Today the Rand went over 3 000 to 1, the US dollar went to over 30 000
and the price of beer, bread and fuel doubled. I raised our salaries
per cent two weeks ago and I am going to have to find another 100 per
next week. People cannot afford even the basics, money has no value and
everybody is talking about prices and the specter of economic collapse.
The government simply does not know what to do next - a 400 per cent
increment to teachers is now virtually wiped out just weeks later. They
imposed price controls only to find that market prices have soared to,
some cases, 5 times the so-called controlled price (bread is now about
Z$4000 a loaf - the controlled price is Z$825) even though the latter
fixed just two months ago. When the State tries to enforce prices on
traders, the product just disappears overnight. I have not seen a
vegetable oil in 4 months. The only product that is occasionally
is imported from South Africa.
State institutions are not able to move with the kind of speed that is
needed to survive in this situation. All of them are reeling under the
strain - foreign exchange is unobtainable except on the parallel
there the prices rise daily. They cannot generate enough local currency
pay for the currency they need - and it has to be in cash. Maximum
withdrawals from the banks are Z$1 million - that is not enough to
tank at Z$17 000 or Z$18 000 a litre.
The total collapse of these institutions is now almost inevitable -
simply cannot pay their bills and cannot buy the essentials they need
operate. People must be close to saying that it is simply not worth
while going to work.
I run a retail operation and have watched my sales rise from about plus
per cent up at the start of last year to 4 800 per cent this month.
just about tracks the sort of inflation that ordinary people now face
their daily lives. In this situation we must remember that this affects
everybody. Pretty soon we are going to face complete stock outs of
essentials and only those who have foreign exchange will be able to get
them. The quality and delivery of all services is about to crash.
The question is what are the political implications? This coming week
future of Zimbabwe will be decided. The Zanu PF Central Committee meets
decide whether to accept that Mr. Mugabe is to be the sole candidate
Zanu PF in the March 2008 elections. There can be only one outcome of
meeting - they will politely decline his offer to stand, tell him he
been a great and heroic leader, but it is time to 'ende Kumusha'
(go to your
traditional home). Then they will agree to select and appoint a
the December 2007 Zanu PF annual conference. That will then mark the
a remarkable political career.
The SADC will hold a key meeting of its own in Tanzania and at that
they will decide what to 'do' about Zimbabwe. They will review the
and consider the different options and then come down on the side of
They will agree that this situation simply cannot be allowed to
slide in this fashion, that the collapse in Zimbabwe is a real threat
regional stability and progress and they will demand progress on a
negotiated agreement on how to restore legitimate government in Harare
halt and reverse the decline in our fortunes.
Somewhere else in the world, the new task force on Zimbabwe will be
and at that meeting the international community will decide what
back and what minimum criteria will have to be satisfied to get their
acquiescence to any agreed resolution of the crisis. They will examine
possible timetable and set out what kind of resources they might make
available to the process on a collective basis.
For most the end of Mugabe's career as President will be the signal
these times. What people may not appreciate fully, are the direct
consequences of his political demise. From the 1st of April he will be
yesterdays man - he might still live in that fancy Chinese monster he
home, he might still ride around in a long cavalcade with outriders and
still be guarded by stony faced guards with fixed bayonets. But it will
an empty shell that we see and hear. His power will wash away from him
the receding tide.
His loyalists and all those who have slavishly followed his every
will suddenly realize that on April the 1st 2008, they will be stripped
power and privilege. That new powerbrokers will run the show and they
have to decide what to do. Those who have broken the law and stolen
that did not belong to them will also be thrown back onto their
forced to think about their future. Many will flee; others will try to
The people who control the investment levers are already putting out
feelers - asking to what degree are local stocks under priced, what
assets, can we buy farm title deeds? They are talking to people who
go and making plans to come in their place. They are considering future
investment possibilities in those sectors that will recover fast
and mining) and in those areas where assets can be had for 5 per cent
less of their real value. I spoke to a London based group last week
have in fact done just that for about that price for assets in the
The international community will breath a huge sigh of relief and plan
put some resources on the table and to try and help get things under
control. They will focus on stabilizing inflation, getting essentials
free supply and the rehabilitation of our medical and education
They will begin to assess priorities for 2008. They will move to help
hold free and fair elections in March next year as these will be both
mechanism for transition and the door to recognition and recovery.
What must we do under these circumstances? We must prepare for these
and hold things together for a bit longer. We are a community renowned
our ability to 'make a plan' and that is just what we are going to
do. We are going to have to help people get through this inflation
help each other to keep our firms in business and our local authorities
position to deliver essential services. We will need to prepare to vote
the candidate of our choice next year and ensure that they too 'have
Bulawayo, 23rd March 2007