Tuesday, 2 August 2016

BOND NOTES DEMOS LOOM

As President Robert Mugabe battles to heal the widening rifts in his warring Zanu PF, including his stunning fallout with restless war veterans, the nonagenarian faces a major new headache in the form of a planned massive demonstration in Harare tomorrow by pro-democracy activists, toyi-toying against the imminent introduction of bond notes.

This latest mass action against the long-ruling Zimbabwean leader and his under-fire government comes as thousands of unemployed university graduates, some of whom are trying to eke out a difficult living as street vendors, also plan to protest in the capital tomorrow — demanding the 2,2 million jobs that Zanu PF promised in the run-up to the hotly-disputed 2013 national elections.

A member of pressure group Tajamuka/Sesjikile, Slyvanos Mudzvova, said yesterday that the pending introduction of the much-criticised bond notes would be resisted robustly, going on to describe the notes as “bond paper, which is not money”.

“You can’t pick up a bond paper and print it and put it on the same value with the US dollar.
“That is why I am saying on August 3, let’s meet at corner Julius Nyerere and Jason Moyo and march to the ministry of Finance and tell Patrick Chinamasa’s office that we reject his bond tissues.

“He must use them himself in the toilet.
“To you retailers, have you forgotten that your shops were once left empty and you had no business to do, while vendors could not buy staff to sell and commuter omnibus conductors and drivers had nothing to show for their daily works as the bearer cheques we were using had become worthless?

“That is why we are saying no to all this,” Mudzvova said in a recorded video message to Zimbabweans.

Tajamuka/Sesjikile, together with #ThisFlag leader, clergyman Evan Mawarire, have over the past few weeks been leading campaigns aimed at forcing Mugabe and Zanu PF to stem Zimbabwe’s deepening rot — mounting a massive general strike last month which shut down the country as thousands of workers heeded their stay-away call.

The popular cleric was later arrested and arraigned before the courts, before being set free. However, authorities say they still want to interview him, with the intention of slapping him with fresh charges.

Mawarire is currently holed up in South Africa where he has taken temporary shelter, fearing a return to Zimbabwe where Mugabe, on two different occasions, threatened him with unspecified retributive action.

Tajamuka/Sesjikile spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi, whose organisation has given Mugabe an ultimatum to leave office by the end of this month, told the Daily News that tomorrow’s demonstration was “a sign that Zimbabweans have had enough of Mugabe’s ruinous policies”.

He also described the move by the government to introduce bond notes in October as “nonsensical”.

“We want to demonstrate as citizens to put a stop to the bond notes nonsense that the Zanu PF government wants to impose on the people. The people have long rejected the bond notes and the government should comply with what the people say,” he said.

Zimbabwe has for the past few months been reeling from severe cash shortages that analysts blame on gross mismanagement by the Zanu PF government, as well as the country’s dying economy.

As part of its desperate measures to mitigate the situation, which economic experts say is tantamount to papering over the cracks, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announced a few months ago that it would introduce the much-disliked bond notes before the end of this year.
In an update last week, the RBZ said it had covered a lot of ground in preparation for the introduction of the bond notes.

“All I can say is yes, October is still the introduction date. The process is not just printing, it also involves design. So, we are well on track,” RBZ deputy governor Kupukile Mlambo told the Daily News without stating the exact stage which the central bank had reached in the design and printing of the notes.

At the same time, former Vice President Joice Mujuru is also taking action to stop the introduction of the bond notes, which she says will further impoverish ordinary Zimbabweans who are suffering as a result of the government’s bad policies.

Zimbabwe has recently experienced riots and protests as emotions have boiled over the deteriorating economic environment in the country. Analysts also predict that things are likely to get worse when the bond notes are introduced in October.

Yesterday, the MDC — which is also planning to roll out its own protests over Mugabe’s continued stay in office — said Zimbabweans must not allow the introduction of the bond notes to happen. “The MDC wholeheartedly supports and indeed endorses any peaceful political and or legal action that is being taken by other opposition political parties and civic organisations in exerting pressure on the insipidly corrupt and politically bellicose and decadent Zanu PF regime.

“We will achieve far much more together as a united and focused organisation rather than as little, unco-ordinated and misfocused splinter organisations,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

The bond notes demonstration tomorrow will coincide with a planned protest by unemployed university graduates.

The Zimbabwe Coalition for Unemployed Graduates (ZCFUG) was yesterday distributing fliers on the streets of Harare, urging ordinary Zimbabweans to join their demonstration.
“Employment for all, payment of civil servants’ salaries in instalments should stop. Corrupt government officials should be arrested now. The import ban should be lifted and grants (at tertiary institutions) should be restored now,” ZCFUG said.

Tajamuka and other groups including the church are also calling on Mugabe to step aside and make way for a transitional authority to put the country’s economy back on track.
Mugabe, in power since 1980, is facing the biggest challenge of his political career, amid swelling public anger and a nasty fallout with former freedom fighters, the bulwark of his rule for many years.

The ex-combatants last month issued a damning communiqué ending their relationship with their patron, in a move which rocked the nonagenarian and Zanu PF to their foundations.
The panicking government has responded to this by swooping on the war veterans’ leadership, in a brutal crackdown which has drawn outrage and widespread condemnation not just in Zimbabwe, but also around the world.

Last week, armed detectives stormed the residence of war veterans spokesperson Douglas Mahiya looking for the forthright freedom fighter, who later surrendered himself to the police after learning that cops had ransacked his house and held his family hostage in the process.
Mahiya spent five nights in prison before he was finally granted bail yesterday, on charges of insulting Mugabe.

And as Mahiya was gaining his freedom, war vets’ secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda, who was at court to show solidarity with his fellow comrade, was arrested by detectives on charges yet to be established — although lawyers suspect they are linked to Mahiya’s case. Daily news

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