Editor’s Memo

Overwhelming?

HAS the Homelink initiative been as successful as officialdom would like us to believe? A document prepared by the central bank to help governor Gideon Gono to answer questions from

the parliamentary portfolio committee on the Budget, Finance and Economic Development this week is revealing. It paints a not-so-rosy picture of the forex transfer scheme.


The Gono document which his office volunteered to us this week says since January 1, Homelink has brought in US$36 million which translates to 3% of the global foreign currency figure of US$1,2 billion for the same period.


More importantly however, is another revelation contained in the Homelink press supplement in which its publicity committee chairman, businessman Herbert Nkala, said 60-70% of Zimbabwean adults who should constitute the productive sector are living abroad.


Diabolical? But Nkala’s guestimate should not be doubted because he tells us that it is a “scientific estimate”.


“The most scientific estimate we have of the number of Zimbabweans living abroad is 3,4 million,” he said. “This represents 25% of the last national census figure.”


“When you take into account that at least 50% of the population is under the age of 15 and the number of children who have retired, you are left with the inescapable conclusion that between 60% and 70% of Zimbabwean adults in their productive years are living abroad,” he said.


Nkala tells us that the large cross-border population told the Homelink team on its globetrotting mission in May and June that they wanted to participate in the economy’s turnaround.


“They also confirmed that they will send money through Homelink,” Nkala told us.


That is not all. Nkala said 50% of diasporans in the United States and the United Kingdom each sends home an average of US$200 a month. A conservative figure of a million diasporans sending money home every month should bring Zimbabwe US$200 million a month.


To be even more circumspect, a quarter of that amount would be enough to finance monthly fuel and electricity imports.


Those living abroad are yet to translate their enthusiasm and support of Homelink into huge remissions.


Nkala said people in the diaspora were sending money home through other means – a more honourable way of describing the black market – which unfortunately is finding its feet again. That the RBZ team on its roadshow was “overwhelmed by the desire by the diasporans to send money through Homelink” is a political statement which does not reflect the reality in the central bank’s coffers. Indeed, it tells us something of the delusional thinking that characterises much of the scheme.


Homelink has brought in US$36 million and not the hundreds of millions “overwhelmed” Nkala was promised during his junket in Europe. Remember boss Gono has said “failure is not an option”.


Gono’s document is revealing in as far as it rubbishes the propaganda in the RBZ’s Homelink supplement. There was no real “overwhelming” response to Homelink other than from perhaps those who attended expensive parties in Atlanta, London and Johannesburg.


“Every picture (in the supplement) tells a story,” it declares.

The 3,4 million Zimbabweans in the diaspora who Nkala tells us would like to “invest their money to boost Zimbabwe’s economy”, will not be doing so soon as long as they do not support the system of governance at home.


If each one of them brought in US$100 a month through the formal monetary structures, the amount of just US$340 million would surpass forex receipts from exports. Since January, exports proceeds, which constitute the largest chunk of forex inflows, have brought in US$745 million – that is about US$83 million a month. Gold is bringing in an average US$25 million monthly. Not very overwhelming is it?


The subterfuge built around the numbers game is key to ensuring that the world regards Zimbabwe as a country on the firm road to recovery. That is the reason why the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has told us that the country has produced 2,4 million tonnes of maize. The parastatal failed to produce tangible evidence to support this when it appeared before a parliamentary portfolio committee recently.


GMB boss Samuel Muvuti this week said 300 000 tonnes of maize had already been collected and a balance of between 500 000 and 750 000 would be collected before the end of the year. The parastatal, we are told, is collecting between 20 000 tonnes and 30 000 tonnes of maize every week.


At a collection rate of 30 000 tonnes a week the maximum that would be collected by December is less than 400 000 tonnes. But grain-marketing trends show that communal farmers producing most of the grain sell their crop before the onset of the rains to raise money for inputs. There are no huge grain sales between December and March. Muvuti would want us to believe that the peak marketing period has shifted to the end of the year. Another invention of the Third Chimurenga!


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