Letter from America: with KENNETH MUFUKA
I have before me a statement from the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC). While there are many areas of contention in their document, it is a very foolish man who ignores their voice. In addition, judging from two important speeches I have before me, made by Father Fidelis Mukonori, the Roman Catholic hierarchy seems to be seeking a more robust engagement in the political sphere.
While Zanu PF has perfected the art of governing by force, it has not sought the moral blessings of those governed.
That is the gist of the matter in a nutshell, and that is what the ZCC and Father Mukonori are talking about. Even those who support Zanu PF will acknowledge that the party may speak in tongues and employ financial wizards like Professor Mthuli Ncube, but where there is no trust, all their labour is in vain.
The man in the street does not pay them any mind, despite all their “big noise” and shenanigans. (Black English)
I will write kindly about the two financial wizards, Ncube and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya because we are constrained to give Africa’s children the benefit of the doubt.
Mangudya, speaking a week ago at a business meeting, confessed that government financial policies are experiencing serious headwinds. “It is a matter of trust,” he is reported to have cried. “I do not know why.”
This is the brother who swore, at the introduction of the bond note in 2016 that the note was supported Afrex-Import Bank, of which he is board member. That bond note was good until December 2019. At that time I could withdraw US$100 per week through a Barclay Bank card in the US.
When I went home in July, 2019, my savings were depreciated by a factor of 10. While Mangudya and his wizards at the bank insisted that the inter-market value of my Zimbabwe bond note was US$1 to RTGS$5.5, there was no such thing as inter-market exchange rate and the hotels required RTGS$1 600 for a booking or US$160.
My Barclay Bank card no longer works in the US.
For the brother to ask such a question, why we do not trust his shenanigans, is an example of blindness to human suffering.
Let me say that the ZCC (representing 5.6 million followers) is giving us guidelines towards a moral consensus.
Ncube’s policies are going nowhere!
While we may agree that Ncube, according to his biography, is a mathematical economist (econometrics), he is obviously a wizard among wizards.
On 0ctober 13, here is what our brainy brother said in his financial statement. “Following the adoption of mono-currency in June 19, supported by further strengthening of both fiscal and month on month (monitoring) inflation retreated to 21% and further down to 18% by August 19. Inflation on a monthly basis is expected to stabilise around 10% end of 2019 and at 2,3% end of 2020.”
He expects economic growth at 5% by 2020. Here is a gem from a true wizard. These brothers must have been there when God gave man the power of speech. In his November forecast, 2018, the brother had imagined that the economy would grow by 3,1%. But, he says: “In 2019, severe exogenous shocks compromised agricultural activities and electrical generation with extended effects on other” activities.
He even boasted of Z$800 million surplus.
To add salt to the shenanigans, as we go to press, he tweeted that he is on his way to Bali in Indonesia to engage the World Bank and International Monetary Fund officials on the modalities of paying back debts and accessing loans from them.
Lest you miss the point, if one has excess money, why are teachers, nurses and doctors on strike?
With geniuses like these on our side, we do not need imperialists to enslave us.
All the international bodies say that inflation in August and onward is above 75%. Rents are doubling in all the major cities, while grocery prices are going through the roof.
Petrol prices are a good indicator of inflation. In October, they are nearer Z$18 per litre compared to $3,50 in July when I was visiting.
The so-called Z$800 million surplus is possibly a Jamaican chimera.
Here is what my Jamaican experience taught me.
The brilliant London School of Economics student, Michael Manley became prime minister of Jamaica sometime in 1971. He immediately attacked the big four international companies, Aluminum Canada, Monsanto, Aluminum Company of America and Kaiser for looting Jamaican bauxite (aluminum). By raising their taxes from US$50 million to US$250 million, he thought he had scored a major victory.
The companies reduced their output, thus gradually reducing their tax burdens.
Imperialists withdrew their support of the Jamaican dollar, at that time valued at J$1 to U$2 dollars.
Wait for the kill.
By withdrawing their support, Jamaican dollar was no longer supportable for payment of insurance policies, tuition fees abroad and general loan payments.
By devaluing the J$ in reverse fashion, U$1 now exchangeable for J$2, all their wealth was by that stroke of a pen devalued by 50%. Meanwhile, their international loans now required twice as much output as before Manley’s time in office.
My J$350 per month rent rose to J$700. My income was J$750.
I was left with no choice but to seek refuge in the US.
Dr Julius Nyerere of Tanzania spoke to the students thus. “They, (the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) expect us to pay them first while our children starve.
By depreciating the Z$ by a factor of 10, international debts are now 10 times more difficult to pay.
A simple example is that a teacher who earned US$485 must be paid RTGS$4 850 per month.
Nyerere warned us. “We found ourselves running in order to stand in the same place.”
Criticisms of the church are unwarranted. We were all there when the tyrant Robert Mugabe rode roughshod over the populace.
The last time I checked, the Jamaican dollar was valued at J$153 to U$1 and a professor’s salary was J$450 000. Do your own simple arithmetic. That sum is equivalent to US$3 383.45. Within 12 months, of the 11 professors in History, nine migrated to the US.
The Council of Churches has given us guidelines towards a consensus. Further, the clerics are correct in saying that solutions cannot be found in Bali, Indonesia. Drop your bucket where your boat is.
l Ken Mufuka, worked in the West Indies as a representative of Zapu in his previous life. He is the author of several books, the latest one (with Cyril Zenda) Life and Times of Robert Mugabe: Dream Betrayed, (2018) can be found at INNOV8 Bookshops in Zimbabwe and at kenmufukabooks.com in the wider world.