The Chicken Treatment
Two lessons from my youth may be of use in describing what is happening
Zanu PF at this time. The first is what I call the 'Chicken
you have a dog that insists on attacking the chickens and will not
to in any other way, you can tie a dead chicken (preferably of the dogs
making) around its neck and leave it there for a week or two.
The dog will soon be irritated by the carcass and then will become
agitated - throwing its head from side to side as it tries to get rid
thing around its neck - to no avail. When it starts to stink it will
quite frantic and when finally the chicken is removed, the dog will run
the carcass if it is shown to it. This is a very effective treatment
The economy performs such a role in Zimbabwe today. Zanu PF has been
delinquent and in the process has killed what was once a vibrant and
diversified economy. Today the carcass of the economy is firmly tied
its neck and do what it may; it will not be able to throw it off. I
are into the third phase of this particular exercise - panic and
The other lesson I was taught as a child growing up in the eastern
hills was how to catch a baboon. Each school holiday, it was my job to
baboons raiding our crops and to try and keep them away. Let me tell
that is quite a task - they are so skilled in watching out for
any kind! Once you had got in one shot, you never got another shot at
they would watch out for me and stay well out of range. Even if the
and myself dressed in woman's clothes they could tell the difference
immediately and scarper out of sight.
So one day we put a few maize cobs in a drum with a small hole cut in
top. Baboons are very inquisitive and when the drum was placed in a
near the lands, they could not stay away. After a day or two, one of
more adventurous would stop, turn the drum over and then look inside.
smell of the maize plus the sight of those cobs would simply be too
The baboon would reach in and grab a cob. Then they would discover that
could not take their hand out of the drum without losing their loot!.
No matter what the threat - that baboon could then be approached on
captured because the drum was securely tied to a tree and they would
go of the cob. We could then do what we wanted with the baboon. On one
occasion we painted the animal with white enamel paint and when it was
let it go. She ran after her retreating troop who saw this apparition
and simply took off in terror. We never did find out if she managed to
persuade the troop that she was who she said she was, but the guards
Zanu PF chefs are similar to that poor baboon - they see the goodies
are lying around and they cannot help but grab what they can. Such
are tied to various things and these ties cannot be hidden - so when
Gono goes out and buys a US$365 000 Mercedes Benz he cannot hide the
acquisition - he also cannot let it go and it will eventually lead to
capture and humiliation. It is the same with assets that do not belong
those who have taken them from their rightful owners. When the time
will be able to identify the culprits quite easily. Painting them and
letting them loose also sounds like a good idea! I am sure they will
find their erstwhile colleagues decidedly reluctant to be seen in
with those so identified and humiliated!
So the carcass of the economy continues to rot around Zanu's neck.
we experienced the one crisis I never thought we would ever see - we
of maize meal. People have stocks at home and we are getting in green
but a severe shortage of maize meal is the stuff that starts a
By my calculations prices have doubled in the past six weeks - I saw
estimate by the IMF in Washington that they expect inflation to top 5
percent - under those circumstances prices will double every week.
happens Zanu is going to be one very unhappy dog.
But for all of that, the country is simply glowing. I have not seen the
in such good shape for many years - a combination of last season's
this years early rains even if they have not been adequate enough for
The trees are in fine shape and the flowering trees and shrubs just
It has been, so far a superb cattle season, dry but with enough rain to
bring up the grass and keep it growing.
Here in Bulawayo the main problem is water. We are now down to about 8
months supply at rationed levels and have had virtually no inflows to
dams. We need heavy rain to rectify this, as two of the five supply
empty. The government has been warned. Last year the City Council asked
government to declare the City a water emergency area but this was
If the season carries on like this we could actually run out of water
altogether. Right now the City is unable to deliver water to housing on
outskirts of the City where tankers and boreholes are the main source
water until the supplies recover.
Tomorrow firms start to reopen - most factories will not open until
or later. When they do, they will be faced with a very different
to the one they experienced in December. Inflation is sharply higher,
shortages of just about everything are more severe, electricity and
supplies are erratic and the exchange rate regime is simply disastrous.
we assume that the real exchange rate should be somewhere in the range
the parallel market then the Rand is trading at 400 to 1, the USD about
800 to 3 000 and the pound is nearly 5 000 to 1. The official exchange
remains fixed at 250 to 1 against the USD. At this rate the 'tax'
exporters is about Z$1 375 trillion, or greater than the total value of
other tax revenues to the State (and we have one of the highest tax
We will need all our ingenuity to stay afloat in this climate. I hear
another monetary statement by Gono is about due - talk is of a new
another slashing of zeros and an attempt to control both wages and
This will not only be a completely futile exercise but will do more
to the economy. Still at least that is not tied around the neck of the
it is Zanu who will have to deal with that while the rest of us just
to hold our noses when those Chefs fly by in their toys tied to trees
will eventually halt their progress and lead to their capture and
Bulawayo, 7th January 2007