Much ado in Zimbabwe

There was much ado in Zimbabwe over the last week. Much ado about nothing, that is. The biggest development in the beleagured nation's news was Gideon Gono, the controversial governor of Zimbabwe's central bank delivered a much anticipated monetary statement last week. Sadly, like everything else in the country, it was the incriminating rumours swirling around the governor that were the main fixture early last week when Gono delivered the statement. Gono, who has long been accused of meddling in non-monetary matters, is now stands accused of prying into print media, and targeting indigenous bankers while building and protecting his questionable legacy.

A clearly unimpressed Zimpundit surmized the policy statement thus:

Here’s what Gono did, or didin’t do in his policy. Lending rates; stagnant at 500%. Exchange rate; shunted at long outdated paltry rates, and nothing else. Correct me if I’m wrong, but last time checked the sum of nothing is, well, nothing. If anything, this last statement was notable because it was Gono’s thinly disguised concession to Zimbabwe free (sometimes called black) market.

What’s maddening about this is that common Zimbabweans already took fifty punches in their long famished stomachs as prices rocketed in anticipation of Gono’s nil statement. Zimbabwe has a jittery economy which overcorrects for any anticipated shocks. So while Gono, continues to protect his glass house legacy, millions are enduring untold suffering in Zimbabwe. On the streets, where Gono better not go, prices are up, hopelessness is rampant, and there are no jobs.

Indeed, the Zimbabwean situation from Sokwanele's vantage point is firmly in dire straits,

For the human face of things, consider the family torn apart by emigration: the father who has crossed the border illegally to try to earn an honest wage in Johannesburg, living in a crowded room that he is forced to share with too many others, constantly watching his back for police and immigration officials, and hampered in his bid to secure a reasonably paid job by his illegal status.

Or consider the grandmother, looking after her grandchildren whose parents – her own children – have died of AIDS. She is in her seventies, and has had her own time of child-rearing, when she was younger and more able to cope with the demands it inevitably brings. She is a widow herself, but now has four grandchildren living with her, aged from 12 years down to 18 months.

This is the real tragedy, and statistics and the few independent news reports reveal only inadequately the depth of personal suffering involved for the majority of Zimbabweans. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is being looted and pillaged by its rulers. They access fuel at the official price of $400-odd per litre, and run thriving businesses selling the same fuel back to the public or the industrial sector at five or six or seven times that amount.

Taurai at Kubatana has a fascinating post on the budding musical career of Raymond Majongwe, an outspoken critic of the Mugabe regime.

In the song “Of Passports & Visas” on Majongwe’s new music album called I Speak What I Like, the activist musician said he was trying to make sense of the Zimbabwe and British governments. They are opposed to one another but together they, “connive and agree” in denying him an opportunity to travel.

The title of Majongwe’s new album is clear enough to scare some Zimbabwean musicians who have censored themselves from being the voice of the voiceless. Some say that musicians in Zimbabwe do not generally sing what they like because they want to make sure that they stay on the “right side” of the regime. However, he praised musicians like Leonard Zhakata who, despite the current political challenges, have not minced their words and continued to record songs that reflect the views of the people. Some of Zhakata’s songs have allegedly been banned on state radio.

1 comment

  • There is Zimbabwe exiles blog calling for the British to invade it and restore democracy.

    A somewhat radical view point, but a sign of how desperate things have got in Zimbabwe.

    I am of the “All Africa’s a Basket case” school of thought and having visited South Africa last year, I am not convinced they are out of the woods yet either.

    Populist leaders such as Zuma are perceived as corrupt and likely to promise “Land for votes” in the next elections. The killings fields of the South African farms, and first court seizure are signs that lessons have not been learnt yet.

    As for Zim, well It will be a very long time, if ever, before Zimbabwe fully recovers from the damage. All the farm infrastructure has been destroyed, the farmers dispersed, and capital goods (tractors etc) gone, and livestock diseased or eaten. Even just repairing the broken fences will cost millions.

    Where is the money going to come from, Switzerland? I don’t think so.

    The country has effectively been destroyed, and will never regain the chances lost, because even if Mugabe’s regime collapses, all the “squatters”, “veterans”, and “activists” etc will still be there, and no one will be able to control them. It would need a military government just to protect people, let alone enforce the courts orders.

    I guess I am being ultra pessimistic, but I suspect that when Mugabe’s party lose power, they will revert back to guerrilla violence to get it back

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