“Basically, (crypto) is an electronic dollar … electronic money. Our RTGS’ that we have got in Zimbabwe are basically electronic money, which is akin or similar to cryptocurrencies …”
This week, the people of Zimbabwe were surprised to learn that they were now richer than they were just a few months ago.
In New York, our president revealed that per capita income in the country had increased in the eight months since he took power, from US$900 to US$1 500.
“At the time this dispensation came into office in November last year, the per capita income was around US$900 that time. But within eight months, we have moved to US$1 500 per capita and we are saying that our goal is to reach US$3 500 per capita by 2030 and by then it means we shall become an upper middle-income economy.”
This means Zimbabweans are now some 60% richer than they were before the military liberated them.
The news came as a pleasant surprise to Zimbabweans, who had been wrongly convinced that the economy has in fact worsened. For some reason, they thought that prices have risen while real incomes have fallen due to rising inflation and the dark arts happening on the foreign currency black market. Apparently, all this was an illusion after all.
This is good news. This calls for nationwide celebrations and street carnivals. Where else do people become prosperous without even noticing it?
There was a wave of national pride and celebration this week after the country managed to build a whole roundabout. After the completion of a traffic circle on Harare Drive, politicians tussled for recognition as to who was responsible for this remarkable feat of engineering.
Zanu PF supporters gleefully posted pictures of the roundabout, saying this was a sign of progress under Mnangagwa’s wise and obviously competent leadership. After all, they said, was it not Local Government minister July Moyo who ordered the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) to stop playing around with public money and deploy it to road rehabilitation, they told anyone foolish enough to be within earshot of an average Zanu PF activist.
Hearing this, Nelson Chamisa and his crew sprang from their prayerful slumber.
“This is a product of the MDC Alliance-led council not Mnangagwa or anyone in Zanu PF,” Chamisa roared on his Facebook page.
He went on: “The illegitimate government is attempting to steal credit by erecting a billboard full of lies that they funded the project. The City of Harare is paying the contractor, not any government. It is purely the work of the council. In areas where the MDC is running the councils, I promise today on this Sunday that the people will eventually get tired of winning on service delivery.”
That the said billboard, which shows that funding came from Zinara, was erected a year ago, did not matter. Even the intervention of the contractor, saying that the project was a result of funds from Zinara to council, did not stop the merry-go-round.
Chalton Hwende, the Kuwadzana MP, who is useful for purposes of public entertainment, also declared that the council of Mayor Herbert Gomba was responsible for the road and the roundabout. So, according to Hwende, in just the three weeks that Gomba has been in office, he has managed to rehabilitate many roads and even build a traffic circle? What a miracle worker.
Across the nation, many wondered why and how politicians were rushing to claim credit for a roundabout, while none of them wanted to take responsibility for cholera, which has killed almost 50.
This was all very confusing. Had the Health minister Obadiah Moyo not informed the public that it was the MDC council’s fault that we have a cholera outbreak in Harare? And, had the MDC not told us that it was in fact the Government’s fault? Have we not been told, over the past 18 years, that the MDC is not responsible for anything that happens in Harare because all those control freaks at Shake Shake Building are controlling the city council?
How many times were us poor residents told that the Mayor is in fact just ceremonial and has no real executive power to do things that any council should do, such as to collect waste, provide clean water or build roads?
It is good news that the MDC has now finally been freed and can now, all on its own, with no help or interference from central government whatsoever, build roads and roundabouts. This is what residents and voters had wanted for years. Now residents know where to go when bins are not collected and there is sludge flowing out of water taps.
Meanwhile, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has not wasted time realising that he could be wasting his time. He too has been in New York, trying to sell Zimbabwe as an investment destination. That’s a tough job, even for a fellow like Ncube who has a great CV, talks the language of business and even wears fancy glasses.
Before he took up the post, Ncube seemed a bit overexcited, promising things like immediate currency reforms and all that. Now it looks like the man is fast realising just what kind of job he got himself into.
“My preference is a fiscal shock, but there is what you call the political collar or the politics of policy-making which then slows you down,” Ncube was quoted as saying.
It appears he has finally had a meeting with Zanu PF people. Many have walked into government with the illusion that they could change things. As soon as they sat in meetings with the real owners of the country, scales fall from their eyes.
Muckraker hopes poor Mthuli was not actually surprised to walk into the Zimbabwe government and discover that there is a “political collar”. That would be like walking into Ngungumbane Beerhall in Mberengwa and acting all surprised at finding alcoholics.
Talking of Mthuli, he had a bad day in the office in New York when, addressing the investors’ conference, he trotted out wrong economic data and, quite frankly, misled the gathering.
For instance, the Finance minister said the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange’s cumulative return since March 2009 was 2 000% — yet the true figure is 600%. He expressed confidence with Zimbabwe’s inflation rate, saying it had only risen to 6% from 4%. The true story, of course, is that the year-on-year inflation rate rose to 4,83% in August, the highest in six years.
There is more. Mthuli claimed that tobacco production had reached 25 million kilogrammes, which he said was a 40-year high. The truth, of course, is that production of the golden leaf has reached 250 million kgs, an all-time record.
Where is the Finance minister getting his economic data?
Crypto: Don’t pretend to know, Mr Governor
The world stood in awe and admiration of Zimbabwe this week, upon learning that the country was a world leader in cryptocurrency, the virtual money that we all pretend to understand. In New York, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya was asked by Bloomberg TV what role he thought cryptocurrencies could play at the central bank.
Having banned cryptocurrencies in Zimbabwe, to the extent of having to defend himself in court, one would have expected to simply say “we are looking into it to make sure cryptocurrencies work within our laws”.
Instead, Mangudya offered this explanation: “Basically, (crypto) is an electronic dollar … electronic money. Our RTGS’ that we have got in Zimbabwe are basically electronic money, which is akin or similar to cryptocurrencies …”
At that point, the interviewers should have done the right thing and shut down their cameras to avoid Zimbabwe suffering any more global embarrassment than it has already received. Instead, they were cruel enough to allow the cringe-fest to continue.
It must fill all Zimbabweans with pride to learn that RTGS balances are a form of crypto. We had the technology before all these tech geeks knew anything about it? We are real pioneers.
Look, Mr Governor, you could have just said you haven’t the foggiest idea what crypto is and that you like to occasionally pretend that you do, just to impress your friends. That’s what the rest of us do anyway.
But, you see, this is what happens when your central bank governor’s PhD is from Washington International University, an unaccredited diploma factory whose physical address is just the internet.