Sunday, 14 December 2014

The 'simplicity', the duplicity and the realignment


By Bernard Bwoni

The murky and turbulent waters of factional politics within the ruling party have now calmed with an outcome that represents an epic ideological victory that is to shape the country. The events of the recent few months have been a sure test for the ruling party that posed a genuine threat against what really defines the ruling party and the ethos of the liberation struggle which had the potential for an unprecedented ideological implosion. Zimbabwe is still a very young nation and as such prone to developmental weaknesses and opportunities for growth. The internal and external threats, the inter-party and intra-party had the potential to cause a cataclysmic ideological unravelling and now that has been and is still being addressed. Some wayward individuals within the ruling party leadership ranks chose to bargain the ideology of party collectivism for personal ambition individualism. Many succumbed and compromised their own and the party ideals for self-preservation in preparing for political careers past a constitutionally elected leadership. Those who compromised party ideals to further personal agendas have now been left languishing on the wrong side of the political fence and rightly so.
The distorted psyche, the degenerate overtures, the hasty quest for political stardom, the greed and cover-up of financial felonies is what led to this loss of moral mettle and the advent of this cushy culture of impunity and invincibility. On their brief expedition towards personal power they ditched their party responsibilities for own personal ambitions. The Machiavellian menaces of factional and over-ambitious politics is what relegated these heroes-come-counterrevolutionaries to the edges of the ruling party ranks. They allowed themselves to go against the core values and ideals of the party and the party had no choice but redirect them and put them back in line. The mesmeric pre-Congress dramatic unfolding and the captivating conclusion to it all has brought about clarity and reassurances of a one united ruling party without any fissures from the tectonic activity of the recent few months. The former Vice President of Zimbabwe Dr Joyce Mujuru summed it up well when she said “Mind you I don’t know any other party other than Zanu PF and that’s my party. And I will die in Zanu PF.”
It is because of this political and economic elitism that those who lost their way drew their confidence from to run parallel structures to the tried and tested leadership of President Mugabe. It is only because of the rich history of the ruling party and the astute leadership of President Mugabe that the party was able to navigate the factional and treacherous political landscape that had been specifically designed by a select elite grouping of restless and over-ambitious simple-minded individuals who embraced machinations which have historically sought to undermine Zimbabwe’s quest for genuine political and economic emancipation. The simplicity stems from the fact that many in the ruling party have tried the very same before and have failed spectacularly. The colossal figures the likes of Edgar Tekere, Simba Makoni, Ndabaningi Sithole, Margaret Dongo just to name but a few have all taken that route to the exterior of the ruling party hoping for lone victories only to find themselves alone and instantly irrelevant. They should have known better surely.
The unsettled and over-zealous caucus within the ruling party quickly jumped on the bandwagon in anticipatory naivety and a misguided sense of entitlement to power by virtue of being on the vice side of things. This coterie of the muddled suffered tunnel vision and was built on simplistic ideas of self-preservation and accumulation and more accumulation. The treachery is derived from the fact that members of this subversive syndicate chose to indulge in unsanctioned associations and private unrecorded meetings with known agents of the regime change agenda in Zimbabwe and the marionette local opposition.  They sought to undermine their very own from within and something was definitely amiss with the over-familiarity with those elements that sought to destabilise and undermine Zimbabwe. The real problem with this counter-revolutionary clique is that they did not really stand for anything because by deviating from the principles and objectives of their party they ended up standing for nothing other than personal gains. The only outcome of their self-seeking activities was exposing the ruling party to the same schemes the local opposition has employed to effect regime change in Zimbabwe. The biggest mistake was excessive confidence in simple ideas that ran parallel to the body polity and the mistaken thinking that power was already in the bag. Any political party is bigger than its minute and individual pieces and that is the fate of all those implicated.
The fact that they embraced the opposition and agents and elements known to have continually pursued an illegal agenda truly undermined the validity of this grouping and was in effect undermining the ruling party ideology and Zimbabwe as a country. It is hard to stomach the fact that it was some revered liberation war heroes who chose to cuddle up to the erstwhile enemy they so exhaustively defeated during the prolonged liberation war struggle. They chose to sacrifice the country’s hard won sovereignty for a quick gateway to the top job in Zimbabwe. The realignment that has happened within the ruling party ranks has appropriately placed the accountability of the transgressions to those responsible. The ruling party has taken the right steps to counter the alleged sabotage and anyone anywhere else would have done the same. The realignment was necessary because even though those implicated belonged to the revolutionary fold they were working on the other side of the revolution and clandestinely seeking to derail the very same revolution. The ruling party has emerged from the ruckus and fracas even stronger and united contrary to pre-congress speculation of a fragmented and weak party. The main thrust now that the party has rid itself of the internal counter-revolutionaries is the country’s frail economy. The two Vice Presidents and the whole team are in place and there is clarity in terms of rank and order.
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Friday, 12 December 2014

Rostrum for Zimbabwe’s economic transformation




By Bernard Bwoni

The recently announced budgetary statement was pro-poor and in a lot of ways focusing on enhancing and facilitating the strategic agriculture sector and other key ZIMASSET clusters. The Presidential Input Scheme aids and anchors the Food Security and Poverty Alleviation Clusters of the economic blueprint. The hard fact is that Zimbabwe is on the inevitable road towards recovery and the recent realignment and reshuffling within the ruling party following Congress only confirms this.

Crucially the Presidential Inputs Scheme is benefitting around 1.6 million households throughout the country for the current agricultural season. This strategic scheme targets maize, small grains and livestock which are important for the country’s food security and national self-sufficiency. At the time of announcing the budget Minister Chinamasa pointed out that so far a total of US$10.5 million had been raised and the procurement and distribution of seeds is underway through the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) Depots nationally. These are positive and proactive initiatives on the part of the government to stimulate agricultural growth as this ensures that seeds are readily and timely available at the start of the planting season. It is from an agricultural base that the country’s economic revival will stem from. The government has been innovative in supplying the input supplies through a mixture of the issuing of treasury bills to settle previous obligations amounting to US$30.9 million.

The last agricultural season of 2013/14 has been a resounding success with impressive delivery of grain to the GMB and this was premised on the backdrop of an excellent rainy season and the Presidential Input Scheme. Over 220,348 metric tonnes of maize was delivered to the GMB compared 81,190 metric tonnes and 33,273 metric tonnes in the two previous season respectively. The 220,348 metric tonnes is enough for national self-sufficiency and stockpiling. It is important to note that over the past six agricultural seasons Zimbabwe has been rated first in the AU countries for meeting cereal production demands.

One of the key stumbling blocks to the revival of the agriculture sector has been access to financial resources in particular the small-scale and newly resettled farmers. The government has been proactive and made good progressive in terms of facilitating resources mobilisation from the country’s financial institutions. The Prescribed Asset Status (PAS), the Liquid Asset Status, tax exemptions and government guarantees are some of the key strategies the government has been pursuing to ensure that the agricultural financing institutions more willing to fund the sector.  The banking sector has so far this agricultural season mobilised in excess of US$1.093 billion for farmers to access working capital under a number of available credit schemes and so far support for contract farming arrangements for the 2014/15 season are in place through the Agricultural Market Authority to the tune of US$21.4 million. This is covering 12,075 hectares for maize, 6,224 hectares for soya beans and 31,680 hectares for cotton.

In the past farmers have struggled paying back loans and this has made the financial institutions very sceptical and reluctant to provide new lending to farmers. This has in turn has had a negative impact on agriculture and productivity. The government is now ensuring certainty of repayment through an efficient Stop Order System which help address the challenges relating to farmers avoiding paying through side marketing. Robust recovery systems which guarantee financial institutions that farmers will repay have now been put into place. The Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) is currently developing and making arrangements for the re-establishment of the Stop Order System with the support of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and The Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development. The government has been encouraging Contract farming arrangements between farmers and cotton merchants through the continuation of the Buying Quota System for contracts introduced in the 2013/14 season to limit side marketing of contracted cotton which will also support loan recovery and the sustainability of bank funding for cotton production. These are all positive strategies to rebuild trust with the lending institutions.

The government has been keen to induce productivity in agriculture via joint ventures with interested parties. The government of Zimbabwe owns expansive estates of good agricultural land nationally through the Agriculture and Rural Authority (ARDA) and the Cold Storage Commission (CSC) which currently lies under-utilised and as such has been inviting investors willing to partner ARDA and CSC in joint ventures. Under the arrangements the potential investors will provide capital whilst ARDA and CSC will provide the land and infrastructure for the estates. All this is crucial to the successful implementation of ZIMASSET.

A resurgent agriculture sector provides the platform for the country’s economic transformation and revival following years of decline. There is need to address some of the policy and administrative challenges that have held back previous government initiatives. In his address at the recently concluded ruling party 6th National Congress President Mugabe made it clear that those implicated in corrupt practices will be expelled from government and be dealt with according to the laws of the land. It is action and actual follow up which will ensure that the degeneracy is nipped in the bud. It is now after Congress and must that focus is redirected back towards what really matters to the expectant electorate, that is the economy and service delivery. The time for excuses has been and gone.

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Past the politics of Congress comes the economy


By Bernard Bwoni

The ruling party’s 6th Peoples’ National Congress under the appropriately titled banner of ‘Accelerated Implementation of ZIMASSET’ kicked off amid the uncertainty and tensions within the upper intraparty echelons of power and its prologue brought certainty and stability to the matter. The Vice-Presidents Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mr Phelekezela Mphoko have now been sworn in, the rogue ruling party elements have been disabled and replaced and now is the time to temporarily shelf the factional politics and start focusing on the economy. The main thrust of the Congress was to look at the state of the party, addressing the issue of factionalism which had been publicly and dangerously threatening to undermine the party. It also focused on the state of the country’s heavily compromised economy and looked at proposals to hasten the implementation of the government’s ZIMASSET economic blueprint. The ruling party’s First Secretary and the President of Zimbabwe His Excellency President Robert Mugabe in his Congress opening address was open and honest from the onset telling the delegates “We have not done to you what we should have done; some of us failed us and failed you”. He was making reference to some of the party leadership who had naively taken it upon themselves to prioritise personal ambitions and agendas parallel to party objectives and national direction. The National Congress has brought clarity and finality on the issue of factionalism which had been threatening to tear the ruling party apart from within. The instigators of the factionalism and the degeneracy were named and their clandestine and cabal overtures against the party were laid bare. Now that the pre-Congress commotion and dust has settled it is back to basics.

It is the hope that President Mugabe’s steely message that drew deafening reactions when he made it clear that all those public official implicated in any palm-greasing will be dealt with according to the laws of the land will be followed by actual action. The electorate is not interested in just words minus real action and the President was very clear when he said “all ministers, their deputies, chairmen and civil servants found to be guilty will lose their jobs and go to jail”. This resonated well with the expectant electorate and all that is now left is execution.

Now that the Congress is over and done with and the ruling party’s realignment has been finalised the thrust now should be the country’s frail economy to address issues of unemployment, service delivery, budget deficit issues and infrastructure development as per the premises of the ZIMASSET economic blueprint.  The triumphant ruling party is currently the sole authority of the land with a resounding majority following the 31st July 2013 elections victory and should remain focused on governing in the national interests.  The subversive inter-party and intra-party cabal elements have been defeated and there should be no more excuses. The ideals of the liberation struggle and the ruling party must be brought back to the forefront ahead of personal and narrow-minded counter-revolutionary objectives for the sake of national trajectory. As the President rightly puts it “We are bound together by the fact of being Zimbabweans. That’s why we must be proud, take care of Zimbabwe, and build a fortress that prevents any intruders coming in without our permission. We have a responsibility to protect this land so that it never becomes a colony of those wanderers again”. This is a national economy that requires collective national spirit and intervention to harness positive outcomes.

The politics of the Congress were dealt with decisively and no doubt that the outcome was one united ruling party with the specific function to revive the country’s battered economy. The mood and message throughout the Congress was clear on the urgent need to implement ZIMASSET at the accelerated pace. There were deliberations on the state of the economy and state of agriculture from which recommendations were drawn. The Finance Minister Mr Patrick Chinamasa highlighted treasury’s difficulties in collecting revenue and the negative impact of the huge import deficit. It is imperative that the government put into place measures in place to protect local industry from cheap and inessential imports. The Minister also encouraged the nation to develop a culture of saving for the future and a culture of paying back borrowed loans to ensure the viability of local banks.

The government’s economic blueprint will yield positive results with effective implementation. The Infrastructures and Utilities clusters such as power generation, railway and road rehabilitation, dam construction, and irrigation schemes are critical in supporting the productive sectors of the economy. The completion of the Hwange Thermal Power Expansion which will generate an additional 600 megawatts into the national grid, the Gwayi-Shangani power plant will add 700 megawatts; the Kariba Extension will add 1000 megawatts and Makomo Resources an additional 600 megawatts. The government is also encouraging investments into solar energy and wind power. In the next few years once all the power generation projects are completed Zimbabwe will be exporting power to its regional partners.

The recurring theme of value addition and beneficiation continued throughout the Congress. The fact that the country is still exporting resources in their raw unprocessed form means that employment is in effect being exported as well and the country losing out. The general consensus is that focus should be on implementing fiscal corrective measures to restore investor confidence in Zimbabwe’s economy. The realignment of the ruling party politics has far-reaching implications for the nation as a whole with the party’s 6th National Congress addressing the main sticking points that had been stalling progress.  It is only a matter of time before people of Zimbabwe start reaping the fruits of this realignment. Revolutions bear fruition on the back of successful and effective implementation of laid out programmes. The ruling party revolution rests firmly on the successful and accelerated implementation of ZIMASSET. The ruling party has no choice but to deliver on the election promises and cannot afford to take the foot off the pedal simply because of the impotent nature of the opposition politics. The party has rid itself of counter-revolutionary coterie comrades and now is the time to refocus on getting the wheels of the economy turning again.

 
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Sunday, 30 November 2014

The impatience, the corruption and the excuse mechanism

By Bernard Bwoni

There are many hardships in Zimbabwe, no more than anywhere else in the world. Life is tough everywhere you go and people work very hard to get by and people in Zimbabwe are no exception. The resilience and entrepreneurship spirit is what separates Zimbabweans from many others. However in some sections of Zimbabwe society the hardships have
 bred impatience, despondency, lethargy and a self-preservation attitude.

Impatience is one of the most debilitating ailments afflicting Zimbabwean society and has now reached levels that are detrimental to national progression. The majority of the people have become so impatient to the point of self-serving where the 'me attitude' takes priority over all else and benefit to society. The impatience, the rush to get ahead of everyone and the quest for individual self-gratification at the expense of society has seen the fast-track of national breakdown accelerated. It is very easy to point fingers at government's shortcomings but citizens also need to take responsibility and play their part..

The government is there to facilitate and put in place policies, procedures, systems and processes for efficient service delivery and there are a number of areas that could be better. Policies and any enforcements require robust and consistent follow up to take effect and be maintained. The citizens on the other hand have a duty and responsibility to ensure that these systems, processes and enforcements are adhered to. It is unfortunate that everyone has become so impatient to the point of trampling upon the next person. It is no longer just about survival but self-preservation. This is in no way meant to dismiss the suffering a lot of people are going through but the impatience and the me attitude can only take the nation backwards and in a lot of cases endangering and causing loss of life.

When driving through Harare that is where you are brazenly confronted with the ugly face of this impatience. The fracas to get ahead is intriguing as it is dangerous. Nearly every driver has put on the impatient garb and in a huff to get ahead of everyone else. What this means is that everyone is thus in a hurry to get ahead of everyone and the outcomes are inevitably disastrous. In the city centre in Harare it is untamed traffic jungle. The numbers of those jumping through red traffic lights clearly endangering lives is shockingly large. You have a two-lane traffic lane turned into a four-five traffic lane due to this dangerous and unnecessary rush to get ahead of everyone. Citizens have a duty to follow the laid out rules and regulations for the sake of national expedience. Equally the government has a duty to consistently follow up in the enforcement of these. A lot of the traffic violations are happening in the full glare of the police and in some instances a few metres from the police stations and that is just unacceptable. This is a two-way relationship, citizens should not be committing these violations in the first place, however if they do the law enforcement authorities have the duty and responsibility to enforce.

It is the same impatience that is also fuelling and sustaining the corruption that has become inherent in Zimbabwean society. It is stating the obvious that there are corrupt elements within the law enforcement services and again that is just not acceptable. This is not in any way meant to condone the practice or antagonise anyone but fact of the matter is that the degeneracy has become deeply embedded in Zimbabwe because there are "givers and takers" in this unholy union. The law enforcement services must not be taking bribes and citizens must not be giving the bribes period. There is nothing else beyond that except excuses. This is a two-way uncouth relationship that will cease abruptly and instantly if both parties take responsibility rather than try to abdicate their responsibility. The agitation that will come after this is part and parcel of the excuse mechanism that is nurturing and maintaining this degeneracy. The simple solution is do not be the "giver" to starve off the "taker".

In Zimbabwe it is common to hear things like "even if I don't give a bribe the next person will come and give it anyway so what is the point. I might as well."  That is the loud sound of the excuse mechanism. It is quite disheartening hearing that but it in fact is the inbuilt mechanism in individuals to try and exonerate themselves from the decadence yet partake in it because "everyone else is doing it". The responsibility to addressing corruption and other vices in Zimbabwe lies with all citizens irrespective of rank and order. The first step lies with each individual and citizens have to be prepared that things might take long to be done and you have to pay the full price for things unless otherwise stated or if there is a legal discount in place. Any deviation from these core principles means paying bribes to get ahead and that only fuels corruption. The honest truth is that it has become common and normal to phone someone who works in such and such a department to get ahead in the queue, to get away with an illegality and so that processes can be fast-tracked. If citizens stop paying their way to quick and illegally cheap outcomes then the nation stands a chance of successfully challenging the degeneracy. The law enforcement services must ensure that follow up is genuine and not compromised by further underhanded practices.

There has to be real consequences for wayward law enforcement officials and those citizens who break the set out regulations. Some of the things in Zimbabwe are getting away with is shocking and the worrying thing is that some of these things are now being accepted as the norm. There are simple things that government and citizens can collectively do to achieve better outcomes. The first step is to address the issue of separation and that dividing line between government and the people. It is stating the obvious that government is in fact people, voted in by the people and the people are the government by virtue of their majority status. There should be no distinction between government and the people because they are two sides of the same coin. The government has the responsibility and accountability to ensure that people have access to the right services and citizens have a responsibility as well to ensure that basic duties of a citizen are adhered to  A good example is refusal disposal and collection. In Zimbabwe the amount of refuse and litter in inappropriate places has reached catastrophic and unacceptable levels. Now this is a collective responsibility of government and citizens. Refuse collection does occur weekly via councils in cities and street cleaning also happens twice daily in Harare. People are however beginning to create dumping sites in parks and other open green spaces giving rise to negative externalities. You speak to people and you get all sorts of excuses for throwing litter on the floor and dumping garbage in beautiful parks and very little in terms of taking responsibility.

This is no way to suggest all Zimbabweans are irresponsible when it comes to litter but fact of the matter is that there are significant challenges. In Chivhu town centre asking around for somewhere to put litter the street vendors in fact encourage you to dump the litter on the floor and claim that actually is the normal thing to do!  Walking through Harare City Centre you are confronted with empty litter bins and streets coated with an assortment of litter. The City Council did provide bins in the streets and most have been stolen. Some bins are empty as most people find it normal to drop litter on the floor. Speaking to people you are always showered with excuses that it is the responsibility of the City fathers. In Harare they clean twice a day but people are throwing rubbish after the cleaners.

These are simple things and very basic education tells you that litter goes in the bin and you do not throw rubbish out through your car window onto the street. Buses have a responsibility for providing refuse bins and when full empty the bin at an appropriately designated refuse place. Zimbabwe is just way too an educated society to have some of these basic challenges. It is very convenient to palm the blame onto government but it is up to each individual to play their part for the sake of national progression.

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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Dr Grace Mugabe- substance behind the sensational headlines

By Bernard Bwoni

Here is a woman of substance, a woman with a charitable disposition and a woman of tangible and visibly irrefutable influence. Whilst the distinction between those who serve the self and those who serve others is often obvious, in this ‘global village’ that dividing line is often deliberately obscured and determined by those who carry the world media key. Any Internet search engine on Dr Grace Mugabe will 99.99% of the time carry headlines portraying an uncaring and over-indulgent First Lady. Behind the media extracts and sensational headlines there is a intelligent woman of meaning, real meaning very much in touch with the grassroots, a passionate and caring wife, mother to her own children and orphaned children and a highly innovative business-minded philanthropic mother of the nation. Her selfless sacrifice to needy and orphaned children remains cushioned from reporting by those who paint the erroneous and dishonest picture of a substance-free shopaholic. The fact of the matter is that Dr Grace Mugabe is a progressive prime mover, the mother and the brains behind a well-run Children’s Home in Mazowe and currently in the process of building a school and working on plans for a University that will benefit present and future generations of Zimbabwe. She is an inspiration to all women in Zimbabwe and mother to many neglected, abandoned and deprived children. She is an inspiring pacemaker with a meaningful and proven track record of community and grassroots work through her charity work. 

Dr Grace Mugabe has often described herself as a ‘workaholic’ and that is fully backed by results of her hard work on the ground. On top of running her children’s home and working on other charitable projects she is also a successful dairy farmer with over 2500 dairy cows. Dr Grace Mugabe has the charitable bone permanently etched right down to her spirit and listening carefully to her recent meet the people addresses minus the specifically nit-picked sound-bites and riveting headlines in most opposition and international media sources there indeed is profound depth and a genuine desire to uplift and upgrade the lives of the disadvantaged and unprivileged. She has prioritised commitment to challenging the degeneracy currently bedevilling the nation and addressing issues affecting ordinary citizens on a daily basis. She has challenged corruption, she has challenged inconsistencies in terms of service delivery and she has ruffled the cushy culture of impunity that has been rooting itself freely in some sections of the upper echelons of power in Zimbabwe. Dr Grace Mugabe has put emphasis on keeping the people of Zimbabwe informed and instilled genuine commitment to challenging the decadence.

The unreported Grace Mugabe has community work credentials and her recent meet-the-grassroots addresses focused on practical issues that affect people in the local communities on a daily basis. She met with Cross Border Traders and tackled pertinent issues that affect this important entity in the Zimbabwe economy. In Zimbabwe over 5.8 million people are employed in the informal sector and this contribute significantly to the social and economic functioning of the state. These are relevant and befitting issues to be thrust on the forefront of the national discourse and come up with solutions to address them. Her encouragement and advice to the Cross Border Traders to accept slow growth as opposed to quick economic gains is sound economic advice. Any business is a process where you lay the foundations and from there that is where the take-off happens. She made sound and welcome promises of championing for the traders to get land and start producing which will enhance livelihoods. She has been talking about facilitating women to be given land, focusing on the productive agriculture sector and indigenous Zimbabweans becoming self-sustaining and self-reliant. She is talking about real wealth creation as opposed to the retrogressive notion of mere workers who do not own the means of production. In another address in Gwanda Dr Grace Mugabe touched on a number of very important issues and highlighted the importance of education and humanity. She said that ‘’Education without humanity is useless, even if you educated, you need to be humane and don’t lead children astray’’. These are pertinent issues that do not get any media attention. She talked about the importance of family, the ravages of child abuse and domestic violence. She also challenged government’s policy of demolition of illegal residential structures without finding alternatives for them. She did not condone the illegal structures but her argument was that alternatives were needed for those displaced. The problem is that by destroying the structures you create another problem of homeless people. Now these are issues that no ‘global media’ will highlight about the First Lady. She has spoken incessantly about women’s issues and the need for women to be educated and to have land to help improve their economic prospects. It is unfortunate that many have tended to focus only on the stirring headlines and the Peta Thornycroft cock and bull stories instead of the depth and wealth behind most of Dr Grace Mugabe’s addresses.

She does possess a clear awareness of Zimbabwe’s economic policy as evidenced in another of her addresses where she highlighted the importance of the country’s look east policy and the implementation of the country’s economic blueprint ZimAsset. One of the key issues she has consistently and passionately focused on has been the issue of corruption and the negative image it portrays about the country. She has persistently stressed the negative outcomes of letting corruption go unchallenged as it undermines the trust people have in government and some individuals in positions of authority resources that could have been used for collective national benefit towards individual gratifications. Beneath all the negative and biased representation of the First Lady there is breath and depth, a solid commitment to addressing the issues of the downtrodden and bringing to the foreground all these issues. The reassuring thing about the First Lady is that it is not all empty words, she is a woman of action and she has the substance-endowed charitable curriculum vitae to back it. She is upholds the very same principles as her husband President Mugabe who has dedicated his entire life liberating and empowering the indigenous African peoples and redressing the inequalities created by the colonial system. In another of her meet the people addresses Dr Mugabe lamented the case of those resettled farmers who were reluctant to seize the opportunities presented to them. She like President Mugabe has emphasised the urgent need to start unlocking, dismantling and restructuring the previously biased system which still continues to tie down African minds and limiting their potential to enhance themselves. No gimmicks but this as real as life itself gets, the freshness and reality of the grassroots, physically touching the ground and tackling issues head-on. There is a lot more substance behind those dramatic news headlines and sensational media clips.

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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Great Zimbabwe- sheer nerve of our forebears

By Bernard Bwoni
 
Great Zimbabwe is a stone masonry marvel, a city built on sheer nerve and an eleventh century show of the consistent and unique prowess of the people of Zimbabwe. It is by no accident that Zimbabwe is a country that invites intrigue and interest from many corners of the world. It is by design that Zimbabwe is strategically located on the African continent and is set for a return to those glory day...s of the Great Zimbabwe Empire. Great Zimbabwe was the economic hub of the whole continent and a booming trading empire that flourished between the 11th and 15th centuries. Great Zimbabwe's most enduring and impressive remains are its stone walls expertly constructed from granite from the surrounding hills. All of Great Zimbabwe's walls were fitted without the use of mortar by laying stones one on top of the other, each layer slightly more recessed than the last to produce a stabilizing inward slope. Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans have a duty to revive the country and bring the Great out of Zimbabwe again. It was the collective spirit of the people of Great Zimbabwe that saw the kingdom dominate and we have a duty to carry forward the bravery and valour of our forefathers.
 
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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Zimbabwe: Africa’s next economic giant


By Bernard Bwoni

There is going to be agitation about this but fact of the matter is that Zimbabwe has been under economic sanctions for over ten years and to date still reeling under the effects of these ruthless economic measures. It is the resilience of the people of Zimbabwe that is inspiring and has held the country together amid the ravages of the disproportionate and illegal actions. The people of Zimbabwe have endured unimaginable distress, poverty and destitution as a result of the economic sanctions imposed without any due care or attention to the plight of the ordinary people. Under the circumstances when you look and analyse how the country has performed when compared to other African countries in terms of economic growth rate then you understand the resolute spirit of the people of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe adopted the multi-currency regime in 2009 and the economy grew quite significantly with annual growth rates of over 10% in 2012 and eventually and gradually declining to growth rates of below 5%. The significantly high economic growth rates when the country started using the multi-currency needs to be clarified to highlight clearly that the decline to the lower rates of today had nothing to do with government policy but rather the economy readjusting and reconfiguring itself from the high inflationary period of the domestic currency to the US dollar. That is a fact and what we are witnessing in the economy is real growth. In the period 2009-2012 Zimbabwe had no manufacturing capacity to back the over 10.5% economic growth rate that was being touted as Tendai Biti’s economic genius. The growth we currently have in Zimbabwe is real growth from a normal base.

Here are some key statistics about economic growth in some African countries picked randomly and all these countries are not and have not been under economic sanctions for the past 13 years. Kenya had a growth rate of 4.7% in 2013, Lesotho 3.4% in 2013, and Namibia 4.3% in 2013. Zambia had a growth rate of 6.5% in 2013 and Angola had a growth rate of 5.1% in 2013. Botswana had a growth rate of 5.4% in 2013, Uganda 5.2% in 2013 and Mozambique 7% in 2013. Zimbabwe under the full impact of economic sanctions posted a modest growth rate of 4% in 2013. Food for thought.

The economic situation in Zimbabwe is presented as dismal and bleak judging from some news headlines and recent IMF Report on the country’s economy. A recent IMF Report screamed ‘Zimbabwe economy is in a tailspin and at crossroads’. The report is clear that ‘the main objective of the new SMP is to strengthen the country’s external position, as a prerequisite for arrears clearance, resumption of debt service and restored access to external financing’. Zimbabwe met all the targets and structural benchmarks set out by the recently expired IMF Structural Monitoring Programme which expired in June 2014 leading onto the third review which will run until December 2015. The workings of the IMF always leave a lot to be desired. This is a footnote on the IMF website “1 An SMP is an informal agreement between country authorities and Fund staff to monitor the implementation of the authorities’ economic programme. SMPs do not entail financial assistance or endorsement by the IMF Executive Board”. Yet in the report it states “Key risks to the new programme stem from global commodity price shocks, domestic policy slippages, gaps in policy implementation capacity and lagging progress in resolving external arrears. While Zimbabwe faces these risks with artificially no buffers, the successor SMP aims to rebuild these buffers and strengthen the country’s resilience to shocks”. So the IMF will not restore financial assistance or debt relief but instead will ‘rebuild the buffers’ they destroyed in the first place and strengthen Zimbabwe’s resilience to shocks’? Since Zimbabwe has met all the conditions as set in the previous SMP so why not offer debt relief and a debt clearance strategy? This makes you wonder if the Zimbabwe economy is as bleak as some are making it sound or it is just vultures circling round the prey waiting to swoop and take credit from those who engineered this economic miracle beckoning.

In as much as the situation with economy paints a discouraging picture Zimbabwe is on the doorsteps of a phenomenal economic recovery. The silently impending economic revival is due to country’s policy indigenisation, the land reform and economic empowerment.  Zimbabwe has struggled economically due to sanctions imposed and the fact that the country is still standing is testimony to the resilience and collective strength of the Zimbabwe people. The country is moving towards a new economic reconstruction backed by a resurgent agricultural sector, mining, the enhanced contribution of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the steady rise in foreign direct investment. The Chinese and Russians have been upfront and forthcoming with their investment into Zimbabwe. The EU and the UK have continued with the carrot and stick approach to investment and the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe, appearing to be rewarding the people of Zimbabwe by removing the economic sanctions against the country painstakingly slowly whilst keeping sanctions against the Head of State, President Mugabe. The Chinese concluded billion dollar projects in Zimbabwe to date and on his recent trade mission to China President Mugabe concluded several infrastructure deals with the Chinese. The Russians recently send their Foreign Minister Mr Sergei Lavrov to Zimbabwe and signed a $3 billion platinum mining deal. The EU have been all talk and placing conditionality after conditionality and the UK on the other hand send a three men trade mission to ‘scoop for business opportunities in Zimbabwe’.

Zimbabwe is currently facing significant challenges economically and to get out of this mire and mud requires the collective spirit of the people of the country. It requires a positive mind-set, positive attitude and that patriotic desire to free the country from this economic burden we find ourselves in. It is just a matter of time before Zimbabwe reclaims her rightful place as the continent’s economic hub.

bernardboni.blogspot.com

Taxes sustain efficient social services


By Bernard Bwoni

Tax revenues collected as income tax, national insurance and other forms of tax are used for public spending and that means healthcare, housing, law and order, transport, environment and other public service provision. This means schools, the army, emergency services, road, railways, telecommunications and social services. It is organised markets that enables efficiencies in tax collection. In the UK the average worker sees over 22% of their income tax being spent on benefits (social services) and around 7.2% going towards funding interest payments in the nation’s debts. In the US 25% of tax goes towards national defence. For any government to fund these social services they have to collect the taxes and in other parts of the world there is follow up and tax is collected. There may be loopholes but tax is collected to boost the national revenue base. In Zimbabwe the tax loopholes are vast, there are massive gaps in tax revenue collection and ZIMRA is faced with a tall order when it comes to the job of collecting taxes. People do not like paying taxes and it is up to governments to come up with robust ways of following up on tax collection. People want their street lights working, roads build and maintained, pot holes filled, hospitals working at normal capacity, good schools for their children, those who cannot work supported by the state and servicing of national debt. All these require funding and this is where tax comes in. The Zimbabwe informal sector has grown over the last 10 years and currently over 5.8 million Zimbabweans are employed in this sector. However non-compliance with tax remittances to ZIMRA from the informal sector is rampant. Many small businesses in this sector avoid remitting their taxes to the national authorities via many unscrupulous and unethical means. It is illegal not to pay tax and many pay bribes to officials, understate their profits, shady record keeping such as having double set of records and some have resorted to temporarily closing their businesses when authorities come or finding new premises every so often. It is tax revenue that anchor social services in most countries and in Zimbabwe tapping into the large and highly lucrative informal sector will boost the tax revenue base.

bernardbwoni.blogspot.com

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Zimbabwe’s silently unfolding economic miracle

By Bernard Bwoni
 
The economic situation in Zimbabwe is presented as dismal and bleak judging from some news headlines and recent IMF Report on the country’s economy. A recent IMF Report screamed ‘Zimbabwe economy is in a tailspin and at a crossroads’. The report is clear that ‘the main objective of the new SMP is to strengthen the country’s external position, as a prerequisite for arrears clearance, resumption of debt service and restored access to external financing’. Zimbabwe met all the targets and structural benchmarks set out by the recently expired IMF Structural Monitoring Programme which expired in June 2014 leading onto the third review which will run until December 2015. The workings of the IMF always leave a lot to be desired. This is a footnote on the IMF website “1 An SMP is an informal agreement between country authorities and Fund staff to monitor the implementation of the authorities’ economic programme. SMPs do not entail financial assistance or endorsement by the IMF Executive Board”. Yet in the report it states “Key risks to the new programme stem from global commodity price shocks, domestic policy slippages, gaps in policy implementation capacity and lagging progress in resolving external arrears. While Zimbabwe faces these risks with artificially no buffers, the successor SMP aims to rebuild these buffers and strengthen the country’s resilience to shocks”. So the IMF will not restore financial assistance or debt relief but instead will ‘rebuild the buffers’ they destroyed in the first place and strengthen Zimbabwe’s resilience to shocks’? Since Zimbabwe has met all the conditions as set in the previous SMP so why not offer debt relief and a debt clearance strategy? This makes you wonder if the Zimbabwe economy is as bleak as some are making it sound or vultures are circling round the prey in the hope of swooping once the weakest points are identified.
In as much as the situation with economy paints a discouraging picture Zimbabwe is on the doorsteps of a phenomenal economic recovery. The silently impending economic revival is due to country’s policy indigenisation, the land reform and economic empowerment.  Zimbabwe has struggled economically due to sanctions imposed and the fact that the country is still standing is testimony to the resilience and collective strength of the Zimbabwe people. The country is moving towards a new economic reconstruction backed by a resurgent agricultural sector, mining, the enhanced contribution of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the steady rise in foreign direct investment. The Chinese and Russians have been upfront and forthcoming with their investment into Zimbabwe. The EU and the UK have continued with the carrot and stick approach to investment and the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe, appearing to be rewarding the people of Zimbabwe by removing the economic sanctions against the country painstakingly slowly whilst keeping sanctions against the Head of State President Mugabe. The Chinese concluded billion dollar projects in Zimbabwe to date and on his recent trade mission to China President Mugabe concluded several infrastructure deals with the Chinese. The Russians recently send their Foreign Minister Mr Sergei Lavrov to Zimbabwe and signed a $3 billion platinum mining deal. The EU have been all talk and placing conditionality after conditionality and the UK on the other hand send a three men trade mission to ‘scoop for business opportunities in Zimbabwe’.
Zimbabwe is currently facing significant challenges economically and to get out of this mire and mud requires the collective spirit of the people of the country. It requires a positive mindset, positive attitude and that patriotic desire to free the country from this economic burden we find ourselves in.
 
 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The Robert Mugabe ‘Big Idea’- why he remains under sanctions

By Bernard Bwoni
Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe has posed a real threat to an economic system that only functions smoothly when resource-abundant African countries remain confined to the edges and the lower ranks of any meaningful global economic activity. This is the same economic system that flourished on the back of cheap slave labour and free resources during slavery and colonialism respectively. Robert Mugabe represents what can accurately be described as the last outpost and final frontier for genuine African Renaissance. He represents real hope for total economic independence that is meaningful for present and future generations. It is important to emphasise the word ‘meaningful’ here and not the misleading narrative of political independence that most if not all African countries had to settle for whilst neglecting real economic freedom. Mugabe has held the fort with unparalleled Pan African resolve which has fully opened the gateway towards genuine economic empowerment and whatever anyone says that is the only route towards economic emancipation. Let us get our facts right from the start, economic independence does not in any way replace global economic interdependence but rather compliments it.
The economic sanctions against Zimbabwe were and are still a retaliatory attack against the country's land reform programme that sought to address a biased land ownership pattern of the colonial era. The reason why President Mugabe remains under sanctions is to send a clear message that any attempt to disturb this unfair economic status quo will be dealt with decisively and in a manner that will turn citizens against their leaders who are working for them rather than against them. The outcome is the emergence of some regime-change outfits nationally and in the countries where Zimbabweans have settled in large numbers. There are invisible hands everywhere you look and the meddling will not stop until the Robert Mugabe idea of a new economic order and social construct is dead and buried. The stirring happens behind the scenes and the noise is loudest on social media networks and some small corners with unrelated and simple-minded ideas under trees somewhere. It is the usual disconnected ramblings of the purblind black Zimbabweans and their offshore handlers who cynically clutch to the hope of separating Mugabe the man from Mugabe the Idea. The truth is that this is not an Idea you just erase by sprawling on the pavement outside Africa Unity Square in the hope that someone takes notice, delete the idea from the indigene and the selfless saviours from ashore will regenerate Zimbabwe for us and usher in this ‘special kind’ of democracy that is so different to what we have in free and independent Zimbabwe.
Mugabe is the symbol of this African economic genesis and to separate this unique symbol from the people is through the continuation of the economic sanctions packaged as ‘restrictive measures’ or ‘travel bans’ and to publicly humiliate the Head of State. The ploy is cleverly designed to make it appear that the economic measures have been lifted to save the ordinary man and woman on the street and all that remains is the Robert Mugabe for the alleged ‘violation of human rights’. The fact that President Mugabe remains under any form of sanctions or measures is a direct hit at this African quest not request for economic emancipation. The implied consequence of sanctions on the Head of State is that the entire country is excluded from any meaningful dealings as this deliberately and disingenuously creates the impression that Zimbabwe is bad for business in the eyes of potential investors. The intended outcome of this scenario is that the ordinary person who continues to shoulder the burden of the economic sanctions views President Mugabe as the main source of their suffering. How in God’s name do you deal with an entire government whilst excluding the Head of that Government?  That is underhanded, condescending and deliberately meant to demean a man whose ideas threaten the elite club of those who will stop at nothing until the economic status quo is restored.
If sanctions on Heads of State were based on ‘violations of human rights’ and ‘democracy promotion’  then definitely Mr Li Keqiang and King Abdullah bin Abddulaziz will be right on top of the list. The talk of human rights violations in China from Western circles are always in the form of hushed rebukes owing to the Chinese economic muscle. China is owed money and a lot of it. King Abdullah bin Abddulaziz owns oil and a lot of it. He who owns a lot calls the shots. President Mugabe owns land and minerals and plenty of the resources, the only problem is that he tampered with a status quo that sought to forever upgrade a settler minority at the expense of an indigenous majority. President Mugabe was never and will never be forgiven for his radical land reform policy which rectified the racially-skewed land tenure pattern designed by the colonial system. Robert Mugabe’s major crime is that he developed insight into Africa’s development construct just like Muammar Gaddafi did and just like Gaddafi paid the ultimate price with an inhuman and humiliating murder President Mugabe and Zimbabwe have remained under US economic sanctions and EU so-called restrictive measures or travel bans. 
The threat exist not necessarily from Mugabe the man but the big ideas that he has instilled and continue to sow in present and future generations, the principles that he stands for and by without looking back can only be emulated by the historically marginalised indigenous population. The removal of sanctions against Robert Mugabe (The Idea) will send a signal to others that it is ok to challenge the historically unfair economic structure. The Mugabe Idea will be derided, stamped on and trampled upon, dismissed and portrayed as the cause and effect the sanctions-induced suffering that burden the ordinary man, woman and child in Zimbabwe. The assault on Mugabeism and the Mugabe Big Ideas will covertly be initiated and engineered miles away from our borders with some local cheerleaders doing the footwork under the gullible banner of democracy promotion and all the high-sounding themes of ‘human rights’, ‘legitimacy’ and ‘rule of law’. It is no longer just about Mugabe the man, but the deeper meaning behind Robert Mugabe’s call to not just settle for political independence but total economic emancipation. These are the values and principles that resonate with indigenous population in Zimbabwe and continent-wide. It is that belief and lifelong commitment to liberating the black indigene and that resolve to place African resources back into the hands of their rightful owners that invite the profound and unwarranted hatred from the coalition of the erstwhile architects of the twin wrongs of slavery and colonialism. The unrelenting and unethical denigration of Mugabe the man is just a red herring to frustrate the Mugabe ideas of total economic independence, self-reliance and self-sustenance. The Mugabe idea is here to stay, it has no boundaries and will continue to intrigue, to challenge and to provoke minds of the historically deprived indigene until lives have been enhanced and upgraded. You can put sanctions on Robert Mugabe the man but you cannot put measures or shackles on the seed that has been sown by the Mugabe ideas. These are ideas beyond any tether; these are ideas that leak through any exploitation-packaged ideology disguised as democracy promotion, rule of law and rights. The Mugabe ideas have found a permanent base in African minds and all that is left is execution.
bernardbwoni.blogspot.com

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Tsvangirai: ‘End-game’ into the ‘Deep-end’


By Bernard Bwoni

Reminiscing, reflecting and remembering of the opulence and abundance previously presented and longing for another stint on the pampered boulevard of the government of national unity days. Musing over the mansions, the mini-skirts, the motorcade processions, the women, the High Seas, more women, the Savoy, tripping and tumbling in Berlin, the Renewal and more women. Many people might not be aware of it but the opposition MDC-T party recently held its elective or should I say selective Congress where Mr Tsvangirai charged without conviction that ‘We will mobilise and galvanise the nation for the end-game’. What is it about Tsvangirai’s preoccupation with ‘endgames’, ‘game-changers’ and ‘deep-ends’? These are the clutches and grasping at straws by a man and a party with no game, guile or guts, a man whose game ended a long time ago that is if there was ever any game. This is a man who fronts an increasingly irrelevant and disintegrating grouping that has got no game or game to play let alone change. As Mr Tsvangirai rightly predicted in his book the only way for the opposition is a slow but sure descend into the deep-end never to come back up. Right now all the games are happening on the ruling party court with the opposition as mere spectators gazing in awe at the intraparty democracy and reconfiguration.

The picture of Mr Tsvangirai, Nelson Chamisa, Tendai Biti and other MDC-T party leadership tripping over each other to read the ZANU-PF Manifesto just before the 2013 elections is telling and clearly illustrates the political voyeuristic disorder that we see and continue to see within this party. And Mr Tsvangirai could not resist ‘borrowing’ from ZANU-PF again as always during his address at this Elective Congress saying ‘the solution to the national crisis lies in none but ourselves’. None-But-Ourselves (Iwe Neni Tine Basa – Mina Lawe Silo Musebenzi) is the ZANU-PF ideology and it is clear as crystal that MDC-T idolises ZANU-PF hence the huff and puff and tantrums about leading demonstrations to ‘force President Mugabe to accept the need for reforms’. This is the same Tsvangirai who during his five years in the GNU made, sorry I meant shared tea daily with President Mugabe and the only reforms he called for were matrimonial ones. The only game Mr Tsvangirai changed during his time as Prime Minister was scoring own-goals and plenty of them for that matter. Nothing personal against Mr Tsvangirai but the trail is there for all to see.

The fact that the opposition had this Elective Congress and very few people knew about it or cared less is a telling sign of party with no game to play or change or end-game. Even the MDC-T party itself was not very much interested in its own Congress and the leadership mainly preoccupied themselves with analysing and admiring the ZANU-PF internal politics and so-called succession battles. The only game in Zimbabwean politics right now is found in the ruling party where self-introspection, self-analysis and self-reconstruction is effectively at play. The opposition can only wish for the ruling party to implode but what we are witnessing in ZANU-PF is intraparty politics of uninterrupted self-reflection and growth, a party Constitution that works and works efficiently to draw the line, bring cadres back in line and carry the party forwards not backwards or side-ways, not splitting or splintering.


In his address Mr Tsvangirai stressed that ‘the protests will force Robert Mugabe to the negotiating table and build consensus on the need for a timetable towards a free and fair election’. What is evidently clear from this statement is that Mr Tsvangirai is looking for a short-cut to another GNU and he is enlisting the masses to shoulder his quest for and pursuit of the petal-littered path towards the trappings and luxuries previously presented to him when he was Prime Minister. The only end-game etched in the opposition minds right now is a return to the GNU and that is why they are not presenting any shadow strategy but rather but rather looking for negotiations into government. The elections have been, over and done with and the opposition ought to start presenting their own proposals to counter what the ruling currently has to offer. Let us not confuse this relentless quest for splendour and grandeur of the upper echelons of power with championing and leading demonstrations for this so-called desire for ‘constitutional reforms’. Tsvangirai had five years to clamour for these ‘constitutional reforms’ and he did nothing. This is a man who during his entire five years in the GNU frolicked on the High Seas and we have pictures to prove it. A man who wined and dined with the elites of Western capitals has no game to change because he was changed by the game. The only way unfortunately is via the deep-end.

The ruckus and fracas about friction within the ruling are a smoke-screen to confuse, conceal and throttle the the ZANU-PF led Zimbabwe ground-breaking beginning of economic liberation. That will not succeed as there is only one united ZANU-PF, one united Zimbabwe that will prevail at the end of it all. There is indeed is an invisible hand in all attempts to foil and misdirect Zimbabwe’s path toward real prosperity, real wealth and economic emancipation of her citizens. The many principled men and women in the mould of President Robert Mugabe who are the real drivers for African Renaissance have that difficult but essential task of addressing and redressing the inequalities created by the colonial system through empowerment of the indigenous people of Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe is an inspiration and even the incoming British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Catriona Laing rightly described him as ‘iconic’. President Mugabe is an icon yes, not an object of aesthetics, but pure substance. He is the glue that binds the nation and the history that will inspire future generations. It is up to the people of Zimbabwe to define who their real heroes are and no amount of modification or moderation is going to change that. The heroes who hold that fundamental belief in the African dear to their hearts are there among us. Those who sit on the fence, swaying in any direction the pendulum swings only tarnish the principles and pose a threat to the ideology that holds and has held this country together amidst the external economic and political obstruction. The only game left to change is to forge ahead with the economic emancipation of the people of Zimbabwe. Another GNU as being advocated by Tsvangirai and his party is all games.

bernardbwoni.blogspot.com