Deafening silence – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 9th May 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 10 May 2020 14:35

News from Zimbabwe this week was notable for what didn’t happen rather than what did, in particular the government’s refusal to comment on revelations that Finance Minister Ncube had admitted the country is facing economic collapse because of bad policies.

 

Ncube in essence confessed that the government had blatantly lied to the world and the people of Zimbabwe. There was no denial by the government and he wasn’t sacked. All we got from Zanu PF was silence.

 

Opposition MP Tendai Biti, Finance Minister in the late Government of National Unity, said Ncube’s unsuccessful begging letter to international financial institutions was ‘the final surrender of any dignity of a corrupt regime’.

 

In the letter Ncube promised that in return for aid the government would undertake political and economic reforms. Biti dismissed this, saying the government had repeatedly promised to reform but they never would.

 

Biti also accused the government of declaring war on the opposition by allowing the recall of four MDC alliance parliamentarians. He said the move marked the end of normal politics. The party has suspended participation in all parliamentary proceedings (see: https://www.newzimbabwe.com/watch-biti-says-mps-recall-a-declaration-of-war-by-mnangagwa/).

 

Another surprise this week was the small number of reported cases of coronavirus infections in Zimbabwe. It appears that more Zimbabweans are dying of the virus in the UK than at home.

 

What was not surprising was a warning by Amnesty International that in some areas the authorities are tying food aid to the recipient’s political affiliation. It says the problem is especially acute in rural areas, where people who don’t belong to Zanu PF are being denied the means to survive (see: https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/amnesty-zimbabwe-playing-politics-food-aid-distribution).

 

Other points

·       What was also not surprising was that China has agreed to go ahead with a US $4.2 billion coal-fired power station at Lake Kariba – despite promising to shift support to green and low-carbon projects (see: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/companies/mining/2020-05-07-as-others-shun-african-coal-projects-china-gets-4bn-zimbabwe-project-under-way/).

·       Because of the coronavirus we can no longer physically meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, so we have started a virtual Vigil. We asked our activists to put on Vigil / ROHR / Zimbabwe regalia and take a photo of themselves holding an appropriate poster reflecting our protest against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The photos are uploaded on our Flickr site (see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157714233561972). Our virtual Vigil activist today was Esther Munyira who kindly contributed to Vigil funds.

·       For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

 

NOTICES:

·       The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.

·       The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.

·       Facebook pages:

 

 
Death of Zimbabwe’s economy – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 2nd May 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 03 May 2020 11:37

Better the economy dies than our people do declared President Mnangagwa the other day: you can revive the economy but can’t bring back a dead person. He was speaking at State House while accepting donations for the fight against the coronavirus (see: https://www.chronicle.co.zw/better-the-economy-dies-than-our-people-president-mnangagwa/).

 

Mnangagwa later went on to extend the lockdown and announce a massive US $720 million stimulus for the economy (see: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-zimbabwe-idUSKBN22D5SJ).

 

But where is the money coming from? The Vigil’s guess is that it will come as usual from bleeding the people through massive inflation. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube is earlier reported to have warned that if Zimbabwe didn’t get a big bailout it would again have to resort to printing money.

 

The respected London-based magazine Africa Confidential said Ncube had written to the international financial institutions based in Washington appealing for money to save the country from disaster.

 

The magazine says it has seen a copy of the letter, which warned that the situation in Zimbabwe is so bad that it could cause an implosion of the state and threaten security in neighbouring countries.

 

It quoted Ncube as acknowledging ‘recent policy missteps’ which had seen inflation soar to over 500%. He said that without help the government would have to revert to printing money, risking a return to hyper-inflation and the crash of the Zimbabwe dollar.

 

In the letter Ncube asks for the rescheduling or cancellation of Zimbabwe’s foreign debt arrears and US $ 200 million to fight the coronavirus. He promises in return to introduce a market-determined exchange rate and end the Reserve Bank’s ‘quasi fiscal operations’.

 

Africa Confidential observes: ‘this according to finance officials in Washington is code for saying conditions are so horrendous that Ncube has been given the political cover to promise a crackdown on grand corruption at the heart of government’.

 

The magazine says that neither the World Bank not the International Monetary Fund have responded officially to Ncube’s letter, nor do they intend to do so despite him following up with phone calls. An official is quoted as saying: ‘Zimbabwe is a political, not an economic policy crisis and . . . Without credible change on that level nothing else will move’.

 

The magazine sums it up: ‘Senior finance officials in Washington say that grand corruption and state violence have to go before they resume economic co-operation with Zimbabwe (see: https://www.africa-confidential.com/article/id/12945/Government_close_to_collapse_as_it_sends_plea_for_cash).

 

So dust off your old trillion dollar notes!

 

Other points

  • While the Mayor of Harare begs the government vainly for money to keep the city going because people have stopped paying rates, two rich Zanu PF people are speaking of arranging a race between their supercars for a bet of US$ 50,000. And Mnangagwa hires a plane to fly from Dubai to take him on a flip to Mozambique . . . (see: https://iharare.com/zimbabwe-lamborghini-mp-challenges-colleague-to-us50-000-supercar-race/).
  • Because of the coronavirus we can no longer physically meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, so we have started a virtual Vigil. We asked our activists to put on Vigil / ROHR / Zimbabwe regalia and take a photo of themselves holding an appropriate poster reflecting our protest against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The photos will be uploaded on our Flickr site.
  • For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

NOTICES:

  • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Facebook pages:
    Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil
    ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/
    ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515
 
Isolation blues – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 25th April 2020 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 26 April 2020 13:42

After a long wet winter in the UK we are having a golden spring. So it’s doubly vexatious that we are still in coronavirus lockdown after five weeks – with no end in sight.

 

Unlike Zimbabwe, television here hasn’t run out of programmes. But better entertainment can be found in following the tweets of exiled former Information Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo.

 

Moyo’s latest contribution is to accuse the Chinese Chargé d’Affaire in Harare, Zhao Baogang, of meddling in the political affairs of Zimbabwe. Baogang had tweeted that Zimbabweans are only dying from coronavirus in the UK and not in China. (He didn’t mention that Africans had been chased away from China . . . ) Baogang further asserted that sanctions harmed Zimbabwe more that the virus.

 

Moyo said in response: ‘This revolutionary Chinese friend of the rogue regime is undiplomatically and proudly celebrating Zimbabwean deaths in the UK due to Covid19 in such an insensitive way that would get him sent back to his racist homeland in any other country with a proper and legitimate government!’ After Baogang deleted his tweet. Moyo returned to the attack: ‘The racist diplomat from racist China has deleted his offensive, outrageous and totally unacceptable tweet as if he does not know that the Internet, or rather Twitter, does not forget.’

 

Moyo said Boagang was abusing his status in Zimbabwe. ‘He’s blissfully unaware that Chinese mega-deals, most of which have been signed by either corrupt or drunken officials, are even more harmful as they rob future generations!’ (See: https://www.thezimbabwemail.com/zimbabwe/robert-mugabes-minister-clash-with-chinese-ambassador/).

 

Next on stage was Deputy Information Minister Energy Mutodi who blamed the virus on eating ‘dogs, cats, snakes, bats, monkeys, baboons and other wild life’ putting the rest of the world at risk. He suggested that Zimbabwe might be able to provide beef to China instead (see: https://news.pindula.co.zw/2020/04/24/dog-eating-chinese-exposing-world-to-covid-19-says-zimbabwe-deputy-information-minister-promises-to-increasebeef-exports-to-china/).

 

Mutodi also weighed into the fuss over the Zimbabweans who voluntarily returned home from the UK and objected to being quarantined in student hostels at Belvedere Teachers’ College in Harare, complaining of inadequate facilities with no running water. Mutodi rebuked them for ‘trying to demand VIP treatment’ and reminded them that quarantine was not a matter of choice.

 

On this occasion, the Vigil can sympathise with Mutodi. Zimbabweans are being deported in their hundreds from South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. The Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Judith Ncube says that city is already overwhelmed (see: https://www.newsday.co.zw/2020/04/65-returning-zimbos-demand-hotel-quarantine/).

 

The government has responded by cutting quarantine from 14 to 8 days. But this has been criticised by the president of Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association, Tawanda Zvakada, who said it risked spreading the virus as people return to their home areas.

 

The Vigil is pleased that the UK has given Zimbabwe US $43.6 million to help it deal with the pandemic – the largest donation by any country. As we in the UK look out of our windows at the sunshine we can only hope that suggestions by the Trump administration that the sun reduces the strength of the virus will save us all from further suffering.

 

Other points

NOTICES:

  • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe's work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Facebook pages:
    Vigil: https://www.facebook.com/zimbabwevigil
    ROHR: https://www.facebook.com/Restoration-of-Human-Rights-ROHR-Zimbabwe-International-370825706588551/
    ZAF: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Zimbabwe-Action-Forum-ZAF/490257051027515
 
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