The Economic Situation
Just how bad the situation is in the economy is not hard to see. Banks are
empty - no clients and often just one teller on duty. Wholesalers are slowly
getting back on their feet but stocks are pathetic and staff few and far
between. The streets are empty of traffic and in town you can park anywhere.
In the largest supermarket in my home district 20 till points stand empty -
only one was working. You do not have to book for a meal as most
establishments are half empty. People do not have the money to entertain.
Most factories are slowly starting to resume production but exporters are
feeling the pinch as costs rise and export customers feel the global
Several days a week we face power cuts, the water situation is hardly better
and the roads are in a terrible state. Prices are coming down but cash is in
short supply and low incomes inhibit personal spending on everything except
the basics. Food is freely available but at a price and only in hard
currency. Two thirds of the population are on food aid from a variety of
organisations funded by the international community.
Hotels are running at about 30 per cent occupancy - mostly foreign, as local
tourism has dried up. Investors are wary of the changes, fearing a collapse
of the new government and a reversal to the old ways and Gono delinquency.
He still struts the stage pretending to be a key player and this unnerves
all business people except the corrupt cabal that is trying to hang onto
what is left of their power and influence. Not even our neighbours trust us
to handle their money - the US$30 million sent to Zimbabwe by South Africa
in December just vanished - we could have told them that would happen but
they were not listening.
While the international community have responded rapidly to the needs of the
new government - raising their input by 100 per cent in the first quarter of
this year to over US$100 million per month, the region has responded in a
pathetic and halfhearted way. We asked them for US$1,5 billion in lines of
credit and for US$500 million in essential budget support. After two months
we have had pledged US$30 million in aid from South Africa and US$70 million
in a line of credit from Botswana. Since we are in this top heavy,
cumbersome marriage of convenience largely at the instigation of the region,
we really thought they would feel some responsibility for making it work.
Instead they have sat on the sidelines for 7 months while Mugabe
procrastinated and when he finally agreed to share power with the MDC, we
were forced to accept a lopsided deal which bore little regard to our
respective political strengths. Even then they have stood back and watched
as Mugabe has simply refused to keep his side of the bargain. Two months
into the transitional government and not a single significant problem has
No wonder the world watches Africa and despairs. Who can blame them when we
cannot manage a simple exercise such as this one and do not put our own
money where our mouth is. SADC compounds the problem when they stridently
call for 'sanctions to be lifted' and for the international community to dig
deeply into their overburdened fiscal reserves to find huge sums for our
economic recovery. In doing so they give the international community no
recognition for their ongoing grant aid to Zimbabwe - now standing at nearly
5 billion dollars since 2000 in the face of insults and widespread flaunting
of all the rules of good governance and respect for human rights and the
rule of law.
The GPA promised media freedom - what has Mugabe delivered - a slight shift
in the character of State propaganda? They are still jamming international
radio broadcasts, still banning the BBC and CNN still harassing and
imprisoning local journalists.
The GPA promised a halt to the farm invasions and respect for the rule law.
Instead we have a rush of fresh invasions, more violence and intimidation.
The theft of private assets and crops and a total disregard for the highest
legal opinion in the SADC.
The GPA promised a halt to political violence, respect for our freedoms of
assembly and association. Instead we have the continued detention of MDC
activists, banned meetings and harassment of MP's and local leadership.
The GPA promised that all major decisions and appointments would be carried
out on a consensual basis and all that we have seen are repeated attempts by
Mugabe to make decisions and appointments without consultation and
The GPA promised equity in government with a slight majority to the MDC in
respect for its victory in the polls in March 2008. Instead Mugabe insists
on maintaining control of almost all key government functions and not a
single State institution has seen its leadership reformed to reflect the new
Under these circumstances can anyone blame everyone for being sceptical
about this transitional arrangement? What hope on earth has this got to
yield a decent election in 2011, an election that will be respected by the
international community? Who can blame the major bilateral and multilateral
financial agencies for their caution and reluctance to come to the party
when it is clear that once there they will simply be abused and used?
Who can blame the business community - here and abroad, for being cautious
about coming in and helping our recovery with their own money? We have no
right to expect to be trusted and until that changes there can be no
progress. If Zanu PF cannot see that and accept that so long as they behave
like a rogue elephant, they will be treated as such and with every
justification. The main problem for everyone is that the innocent and the
guilty suffer in this situation and the innocent in this deal can do very
little about protecting their essential interests.
Today is Independence Day, Zimbabweans have very little to celebrate after
29 years of poor and corrupt government and now on top of all that, inept
Bulawayo, 18th April 2009