The Current Situation
So much going on itís difficult to keep track.
On the economic front things go from bad to worse. Inflation continues
escalate and now stands at something over 400 000 percent. Prices are
changing daily, even by the hour. Quotations are valid for a few hours,
pay when you take delivery. I heard of someone who was at lunch and
they were eating, the price went up!
Mugabe has continued to breathe fire and brimstone against the private
sector. After signing the Indigenisation Bill into law, he went on to
threaten all remaining British companies with expropriation of their
and to force all companies to freeze their prices at some arbitrary
February. The Indigenisation Act provides for all foreign owned
sell 51 per cent of their equity to indigenous businesspersons, 25 per
to the State for no cost and 26 per cent to be paid from future
51 percent means the loss of control over the appointment of management
the determination of policy. For every dollar invested, investors get
cents of value and no control. No company, local or foreign owned, will
accept such a draconian measure. Most firms would rather just windup
These statements and measures have simply frozen private sector
its tracks. No investment is taking place nor any maintenance and
development. The entire business community is now simply waiting for
outcome of the election. Even the many companies owned by previous
supporters of Zanu PF are now sitting back and watching events. They
the present situation is so dire that change is inevitable.
On the food front the regime had placed huge orders with Malawi and
Malawi actually offered to sell us maize on credit, Zambia also offered
terms. Now Malawi, after delivering part of the order, has discovered
they overestimated their crop and has hurriedly shut down the
hope they have been paid. I suspect that Zambia is in the same position
is also now 'going slow' on deliveries.
This coupled to the global tight market for basic foods, wheat, maize
soybeans means much higher prices and longer supply positions. We have
out of food. Beef is Z$100 million per kilo; milk is Z$40 million plus
litre. If you can find it, maize meal is costing Z$80 to Z$120 million
dollars for 10 kilos. On top of this there is a real physical shortage
basic foods of all kinds. Fresh vegetables are scarce and expensive.
One interesting aspect of this food situation is that what Zanu PF had
counted on, as being an electoral asset - the ability to control and
basic food supplies on a patronage or political affinity basis, has in
become a liability. Hungry people, who cannot find food for their
or simply cannot afford the very high prices, are angry people.
Signs of accelerated decay are all around us - schools closed early
be closed for 6 weeks, many have less than half their establishment of
teachers and of those, half or more are just out of school themselves
are untrained. The roads are in dire straights and grass verges have
been cut for months, small trees are growing on the verges in many
Sewerage systems are not being maintained and water quality and
to all urban areas has declined, despite full dams and reservoirs.
services are incapable of dealing with even routine needs.
The flood of refugees continues to pour out of Zimbabwe into
States - mainly South Africa. There, Xenophobia and economic tensions
between migrants and local populations are giving rise to violence and
On the electoral front Mugabe is in a state of panic. What is all this
card' business he plaintively asked, at a rally on Sunday in Bulawayo
attended by a small crowd dominated by school kids. He is looking his
and has to be assisted to walk and climb stairs. An increasingly
population is ignoring his demands and threats.
The authorities continue to do what they can to intimidate activists
are arrested and beaten for putting up posters, doing door-to-door
campaigns. Meetings are routinely banned or the organizers arrested for
holding an 'illegal gathering'. I ran over the time limit for one
meetings and in the morning I got a phone call to say - do not do it
On Friday we brought in a helicopter to help Morgan carry out the
flurry of rallies - 15 rallies were planned for three days - the
moving a small group quickly from one rural venue to another. We
first dayís programme in Harare but Bulawayo refused to accept that
aircraft stayed on the ground - 4 rallies were missed, including a
gathering at Victoria Falls. We then cleared a flight plan for 10
Manicaland and the Mashonaland East.
The aircraft flew to Harare; a small group who were helping with the
operation - planning the refueling stops and so on, met the pilot on
ground. The pilot asked me 'just keep me out of jail'. I joked with
he should not worry - we (MDC) fed prisoners quite well and he would
legal help and then free medical assistance if he was beaten!
At six on the first morning of the new programme he was arrested
with the volunteer group and is still in custody as I write! The second
round has had to be aborted unless Morgan can try and do some of the
meetings by road. 15 rallies, probably 70 000 people, denied the chance
see and hear their next President. Hey, welcome to the Democratic
of Zimbabwe! Police even visited the elderly widow in Bulawayo who had
him a bed for two nights yesterday!
So goes the count down - three days to go, 72 hours to freedom!
Bulawayo, 26th March 2008