A Gundwane in my pocket

As I sat on the grass with about 12 000 other Zimbabweans at yesterdays rally in White City Stadium I thought how do we explain just what has happened to these ordinary, hardworking people just what has happened to their spending power and standard of living? Then it occurred to me that they might understand the example to all of us of a rat infestation.

Rats operate very largely in the dark. They leave few signs of their presence - a bit of dung but mostly you see the evidence of the damage they cause. It is like having a rat in your pocket - you receive your salary, put it in your pocket and when you take it out it is not worth the same amount as when you put it there! The rats of Zanu PF have been at it and stolen what you earned with the sweat of your brow.

How do they do that? Itís all a matter of modern economics. A hundred years ago when we did not have reserve banks and Ministries of Finance with their computers and when trade was paid for in gold or gold equivalents, manipulation of the value of wealth was more difficult. We still had wealth and poverty - but if you wanted to accumulate wealth or take more than your fair share, you had to do so in the full light of day. Now an official in the Reserve Bank can reach out in the still of the night and steal what is yours while you sleep!

If we take export proceeds for example - hard currency earning generated by workers in our mines and factories. Paid into our bank accounts by foreign buyers. No sooner has it arrived than the Reserve Bank reaches out and takes a bite - and gives you back a tenth of its real value in local promissory notes. 90 per cent of the portionís taken real value goes into the ratís nest where it is used to keep the rats warm and well fed.

Then a while later, they reach out and take the rest at half its value - it too goes into the rats nest where it is also used to keep the rats warm and well fed.

But it does not end there - the bits of paper given back to you by the rats as promissory notes have a certain value when they are issued to you. This is because when they were issued to you there were only a set number - divided to cover the real value of your work. But while we are sleeping these rats - being devilishly clever, print more notes, so that when you wake up and go to the store to convert your paper back into real things, you suddenly find the rats have eaten another 25 per cent or more of what you have in your pocket.

So the daddy rat - who else - gets fat and indolent and arrogant - these simple peasants he thinks, they all work for my rats and me. Mommy rat just loves to shop - does not think for one minute about where her wealth comes from just knows that daddy rat keeps it coming. The ratís uncle - a rat called Gono the Gundwane does it with a smile and every now and then he calls all the suckers in to a meeting where he tells them what he is going to do next to keep the flow of resources to the rats going.

You get a rat infestation when the conditions are right and the predators of rats are few. When that happens you need an eradication team to clean house and destroy the rats themselves. That is where we are today and nothing else will stop the erosion of our living standards and economy.