"Zimbabwe Dollar Back By Year-end" - Mugabe
Robert Mugabe and Gideon Gono inspecting farming equipment that was being distributed by the Reserve Bank to farmers all over Zimbabwe last year. Mugabe has now come out in support of the reintroduction of the Zimbabwe dollar and says it will be back by the end of the year. He was speaking after accepting 60 tonnes of maize presented to him in gratitude by the villagers of Zhombe yesterday.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 05 November 2009
Robert "The Solution" Mugabe yesterday told villagers in Zhombe that the Zimbabwe dollar will be back by year-end in order to mitigate the suffering of rural people.
Mugabe was speaking in the area at a ceremony where he was given 60 tonnes of maize by villagers who said they wanted to thank him because they had managed to get a very good harvest as a result of the inputs they got last year from Gideon Gono and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Mugabe's said that it was unacceptable that people in the rural areas are now "forced" to hand over goats and chickens as bus fare as a result of the lack of small denominations and loose change in US or South African currency (the two are now the main official currencies of Zimbabwe).
"Is a goat worth one dollar," asked Mugabe, adding, "We are looking at how best we can return our own dollar by the end of the year" in order to ensure that people did not raid their livestock pens to pay for bus fare and other things.
Mugabe's statement is purely a populist one, though and there is no need for him to spread panic like this (especially in the urban centres).
The truth of the matter is that, right now, the Zimbabwe dollar is still in use, especially on public transport vehicles in the cities and towns of Zimbabwe. The exchange rate being used is US$1 to Z$6 trillion. Most routes to and from town in Harare cost 50 US cents. When one hands over a dollar, they are given 3 trillion Zimbabwe dollars in change and the conductors in these minibuses also accept 3 trillion Zimbabwe dollars as fare, without any quibbles r hesitation.
So, the Zimbabwe dollar is still operating at this level. It is only shops that are refusing the Zimdollar completely and all that needs to be done is for Mugabe and Tsvangirai's government to find a way to encourage the shops to follow the example of public transport operators.
As for the 60 tonnes of maize that Mugabe was given yesterday by the villagers of the area, you can rest assured that this will find its way into less blessed areas, used to buy votes and spread patronage in order to cement ZANU PF's position in the rural areas.
The fact that next year's harvest will be mediocre, as confirmed yesterday by FAO, means that the maize will become a very powerful tool indeed as the countryside slides in hunger.
It appears the villagers were not forced to make this gesture and this should show people just how effective Mugabe's patronage system is, especially with the peasants from the rural areas.
Just last week, I reported on this blog that ZANU PF was going around the country distributing free fertiliser to villagers and party members through their ministers and MPs. This comes as it emerges that there is an acute shortage of the commodity in the country.
Where ZANU PF is getting money to buy tonnes and tonnes of fertiliser for its members remains a mystery, although we can take a stab at guessing that the diamond fields of Marange are a huge factor in all this.
Clearly, the party is already campaigning, using the twin strategy of buying loyalty this way and also intimidating these very same people as has now been revealed: "Next time it will be a bullet in the head," they are said to be told.
The MDC-T, meantime, is distracted fighting for jobs to be given to its leaders and members.