Tuesday, 3 September 2019

ZIMBAS NOW SURVIVING ON TSAONA : BITI


Wananchi, it is fair to say that the regime of Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken Zimbabweans to depths of excruciating poverty and suffering that has never been experienced before. 

Since November 2017, despite the change of language, Zimbabweans have been exposed to the unrelenting overreach of a brutally extractive, totally incompetent, totally clueless and absolutely predatory parasitic group that has sunk Zimbabwe into unfathomable depths of anger, anxiety, exasperation, aggravation and fatalism. 

For the thousands of Zimbabwe that naively marched with the military on the 18th of November 2019, (including this Wanachi) none of them ever imagined that after the fall of Robert Mugabe, the situation would rapidly deteriorate and that their socio-economic and political spaces would be so captured and shut down with vigour and determination that has been displayed by Emmerson Mnangagwa and his minions. The last 22 months, have been a horror story. A nightmare that refuses to go away. 

Wananchi, the statistics make frightening reading. 95% of Zimbabweans are unemployed or in the informal economy. 83% of the same, are living in extreme poverty surviving on less than US$0.35 a day. 

They survive on “tsaona”, that is to say four leaves of vegetables, a plate of mealie meal and a cork of cooking oil. 

But the reality is that the ordinary man and woman is the accident itself. The Wananchi is the “tsaona” a disaster waiting to happen. 

To confirm this, life expectancy has lowered to 36, whilst both maternal mortality rates, and infant mortality rates are slowly closing in on the unprecedented 2008 figures.

Hospitals are without medicine, queues are the order of the day, in urban areas shops are full of goods that ordinary persons cannot afford to buy. Households go for 18 hours without electricity .

Salaries and pensions have been devalued by exchange rate manipulations and rising inflation. Wananchi, at the epicentre of this crisis is of course politics.

Terrible extractive politics of exclusion, of entitlement and impunity.

It is the regime s stock in trade, that culture of entitlement and impunity that gave birth to the crisis of legitimacy that has arrested Zimbabwe since the coup of November 2017 percolating to the disastrous plebiscite held on the 30th of July 2019. 

Therefore the starting point to the interrogation of the Zimbabwean Crisis, must recognise the primacy, of toxic, obnoxious politics and how the same subordinates everything else.

The State has become a prison of the iron clad wall of a certain intolerant, pernicious brand of exclusive and extractive Zimbabwean politics. Put simply it is politics and nothing else but politics.

Beyond legitimacy the country suffers from a crippling and unprecedented economic crisis.

One which is coming less than 10 years after the fire last time in the 2008 melt down. One that has not been seen through a country that has not physically gone to war. 

The current crisis, is a crisis of under accumulation, characterised by low or absent productivity, weak aggregate demand and hyper-inflation. 

In short, Zimbabwe is in the middle of a recession that is fast tracking itself into an economic depression. 

The only thing worse than Zimbabwe’s economic implosion itself is that it is run by a bunch of clueless amateurs , who neither understand, nor care about the depth of the crisis and the suffering of the people.

Zimbabwe sets records every single day.Wrong records and for wrong reasons .Beyond legitimacy and the economic crisis, the country suffers from an unprecedented, unparalleled and unmitigated, scourge of capture and corruption. 

The current regime, has redefined kleptocracy, patronage and patrimonialism. The current regime, has invented its own set of cronyism.

A new blend of Mobutism that makes Mobutu Seseko a toddler, in the art of State Capture. 

Since November 2017, with the new re –configuration, the conflation of military, Party and State interest, the country has been subjected to unprecedented looting.

Wananchi, in the past the bulk of corruption and looting, has been carried out outside official government structures mainly through state owned enterprises, tenders, licenses, contracts and illicit financial flows. 

The class of 2017 have changed the rules of the game. Brazenly, the epicentre of looting has become Central Government itself, the Ministry of Finance itself, the gate keeping ministry, has become central and core to the looting of state resources, since 2017.

When the gatekeeper becomes the gate crusher, chaos always reigns. 

In 2017 alone, US$2.9 billion was siphoned directly from the Ministry of Finance without any supporting vouchers, outside the Public Finance Management System, outside the Public Finance Management Act, outside Parliament and outside the Budget. 

In 2018 US$3.2 billion was again siphoned through the Ministry of Finance without any supporting vouchers, outside the Public Finance Management System, outside the Public Finance Management Act, outside Parliament and outside the Budget. 

The 2017 and 2018 Reports of the Auditor General on Appropriation Accounts (particularly on vote 5 that of the Ministry of Finance), makes sad and embarrassing reading .

It’s a horror story, one which puts into shame the great works of the horror master Stephen King.

They abuse billions as if they are dealing with pennies. They have no remorse, they have no shame. They have no elasticity.

In fact Zimbabwe does not need foreign aid. It does not need Overseas Development Assistance All it needs is to stop the haemorrhage.

To plug the deep hole of leakage and looting that have been created at the feeding trough that the Ministry of Finance has become in the last few years.

Wananchi, sadly for the country, those that are at the epicentre of this grant capture of the State are also the ones making decision on a day to day basis. 

The country therefore will never move. The country will never reform for decision making and policy making is a prisoner of vested interests. 

These elites operate through the infrastructure of well oiled cartels run by blue eyed select characters.They are cartels in Command Agriculture.

There are cartels in the fuel sector.There are cartels in the banking sector.

There are cartels at the Central Bank that have commodified the USD and making billions form the pararrel market.

There are cartels in the communication sector; there are cartels in the commodity sector in particularly in diamonds, gold chrome and platinum. There are cartels in State Procurement.

The Country is run by its own perveted versions of Guptas. Vagabonds.

The shocking thing is that common names and common individuals run through this hegemonic, humongous structural scourge of corruption in Zimbabwe.

It is a crude ecosystem of State Capture never seen before. The truth of the matter Wananchi is that we do not have a government but a bunch of looters in suits that have captured the State.

What we do have is a kakistocracy. A system of government that is run by the worst, least qualified and most unscrupulous citizens. 

Wananchi Zimbabweans do not know what crime they committed to deserve this lot the likes of Emmerson and Mthuli.

However, there are elements of the current regime that do no suit the description and taxonomy of kakistocracy. This is the rogue and hoodlum element of the current regime. 

Since 2017, there has been systematic closure of political space in this country. Since 2017, there has been an unprecedented assault on civil and political rights and human rights abuses.

On the 1st of August 2018, seven people were shot dead in broad daylight by the military. 

On the 19th of January 2019 further 19 people were shot in broad daylight. In the same month women were raped, many were abducted, many were tortured. 

In the same month more than 2400 activists were arrested and subject to mass trials.  
In August of 2019 countrywide peaceful demonstrations were brazenly banned by the regime. 

In the week leading to the 16th of August planned demonstrations 18 people were abducted, 7 people were assaulted and heavily beaten up on the 16th of August and 259 people were arrested. 

Since then on a day to day basis without exception, there is a story, and indeed a sad story of violence and abuse.

Since Gukurahundi in the 80’s, the Country has never been subjected to the horror and nightmare of murderers, abductions, and imprisonments such as we have seen in the last 22 months.
  
There has never been such an unprecedented assault on Civic and political rights across the board. Zimbabwe today is a classical example of what my friend George Ayittey describes as a Vampire State. 

One on which there are no systems. Or if there are, they are physically vandalised to suit a narrow few. One in which the State is captured to serve the interests of a narrow few. 

One in which tribalism has become an instrument of exclusion. A state in which extractive institutions are the order of the day. 

Writing on Zimbabwe in their book “Why Nations Fail,” Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, (the later who will be in Harare in September 2019) writes as follows,

“The economic and political failure in Zimbabwe is yet another manifestation of the iron law of oligarchy – in this instance with the extractive and repressive regime of Ian Smith being replaced by the extractive, corrupt and repressive regime of Robert Mugabe. Mugabe’s fake lottery win in 2000 was then simply tip of a very corrupt and historically shaped iceberg.” 

One needs a sequel to this passage. “Mugabe’s extractive corrupt and repressive regime has been replaced by the dangerous, cartel centred extractive corrupt, repressive and murderous regime of Emmerson” 

Wananchi Zimbabwe is therefore at the cross.road. The citizen is suffering. Month on month inflation is now at 80% and has reached hyperinflation figures. 

Whilst annualised inflation which stood officially at 175% in June 2019 , is now in excess of 600% with Zimbabwe slowly sliding toward the embarrassing , 2008 inflation levels.

Not surprisingly the Minister of Finance has banned the publication of the Zimbabwe’s annualised rate of inflation by Zimbabwe’s Statistical Agency, ZimStats . 

The hyperinflation is on the backdrop of excessive taxes introduced by the troubled Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube.

The introduction of a 2% transaction tax in October 2018 was a disaster and a complete disaster that has ensured that Zimbabwe is the most overtaxed country in the world with taxes alone now contributing over 40% of GDP.

The de-dollarisation of the US$ was another disaster not founded on any logical basis except implicit dubious support from the IMF. The country does not have conditions that can sustain the return of its currency. There is no productivity at all that can back a currency. GDP growth rate in 2019 will be in excess of minus 10%. 

Secondly, the country has no reserves at all. The foreign currency reserves of US$350 million or four weeks of import cover that were Ieft in 2013 in the form of Special Drawing Rights at the end of the GNU have all been wiped out.

So Zimbabwe has zero reserves. Thirdly, the Country has an unfavourable Current account position. Zimbabwe’s current account deficit is more than 15% of its GDP.

Without any meaningful and significant exports, no country can sustain its own currency. Zimbabwe will certainly not be the First.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, Zimbabwe does not have the political confidence that is necessary to sustain a currency.

As indicated above, Zimbabwe’s core challenge is that of Politics, without a Political Solution to the Country’s challenges, anything else is a waste of time. 
However, history has also taught us important lessons. The lesson being that, once a Country has involuntarily dollarized, it is not possible nor easy to do so.
  
Only Panama in 1904, ever succeeded in doing so. For currencies are a function of confidence. Once a currency has been caught in fragranto that is the end of the day. 

But the real challenge, with Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime and indeed with his finance Minister, the motor mouth, Mthuli Ncube, is that both operate on the basis of an absent philosophy.
  
An absent ideology to guide the same. Economics operates on a set of clear and known principles no matter what ideology anyone follows. However, choices and decisions are made in the context of ideologies.

Government operates on the left, or the right or the centre. Mnangagwa’s Government lacks an ideological Campus. It lacks an inner soul.

It’s a colourless sobriquet devoid of any theoretical grounding other than a demonic fixation to looting .

If looting was a religion , then this regime and its leaders would be its high priests .The deacons and the Arch Bishops of Looting .

In the absence of a guiding philosophy, governance and economics under Emmerson Mnangagwa has become an eclectic right wing calabash of “kick and rush” economics or more appropriately “kick and hope” governance. 
Emmerson’s punch line, Vision 2030 is an empty slogan that has no substance.

A slogan that has been torn apart by the fact that Mthuli Ncube has constantly rebased and revised the country’s GDP which now stands nominally at ZWL$ 42 billion. 

With a ZWL$ 42 Billion dollar GDP, it means that nominally the per capita income of every Zimbabwean is now the middle income figure ZWL$ 1800
  
Thus 11 years before 2030 the country has in fact nominally become a middle
income country.

What a joke. ZANUPF is tinkering with the economy. Sadly the IMF is hypocritically aiding in abating the same.

Zimbabwe was never ready for a Staff Monitoring Program (SMP). Therefore it should not have been granted one.

What the IMF needed to do was to insist that Zimbabwe meets its own targets as defined in its own budget statement.

The fact that Zimbabwe has consistently failed to meet its macroeconomic targets , its budget targets and has maintained huge budget deficits since 2014, was proof enough of the fact that Zimbabwe was not ready for an SMP. 

The IMF is caught in a hypocrisy trap. A hypocrisy trap that was so brilliantly and recently exposed by Catherine Weaver in her book of the same title.

The hypocrisy trap, and situation in an organisation occurs when there is a huge gap between the ideal, the moral, the correct and the actions on the ground. 

In the case of the IMF, its founding documents speak of transparency, financial prudence and macroeconomic stability. But its work over the years, has been to work with despots around the world, the likes of Museveni and others, in cementing dictatorship and opaqueness.

The IMF’s hypocrisy stems from its long tradition of turning a blind eye to the political content of a regime. 

In the case of Zimbabwe for 40 years, the IMF has ignored the atrocities happening in the country.

In its staff report of May 2019 for instance the IMF refuses to recognise that there was a military coup in November 2017.

The IMF refuses to acknowledge that there is a political crisis emanating from the stolen election of 2018.It even had the audacity of calling the 2018 election a clean election despite universal condemnation. 

Furthermore in the SMP. itself the IMF avoids the issues of real structural reform required by Zimbabwe. This includes the issues of wage reform, parastatal reform, corruption and governance issues. 

However, the biggest failure on the part of the IMF is to assume that they can ever be reforms without reformers. The fact of the matter, is that they can never be reform without reformers.

They are no reformers in ZANU-PF. Instead there is a group of man and women who have captured the State, and used the State as an arena of personal aggrandizement and primitive accumulation. 

Zimbabwe’s decision making matrix, is therefore a prison of structural vested interests and of course the regime survival agenda. These two twin evils make reforms under ZANU PF impossible.
  
Wananchi the solutions required in Zimbabwe are thus structural. Zimbabwe needs a permanent structural solution. Zimbabwe requires a comprehensive package of structural, political, social, legal and economic reforms. 

These reforms are a precondition to the holding to a free, fair, credible, legitimate election that will allow the people of Zimbabwe to choose a people’s government, a government of their own choice. 

Quite clearly these reforms must be negotiated and agreed upon. This is the context in which the MDC has been calling for dialogue. 

This is the context in which the MDC will continue exercising its right under Section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe in calling for peaceful mass action and protests as permitted and defined by the law.

It is important that Zimbabwean crisis has external referee. It is important that SADC, the African Union the UN and the UN Security Council, provides the necessary international scaffolding to make sure that Zimbabwe has a soft landing. 

And it is key for every important stakeholder to understand that the country is in a crisis and that it is heading for an implosion.

An implosion in the form of another military coup or palace coup or an implosion in the form of thousands of dead bodies that will be lie in the streets of Zimbabwe.

Wananchi, the MDC’s call for dialogue is therefore not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of leadership, it’s a sign of responsibility. 

Zimbabweans will continue fighting and pushing this rotten kakistocratic regime, this Vampire State until Zimbabwe is a truly democratic country. 

Surely that is not too much to ask for? 

Zikomo! Zikomo! Via Facebook

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