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Zimbabwe has no choice but to embark on painful reforms PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 18 November 2018 20:14

https://www.ft.com/content/a8f8294e-e689-11e8-8827-ff56e7163c11

 

Zimbabwe has no choice but to embark on painful reforms

 

Spending cuts, new taxes and an anti-corruption drive can help to revive the economy

 

EMMERSON MNANGAGWA NOVEMBER 13, 2018

 

When Margaret Thatcher was elected UK prime minister in 1979, she recognised that piecemeal change would not be sufficient to tackle the problems of labour unrest, rampant inflation and economic stagnation. A wholesale transformation and modernisation of the British economy was required. While there would inevitably be downsides to such rapid change, Thatcher was undeterred.

 

The challenges that Zimbabwe faces today are no less acute. But my government is committed to tackling them head on. Like Thatcher, we are not afraid of taking tough, and at times painful, decisions. As she used to put it, there is no alternative.

 

In order to reform, restructure and rebuild the Zimbabwean economy, the national budget must be balanced and spending reined in. The government wage bill is unsustainable.

 

A large and inefficient public sector cannot be allowed to hold back private enterprise. We have set about cutting unnecessary expenditure, therefore. We are reducing the number of ministries, limiting foreign travel and perks for officials, and retiring or redeploying senior officers.

 

Privatisation and the reform of state-owned enterprises are also key components of this strategy. Organisations which have outlived their commercial viability or necessity will be dissolved.

 

Over the past two years, we have spent large sums to support struggling state-owned enterprises. But we cannot continue to prop them up. So we have earmarked under-performing bodies for sale and have given them strict deadlines to conclude privatisation deals.

 

Governments do not only cut. They must also collect. As part of an effort to broaden the tax base, we recently introduced a 2 per cent levy on electronic transfers, which make up around 96 per cent of all financial transactions. Collecting revenue effectively and efficiently, combined with cuts and privatisations, will enable us to cut the budget deficit.

 

These measures are being complemented by an anti-corruption drive that will save Zimbabwe hundreds of millions of dollars. Investigations are under way and arrests are already being made, including of ministers and senior executives. The era of zero tolerance for corruption is here.

 

The economy is already quietly showing signs of improvement, with growth forecasts revised upwards. Many sectors are thriving. The country’s gold mines have already surpassed the total output of 2017, for example, while a plant for the production of lithium carbonate project in Kwekwe is off to a promising start. Critically, agriculture is increasingly being funded by the private sector.

 

However, Zimbabwe cannot succeed alone. We are seeking new areas for co-operation and partnership. I was delighted, therefore, by the warm welcome our delegation received at the recent UN general assembly, where I urged the international community to support us as we revive our economy and build a better future.

 

Mthuli Ncube, the minister of finance, a former African Development Bank chief economist, delivered this message at the recent IMF and World Bank meetings in Bali. There, he met development partners and creditors who welcomed Zimbabwe’s debt-settlement and transitional stabilisation plans.

 

The process of change is not smooth. Some pain and discomfort along the way is inevitable. The arduousness of the path of reform can sometimes lead governments to stall or backtrack. But as a passionate reformer leading a reformist government, I know there is no other way. We cannot allow anything to slow us down.

 

As Thatcher once said: “Yes, the medicine is harsh, but the patient requires it in order to live.”

 

The writer is president of Zimbabwe 

 
Giving away the essence of Zimbabwe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 09 September 2018 12:26

Letter from Cathy Buckle 7th September 2018

Dear Family and Friends,

The dust but not the pain of Zimbabwe's 2018 elections has now mostly settled. Feelings of disbelief, shock and disgust have been replaced by an abiding sense of betrayal and exhaustion. Betrayal by national institutions and safeguarding systems and exhaustion at the thought of another five years of the same political party which has been in power for thirty-eight years and which took Zimbabwe from being the breadbasket of Africa to the laughing stock of the world.

The “Open for Business” boast by Zanu PF continues and every night ZBC TV tell of us of foreign investors and deals about to be signed with China and other countries while we at home say “what about us?” What about Zimbabwean investors; Zimbabwean companies, Zimbabwean businesses, Zimbabwean skills? What about calling home the four million Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and investing in them, their skills and their passion for their homeland? As the foreign investment frenzy grows, we at home wonder if we are on the cusp of giving away the very essence of Zimbabwe and her abundant natural resources? 

Meanwhile back at home Zimbabwe is in a perilous place nine months after a coup (now sanitized and being called a ‘soft coup’) put Zanu PF’s President Mnangagwa in power and six weeks after the contested 2018 elections returned him to power.

Where to start? Well, it’s simple really: MONEY. There isn’t any. We go into supermarkets and shops and purchase our requirements with swipe cards (debit cards) or mobile (phone) money. We pay for our utilities, fuel and drugs with swipe cards and if we are very, very lucky we may have a few Bond coins in our pockets to pay the odd toll gate fee on the highway or a hand of bananas on the roadside. The problem comes with the fact that so much of what we buy is imported: almost all our medicines, an estimated 80% of our food; spare parts, chemicals, all our fuel and the list goes on and on. Suppliers can only import replacement stock if they have real US dollar money, not swipe cards or Zimbabwe’s unrecognized Bond notes, and they can only get US dollars from the bank and the banks don’t have any money.  

In the past fortnight medicines have declined to critical levels and we are again trudging from one pharmacy to the next only to be told: “sorry out of stock.” At first it was less common drugs we couldn’t find, now it’s everything, including for the most common conditions such as blood pressure. At the local hospital this week scores of epilepsy patients were being turned away from outpatients and told to “go and find your tablets somewhere else,” because the hospital pharmacy has nothing in stock. The lack of empathy and compassion is embarrassing and shameful. The pharmaceutical sector apparently need US$4 million a week in order to import supplies but the Reserve Bank haven’t allocated any funds to the sector since May.  As I write we are hearing of a cholera outbreak in Glen View and Budiriro suburbs in Harare. Five people have died and another thirty-five are in hospital.  At least four and half thousand people died from cholera in 2008 and it sends chills down our spines to think of a return to that time of extreme anguish. 

Wheat supplies were next to make the headlines. The Grain Millers Association said supplies have reached their lowest levels since 2005. There are currently 28,000 tonnes of wheat in stock and the country needs 38,000 tonnes a month. ‘Bread shortage looms’ were the banner newspaper headlines this week and again the problem is money. The Reserve Bank have not remitted the promised twelve and half million US dollars to the suppliers outside Zimbabwe and so the wheat for our daily bread is sitting at the port in Mozambique. This crisis comes at a time when the World Food Programme have said 1.1 million Zimbabweans need food aid between now and the 2019 harvest.

We can’t help wondering what will be next: food? fuel? The irony of the Zanu PF government giving ninety brand new vehicles, which have to be imported using real money, to traditional Chiefs and an unknown number to War Veterans last week, is not lost on Zimbabweans struggling to find basic medicines. We have finished licking our wounds and hanging our heads after the 2018 election and are starting to find our voices again. Zimbabwe remains a country in waiting. Until next time, thanks for reading this letter and for supporting my books about life in Zimbabwe, love Cathy.

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Voter aged 141 casts shadow on Zimbabwe polls PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 15 July 2018 11:45

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/voter-aged-141-casts-shadow-on-zimbabwe-poll-pzcwpl50w

Voter aged 141 casts shadow on Zimbabwe polls

 

Jane Flanagan – 13th July 2018 

The inclusion of voters aged 141 and 134 on Zimbabwe’s electoral roll has prompted concerns that the country’s first vote of the post-Mugabe era may be as crooked as any held during his time in power.

The main opposition party has cited “ghost voters” as a clear sign that the credibility of the election on July 30 is in doubt. The list, which was made public after a court order, also has more than 100 voters sharing a single identity number and registered at one address.

This month’s election will be a crucial test of President Mnangagwa, 75, who masterminded Mr Mugabe’s ousting last November. He is anxious to win his own mandate and unlock foreign investment and diplomatic support.

His invitation to international journalists and European observers to witness voting for the first time in 16 years has been welcomed as a positive departure from the violent campaigns of the past.

As Mr Mugabe’s enforcer for 37 years, Mr Mnangagwa has had a direct hand in much of the election rigging and violence that has delivered uninterrupted power for the ruling Zanu (PF) party since Zimbabwe won independence in 1980. Foreign governments have made a peaceful and credible election a condition for lifting sanctions and providing financial support.

Political observers and opposition parties have already identified tactics suggesting that the ruling party’s campaign is shady. Thousands of voters received unsolicited, personalised text messages last week in the language of the area where they are registered. Since political parties can access the phone numbers only of registered supporters, collusion with the electoral authorities or mobile phone companies seems likely.

“Zanu (PF) has been caught with its hands in the cookie jar,” Nelson Chamisa, leader of Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition, said. “There is no legal way for any political party to access voter phone numbers.”

A leaked government letter has revealed that members of the police and the army will get an unscheduled pay rise of up to 20 per cent this month.

Despite Zanu (PF)’s ruinous policies, which have brought economic and political chaos, polls have put Mr Mnangagwa ahead. Forty-two per cent of those interviewed said they backed him, compared with 31 per cent for Mr Chamisa, 40. However, nearly a quarter said they were still undecided.

Although Zimbabwe’s streets have been largely devoid of the army and “green bombers” — Zanu (PF)’s youth wing, which has been violent in previous elections — there have been reports of intimidation. Human Rights Watch said last month that it had interviewed voters who had been threatened with the loss of food aid if they failed to vote for the president.

Although Mr Mugabe remains confined to his mansion in Harare “the regime remains,” Munyaradzi Gwisai, a political analyst at the University of Zimbabwe, said. “If anything, it is the hard men and hard women of that regime who have taken power.”

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What’sApp Post from Edmund Kudzayi – 07/07/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 08 July 2018 14:30

There are real people who graduated 10 years ago and have never seen a pay slip. People unable to pay their rents. Children sent home from school over fees. Their lives are not an abstract game.

They have real problems but no solution to alleviate their circumstances. But hope springs eternal. Elections are their hope.

Only politicians believe those voters will be persuaded by cheap tricks like a cute Jah Prayzah song extolling a war hero way past his sell-by date.

This reality presents a problem for Zanu PF. The economy is screaming.

While Zanu PF heralds billion dollar investment after billion dollar investment, the reality is less animated.

People are still sleeping in bank queues. People still don’t have any money.

While Zanu PF bizarrely claims to have created 4,5 million jobs since 2013 the question is simple enough. Do YOU have a job? Does your son have a job? Do YOU have money in your pocket? Does your sister have money in her pocket? The answer is invariably no.

While the economy howls and poverty continues to educate voters, Zanu PF has additional problems at home.

Magunje MP and former Higher and Tertiary Education deputy minister Godfrey Gandawa is running as an independent. 

He is wildly popular and the primary election, from which he was barred, was a disgraceful farce, as hundreds of ballots were simply written “MP wangu haapo”. It’s game over for Zanu PF in Magunje.

The bigger problem for Zanu PF is that there are dozens of Gandawa-type G40 remnants across the country actively decampaigning President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

In Kwekwe you have the popular Masango “Blackman” Matambadzo running under the National Patriotic Front (NPF) ticket and holding immense rallies. It is game over for Zanu PF in Kwekwe.

In Harare, more trouble is brewing. Harare South, the only constituency in the capital Zanu PF has consistently held, faces the Shadreck Mashayamombe rebellion.

He was elected to Harare South on a Zanu PF ticket and enjoys deep relationships in the constituency.

He is running under the NPF/MDC Alliance ticket and has proved an indefatigable opponent, pressing on even after a series of abductions to force him to back down.

So significant is the threat of defeat at the hands of Mashayamombe that Vice-President General Constantino Chiwenga recently exercised considerable energies at a rally attacking the former MP.

I could go on, but I don’t need to. Earlier this week, Zanu PF expelled 41 members running as independents. They expelled 41 Gandawas.

You might not know the names of these people, but you don’t need to — politics is always about local dynamics.

The fact that Mnangagwa cannot see what is happening in Magunje as “bhora musango” messages are shared late at night over WhatsApp does not mean it is not happening.

I have not mentioned the many Zanu PF voters, such as myself, that were unhappy with what Mnangagwa did to then President Robert Mugabe. Our vote is not a secret.

It also helps when The Herald accuses MDC-T and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa of working with Mugabe.

We are drawn the more to Chamisa while his urban base has learnt to ignore The Herald propaganda, confining themselves to the sports pages.

The generosity of chance is such that MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa might not win the election — Mnangagwa could lose it.

But Chamisa is not to be underestimated. He is running a cunning campaign, largely ignoring his urban base. 

His focus has been Zanu PF strongholds. Small jabs, but jabs all the same.

Zanu PF has put itself into a new dispensation box and is unable to rely on its tried and tested intimidation methods to block these rallies and rural engagements.

Then the big one: Chamisa is reaching out to resettled farmers with the promise of title deeds.

It takes little imagination to understand what is happening in the minds of this traditional Zanu PF base of resettled farmers. If Chamisa wins, I will own this land.

Newspaper and ZBC reports will not help you appreciate the national mood. The truth is expressed in popular culture.

The music people sing. The jokes they send. The memes they retweet on Twitter, screenshot and share on WhatsApp groups.

This is where you see who people like or dislike. There is a flood of anti-ED material floating in popular culture.

A simple test is to search for the “Mnangagwa” keyword on Facebook, Twitter or Google.

Ignoring the handful of noisy and well paid Varakashi, the vast majority of user-generated content is ungenerous or part of an ungenerous conversation.

Is Mnangagwa rigging? Did Mnangagwa stage the bomb? Is he a wolf is sheepskin?

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is working with Zanu PF. Nobody is talking about groundbreaking at Hwange.

His open for business message is not getting through to those outside the political and business classes.

ED’s last line of defence is fear. Consider the following findings from Afrobarometer:

  • Three in 10 registered voters (31%) believe powerful people will be able to find out how they voted.
  • Three in 10 registered voters (31%) say they have been asked to show their biometric voter’s registration (BVR) slips. Respondents had been asked if anyone had demanded to see the serial number of their voter registration slip.
  • Seven in 10 Zimbabweans (72%) think voters must show their BVR slips in order to vote.
  • 32% of respondents believe powerful people will make use of fingerprints and photographs collected during the BVR process.
  • 41% of respondents believe security agencies will not accept presidential election results.
  • 40% of respondents believe there will be violence after the election.

By the time we get to July 30, nobody will still be afraid. The fear will be gone. How?

Watch the magicians’ hand!

Edmund Kudzayi is a journalist. He writes in his personal capacity.

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Countering voter intimidation and election violence in Zimbabwe PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Tuesday, 29 May 2018 18:16

Today a peace initiative in Zimbabwe to counter voter intimidation and election violence has been launched. Calling themselves ‘We the people of Zimbabwe’ they have provided telephone numbers to the voters of Zimbabwe which they can phone to report any concerns. Their control room goes live today. For their information and advice, please check: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/942-we-the-people-of-zimbabwe-anything-to-report-in-your-community-

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