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.

bernardbwoni.blogspot.com


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

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Deflation: not just a Zimbabwe burden

Bernard Bwoni

Japan has been in persistently mild deflation since the early 1990s, the USA and the EU are on the cusp of the ‘dreaded’ deflation with alarmingly low interests of below a percent still declining. Deflation occurs when prices are declining over time which is the opposite of inflation. It is a revaluation of a currency and when there is too little money for the needs of the economy that means the nominal price of goods and services goes down. Over time money becomes more valuable than the other goods in the economy. There will be more goods available but not enough money to buy these goods. Producers respond but streamlining production and to cater for this reduction in productions jobs will have to go. With deflation as the supply of money goes down, the supply of other goods goes up, demand for money goes up and demand of other goods goes up as well. The supply of goods and services rises faster than the supply of money. That belief that the value of money will decline in future constrain investment and the anticipation of cheaper prices in future stifles consumption is what causes deflation.

The liquidity crunch could be a symptom of a deflationary spiral for Zimbabwe. Demand has been running persistently below the economy’s capacity to meet supply demands, prices and incomes have continued with the downward slide which has further weakened the demand. This trend is not good for the economy because a fall in prices and incomes arm-twists consumers to cut down their spending. The producers who are already producing at below capacity have in turn responded to low sales by keeping nominal wages low. With deflation if prices continue to fall, reducing nominal wages will have minimal impact and instead most companies end up reducing their wage bill by laying off workers. Zimbabwe is in a difficult position because the country cannot devalue and as such prices and wages must rise gradually. The effect of reduction in production due to capacity problems is reduction in consumer spending which is a recipe for even more damaging gloomy downward escalation. In countries where governments can print their own money this does raise solvency concerns and in Zimbabwe it is not possible. The Reserve Bank is supposed to stimulate spending by reducing the real interest rate which is the nominal interest minus the rate of inflation. This has the effect of stimulating enterprise and hampers savings thus reducing the GDP output gap which is the difference between the actual GDP or actual output and potential output.

The Zimbabwe government could stimulate demand and possibly nudge inflation up again by initiating larger new spending or reducing taxes and the Reserve Bank could buy the bonds used to finance the resulting deficit. So if the Reserve Bank reassures investors and the public that it would keep these bonds this is likely going to bring about fiscal stability.

Money does not have any inherent value as it is simply pieces of paper or numbers. A house has value because it provides shelter and food has value because it has a use value, if you don’t eat you eventually die of hunger. Money is good with a limited supply and there is demand for it because people want it to buy goods and services. Goods and services are integral to any economy hence GDP is a measure of the value of goods and services in any country. Thus money is a way that allows people to give up goods and services which are less desirable to them and to get those that are more desirable to them. This is about a natural set of beliefs that money will always have value in the future. If people believe that money is likely to lose value in the future they are going to get rid of their money fast. This is what gives rise to inflation. People are rational beings, if money is going to have less value in future they get rid of it and that can be bad for the economy. If people lose faith in the money supply and believe that it will be worth less in future then the economy will stop functioning. Money is just like goods and services and is governed by the same rules of supply and demand. The value of any good or services is determined by its supply and demand and the supply and demand for other goods in the economy.

Deflation is a symptom of other problems or underlying problems in any economy. However it is not necessarily bad if businesses are in a position of being able to continue to produce goods at lower prices due to cost-reducing initiatives and gains in efficiency. To start off with consumers purchasing power increases due to falling prices until money supply diminishes. The problem with deflation is that it is difficult to come out of once the spiral in decline starts, business profits decline, unemployment soars and spending declines as consumers hold on to their money which causes severe problems within the economy. The anticipation of cheaper prices in future means that people will not buy today thus postponing spending. The spiral effect is unique in all countries going through a deflationary period in that consumers hold on to their money in anticipation of lower prices in future. This means that business is affected as profits decline as they have to reduce production and with reduction in production comes cuts in jobs which lead to reduced demand for goods because people cannot afford them and prices will continue to decline. Falling prices is likely to lead to falling wages.

Zimbabwe’s deflationary problems are multifaceted to include stifle growth due to perennial decline in consumer spending, a manufacturing sector hampered by low capacity and the impact of unrestrained imports into the country. Sales in Zimbabwe have continued to nose dive, real wages have remained stagnant and some cases declining. The supply of goods and services has been rising faster than the supply of money and a good example is technology in Zimbabwe. There has been a sharp decline in the price of tech gadgets such as mobile phones and laptop computers for example due to an unprecedented increase in the supply of such.

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Friday, 24 October 2014

Why rebasing the Zimbabwe economy is crucial


By Bernard Bwoni

The rebasing of the Zimbabwe economy is a long overdue necessity and of benefit to the country. Rebasing or reassessment of the national accounts entails replacing an old base year with a new base year to be precise. The future values of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be compared and contrasted with the old base year which acts as the source point. It is imperative to rebase or re-benchmark the Zimbabwe economy to ensure that the country’s national accounts statistics and figures present the most current and accurate assessment and indication of the economy. The key here is to get a more accurate set of economic figures and statistics that offer insight into the actual and current realities on the ground in the Zimbabwe economy. Just to simplify matters the GDP is the value of the goods and services produced within the country and that is the standard measure of the size of the economy. The more developed economies of this world reassess GDP statistics and sector priority every five years.

Currently the national employment/unemployment and GDP figures in Zimbabwe do not reflect the highly informalised economy in the country. The way the country’s economy is structured is such that there is a scattered informal economy existing alongside the mainstream formal economy. The current GDP estimates in Zimbabwe have not sufficiently indicated the soaring contributions of the informal sector which has grown notably in terms of total value and ‘informal employment’ as well as formal employment generation. Thus through rebasing of the country’s economy it would be possible to obtain a more precise set of economic data indicative of the present realities and an accurate estimate of the size and structure of the economy by absorbing new and old economic activity which were not captured before. Once the country starts factoring in the informal sector and start incorporating the figures into GDP and employment statistics this will reveal a much larger economy on a sound backdrop of an economically empowered indigenous majority population. The trickledown effect of an economy propped up by indigenous stakeholders is that they have a higher propensity to invest back into the country unlike former minority investors and multinationals who abandoned Zimbabwe in her most time of need.

The reassessment of the Zimbabwe economy is critical to the success of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) economic blueprint in that it will support government initiatives to address the challenges of a growing economy under the prevailing microeconomic and macroeconomic conditions as this will give a clearer picture of the country’s economy, what drives the growth of each sector of the economy and identify which sectors are lagging behind and what level of support and resources to be redirected towards those ailing sectors.

It is imperative that formal studies are carried out to determine the actual size of the Zimbabwe informal economy and GDP in nominal terms and integrate that into the national economic figures. The statistical reassessment of the Zimbabwe economy will more than likely see a significant increase in the size of the country’s GDP. The Zimbabwe economy is definitely worth more than the current GDP of $10 billion and that is why rebasing is urgent. This anticipated sharp rise in GDP will largely be driven by a thriving informal economy, a resurgent agriculture sector, mining and there are initial signs of the manufacturing base slowly recovering. Let this be emphasised, slowly showing signs of recovering. Agriculture remains at the core of the Zimbabwe economy and its contribution to the GDP has remained quite significant. Mining contribution to the GDP has also been increasing recently and it is manufacturing that has continued to lag behind. This is where the value addition and beneficiation as set within the ZimAsset economic blueprint becomes critical. Beneficiation and value addition are important components to the country’s economic recovery.

The country’s economy is currently anchored on raw materials exports and this is not a long term solution for economic revival. The country’s economy is prone to shocks such as fluctuating commodity prices, declining commodity prices all which will have negative effects on trends in economic growth and economic revival.  The country currently has a negative trade balance as a whole with more imports than exports. The re-benchmarking of the economy is likely going to give a better indication of the contribution of this previously overlooked informal sector and other new sectors in the economy. All that money is not filtering into the formal banking systems and hence the distorted trade balance figures. Again rebasing of the economy does not in any way suggest that Zimbabweans are going to be any better off or that this is the panacea to the country’s economic challenges. What rebasing does is that it minimises instability and variations that may prevail from using very old base years. Economies by their very nature are constantly changing, growing, declining, changes in various sectors, addition of new products and the impact of technology and changes in consumer behaviour. Thus with rebasing of the economy we can take into account the impact of all these changes to give a more accurate and up to date reflection of the economy and realities on the ground.

It is important to estimate the size of the entire economy of Zimbabwe taking into account all the formal sectors, new sectors that have more recently become significant and factor in the thriving informal sector. Through incorporation of the informal sector figures Zimbabwe’s GDP would more likely more than double.

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No factions, some friction- pure principle


By Bernard Bwoni

The people of Zimbabwe, the real people of Zimbabwe don’t need reminding of who their real heroes are and no amount of modification or moderation is going to change that. It is that fundamental belief in a cause that separates these bona-fide heroes from the chaff and debris. Those who sit on the fence, swaying in any direction the pendulum swings only tarnish the principles that define this great country. Zimbabwe is a country that was founded on the backdrop of the sacrifices of the heroes and heroines who gallantly fought on the side of justice and triumphed. These are the heroes and heroines who shone under the envelope of the dark cloud of apartheid and racially-induced hardships. Here are the extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism performed by these honorable men and women during the protracted liberation war endears these TRUE cadres with the people.  These are the men and women who have shaped Zimbabwe and will forever have the country at heart. They derive satisfaction of their sacrifice not from the achieved victory and glory, but from their totally selfless commitment to the people for the greater good of the country. They only serve to remind us of the higher purpose of self and society. This is not about gimmicks or false pretenses, no mudslinging or sideway steps into the unprincipled neoliberal waters. No factions or fiction, just functional through to that irreplaceable day on 18th April 1980 when Zimbabwe attained its hard-won independence. In the mire and mud these are the men and women we must never forget. Every day is Remembrance Day of these selfless gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe and should not just wait for Heroes Day to remember them, but every passing day as we cherish the independence that some takes for granted today.

They are a rare breed and extraordinarily honourable men and women who possessed and still possess that desire to untangle and disconnect the people of Zimbabwe from that colonial bondage that so limited the potential and opportunities of the indigene since Cecil John Rhodes and his henchmen arrived. To this day the spirit of these exceptional men and women continues to open and enlighten minds of the indigene pursuit of economic and political independence. There is open recognition, thirst and hunger for absolute emancipation economically and that is the enduring legacy of the heroism of those who liberated this country. Those stood on the hard-line side of the fence and conquered and presented actual hope for the indigenous population of Zimbabwe.

The ruckus and fracas about factions and friction are mere fiction and a smoke-screen to confuse, conceal and throttle the Zimbabwe’s ground-breaking beginning of economic liberation. That will not succeed as there is only one united Zimbabwe that will prevail at the end of it all. There is indeed is an invisible neoliberal 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 and that difficult 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.

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Monday, 20 October 2014

Zim-Asset will transform Zimbabwe


By Bernard Bwoni

The country has been going through complex political and economic challenges due to a number of factors. The government of Zimbabwe has remained optimistic and has taken positive steps and reforms to stimulate the economy. Following re-election in 2013 the government launched the Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) economic blueprint which is a results-based management economic blue-print with the aim of increasing and improving quality of government expenditure, increasing productivity and competitiveness and improving the business environment as a whole. The economic blueprint is anchored on four key clusters aimed at empowering Zimbabweans through economic growth. The four clusters are Food Security and Nutrition, Social Services and Poverty Eradication, Infrastructure and Utilities and Value Addition and Beneficiation. The economic blue-print was launched in October 2013 and will be implemented up to December 2018.

It is now a year into the implementation of the five year economic blueprint and analysis of projected growth targets will be based on the key success factors as identified in the economic blueprint. The initial signs indicate that some clusters are registering some initial successes. The Food Security and Nutrition cluster has started recording initial successes and this is because of a recovering agricultural sector which has seen cereal production reaching levels near enough for national self-sufficiency. One of the key success factor (KSF) of the blue-print is the ‘deliberate implementation of supportive policies in key productive economic sectors as agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism’ and in line with this KSF the Presidential Well-Wishers Input Scheme for the 2014/15 season has now been set to cover all food crops.  Agriculture is crucial to the success of Zim-Asset as it aids economic transformation, enhances food security and helps eradicate poverty. Thus it important to note that the agriculture sector has also been revived and this is on the background of the land reform programme in Zimbabwe. It is not only cereal production where quick wins have been gained but cash crops such as tobacco production levels have been nearing the 236 million kilograms mark attained a year before the land reform.

There has been notable quick wins in the two clusters of Food Security & Nutrition and Value Addition & Beneficiation. Another KSF is ‘value addition and beneficiation in productive sectors such as mining, agriculture and manufacturing’ and more recently there has been a lot of emphasis on the value addition and beneficiation. The government has been putting emphasis on value addition in sectors such as mining and agriculture with crucial steps being taken to ensure that mining companies build refineries in areas where they are mining minerals as platinum. This is very important to the success of Zim-Asset as this ensures that the country is not just exporting raw platinum to be refined externally which deprives the country of revenue from platinum group metals that come as by-products of the refined matte. Value addition and beneficiation ensures that precious metals such as diamonds and platinum will be processed domestically. Value addition ensures that jobs stay in the country and not exported together with the raw matte.

Another key success factor of the economic blue-print is the ‘rehabilitation and retooling of the infrastructure’ and in the Infrastructures and Utilities Cluster there have been evidence of actual projects linked to the cluster taking shape. There are a number of power projects that have been commissioned as the Kariba Extension power project and the Gwayi power project both which will address the power shortages that affect the country. There has been evidence of extensive road-works and dualisation of the country's major highways.

The Zimbabwean economic growth has been affected by liquidity challenge and emotions are understandably running high. For the ordinary man and woman on the street the immediate concern is ‘bread and butter issues’ and the argument that is often and always put forward is that ‘blue-prints do not put food on the table’. That in itself is a fair argument but for food to get to the table government has to come up with sound economic policies and hence why the government has launched Zim-Asset.

Two other key success factors are ‘political commitment and leadership and strong collaborative partnerships among government agencies, private sector and other stakeholders’. The economic sanctions have had a significant impact on the Zimbabwe economy and per the above KSF the government has tried re-engaging the IMF and World Bank and the country’s poor credit rating has negatively impacted the ability to access new lines of credit. According to the government ZimAsset is meant as a measure to improve the investment climate and come up with sanction-busting strategies to enable full exploitation and value addition to the country’s abundant natural resources. When broken down to its bare components ZimAsset is a positive strategy that can only be judged following full implementation. The 129 page blue-print sets measurable and achievable sector outcomes and the sector outputs are point specific for every key result area. It addresses key areas which if effectively implemented will see the economy taking off as evidenced in some clusters. The blue-print is pin-pointing the specific areas of the economy which will redress lack of value addition which has always proved a stumbling block in the country’s economic revival. However a strategy without effective implementation will remain but just a strategy and what is needed is commitment and consistency on the part of the government and all Zimbabweans alike. Implementation via a result-based management system with clear organisational visions and goals which are translated into a results framework of outcomes, outputs, strategies and resources if effectively done will yield results.

A result-based management agenda has always proved effective in most organisational settings and incorporating it into a national economic blue-print makes sense. The system aims to focus on actual results as opposed to just activities and outputs. There are clearly defined expected results, regular evaluation and taking timely corrective action. There are countries such as Korea, Australia, Uganda and Malaysia that have implemented result-based management systems with varying levels of success. The four clusters which are Food Security, Poverty Eradication, Infrastructure and Utilities, and Value Addition and Beneficiation which are identified within ZimAsset are critical to the Zimbabwean economic revival. That is all things being equal of course. The system requires an effective senior and middle management structure to ensure vision and focus is cascade down organizational structure. If effectively implemented ZimAsset is Zimbabwe’s own home-grown initiative that can transform the country economically.

The passing of the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Zimbabwe Bill in September 2014 which will see the setting up of the country’s sovereign wealth fund is crucial to Zim-Asset. The Sovereign Fund as per the economic blue-print will ensure that wealth is generated for future generations and safeguard the country’s economy against external macroeconomic shocks. Of course considerations need to be made regards funding options for the blue-print as a whole. There is need for more collaboration with other stakeholders and enhancing the human capital drive.

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