Introduction: Zimbabweans are notorious for worshipping false gods. But false religion has its limits. No amount of machinations can cover up the rapidly collapsing economy. Masimba kuna Amai (power to Amai Grace) or any other chant will not employ a single youth; nor will the use of force keep the regime afloat. I think the limits of voodoo economics and the use of force have reached their limits. The missing link and the little life that remains are due to their failure to grasp economic reality. But economic reality is no respecter of persons; it is beginning to find its way into their thick skulls.
IT WAS said of Ghana’s Dr. Kwame Nkrumah that whatever he laid his eyes on; he felt an urgent need to master it. The end started rather unceremoniously, when he ordered that all civil servants, paid through the government Post Office and Savings Bank, make a compulsory five percent savings per pay period. We know of course who wanted to use this money, and who thought that the workers should sacrifice their savings for patriotic reasons.
In the meantime, Dr. Nkrumah, believing that he was somebody in the universe, took a trip to Vietnam, in order to assess the US-Vietnam conflict, so he could mediate between the two countries. The US, behind his back, paid Colonel Afrifa a sum of $100,000 to execute an overthrow. It has been my special interest to study the signs of the end of African regimes, which always start with bombast, pretense to be “somebody in the universe” when their home base is sinking in economic morass.
So it was the case with our own Supreme Leader, Commander of all the Defense Forces of Zimbabwe, Chancellor of ten state universities and Patron in Chief of Zimbabwe’s War Veterans. Oh, I had forgotten to mention his new title, Supreme Orator. Between January and September, he has hardly been home for more than two weeks at any one time, making himself to be somebody who can solve problems in Addis Ababa and in New York. When he returned from New York, after delivering a “superb speech” he was hailed by thousands of youths at Harare airport, who conferred on him this latest title, Supreme Orator.
In a country with a budget of $2.2 billion, $200 million goes to serve the President’s Office. Lest our readers forget the superb developmental work carried out by the President’s Office, it keeps employed such officers as wear dark glasses, who forced activist Itai Dzamara into a pick-up, never to be traced. But that is not the first time this has happened. The story of Jestina Mukoko can be found in court records. Force has its limitations and that limit, I believe, has been reached.Advertisement
One can judge a country by the titles its Supreme Ruler gives himself and the number of portfolios he supervises. So it was with Malawi’s Dr. Hastings Banda. And so it was also with Field Marshall, General AL haji Idi Amin Dada, Conqueror of the British Empire. We have gone to some length to describe Mugabe’s titles and areas in which his mastery of events and persons is illustrated. The one thing all these dictators failed to understand and master was basic economics. While some had read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, they had neglected to master this one secret; no man does business out the goodness of his heart, wishing himself sustenance without profit.
While these charlatans mastered the art of oppression through fear, their Achilles heel lay in economic mismanagement. Secondly, because they are surrounded by idolaters who fail to pronounce the fact that the king has no clothes, they have not comprehended the fact that all money comes from production. Warning bells are ringing everywhere in Zimbabwe. The time to be merry is past, but the supporters of the regime continue to walk in Jerusalem, as if they are partners with St. Peter and St. John.
When Mugabe nationalized white owned farmland, his magician, a Professor Jonathan Moyo, proposed a new mathematical theorem, “the land is the economy, and the economy is the land.” With such bombast, a white Christian brother of mine, Ben Freeth, lost his farm to our own Nathan Shamuyarira. “I have managed to return (to the farm) a number of times. Not a single borehole is operational (out of ten) and the pump at the river also has not worked since the invaders took over. None of the 40,000 trees have been irrigated or sprayed or fertilized…my nursery, which had 8,000 trees in it dead. My small macadamia orchard is also dead. No crops were planted last season.”
It never occurred to them that Ben Freeth took twenty years to grow 40,000 trees and that he paid his taxes as well. Now the government has run out of money and they wonder why. In the Herald of September 18, one finds a boastful report about the Zimbabwe treasurer releasing $14 million in payment for grain farmers. What is missing in that story is that my nephew sold 10 tons of grain in 2011, and even if he is paid for the grain now, at the prices prevailing in 2011, he will make a huge loss. In any case, the Herald confesses that the instalment is part of a $30 million owed to farmers for their grain.
As we go to press, in the middle of September, President Mugabe’s office says that he was invited to the United Nations, where he will preside over and “co-convene of a high level Youth Empowerment at the 70th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.” Vanity of vanity, all is vanity among these idol worshippers. Part of this most salutary speech says that:
“The situation created by the Bush-Blair illegal campaign of aggression against Iraq has made worse the conflict between Sunnies and Shias. Leave alone the disastrous economic consequences of this unlawful invasion. Libya has been made equally unstable, following NATO’s deceitful intervention under the sham cover of Chapter VII of the charter of the UN and the phony principle of the responsibility to protect.”
There is no denying that there is some truth, but his address, the 30th such, since he attends the UN meetings every year, had no listeners. There were three delegations left in the House, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe itself, to show solidarity. After listening to the Pope, who was the main attraction, the more powerful delegations of Great Britain, the US and the European Union had left the House to enjoy a perfect New York dry fall season air. After all they had heard the song before, thirty times already of the “illegal Bush-Blair conspiracy”. But the point had to made: “We call on those countries which have imposed sanctions against us to review their positions. Zimbabweans have suffered for too long under these completely illegal sanctions.”
What has caught the attention of the US press is Mugabe’s call to reject gay rights. “We equally reject attempts to prescribe new rights which are contrary to our values, norms, traditions and beliefs.” The line, Mugabe rejects gay rights, was taken up by Mrs. Hillary Clinton. In the long run, the World Bank (an American controlled bank) will not disburse any money or guarantees to Zimbabwe. The WB president is an appointee of the US president. Mrs. Clinton, and Barak Obama before her, owe many favors to the gay community in the US.
The president’s travels constitute a sheer waste of resources and time. The empowerment convocation at the United Nations is a good example. Zimbabwe has an unemployment rate of over 80 percent, forcing university graduates to serve as street vendors. The whole country has been turned into a large street vendor market.
I have taken pains to mention Mugabe’s titles because they illustrate characteristics of a megalomaniac; a narcissist who cannot delegate any authority or function to subordinates. Surely, there is no sense in one man assuming the chancellorships of all ten state universities and insisting on capping the graduating students. Surely, there is no sense in one man making the funeral speeches at Heroes Acre for each and every hero’s burial.
There was a complete misunderstanding of economic realities as far back as 2000 when white commercial farmland was invaded. The theory of connectivity was incomprehensible. The example of Freeth’s farm illustrates, through the theory of connectivity, why the Grain Marketing Board has not been able to pay customers since 2003. If a farm of such productivity, 40,000 fruit trees, ten boreholes and other smaller orchards, employing 150 workers has been left derelict for the last ten years, surely it is no surprise that the GMB is derelict also. Yet, the purpose for the invasion of Freeth’ farm was to punish him for his role in the Commercial Farmers Union.
When I was studying the Mutumwa Mawere saga, and the nationalisation of Shabani-Mashava Mines, the complete disregard or lack of comprehension by the Zimbabwe governmental actors astonished me. A conglomerate which had once supported a surrounding population of 60,000 and employed within its confines 6,000 workers was nationalized in order to punish the owner. The connectivity between the functionality of the mines and the welfare of the workers was not even an afterthought. Making a political point was a priority. When the mines closed in 2011, the plight of the workers was beyond belief. The Chindori-Chininga parliamentary report states:
“The majorities of the workers have gone for two years without a salary and are struggling to meet their basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter. They have no access to clean water and electricity because of their failure to pay their bills. Children have dropped out of school and the sick are struggling to get adequate health care. Domestic violence and moral decadence are the order of the day in the townships. In 2010, the workers tried to air their grievances through a demonstration. Riot police were called leading to skirmishes and four workers sustained gunshot wounds.”
It never occurred to them that Mawere paid taxes and that the 6,000 workers at Shabani-Mashaba Mines had children at school.
The International Monetary Fund is the new surrogate for the imperialists. It creates problems for people like Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa when it applauds his efforts to make Zimbabwe business friendly. Chinamasa may have created some problems for himself by acknowledging his friendly attitude towards the organization. The IMF has never changed its methods since time immemorial. It waits until a country cannot pay its bills, then it swoops to impose conditions which are bound to break the government that accepts such conditions.
I was a young man when Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere addressed students at my university (West Indies) and said these words. “Shall we starve our children so that we can pay the IMF? If our economy is not creating enough employment for our youths, how is it that the IMF wants us to shed more jobs?” The answer is YES. The IMF is answerable to bankers in New York and drinks the blood of youthful offenders who call themselves socialists. In Chinamasa’s case, he was asked to reduce civil service employment from 500,000 by almost half. In a separate reference, the IMF wants Zimbabwe to reduce their employment budget by 40 percent, which equals the loss of 100,000 government employees.
In IMF jargon, the priority should be to (a) gather enough support to pay off the $10.2 billion owing to overseas lenders. In the short run, a down payment of $1.2 billion in the next twelve months will be welcome. In another memo (b) restoring confidence in the financial sector means removing all restraints to the movement of money so investors can invest or disinvest at will. In fairness to the IMF, any forms of financial restrictions attract underground transfers.
So Chinamasa must make bricks without straw. He cannot print money. Having chased the geese that make golden eggs, he must now bend or break. The so-called ghost workers are not ghosts at all. Observers have noticed the very callow youths employed at police stations all over Zimbabwe, whose ignorance of their tasks is evident. These are graduates from Border Gezi camps, and their only qualification is their ability to be angry and to beat up folks “who threaten the government.”
This threat is of course loosely interpreted. The other group is directly employed in the Youth Ministry. In my tribal village, my nephew Credit, terrorized the populace during and after elections. Any outsider, especially from the Diaspora, posed a threat. Credit was powerful enough to be a threat, even to the village headman, his uncle. These are the people, whose employment status cannot be properly defined under the rules of the IMF, which assumed that they are “ghost” because whatever descriptions they were given, were dodgy.
Brother Chris Mutsvangwa, Minister of Veteran Affairs and Brother Patrick Zhuwao, Minister of Youths, have a point. These “hustlers” (wonderers seeking for a living) are in the situation they are because even though they have completed high school, they cannot sustain a good living. I have referred to farming and the remittance of maize to the Grain Marketing Board. The corrupt GMB has not paid the grain producers for the last five years.
Farm industries, like Kondozi Horticultural Enterprizes which supplied Sainsbury Grocery chain in England was seized by the brothers. Kondozi employed 1,500 workers. It is not that the brothers did not try to sell vegetables to the British grocery chain. They failed to realize that, through Lord Selbourne’s timber and fruit plantation outside Troutbeck Inn, which was also taken over by war veterans, Lord Sainsbury was aware of the origin of the horticultural products arriving from Zimbabwe. The products were inadmissible into the European Union because they were in the same category as “blood diamonds.”
I visited a Cairns Fruit Factory outside Vumba. It too employed three 200 strong shifts of high school graduates. Cairns made vegetable products under a Heinz 57 franchise. As I write the factory is in a state of “non-production.” Likewise the banana plantations in Burma Valley have been taken over by the brothers. A revealing statement by a Zanu PF insider shows clearly that at last, the chickens have come home to roost.
“You send these people (youths) home to do what? Farming is not paying; even if they grow maize and take it to the GMB, GMB does not pay.
“There aren’t many vacancies at state universities to absorb these guys and, besides, most of them are not ‘doctors’ (PhD’s) as is now required by the new minister of higher education if they are to teach at universities.”
No truer words have been said by man, since Winston Churchill spoke about Chamberlain’s sell-out to Hitler: “They had a choice to go to war with honour, or to capitulate with disgrace. They chose capitulation”. My experience with the IMF in Jamaica (where I first experienced its impact) is that the promises of salvation are far-fetched. If a government implemented all the IMF “conditionalities” (as they are called) that government would no longer exist, and therefore regime change would have happened.
Nyerere realised the import of these changes, and resigned his position in order to give way to a new order. Even after the changes, the IMF does not lend money for day-to-day payments such as salaries for government workers. Mutsvangwa believes that the Chinese will finance the rebuilding of a new city in Hampton, on the southern slope of Mazoe valley. A Chinese bank will guarantee the loan.
Usually, the Chinese will bring their workers, and as has happened elsewhere, payments can be remitted to China. A lender has a right to set his own “conditionalities” including buying supplies from his homeland. Even if we expedited the process, it will be at least five years before construction begins. The Zimbabwe government wants money now to pay its ghost workers.
Both government and the workers seem to misunderstand the basic reason for loss of jobs. If a company makes losses, it is bound to close sooner or later, because its own overdraft facilities will be foreclosed by its bank. Since 2000, more than 5,000 companies have closed. The connection between government policies and loss of profitability is a missing link found among idolaters.
One of the WB conditionality is restoration of confidence in the financial system. Three banks have closed within the last six months alone. One reason may be loss of customers. Loss of customers may also be attributable to the Reserve Bank prior history of placing withdrawal limits on depositors’ money, or outright confiscation. Many businessmen bank their surplus cash in Botswana.
Mugabe was given a rousing welcome on his return from New York on Saturday by Zanu PF Youths. These youths worship false gods. They believe that “masimba kuna Amai” (power to Amai Grace) or that “Masimba kuna Baba” (power to Baba Mugabe chete chete) will mythically create jobs for them. Religion can do wonders with peoples’ brains. The fact that Baba VaMugabe has been around for thirty-five years, and the fact that the GMB does not pay for maize sold to it has no connection whatever with Baba VaMugabe. The fact that 3.5 million people have left Zimbabwe in search of jobs has no reference to Baba VaMugabe. Until they make that connection, as Nyerere did (an honourable man), they will stew in their own soup.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, until these brothers stop worshipping false gods (Masimba kune Vakuru) there is no salvation for them.