Zimbabwe Reserve Bank Plunders Private Foreign Currency Accounts

Its back to a familiar theme. Today, the big-hitters, the big companies and big men with the funds managed to drive the Zim dollar to $5 trillion per US dollar (if buying the US Dollar using a cheque). It is a tired old song now, but one worth updating. The figures, though meaningless to the outsider, are very meaningful to the people of Zimbabwe, since there is now virtually no shop in town still accepting Zim dollars. That is on the one hand. On the other, less than 1% of the small number of people currently employed earn above a million Zim dollars a month.  Then of course, there is the fact that Gideon Gono only allows depositors to withdraw $50 000 per day..... you can see where this is going. 
There is no such thing as a middle class in Zimbabwe anymore. There isn't even a lower class. Everybody is now living on less than a dollar a day, the most commonly used form of determining poverty all over the world. The only hope people have left lies in the Inclusive government that Mugabe and Tsvangirai are taking their time to form. 

But there is now a new twist. The world now knows what we have known all along: the Global Fund For AIDS had its bank account in Zimbabwe raided and looted, they say, by Fagan the Governor and they still haven't got their US$7 million chakuti back. They are crying foul, as can be expected.

Those of us who live in Zimbabwe could have told a million similar stories. We know of stories that, in the run-up to the March elections, the Reserve Bank went into private foreign-denominated accounts and took out whatever they wanted in order to finance that election. What loose change they left in there, they came back for in order to finance the June 27 presidential poll run-off. 

This is why Simba Makoni was very vocal in calling for that run-off to be cancelled. There simply was no money left in the country to finance such a massive undertaking. You will still find stories on the internet entitled: "Country Can't Afford Run-off - Makoni" to this day. Read them. You will be forgiven for weeping. As happens with all of Makoni's ideas, know-nothings shoot them down only to pick them back up again when they think noone is looking. We always wake up to the sense of his message long after the fact and then try to close the stable door after the horses have bolted. Witness the Government of National Unity........the man has been both right and sensible on so many occasions it would be a bore to repeat them here.

Meantime, if Tsvangirai thinks that he has got Mugabe by the short and curlies (see picture), as some of his more excitable supporters are suggesting, he has another think coming. Mugabe, by being invited to the swearing-in of the new Zambian president, was basically being recognised by SADC as the legitimate Head of State in Zimbabwe. Kikwete, the Tanzanian president and Chairman of the African Union, was also on hand to welcome Rupiah Banda (see post below) into the club of African strongmen. It's extremely unlikely that any sort of pressure will be brought to bear on The Moustachied One.

Second, it is now virtually certain that both SADC and the African Union will not entertain any suggestions, hints or pressure to escalate the Zimbabwe issue to the United Nations. This is significant. Because therein lay the hopes of not only the MDC but also the rest of the Zimbabwean population, including certain illegal ministers. Bottom line: Morgan either takes whatever Bob decides to give him or he sits this one out. If he chooses the later, he himself also knows that there will be no new elections.  No lifeline. No escape clause. We are stuck with Mugabe for the next five years whether we like or not and there will be nothing anybody can do about it. That, unfortunately, will be the death of Zimbabwe.

Which brings us to the burning issue debated by countless voices on this blog: Mavambo quickly forming a political party. People are distratcted at the moment trying to simply live. It would be counter-productive for Makoni to rush the process of forming the party for this reason alone if no other. There is no appetite for politics in the country at the moment. Should there be clarity on whether there will be a GNU or not, then the way forward will be crystal clear for Makoni. Rushing to form a party is a guarantee that the new party will be lost in the preoccupations of people at the moment: trying to find food, trying to keep themselves from 
dying of hunger. 

There is no clear, fierce urgency  of now as there was in February when the former Finance minister announced he was running against Mugabe. It is enough for now that he has made his intentions known. Let the party develop at a natural but ordered pace. Hurrying it along as others are recommending now would be counterproductive, messy at best and catastrophic at best. 
It is called hurry-up-and-wait. It is as clear as day.

This week will be interesting, with yet another non-event masquerading as a summit on Zimbabwe taking place. It is likely to be held in South Africa and Tsvangirai has now publicly announced that he will attend "with or without a passport."

I know of nobody who is holding his or her breath on account of this travesty that is about to befall us at the behest of SADC. And, by the way, Gono announced yesterday that he is going to bring out 
a new $1 million note this week. It seems even he has also lost hope!

Now you can breath out.


  1. The country is burning. It requires some form of leadership to give people hope and a new direction. People are fast losing confidence not only in the so called leadership, but also in themselves...and this is the most dangerous thing to nationhood. We are accelerating towards a situation where Zimbabwe is becoming some illusionary boundary of individuals who careless about anything other than themselves...just as we are seeing being reinforced by the deadlock in forming a Government of National Unity. The worst of effects of all this is falling on our children...the next generation, who will certainly pick up and reinforce this self defeating culture which is fast eroding nationhood.

    I think we need to promote the evolution of a new movement - yes political movement that will instill hope in people's lives and keep the nation in place. We need to mobilise people in the villages, towns and abroad into a new form of consciousness about nationhood that should guide people from despair. I think this is the time for Dr. Makoni to rise and lead.

    To be frank with you...i do not see anything fruitful coming out of any form of GNU given the levels of selfishness that have been demonstrated by politicians to date. Its as if these people have no souls at all....to be so stuck on greed and selfishness at the expense of the nation...its too bad. Children, older people..everybody is bleeding with pain, hunger, despair...people are losing control of the very soul that define them as human. We cant wait another day. The time to form a movement is now!!!And i am sure such a new movement is the one that will take the country out of this mess.

    We need new way of mobilising people...one that respects the inherent dignity of human beings, sanctity of life. One that gives hope to people. A way that put the survival of the people and nationhood first before politics of power.A way that will unite the people once more than continue to divide and tear them further apart. A way that recognise that instilling hope comes with building unquestioned trust with the people. A way that survives the test of politics of power.

    We need a movement of selfless managers who should prepare to work for the people to restore dignity and prosperity of our people...managers who are driven by common sense...because it is only common sense which can stand the test of time!

    So fellow country men and women, the time to organise a movement --- a new political party is now!!

  2. Yes, Nguva Yakwana the time is now! Although I agree that Zimbabweans have been numbed by the goings-on in the country, I am tempted not to agree with The Team's conclusion that there is no appetite for politics in the country because people are busy trying to find food etc. Finding food is real politics: kutsvaga kudya nezvematongero enyika chinhu chimwe chete; ukudinga ukudla lezombusazwe yinto eyodwa! I have seen MDC organising rallies in the past few days and people attending, and I am sure if ZANU PF were to call for a rally today people will attend - of course some will be forced!

    My fear is that if Mavambo lets the gap between Dr Makoni's March election campaign and the formation of a new party to be too huge, the risk is that people will forget about it. In one of the posts to this blog The Team or somebody else insinuated that there should be no rush because there are no elections! Ladies and gentlemen I think this is dangerous thought that should be not be entertained - politics should not be about elections; instead, it should be about building long-range links with voters; attending their funerals especially now that people are dying of cholera; attending gatherings in churches, universities, clubs, etc, so that when elections come you are simply reminding people and not inroducing yourself to them! People in Zimbabwe don't want election opportunism.

    So, Denford and The Team, let's not pour water on the processes that have already started, ie, debates around the constitution, formation of interim structures and preparations for the national convention. I suggest that as this is happening, people should also be given an indication as to when the party may be launched. This will give purposeful action - a sense of direction. This blog or the election website should could also be raising (alongside the daily news updates) other important issues about party branding, ethos and other interventions. For instance, the agrarian issue - people will want to know how the party/movement will tackle this issue. And so are issues of health, international relations and aid (which is one of MDC's problems). The election website has some brief outlines of some of these issues which, in the interim, we could be expending our energies on so that the interim leadership will have some things on the table for general consensus. Like you have done with this blog, there are many other ways of fishing into people's thoughts about important issues of the day, packaging these thoughts well and putting them back to people for refining and adoption. I think this is what happened with the constitution.

    In fact, this stage of the movement is very crucial. The interim structures (from provincial to national) should listen very carefully to the needs, wants and dreams of the different constituencies and then project these very well through selected strategic structures. However, not at the expense of time - Zimbabwe is ripe for a new party. As I write this comment I see there is a stopwatch on the left flank of this blog with a caption "A picture of a rare commodity in Zimbabwe: Time" - what a good illustration that time is not on our side. And please get me right, this is not to say that half-baked issues should be rushed through, but I am simply saying we should not ignore the importance of the visibility of the party now. A lot of people are now reasling that ZANU PF and MDC talks are nothing but a cul-de-sac: people need a new brand and like Nguva Yakwana is saying, a kind of a rediscovery of personhood and nationhood - a kind of dignity to be called a Zimbabwean; dignity of work and culture of hard work.

    I was reading an article by Joram Nyathi on how the whole issue of talks has made an embarrassment to the continent; in SA, for instance we have become a bad reference point - you will hear people say, "Ah, we don't wan't to be another Zimbabwe". I even think that people from other parts of Africa acknowledge that ZANU PF, having done all to liberate us, has now become a cul-de-sac, but also that MDC is worse:

    So, let the party start with the nucleus of those who voted for Dr Makoni in March and others who have lately seen that MDC and ZANU PF are not taking us anywhere.

    And let the debate continue...


  3. Yes, Nguva Yakwana is spot on! May I add by saying the following:

    1. While it is true, as The Team says, that people are numbed by the goings-on in the country, it is not true that people have no appetite for politics - you cannot seperate looking for food from politics.

    2. Tsvangirai has been holding rallies and I have seen people attending, so the view from The Team which I am dismissing above, is un-scientific.

    3. Some people who voted Mavambo in March and more others have realised that MDC and ZANU PF GNU is a cul-de-sac, now they need something new.

    4. The idea that there will be no elections anytime soon and so "hapana chekumhanyira" is a seductively dangerous one that should not be entertained: politics should not be about elections, this is what has created problems for us because we then try to win votes by breaking people's limbs. And so if Mavambo goes quiet for too long and comes up when there are news of elections, it will be labelled as an "opportunistic" party! By the way, anything is possible in Zimbabwe so we cannot talk in absolute terms about not having an election anytime soon!

    What should be done now?

    1. Vigorously give life to the interim provincial and national structures, "make the correct noises". Since there has already been a period of quietness (correct me on this one if I am wrong) Dr Makoni should go around the country, as he did in March, thanking people for voting for him and informing them about whatever he may deem necessary, and more importantly inform them of the formation of a new party. As he does this, he will give life to the interim structures which will remain doing the rest.

    2. The interim structures should then organise debates/discussions around issues to do with party branding, ethos, constitution, etc. People should have an indication as to when the national convention will be held so that there will be a sense of purpose and direction. The advantages of having good debate in the interim are twofold: (a) People go to the convention (which, by the way will be the domain of the media which can make or break parties) with a rough draft of a shared vision; (b) people get to know each other and can then select leaders among themselves to fill the national executive.

    4. As you have already started, use this interim blog and interim election website to engage people in debate about the party brand and manifesto - to debate issues about agrarian reform/consolidation, resuscitation of health and education, international relations, etc. Sometimes we spend our energies on ZANU PF and MDC which is understandable, but sometimes we do so to the detriment of other important issues.

    What will the party do after its formation now?

    1. Attend funerals of those who are dying of cholera and other preventable and curable diseases, including hunger.

    2. Attend nhimbe/amalima in the rural areas - the planting season is around the corner by the way.

    3. Engage other parties in public debates - as it is now, it's about Dr Makoni and no proper membership. As we are all aware, his good ideas about what needs to be done in country have been poorely copied by the MDC and ZANU PF, but other people cannot say anything because there is point of reference (the party). There are many political points to be scored by a party that has no baggage like MDC PF.

    4. Fund-raising

    So, Denford and The Team let's not pour water on the process that has already started and say "there is still time", even biblically this is unacceptable. As I write this contribution I am seeing that there is a stopwatch on the top left flank of the blog with a caption "A picture of a rare commodity in Zimbabwe: Time" - what a wonderful illustration of the fact that the time for the formation of a new party is NOW!

    by Glen

  4. We are certainly not pouring water in anything, Glen. A rushed foundation is no foundation at all. If it can be done quickly, then let it be so. But to rush at the cost of the foundations of th is new party would be suicidal. We should realise just what a big undertaking this is.

    Because the people's view really do matter, the leadership do not want to perform a perfunctory consultation process, merely going through the motions of consulting without actually doing so. To do this, people should be given time.

    Some of us feel very strongly that, should people feel they have taken part in a meaningful way in shaping this party, then they will feel they own it. Their loyalty and love for party would really last through generations, as happens now with older parties like the ANC of South Africa, The Dems, Labour, Tories and so on.

    Such a party will be able to usher a new era of unprecedented tolerance and democracy on the continent. Zimbabwe deserves nothing less

    Thanks for the thoughts. Really admire the passion



  5. Am in total agreement with you The Team, but maybe I am lost in your methodology of forming a foundation. Can I give you an illustration: I consider myself as "the people" and as one who is ready to go through the process of laying down the "foundation". But what is this "foundation"? Is it the constitution, or the constitution is part of it? And how do you foresee that it be built - give us the steps, IF YOU CAN, so that we are also informed.

    Let me give you the context of my previous comment:
    1. My assumption was that the interim national leadership has made a decision to launch a party (at a date to be advised)
    2. I also assume that the process of laying the foundation has started in earnest, for instance, contact details for provincial coordinators were given recently, and the announcement that the constitution will be out for discussion soon, was made.

    If the above is correct, my response was that your response to Nguva Yakwana to the fact that there is no appetite for politics now in the country and so it is not an opportune time to launch a party was sending a contradictory signal. Your response should instead have been that "yes, the process of laying the foundation has started, and so let's participate and make it strong", rather than saying the party cannot be formed now.

    I then proceeded to say how the party can get itself occupied in the interim, before elections. So, in brief, I am saying if the process of laying down the foundation has started, let it expand and progress smoothly without rushing it, but mindful of some of the issues that I am raising. Expand it by hosting discussions on important issues - some of which -as I said, are briefly mentioned in the March election website.
    As we speak about these issues, we also give the leadership that side the arsenal to make the correct "noises" because it is coming from us the people. For example, when I left the country in February there was a terrible shortage of family planning medicines in the country - I tell you, if Dr Makoni were to find an opportunity to talk about this issue now, he will attract the attention of many families, women....
    People need something novel, a new kind of leadership that cares, a leadership that does not deal with the obvious only, but one that knows society so intricately. As I have said before, we spend much time focussing on the GNU talks. While this is understandable, we run the risk of being bogged down to that web which is a cul-de-sac; we need to start dealing with the ordinary in an extra-ordinary way - that is what Obama did!

    So, Den and The Team let's lay the foundation and wait for the opportune time to launch the party "publicly" - even that will only be a formality because people would have seen it coming.

    I am just speaking as an ordinary person participating in laying the foundation for something new in Zimbabwe!



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