The Immediate Outlook
It is not possible to look too far ahead in Zimbabwe - conditions are
too unstable and literally anything could happen any day. I get up
thinking - is this the day when it all happens? But whatever happens,
immediate outlook is pretty grim and I think it needs analysis and
If we start by examining the economic outlook, sector by sector, this
reveals a truly alarming situation. In respect to agriculture, it is
late to prevent the disaster that is going to happen this summer as
production and the production of all export crops plunge to new lows.
is little seed available, no fuel for land preparation, no chemicals
very little fertilizer. It is now just 85 days away from the critical
for planting and there is just not enough time left to overcome the
shortages. We are about to see another year wasted and another year
which Zimbabwe will be another African country requiring emergency food
In mining the situation is only marginally better with all investment
by hostile government policy decisions and a poor domestic economic
outlook - at a time when for the first time in 50 years, basic
prices are rising in real terms. In industry and commerce the situation
critical - one businessman said to me today - "we have no coal, no
no chemicals and no sign of any relief". For many, if not most
firms, they are close to closure.
In the tourism sector, the position is no better - occupancy rates are
break even, many hotels and resorts are closed and the major hotel
are all making losses and being forced to cut back on everything.
changes to the tax regime do not help and a new tax on transactions on
stock market of 10 per cent on both sales and purchases simply makes it
impossible for the bourse to function. The stock exchange has been
closed down since the Ministers statement on the 18th and once they
operating stock market valuations will plunge. One broker told me they
holding Z$3 trillion in "sell" orders.
Since he took office the Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono, has closed
10 asset management companies, 7 commercial banks and several other
financial institutions. These closures have cost investors and
many billions of dollars. Now these losses are being compounded by the
impending losses of a stock market crash.
Citizens have seen their investments devastated by these developments
savings have been wiped out by inflation and low interest rates.
are living in penury unless they receive help from overseas or local
sources. I doubt if confidence can be re-established in the financial
services industry until there are major political changes in leadership
Then there is the inflation outlook. Inflation rates have risen every
this year and in July they rose at an annual rate of 10 000 per cent (I
told that this is what 47 per cent in one month translates into when
compounded). August will be worse and I can see no sign of any slow
price rises in September. How do we cope with these massive price rises
collapsing economy? There is only one possible outcome - incomes are
to fall even faster and poverty in every sense is going to become much
Then there is the humanitarian situation. We have at least 5 million
in need of food aid. This number will grow exponentially in the next
months and we need to import huge amounts of food - 120 000 tonnes of
30 000 tonnes of wheat, thousands of tonnes of vegetable oils and fats
significant proportion of our protein foods including milk and baby
There is simply no way we can afford the bill and the State has still
asked for help. If these bottlenecks were overcome immediately, how do
get that volume of product into the country on a depleted rail network
degenerating road transport system? If we do not get help and if this
does not arrive then the UN description of Zimbabwe as the worlds
humanitarian crisis" will take on graphic proportions. Unlike Niger and
Mali, the television crews will not be here to bear witness to this
failure - only the graves in poor villages across the country will be
to bear witness and by then it will be too late.
In the political sphere the news is no better. Mugabe has rejected the
African emergency loan proposals because of the conditions attached to
I have never seen such an intensive media effort to obscure what is
going on as in respect to this loan debacle. I think even those whose
is to confuse us are themselves confused by all that is going on.
rejected the UN's overtures to stand aside and let them help; he has
rejected the UN assessment of our needs and the humanitarian
has also rejected mediation by the AU and any independent assessment of
humanitarian crisis by the AU itself. He has rejected the mediation of
old friend and ally - Chissano.
Within Zimbabwe the political crisis evolves on a daily basis. Powerful
and military figures talk to opposition politicians, seeking assurance
asking what can be done to break the logjam. Zanu PF itself has
into two main factions with others simply abandoning the Party as a
cause and retiring to the sidelines for fear of being hurt. The rape of
country's assets continues and in fact accelerates as those in power at
local level see no future and seek to make hay while the sun shines.
is in his bunker, like Hitler at the end of the Second World War,
the progress of his massed divisions and giving orders that cannot be
even when death was the consequence of refusal.
He knows in his heart that he cannot survive - his circle of friends is
down to a handful of people and countries, even in Africa he is now
a liability, not an asset. He knows he has failed, failed his people,
his country and his continent and that disgrace and banishment are the
likely outcome of this situation. In some ways I feel sorry for the man
much to offer, so much to gain, all lost because of a blind pursuit of
at any cost, even the destruction of your own country and the complete
impoverishment of its peoples.
In a sense I am glad we are here at last - because it means that the
this nightmare is close. But my goodness, what a mess to clean up
Bulawayo, 28th August 2005.