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Stony road ahead – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 31st December 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 01 January 2017 16:03

As we begin a new year it is difficult to imagine that it will be a happy one in Zimbabwe. Even optimists will find it hard to see anything but a stony road ahead. 

We at the Vigil in the depths of a British winter are further chilled by the bleak analysis of Prince Mashele, executive director of the Centre for Politics and Research in South Africa (http://www.biznews.com/africa/2016/12/22/south-africa-will-finally-be-an-african-country/).

He argues that ‘Western’ values of accountability, political morality, reason and so on are not African and that it is idle to hope that Africans will have democracies of the type existing in Europe.  

He says: ‘People must not entertain the illusion that a day is coming when SA will look like the US. Our future is more on the side of Zimbabwe, where one ruler is more powerful than the rest of the population.’ He goes on: ‘How else are we to explain the thousands of people who flock to stadiums to clap hands for a president who has violated their country’s constitution? . . . In a typical African country people have no illusion about the unity of morality and governance. People know that those who have power have it for themselves and their friends and families.’

The Zimbabwean writer Pettinah Gappah, speaking about a recent visit home, told BBC listeners that, despite the hardships there, she came across many Mugabe supporters. Prince Mashele would sardonically have called them ‘true Africans’.

As we embark on 2017, we at the Vigil cling to the hope that Mashele is too pessimistic and that, having gone through so much suffering, Zimbabweans, given the chance, will find the road to freedom. Speaking at the Vigil, Ephraim Tapa said that free and fair elections were the key. Then the Vigil could shut up shop and we could all go home and rebuild our country into something that is not ‘typical’ and will surprise Mashele. After all, many in the diaspora have learnt something from living in free and democratic countries.

So this new year we wish you all well but with a heavy heart. Even if Mashele is wrong there are many stones on the road.

Other points

  • With government workers still waiting to be paid for December we are getting desperate messages from our families. One of our supporters reports that he tried to send money to his mother by ecocash but they had no cash and could not pay out. He said the family had no Christmas celebration and stayed indoors except for going to church. Dealers on the black market were taking 15% commission. At the moment the only reliable way to send money is through international money companies such as Western Union.
  • Recent efforts to disrupt the Vigil and our sister organisation, the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe, has been causing confusion. Please note that a bogus meeting purporting to launch a so-called ROHR Central London branch on 7th January is being advertised on social media. ROHR Central London branch already exists and if you are interested in joining, ask at the Vigil. For further clarification, check: http://zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/839-restoration-of-human-rights-in-zimbabwe-important-message.
  • Thanks to Vigil supporter Rumbi Sambana who brought toys and children’s books for our Vigil children. They will be available for those who want them next Saturday (7th January).
  • Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Elizabeth Chakachaka, Fungayi Mabhunu, Phillip Mahlahla, Rosemary Maponga, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Patience Muyeye, Nontokozo Ncube, Rumbidzayi Sambana, Maxmus Savanhu and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to Roseline, Rosemary, Cathrine Musa and Daisy Fabian for looking after the front table, to Rumbidzayi, Nontokozo and Patience for handing out flyers and selling wristbands, to Phillip, Alfredy and Maxmus for putting up the banners and tarpaulin and to Ephraim for bringing all the Vigil paraphernalia.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

FOR THE RECORD: 21 signed the register.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR National Executive meeting. Saturday 7th January from 11.30 am. Venue: Strand Continental Hotel (first floor lounge), 143 Strand, London WC2R 1JA. From the Vigil it’s about a 10 minute walk, in the direction away from Trafalgar Square. The Strand Continental is situated on the south side of the Strand between Somerset House and the turn off onto Waterloo Bridge. It's next door to a newsagent and the entrance is marked by a sign at street level.  Nearest underground: Temple (District and Circle lines) and Holborn.
  • 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.
  • Monthly Itai Dzamara protest Saturday 7th January from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. The protest is to mark twenty-two months since Itai’s abduction by intelligence agents.
  • Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 7th January from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
  • Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2015 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/746-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2015. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2015 Highlights page.
  • Facebook pages:
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Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe – important message PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 01 January 2017 12:12

2017 sees the 10th anniversary of the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) which was set up in 2007 to be the Vigil’s face on the ground in Zimbabwe. The Vigil and ROHR are two faces of the same organisation – one operating in the UK and one operating in Zimbabwe. Any other organisation purporting to be ROHR is fraudulent and is not supported by the Vigil. 

Once again both the Vigil and ROHR are facing efforts to disrupt us. We suspect this disruption is backed by elements supporting Mugabe and Zanu PF who would be delighted to see the Vigil and ROHR destroyed. Our long, committed and consistent campaign against the perpetrators of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe makes us a prime target. 

We have already posted the following disclaimer on the Vigil diary: 'The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO Zimbabwean HR Charity. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.'  

We now note that on this hijacked facebook page there is a notice for the launch of a so-called 'ROHR Zimbabwe Central London branch' on 7th January. Please be advised that ROHR Central London branch already exists and if you want to join please enquire at the Vigil.  The meeting of this bogus branch is organised by Mary Muteyerwa, George Shambela, Pythias Makonese, Morella Nhau, Paradzai Mapfumo, Delina Mutyambizi and Panyika Karimanzira. These are the same people who set up the bogus so-called 'Supa Vigil', a group that occasionally comes for part of the afternoon while the Vigil is on between 2 and 6 pm on Saturday afternoons, sets up their tent in the space next to us and sings, shouts and dances in competition with us with the deliberate intention of causing disruption and confusion. This bogus so-called 'ROHR meeting’, has nothing whatsoever to do with the Vigil and ROHR.

Following wide consultations leading to the formation of ROHR, it was agreed that Vigil founder member and main proponent of the idea, Ephraim Tapa, should lead the organisation. Stendrick Zvorwadza is advertised as a speaker at the so-called ROHR meeting to launch a Central London Branch. He was recruited to ROHR by Tapa in 2007. Because he could move freely between the UK and Zimbabwe, Zvorwadza was appointed Vice President and subsequently was asked to register the organisation in Zimbabwe on behalf of the Vigil. He however fraudulently put himself down as the founder of the organisation, portraying the organisation as his own. When this issue was raised at the inaugural ROHR Zimbabwe Board ofTrustees (BOT) meeting in 2008, Zvorwadza intimated that it was the Registrar of Deeds Office that did this, telling him it was 'because you are the one submitting the documents’.

The BOT then resolved to rectify the anomaly by replacing his name as 'Founder’ with the authentic Founder, Ephraim Tapa. At the same meeting, Mr Zvorwadza also failed to account for funds that were earmarked for the Nyanga orphanage that ROHR supported and all other funds meant for the administration of the organisation. He was suspended until such time when he would have made a good account of those funds. In a huff, Zvorwadza left the organisation taking most of the organisation's equipment with him claiming it belonged to him. From 2008, Zvorwadza had no involvement or any dealings with ROHR until 2011 when the organisation had received donor funding.

We were surprised in March 2011 when Zvorwadza approached Ephraim demanding that he fire the National Co-ordinator in Zimbabwe Tichanzii Gandanga and his subordinates for misappropriation of donor funds. This was after his failed attempts to wrestle control of the organisation's finances in Zimbabwe. ROHR at this time was negotiating for substantial further donor funding.  

Unfortunately, the Deed of Trust never got amended as resolved for lack of due diligence on the part of the ROHR office in Zimbabwe. This error is most regrettable as it later allowed Zvorwadza to stage manage a fake BOT meeting in Zimbabwe in July 2011, fraudulently amend the ROHR Deed of Trust and claim ownership in August 2011. He also launched a smear campaign against Ephraim, falsely accusing him of stealing ROHR funds.

His efforts however were rebuffed by the Harare office and the entire structures of ROHR within and outside Zimbabwe. But our personnel in Zimbabwe were left vulnerable to charges of operating illegally, a dangerous situation in Zimbabwe. We resolved to internationalise the organisation re-registering it as ROHR Zimbabwe International in 2011. The issue of the fraudulent amendment of the ROHR Zimbabwe Trust Deed is currently under police investigation in Zimbabwe although we have little faith in their commitment to deliver justice.In the Vigil diary of 6th August 2016 we report as follows: 'Supporters might have seen an article on the dodgy Zimeye website in which the Vigil was criticised for not allowing Stendrick Zvorwadza to address us last week (see: http://www.zimeye.net/zvorwadza-flies-to-uk-blocked-by-rose-benton/). Our refusal to give a hearing to this charlatan was because he still pretends to be the leader of ROHR and has yet to account for £2,000 we entrusted to him in2008 to hand over to the Nyanga orphanage we were supporting in Zimbabwe, aswell as computers, phones and cameras for the ROHR office in Harare.' He almost singlehandedly destroyed ROHR were it not for our resilience and commitment to the Zimbabwe cause.  

More recently Zvorwadza has been fingered in the misappropriation of donor funds. Check: http://www.myzimbabwe.co.zw/news/9337-why-tajamuka-pulled-out-on-the-demo.html
http://www.mafaro.co.uk/2016/11/zvorwadza-on-100k-squabble.html
http://www.herald.co.zw/tag-activists-loot-demo-cash/,
http://nehandaradio.com/2016/11/14/zvorwadza-gets-international-support-demos/
Also a group called Coalition of Zimbabwe Activists sent the following what'sapp message on 21/11/2016: 'In light of disturbing reports to the effect that some few stakeholders involved in planning of the #MunhuWeseMuroad demo pocketed donor funds, we as COZA would like to condemn such corrupt behaviour. It is baffling that our poor members are used as fodder in violent demonstrations when some unscrupulous, fly-by-night, self-anointed demonstration leaders are milking donor funding for personal aggrandisement. We would like to condemn in the strongest sense, *. . . . . , Sten Zvorwadza and . . . . . * for being fingered in the $100,000 heist of donor money and urge them to come clean. We would like to categorically distance ourselves and our membership from the planned 23 and 30 November 2016 demonstrations by NERA and #Tajamuka respectively, until this *money spinning, Ponzi scheme activism* is dealt with. We therefore urge members of the public not to be misled by these activists, but remain resolute in fighting for a Just Zimbabwe.'

The Vigil diary comments on the disquiet over donor funding for activism in our diary of 26th November 2016: 'The promised ‘mother of all demonstrations’ against bond notes last week failed to gain support amid allegations that money collected for the Harare protest was misappropriated. It is reported that this prompted Tajamuka to pull out of the demonstration at the last moment. Zimbabwe People First spokesman Jealousy Mawarire said asmuch as $100,000 may have been involved. He said: ‘As long as the struggle is commercialised we will always have these solo sporadic selfie moments disguised as demos’ (http://www.myzimbabwe.co.zw/news/9337-why-tajamuka-pulled-out-on-the-demo.html). Others talk of activists ‘milking donor funds’ and ‘living large’. The accusations come as no surprise to us. We ourselves refuse to have anything to do with one of the protest leaders because of our own experience working with him. This person certainly fits the bill of being a ‘selfie activist’: always in the photograph, in the news, known to all the journalists, ready with a quote. We at the Vigil marvel at how he seems to have a ‘get out if jail free’ card. With no visible means of support, he nevertheless pops up regularly in the UK, always impeccably dressed, hustling for money. The social media protest movements need to beware the bad apple effect.'  

Please note that the Zimbabwe Vigil is unable to support those who join groups and organisations that are trying to disrupt and destabilise us. We understand that what is happening is very confusing and hope you will talk to the Vigil co-ordinators when you come to the Vigil or contact co-ordinators at 07970996003 or 07940793090 or 07907089899, if you require clarification. 

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Expensive holiday season – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 24th December 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 25 December 2016 13:22

As Zimbabweans tighten their belts at another bleak Christmas, President Mugabe is taking a month-long rest in Singapore. He left Harare by chartered plane on 20th December accompanied by his family, aides, security people and $6 million from the Reserve Bank which will have to last them until the end of January.

The holiday may cheer up Grace Mugabe who must have been annoyed to have been ordered by the High Court to return Harare properties she seized from a Dubai diamond dealer in a dispute over a $1.3 million gem she thought was not good enough.

Zimbabweans can relax for a while because the government has closed down for seasonal celebrations and will do nothing for five weeks or so. Then it will spring into life to prepare for the President’s 93rd birthday party in February. Judging from recent presidential birthdays, this will the grandmother of all parties. But it will cost a lot so people must put money aside for their contributions when Zanu PF youth knock on the door.

Zanu PF in the UK will no doubt happily contribute if they can lay their hands on bond notes. Prominent among the delegates at the Zanu PF Conference this month was Nick Mangwana, Chair of Zanu PF UK. His speech at the Conference suggesting that the Zimbabwean diaspora need not be given the vote has angered Zimbabweans in the UK (see: https://www.zimeye.net/latest-nick-mangwanas-zanu-pf-congress-video-causes-a-furore/). He also goes on to complain that the diaspora community is the breeding ground for activism against the Zimbabwean government. Well, these traitors are now calling for the deportation of Mangwana and other Zanu PF supporters in the UK.

Other points

  • The Vigil encountered Nick Mangwana most recently when he was cheerleader for Patrick Chinamasa on his begging trip to the UK in July. He was spotted photographing Vigil protesters outside a Chinamasa meeting in London and was challenged by Vigil Co-ordinator Fungayi Mabhunu (see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72157674355530204). The next day a large group of Vigil protesters held up Chinamasa’s taxi for an hour by sitting in the road and making him late for a meeting with the Foreign Office.
  • News that the new constitution, agreed in 2013 after four years of long expensive negotiations is being amended to give the President more power only confirms what we at the Vigil have long maintained: that the whole constitution-making process was a waste of time, especially since the new constitution has yet to be observed three years later.
  • Thanks to those who arrived early to help set up: Kevin Gondo, Isabell Gwatidzo, Etines Kapiya, Fungayi Mabhunu, Honest Madondo, Phillip Mahlahla, Allen Mandaza, Zimazile Mguni, Roseline Mukucha, Alfredy Mukuvare, Xavier Murape, Cathrine Musa, Juliet Musandirire, Simbarashe Mutero, Patience Muyeye, Sharon Nziramasanga, Pretty Okechukwa, Sicelesile Phiri, Jennipher Sabe, Maxmus Savanhu and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to Roseline, Cathrine and Pretty for looking after the front table, to Simbarashe for handing out flyers, and to Phillip, Alfredy, Maxmus, Kevin, Xavier and Allen for putting up the banners.

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO Zimbabwean HR Charity. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

FOR THE RECORD: 24 signed the register.

 EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • Monthly Prayer Vigil. Saturday 31st December from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. Contact Beverley Mutandiro (07412053415) with names of Zimbabwean pastors and prayer groups who might want to participate.
  • Monthly Itai Dzamara protest Saturday 7th January. From 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. The protest is to mark twenty-two months since Itai’s abduction by intelligence agents.
  • Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 7th January from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
  • 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.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
  • Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2015 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/746-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2015. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2015 Highlights page.
  • Facebook pages:
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Disgraceful Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary: 17th December 2016 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 18 December 2016 14:01

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/18/zimbabwe-president-robert-mugabe-92-to-stand-in-next-election#img-1.

After his tireless work this year, travelling long distances to promote Brand Zimbabwe around the world, President Mugabe could not hide his disappointment at Zanu PF’s Conference in Masvingo.

All too little had been achieved at home while he had been away, he noted sadly. There had been too many juvenile squabbles in Zanu PF and silly protests from dissidents despite the hundreds of top of the range cars provided. And more cars were still to come.

Of course, he said, he would like to retire and milk his cows. But the sad truth was that everyone else in Zimbabwe was either deluded or naughty. ‘So we just have to soldier on to ensure continued prosperity and economic growth in line with ZimAsset.’

The alternative was too awful to imagine: neo-liberalism and its British and American apostles would pounce with their illegal regime change agenda. The result would be mass unemployment. Indeed, half of government workers would be made redundant. Farmers might even have to produce drought-resistant crops, genetically modified to exterminate indigenous people, as they had already done in the US and the UK.

Zanu PF agreed with the President and confirmed support for his sacrificial offer to stand for re-election in 2018. The party is fortunate because he will still be just under 100 when that presidential term ends so he will be able to stand again.

The Vigil wishes our families in Zimbabwe a patient Christmas. Those who are civil servants can look forward to getting their December salaries next month and join the queues at banks for bondage notes. The MDC T MP Eddie Cross says the Reserve Bank is reported to have billions of dollars of this monopoly money. The US dollar is trading at about an average premium now of 20 per cent, he says |(see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/836-thoughts-on-2016-and-a-look-at-2017).

 Other points

For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website. The facebook page for our sister organisation Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) (https://www.facebook.com/ROHR-Zimbabwe-Restoration-of-Human-Rights-301811392835) has been hijacked by destructive elements from a group calling itself ZHRO Zimbabwean HR Charity. Please be advised that any postings on this page are not posted by ROHR.

FOR THE RECORD: 47 signed the register.

 EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ROHR Leicester branch end of year general meeting. Tuesday 20th December from 1 – 4 pm. Venue: the Salvation Army, 330 Aikman Avenue, Leicester LE3 9PW. Contact: Enniah Dube 07403439707, Yvonne Makombe 07453909247 and Moline Nyabonda 07961250525.
  • Swaziland Vigil. Saturday 24th December from 10 am to 1 pm outside the Swaziland High Commission, 20 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6LB.
  • Monthly Prayer Vigil. Saturday 31st December from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. Contact Beverley Mutandiro (07412053415) with names of Zimbabwean pastors and prayer groups who might want to participate.
  • Monthly Itai Dzamara protest Saturday 7th January from 2 – 6 pm outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. The protest is to mark twenty-two months since Itai’s abduction by intelligence agents.
  • 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.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
  • Zimbabwe Yes We Can Movement holds meetings in London as the political face of ROHR and the Vigil.
  • Zimbabwe Vigil Highlights 2015 can be viewed on this link: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/746-zimbabwe-vigil-highlights-2015. Links to previous years’ highlights are listed on 2015 Highlights page.
  • Facebook pages:
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Thoughts on 2016 and a look at 2017 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 18 December 2016 12:19

It is almost Christmas. Another year has gone by in Zimbabwe and we again look back on a year that has been full of changes with no change at all in the way we live or our country is governed. The only relief is that we have had a short spell of rain which has brought relief to many parts of the country but still shows disturbing signs that climate change is no longer a projection but a daily reality.

 

The year opened with a sharp reduction in the amount of cash people could withdraw from their banks. This triggered a steady deterioration in the cash situation so that by the end of the year, restrictions were limiting daily withdrawals as low as $20. The reason for the bank crisis is a massive deficit in the budget which has resulted in the State issuing billions of dollars in the form of Treasury Bills and this has absorbed virtually all the real money in the banking system.

 

In 2016, the regime went two steps further in this process – first they started to take money illegally, from people’s accounts via the RTGS system and bank Nostro accounts. By the end of the year this was reflected in the accounts of the Reserve Bank as an unsecured, interest free overdraft. This paralysed the bank transfer system and by the end of the year transfers are being delayed by anything up to 6 months as the Bank struggles to find the money to meet their obligations and the needs of the country.

 

Then came the decision to issue a new currency – called ‘Bond Notes’. They have struggled with this decision, knowing full well that it could trigger a violent response from an already angry and frustrated population. Eventually they cautiously released $25 million in the new notes into the market. They made no difference to the cash situation as banks were forced to further reduce daily withdrawals. Queues lengthened outside all banks and the US dollar is trading at about an average premium now of 20 per cent.

 

A former Bank employee has told me that they have printed US$2,5 billion in the new currency and have been holding this in storage in Harare for months. Any move to release significant volumes of the new notes will lead inevitably to a sharp reduction in their real market value and inflation – which has averaged nearly minus 2 per cent all year, will start to gain momentum.

 

On the economic front, the slowdown in all economic activity that started as soon as Zanu PF took control of the country in August 2013, continued. Company closures and unemployment rose and the stock market continued its slow decline. A small rise in share values at the end of the year as people tried to use their “RTGS dollars” – a phantom form of currency, to buy real assets that might hold their value in the turbulent times ahead, made little difference overall and you can buy equities here for 10 per cent of their asset values.

 

This was reflected in revenues to the State which declined across the board despite every effort to squeeze water from stone by the authorities. It  was not helped by the discovery of massive and endemic corruption in the Revenue Authority. By the year end 25 per cent of all State expenditure had to be funded by borrowed money in a market that simply had no liquidity at all. Desperate measures to try and get financial assistance from any quarter, has had no success and the latest effort to try and clear arrears with the ADB have fallen flat.

 

On the political front the conflicts in the Zanu PF Party increased in intensity throughout the year. Increasingly frail, Mr. Mugabe was unable to control his Party leadership and all he was able to do was to keep them from killing each other and retaining a semblance of balance between the main factions. The big loser in all of this in 2016 has been Mr. Mnangagwa, the Vice President and Minister of Justice. For three years he has controlled all the levers of hard power in the regime and has clearly been working towards the early (or late) retirement of the President and becoming his successor.

 

Despite the fact that he held all the aces, locally and the support of both China and South Africa, he has not been able to deal with the leadership of his rival faction in the Party and get Mr. Mugabe to step down. His fate has been sealed by the decision yesterday, at the Masvingo meeting of the Party; that Mr. Mugabe will be the candidate of the Zanu PF Party in 2018 when he will be 94 years old and barely able to walk and speak.

 

So Zanu PF goes into the coming year, weaker than at any time in its history, led by a man who is visibly incapable of fulfilling his responsibilities, either in the Party or the State. The faction war that has enveloped the Party since 2014 is unresolved and can only intensify and grow as competition to replace Mr. Mugabe as leader accelerates. Already we hear rumors that one faction is courting Mrs. Mujuru to try and get her back into the fold and on the side of one grouping to try and shift the balance of power.

 

One significant development in 2016 has been the growing rift between the War veterans and the Zanu PF Party. Because of their roots in the military this has profound implications and could be a decisive factor in the year ahead.

 

On the Opposition front, the news at the end of the year that they are considering the formation of an Alliance to fight the next election took the country by surprise but has been widely accepted. Further to this agreement, the statements last week that the Opposition will seek to establish a national government to control the State for the next 5 year term, was equally welcomed. The problems that will confront the next government after 38 years of corrupt and incompetent Zanu PF led government, will be so great that only a national government representing our best brains and talents, could be expected to cope.

 

So what about 2017? To me it looks as if 2017 will be little different to 2016, except that all our problems will be amplified. The fiscal deficit will continue at the present level but will be funded by printing currency – the result a resumption of inflation and the declining value of the currency in circulation – the hard currencies will vanish from formal markets except for what the Reserve Bank can steal from exporters.

 

Asset values will not recover and anyone who sells an asset runs the risk of being paid in a currency that has no real value and cannot be remitted abroad. There will be growing pressure on incomes as the regime maintains cash values using a currency that is declining in value. By the year end, the main casualty of this situation will be the Civil Service whose real incomes will halve in value or more. In a way this will resolve the fiscal deficit but at the expense of spending power and demand in the domestic markets.

 

Mr. Mugabe remains the pivot around which the future depends – his departure in any form, would instantly change the outlook and the situation in the country. But so long as he holds onto power and his Party simply cannot allow him to retire, he will remain the main obstacle to progress and recovery.

 

Eddie Cross

Harare, 18th December 2016

 
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