Mugabe going around the country collecting university chancellorships like pangolins? Is this some royal monopoly? Is there nobody else who qualifies or are they scared off by his degrees in violence?


The Herald thoughtfully explained to us how the system works: “The president first installed Dr Kurasha, who in turn installed Cde Mugabe.”


All very cosy!


Government spokesmen like to slam CNN for what they claim is biased coverage of events in Zimbabwe. But the South African authorities can hardly complain about a report aired last weekend. CNN interviewed ANC-aligned activists who said how  betrayed they felt by Vanessa Brereton, the now infamous agent RS452 who had been a police spy in the Port Elizabeth area in the 1980s.


Nowhere in this account was it mentioned that RS452 was the number which senior ANC informants in the party’s former intelligence network claimed the security police had given to the current Director of Public Prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka.


They fed the claim that Ngcuka was an apartheid spy to a Sunday Times reporter who had previously worked for the party. When the paper’s editor refused to publish the allegation, the reporter tipped off City Press which ran it.


And why were these senior ANC members so keen to have the story published? Because Ngcuka had headed an inquiry into Deputy President Jacob Zuma’s alleged involvement in a multi-billion rand arms deal with a number of European companies.


As a result of the allegations about Ngcuka, President Thabo Mbeki set up the Hefer Commission to investigate the claims. It looked as if Zuma would be able to prove manifest bias by Ngcuka. But once it transpired that agent RS452 was a white woman, now resident in Britain, and not Ngcuka, the Hefer inquiry ceased to generate the same interest — although the reporter at the centre of it will be asked to reveal the manner in which she came to be in possession of the information about Ngcuka, the people from whom she obtained it and the steps she took to verify it.


None of this was mentioned in the CNN report for some reason.


An eagle-eyed reader spotted an interesting detail in a picture of Media and Information Commission chair Tafataona Mahoso in the Mail & Guardian recently. It was a sticker advertising the Zvakwana (enough is enough) website. The website urges people to “get up” and “stand up” to oppression. It is headed “street level action”.


Would the MIC head approve of such sentiments we ask ourselves? Does anybody care?


Meanwhile, we must be grateful to Sunday Mail writers for expressing complex events in terms we can all understand. Here is Kofi Mate-Kole on events in Malaysia: “The Malaysians discovered a plot hatched around vice-prime minister Anwar Ibrahim to oust Dr Mahathir from power. He acted swiftly and crushed the treasonable move before it could cause any serious damage to the country.”


So that’s what happened? So much clearer now.


Some goofy grins all-round on the front page of the Herald on Tuesday as General Zvinavashe’s retirement was announced. Even “Sinister Syd” Sekeramayi, possibly the least prepossessing person in Zimbabwean politics, was coaxed into a smile.


Sekeramayi was reported as urging other officers to emulate “Foxy” Zvinavashe so they get a “respectable send-off” from government.


It was not clear if this was a reference to Osleg and other entrepreneurial activities.


Still with the comrades, why has Cde George Charamba suddenly become a “Mr”? In a story saying he had invited church and religious organisations to forward nominations for the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, the Herald studiously referred to him as “Mr Charamba” throughout.


For those following Charamba’s partisan remarks in the press over the years when he has understandably been described as a “comrade”, this latest move clearly represents a policy switch.


Any clues why? Perhaps the recent court ruling that the Media and Information Commission was improperly constituted and biased in its deliberations may have something to do with it. Affidavits submitted in a related case reveal Charamba’s role in the disputed appointments process.


Charamba now wants us to believe that the procedures for the appointment of board members at the Broadcasting Authority are professional and above board.


We shall see. But we are not fooled for a minute by this “Mr” nonsense. It won’t suddenly confer respectability on dubious legislation.


Charamba provided a yahoo address — gcharamba@yahoo.com. It is not clear why he didn’t provide a government address. But it might also be possible to get him on natha-niel.manheru@zimpapers.co.zw.


 A reader has e-mailed to say that in the Herald of November 4 there is a GMB advert offering maize polads/offal for stockfeed. Upon enquiring, our reader was told the price was $350 000 a tonne.


The irony here, he says, is that the GMB is buying maize at $300 000 a tonne. People will save a lot by just milling their maize for stockfeed!