An African Storm
For those of you who have not lived in Africa, an African storm is a
fearsome thing. The day will be hot and breathless and about mid
you will hear a low rumble in the distance. In a short while the wind
up and the black clouds tower into the skies above us and then they
over us in majestic order.
Suddenly lighting splits the sky and the clouds seem to be cut in half
the air rushes into the space created by the heat of "gods fire". Then
the rain falling in vast wet sheets across the open veld. In seconds
gullies are full and flowing and in minutes the streams are rising out
their banks and when the storm passes we are left with the roar of
rivers as they rush down to the lowlands.
Some fear and hate the storms - my wife's mother had to retreat into an
enclosed space until given the all clear by the family. I just love the
spectacle - not just because it is so magnificent and grand, but
the fact that it is the only way to bring life to the parched soil and
carry us through another long dry season.
Each of the seasons of Africa has their own special character. Of them
appreciate the late summer and early winter - it is still green and
the rivers are running and yet it is cool and dry, often with zero
The early mornings are just superb, the early light from the rising
cool and crisp atmosphere and the joy of the birdsong. The late
iridescent greens and fantastic skies with the glow of the setting sun.
early night sky, clear as crystal with millions of stars and a
moon, the night sounds, a roar of crickets, the rasping grunts of
soft cry of a nightjar.
As I write this, a storm approaches - I am nervous for the computer and
modem, but the news of the day compels me to write again of the storm
Today the President has held his birthday celebrations - no one else to
it for him so he throws his own bash. No such thing as concern for
his country who are homeless and hungry, or of the massive impact of
prolific spending on the majority. Just a desire to have a good time at
expense and to wallow in the praises of his entourage.
At a cost of Z$10 thousand million dollars he has held a birthday party
Mutare - a City close to the epicenter of the earthquake that hit us on
Friday morning. He arrived; I am told, in a 150-vehicle convoy with his
ambulance, a contingent of the Presidential guard and dozens of
(we have 58 at last count) all of whom would have been accommodated in
hotels and lodges at even more expense.
At the rally held by local Zanu PF "chefs" thousands are gathered -
simply told to attend (school children) others are forced to attend by
roaming Police and Army patrols. They arrived at 09.00 hrs and sat in
sun until 12.00 when the "great man" arrived to speak. He spoke for an
and then without even a free cool drink, they are told to go home while
elite go off to a fabulous spread.
Then the shocking news from an IMF press conference in Washington that
estimated budget deficit in 2005 was 60 per cent (yes, I said SIXTY per
cent) of our GDP. In 2004 it was a "moderate 24 per cent). No wonder
currency is spiraling out of control and prices are rising so fast we
keep track any more. Remember it is regarded by most economists and
Bankers that the deficit should be held below 3 per cent to be
and to ensure growth with low inflation. In fact our Minister of
claimed that the deficit was three per cent - he just lied.
Since the end of last month our currency has slipped from 100 000 to 1
against the greenback to 200 000 to 1. Cooking oils have doubled in
and bread is now also reaching that level. Eggs are Z$30 000 each and
is anything from Z$50 000 to Z$75 000 a litre. Given the shortages of
meal - the basic staple food, this has also leapt in price reaching
a kilo in many markets. Liquid fuels have risen from Z$95 000 a litre
Z$200 000 a litre.
Far from facing up to the crisis in the country, Parliament met for two
and then adjourned until mid April - not a mention of the crisis and no
discussion of any solutions. In fact I think they have given up on
solution while Mugabe is in power and his henchmen rule the roost. It's
that they do not know what to do - they do. It's just that to take
steps would run the risk, which they dare not take, of letting the
loose. They are quite simply terrified of the consequences of their own
So Zanu PF finds itself locked into a crisis situation of it's own
and to which they have no solutions, no exit. They are in a blind alley
the wall at the end of the road staring them in the face. I found it
interesting that they did not bring forward expected constitutional
designed to extend the term of office of the President to 2010 and to
Zanu PF to appoint Mugabe's successor. This legislation was expected
been drafted. I think it points to the fact that Mugabe does not want
step down at all - he wants to finish his term and he wants it to run
2010. He wants four more years!
There is simply no way that that is going to happen. I recall Clintons
famous line "It is the economy, stupid". With the Reserve Bank running
printing presses flat out we can expect inflation - already at 50 per
month - to continue it's upwards climb. My own graph of the numbers
already on a near vertical part of the graph. We are close to the point
where industry and commerce will simply not be able to continue. It
be business as usual any more.
So I predict a storm is coming - a real African storm, violent,
and short and that this storm will wash away the debris we have
in the past 25 years and signal a new beginning for Zimbabwe. We simply
cannot continue like this and there is only one way out of the crisis.
you do not like or fear storms like this then it is time to get your
ready. You might need it for a while, but when you come out hopefully
will find the country washed clean and the dry veld coming alive again.
MDC - that is the real MDC, is clearing the decks for this final
get Zimbabwe back onto the road to democracy and prosperity. We shortly
the leaders of civil society and the Churches to chart the way forward
will then, for the first time, take the struggle direct to the regime.
Bulawayo 26th February 2006