A week is a long time in politics
Sometimes it is quite hard to keep track of all that is going on in
small corner of the world that is so important to us who live here.
doubly difficult for those who live “out there”. If you take the past
for example, the main points that we might record are as follows: -
Inflation rose in August to 28 per cent for the month – raising the
average so far to 1204 per cent. This is dramatically up on the figure
July and the IMF followed this with a brief report that said that
was out of control and might reach 4000 per cent in 2007. On the ground
CEO of Dairibord was arrested when he raised the price of milk and the
started raids on the homes of senior executives of other companies
price fixing and profiteering. After claiming that fuel at controlled
(Z$330 per litre) would be available, prices rose today to about Z$1000
litre at retail outlets – local commuter transport charges rose by a
The Deputy Minister of Mines reiterated that the State was determined
take 51 per cent of the equity in all mining concerns. Although the
industry remained silent in the face of this threat, with the sole
of the Zimplats operation, it now looks as if the rest of the industry
simply sit tight and await developments. All major maintenance and
is on hold and will remain so until the policy environment is
Literally billions of US dollars of investment are on hold as a result.
is yet another example of Zanu PF stupidity and greed.
The IMF announced that in their own view the Zimbabwe economy would
by about 5 per cent again this year – bringing to 7 years the
decline in national economic output and coming on top of an over 7 per
decline in 2005. In the same week the IMF and the World Bank raised
estimate of global expansion to 5,7 percent in 2006, citing strong
China and India and stronger performance in Africa. Global trade is
strongly and the oil exporters are on a global spending spree that is
helping offset the higher oil prices.
The Minister of Agriculture, that nutty guy Made, accepted for the
time that we might be short of grain. He explained to a Committee of
Parliament that the GMB did not have the required stocks to overcome a
shortfall in imports. This after he has persistently claimed we had
large crop of maize and would reap over 200 000 tonnes of winter wheat.
reality is that we have grown a small crop of maize (about 700 000 to
000 tonnes) and cannot expect to reap more than a tiny wheat and barley
crop – no more than about 50 000 tonnes or 15 per cent of our needs.
What nobody has admitted is that the cotton crop – grown almost
by small-scale farmers who are largely unaffected directly by the farm
invasions, has declined by 30 per cent in a year of above average
a serious development. To emphasize the impact of this, the largest
spinner cut back production by 50 per cent last week and went onto
time. Clothing manufacturers were all rushing to try and find fabric to
the hole in their programmes in advance of the Christmas season when
is normally high.
On the democratic front, the State announced last Monday in the form of
adverts in the government owned press that Rural District Council
would be held at the end of October and that candidates had to register
Friday morning. Just to make sure everyone had the opportunity to serve
their communities, the compulsory police clearances needed by all
prospective candidates had to be processed in Harare and would cost Z$2
000.00 (two million dollars in the “old” currency). Now remember there
nearly 2000 seats up for election in these Districts – many in the most
remote corners of the country. The Nomination Courts would be held at
Rural District Council Offices in each District.
The MDC had to find candidates, put them through selection procedures
clearance procedures, get their fingerprints done at local police
and then send the prints to Harare by whatever means possible, get
and then get them back to the Districts in time for the applicants to
their documents – which must include the new “long” birth certificates.
in 5 days! Well, that proved too much even for Zanu PF who knew of this
well in advance and was working on candidates and we got an extension
Wednesday – another 3 working days. Still this makes a complete mockery
the democratic system – how on earth can people work within a system
managed like this – we have not seen the voters roll and there has been
little voter registration activity.
Then Mr. Mugabe commandeered a plane from Air Zimbabwe, leaving
stranded all over the world (as we only have one long distance aircraft
flying) and flew to Cuba for the Non Aligned Movement summit. He was in
company as he stridently announced to the world that “democracy was
and that the demand for adherence to democratic principle was an excuse
regime change in counties like his own. How right he is – if we had a
democracy here, he and his clowns would be history, voted into oblivion
Just to endorse his view of the values of the rest of the world, the
Minister of Information here said that “a free press would result in
losing power” and this was why they were going to keep a tight grip on
press and the electronic media. We all knew that, but it was nice to
confirmed by the regime itself.
Just to confirm the character of the regime we had the spectacle on
Wednesday of 40 000 baton wielding riot police backed up by at least 24
water cannon – most of them brand new, freshly trained by Chinese
freedom and democracy, chasing a few hundred Unionists and MDC leaders
were trying to deliver a document to the Minister of Labor.
By my own tally, 260 people were arrested, many beaten in front of
of by standers and then taken off to Police Cells. There the leadership
the ZCTU was subjected to a brutal and savage beating. At least two –
Mativenga and Wellington Chibebe were beaten about the head and have
head injuries. They and others have broken arms and legs and crushed
We will find out who was responsible (not just the Ministers) and we
eventually get justice for those injured in this appalling action.
A long overdue, but still welcome development was a strong statement
the traditional leaders of the Church in Zimbabwe calling for
centered on a fresh vision of the future and to agree on a solution to
present crisis. This was echoed by voices abroad that said it was time
prepare for a post Mugabe era. We in the MDC agree with both sentiments
Mugabe remains obdurate and stuck in a morass of his own making.
Finally, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the MDC, was on BBC World
a call-in programme called “Have your say”. The programme was recorded
South Africa because the BBC could not get a permit to enter Zimbabwe.
be biased, but frankly I thought he was fantastic. It was just what
us who have worked with the man for the past decade have come to
came across as a man of compassion and intellect, a real human being
wanted the best for his country and its people. There was one “planted”
e-mail from a group in Zimbabwe that came via Ireland, but the rest
genuine questions and I think they mostly got a good thoughtful
was like a breath of clean air after all the rest. Pity it’s only on
and the great majority of Zimbabweans will not have had the chance (the
few such chances) to actually see the man who almost certainly will be
Bulawayo, 18th September 2006