The Winds of Change
Remember that line? I was actually in the hall in Harare when the
Prime Minister used that now famous phrase in a speech he went on to
South Africa later that same week. Like Winston Churchill's famous
about the 'Iron Curtain' coming down across Europe after the Second
War it somehow captured the essence of the time and because it did so,
became part of our common language as a description of the times we
Such phrases tend to develop a life of their own, I bet Hendrik Vervoed
regretted his use of the Afrikaans word 'apartheid' in an early
the days when he was Prime Minister and just begining to put together
ideological framework for the policy of separate development. The
instantly picked up and became a part of the global lingua franca
next 35 years.
This past week in Zimbabwe has seen all sorts of indications that it
be business as usual here. Foreign buyers have started buying equities
the local market spurring the market to new heights - this is after
extended period when they were absent. Then the Foreign Ministers of
SADC countries came out and stated that it was time that the grouping
stopped acting as if all was well in Zimbabwe. It was time, they said,
the region to tackle the causes of the crisis and to try and get them
resolved. One of the two was the Minister from Zambia and as they will
shortly take over the Chair of the regional body, this had great
Inside Zimbabwe there are all sorts of signs that Zanu PF is nervous
its position and deeply afraid of the emerging forces rallied against
The countrywide ban on meetings by the opposition, the use of riot
and water cannon at the slightest provocation. Evidence that there is a
scramble for assets that are 'fungible' - marvelous word that, it
'moveable' in normal parlance. I have friends who trade in hard
and they tell me that powerful figures (read Zanu PF) are buying
that appears - driving rates to new heights of absurdity. The recent
scramble for gold and diamonds fits into this same category.
I also hear news of a subtle shift in the corridors of power in South
and this is essential if any strategy is to work as only South Africa
the sort of leverage that is required to make Zanu PF commit itself to
change and reform.
On the streets here there is also a shift - demonstrations are a
occurrence. With running battles with the Police who are stretched to
limit. Every night we are feeding dozens of new political prisoners and
paying out money for bail and for fines. For the first time Police have
beaten and injured - some quite severely, by ordinary people fighting
when they try to stop them marching or meeting on the street. I was
when the Police stopped a meeting scheduled to be addressed by Morgan
Tsvangirai and saw how easily the crowd could have taken on and beaten
forces used to stop the rally. Only intervention by Morgan stopped
He said no violence and asked people to disburse quietly and regroup at
Party Offices. The students I was standing with were raring to go!
New inflation data is due out today - economists predicting that
will again run to about 50 per cent for the month of February and
the 2000 per cent per annum barrier. In my own business we are seeing
of over 3500 percent year on year - and I am sure that is not volume.
now really at that point where if you have money you must spend it
prices are changing daily. My wife went to a meeting of business people
yesterday where an official who is responsible for price control
them to a long talk. She walked out of the meeting when he got to bread
said we should not charge more that 825 dollars a loaf. That is about
Rand cents a loaf of bread, 15 per cent of its real value.
Zanu PF economics is an exercise in pure fantasy and is in no way
to the realities on the ground. I used the description of a baboon trap
describe the attitude of Zanu to the present situation and I think it
more apt than ever. The baboon puts its hand through a hole just big
to take it and grasps the maize cob inside. He then cannot get his hand
of the tin and is easily caught.
Zanu PF has its hand in the proverbial till and simply cannot make
take its hand out - even if it means capture and worse. So they
steal our hard-earned export dollars, they steal our gold and they use
position to loot the Reserve Bank and all State controlled
When diamonds were found on the surface at Marange in the Manicaland
Province, they simply brushed aside the rights of the owners, the
put the army in charge so that they could pillage the find.
I used to think there were some decent and self respecting individuals
in Zanu PF - people I had worked with in the 60,s and 70.s and in the
days of early independence. I am afraid I no longer think that is true
cannot be true, because any such individuals would long ago have walked
from the feeding trough and said enough is enough! I am afraid that
time comes, we are going to have to clean house from top to bottom and
fumigate - just to make sure none of these pests survive to pollute
water of the new government. The strange, yet telling thing, is that
education does not seem to help - not even when it comes out of the
schools of the West.
By the end of March the MDC will have completed its review of policy
first complete review since we prepared for the 2005 elections. I am
about the vision of a new beginning that emerges from the 250 pages of
policy review. When it is finally published in April/May I think you
share my enthusiasm.
We are not a poor country in an impoverished continent at war with
we are a rich country, with talented people who work hard and who own a
culture that is centuries old and offers a real human face to modern
societies. We suffer from a corrupt, egomaniacal government that was
prepared for the responsibilities we thrust on them in 1980 and they
their way. The winds of change are blowing again and, as in the 70's,
will blow away the old and usher in the new.
Our job in the next few months will be to see that the right people are
taken on board and given the required authority and responsibility to
things and let us realize our enormous potential.
Bulawayo, 8th March 2007