Overgrown Morons at Work

The BBC has a very well developed sense of the bizarre and knows when to use a propaganda clip to good effect when it becomes available. They did that this week with a short clip from the only State run television channel here and the subject was the reaction in Parliament to the success of the vote on the 17th constitutional amendment since 1980.

The clip showed the despair of the MDC opposition to the vote and the specter of the Zanu PF Members of Parliament (one third of them unelected and appointed by Mugabe for such an event in our sorry history) dancing in Parliament and clearly showing their gross indulgence and scant regard for the suffering of our people. But the sad thing is that what we were really witnessing was a collection of overgrown child morons at work.

Just look at the childish actions of this collection of clowns in the past fortnight.

They create a new Senate which will cost us US$20 million before the end of this year in direct and indirect costs at a time when we cannot find the money to import food, raw materials, fuel and spare parts. The only function of this completely useless institution is to accommodate those who failed in their bids to join the gravy train in the last election.

They gave themselves the right to take away from those who disagree with them and who are standing up to them politically, the right to travel. This is clearly simply a "tit for tat" measure designed to match the smart sanctions imposed on Zanu leadership for gross human and political rights violations. The fact that this was yet another violation of our basic rights as entrenched in international law made no impression.

They took away from all of us any remaining security of tenure over assets that we have owned, in many cases, all our lives. In one fell swoop they destroyed whatever hope they once had of agricultural recovery and spread the malaise to every sector of the economy. No mine or industry or even urban residential property is now safe. This stupid and childish act (which has no legal validity in the long term as others in similar circumstances around the globe will testify) has undermined all serious future investment and confirmed decisions like that of the huge Anglo American Group, that disinvestment is the only sensible strategy while these clowns are in power.

They declared (and this really takes the cake) that we could not demand elections for a new Mayor and Council in crisis riven Harare because they were allowed by the law to postpone such an event for three months at a time for up to 4 years! So much for democratic rights and the principle objects of the liberation struggle that Zanu and others fought for over half a century.

When faced with the threat of expulsion from the IMF and the efforts by South Africa to get them to start behaving in a mature and rational way to end the present crisis, they raided the private bank accounts of local business and simply took the money to pay the IMF US$120 million. This, at a time when we have no seed or fertilizer for the new season now two months away, no fuel, no raw materials, shortages of all basic foods and shortages of just about everything else. All that this act of defiance did was to say to South Africa - you go jump in the lake. we can still look after ourselves! If we needed a clearer example of the rejection of the SA loan offer with its political and economic conditions - here it is.

What did this childish act achieve? Absolutely nothing! It came in a week when South Africa cut our phone lines for non payment of accounts and the PTC announced it owed other telephone systems over US$100 million in unpaid bills. We owe everyone money and our creditors now hold our useless script on nearly US$7 billion in foreign debt and Z$16 trillion debts at home - rising now at a trillion a week. We even had a plane impounded at Gatwick for non-payment of landing fees - and they held passenger luggage as hostage until the overdue account was paid. But when it came to rectifying the fundamental problems, that underline our economic and political crisis and which the IMF and others have been demanding action for years - they did virtually nothing.

So now we sit - passengers at international airports waiting for days for a plane to take them home, businessmen waiting for urgently needed imports to keep their businesses running, miners to keep their mines open and functioning, farmers across the country sitting on their useless assets, waiting for fuel and fertilizer and seed to get a crop in the ground this season. It town we sit in queues for hours and days for fuel and other essentials and when we get them they have doubled or trebled in price.

The stock market is still frozen in its tracks - trillions of dollars worth of "sell" orders, no buyers. The government is losing Z$500 million a day while this impasse goes on but still no action, they childishly refuse to accept they were wrong and these new regulations will simply destroy what was until a few weeks ago one of the few institutions still functioning normally. These guys are morons - 25 years of experience in government and they are still not learning anything as they go on.

We have yet to see what the final IMF position will be but I am sure the payment of US$120 million will not mean a great deal. In fact the way it was done and the total lack of transparency that was involved will not impress those stern international bankers! It was probably counterproductive. The truth is the IMF does not give a damn about the arrears - it's our policies that worry them. They know better than most with their global network of offices and people that it is the policy stance of this government (the goon show) that has destroyed our economy, halved incomes and life expectancy and driven a third of our total population into exile or an early grave.

If I were on the IMF Board I would send their cheque back to them and tell them to go away and not to come back until they were prepared to put their house in order. Right now we are in a firestorm of inflation - for the first time in our history we are seeing triple digit inflation in one month. The good news is that no government in history has survived that sort of storm and neither will this one. Then perhaps we can start to get on with rebuilding our lives. There is little hope of that while this collection of child morons is at work and in control.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 3rd September 2005