Muckraker: American Dollar vs Zim dollar

WHEN the history of this period is written there may be one unsung hero who deserves acknowledgement. That is the US dollar.Yes, it has led to a harmful dichotomy between the haves and the have nots. But that was already manifesting itself in Zanu PF’s corrupt rule. What the US dollar has done is to introduce a measure of stability just when things were getting out of control with the local unit. And above all it has demonstrated that there will be no going back — economically or politically.

President Mugabe and his collaborators can’t print US dollars. They can only print local dollars to keep up. And the more they print, the faster the Zimdollar loses its value.

Yes, that leaves the army, police, and civil servants on the margins and potentially disaffected. But that’s a headache Mugabe and Co have created for themselves. They can’t manipulate the US dollar like they have everything else. It’s a currency, not an election.

Mugabe was last week telling the politburo that Zanu PF will go it alone if the MDC-T doesn’t want to join an inclusive government. They can take it or leave it, he suggested.

“We agreed to work with the MDC so we push government programmes together as a country,” he told the party faithful. “But when elections are announced we go against each other.”

So there it is. The MDC’s role will be to “push government programmes”, not formulate policy. They will be coopted to dig Mugabe out of the hole he has excavated for the country. Government programmes, let us recall, suffered unambiguous rejection in the March poll.

Meanwhile, opposition members and civic activists are being abducted with no admission as to their whereabouts despite court orders for the police to disclose where they are being held.

The MDC needs to say yes to elections — elections under international supervision and with a free press. But it cannot join a government where abductions and repression remain the order of the day and the public media is instructed to lie. The MDC will in that situation be complicit in Zanu PF’s misrule.

Didymus Mutasa has helpfully admitted that this is a regime that holds the law in open contempt. While insisting that the MDC-T adheres to Sadc’s call to join an inclusive government, Zanu PF declines to adhere to the rule of law in regard to the Sadc Tribunal.

Why should the MDC be associated with a government that refuses to obey court orders; that not only refuses to obey the orders of a regional court but insults the judges that sit on that bench?

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki of course has not uttered a word of reproach. Instead he writes an ill-advised letter to Morgan Tsvangirai denouncing Tendai Biti for “insulting” regional heads. Zimbabwe’s future lay with Sadc, not the EU and North America, he fulminated.

But the most disingenuous piece of his bad-tempered missive was that which suggested South Africa had opened its doors to thousands of Zimbabwean refugees who had imposed a heavy burden on their hosts.

This is not a burden borne by Western nations, he claimed, which have benefited from Zimbabwean skills.
What he forgot to add is that when those refugees came under murderous attack in the townships of Johannesburg, he declined to visit the victims and only late in the day denounced the perpetrators of violence.

And while it is true Western countries have benefited from Zimbabwean skills, so has South Africa.

Those same Western countries have been quick to respond to calls for their help in combating cholera and starvation in Zimbabwe when the region, with the notable exception of Namibia, has dragged its heels. As Raila Odinga pointed out, Sadc has been unforgivably slow in dealing with the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe would never share the same neighbourhood as Western Europe and North America, Mbeki lectured Tsvangirai.

But what Mbeki misses in all this is the increasingly inter-connected global village. Sadc countries may choose to find friendships around the world and not just in the region. Zimbabwe is currently reaching out to China and previously had a close relationship with Malaysia.

Botswana’s view of the Zimbabwe crisis is currently closer to that of the UK and US than South Africa.
Mbeki was isolated, let us remember, when he tried to lift Zimbabwe’s Commonwealth suspension in the teeth of opposition from other African states, most notably Nigeria.

If it is true that Biti holds Southern African leaders in contempt, that may have something to do with the contempt they hold for Zimbabwean voters! Now Mugabe is using another flawed election as a threat.

Botswana has supplied an appropriate response there: Elections under international supervision. With a democratic constitution, we should add.

Let Mugabe go ahead and form a dead-wood government. What confidence does the country have in Mutasa, Made and Msika? And can you imagine what a spur to inflation electoral money-printing will prove?
And what makes Mugabe think the international community, which declined to recognise his legitimacy last time around, will endorse another poll outcome marred by chicanery and violence?

Zanu PF should get real. It is them against whom the tide is clearly turning, not Morgan Tsvangirai as the Sunday Mail pathetically hopes. There can be no renewal for that clueless bunch of losers as Bindura will soon reveal.

And which businessmen have been foolish enough to contribute to the Bindura shindig? How can you fund your own demise?

This is a meeting of people who have no idea of how a modern economy is run. Yet they hold out the begging bowl to those whose prospects they have ruined by their ignorant policies. And some business people are stupid enough to give.

Now they have another “economic recovery plan” in the pipeline which, we can be sure, will meet the same fate as all the rest. In response to the obvious question: Why don’t they just give up and spare the country any more suffering, the obvious answer is that such a sacrifice would remove a large number of snouts from the feeding trough. Zimbabwe’s Animal Farm is not going to exit easily.

By the way, somebody writing in the Voice recently thought 1984 was a defence of socialism. As we said a couple of weeks ago, it’s good for a laugh.

Please could Econet communicate with its customers. Why is it impossible to reach a South African cell number or indeed any other number outside the country? Has it got something to do with termination fees? Why aren’t we told?

Do you recall all those ambitious statements from Econet that it was adding thousands of new subscribers to its network? We said at the time, please could it just concentrate on providing a service to its existing customers.

Those seem like halcyon days now. Econet and the two smaller networks are just not coping with inflation. Their prepaid cards run out after a couple of calls.

Customer complaints go unheeded. Nothing seems to get Zimbabweans more worked up than talking about their cellphone hassles. We just wish the companies, having made a fortune at our expense, could think of ways to make life a bit easier for their customers. Like going back to contracts.

DRC ambassador Mawampanga Mwana Nanga thinks Zimbabweans should have pride in their local brands like Air Zimbabwe. He said the DRC would continue to support the Zimbabwean “cause” and assist with the restoration of the economy.

He didn’t say what he thought the Zimbabwean “cause” was or what assistance a country like the Congo could give to the restoration of the economy.

At the same awards ceremony, AirZim CEO Peter Chikumba said although the national airline was faced with certain challenges, “its reliability had been proven and there was room to improve next year”.

Is this a statement AirZim passengers can identify with? Do they generally regard the airline as reliable? Or is Chikumba living in the same delusional world that ZTA chief Karikoga Kaseke inhabits where everything is about “perception management”?

It would be interesting to know how profitable AirZim’s Congo service is as their flights commute between Kinshasa, Mbuji-Mayi, and Lubumbashi.

This is a strange itinerary for a Zimbabwean airline!

In 1960 the Congo was traversed by a sophisticated road and rail network carrying the riches of its mines to the River Congo at Leopoldville (Kinshasa).

Now it is impossible to travel by road and there is little left of the rail network. The Congolese have reverted to their river system when they need to travel. Meanwhile their rich forest resources in the east are under siege as are their once abundant wildlife. The mountain gorillas are a notable casualty of the current civil war.

The DRC ambassador called on Zimbabweans to have pride in their national brands like Air Zimbabwe. But he didn’t say what brands could be found in the Congo or what aspects of transportation in that country its citizens could currently be proud of. What perhaps he meant is that the DRC, once under the iron fist of Mobutu Sese Seko, provides a lesson for Zimbabwe in the consequences of misrule.