Letter from America:with KENNETH MUFUKA
As we commemorate the life and times of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King in the US, I became painfully aware of the absence of such religious leadership in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is in a state which Dr King called the midnight hour of despair.
Since Dr King wrote 2 500 sermons, I will not bother our readers with the minutiae which is of interest only to scholars. King talked about fundamental rules of the universe. In his sermon entitled Midnight Hour, he warned that while some things may pass and look fine during the darkest hour, surely it is a law of nature that after midnight, morning will follow.
“Thou shall not get caught!” he warned the saints. The laughter that followed at St John the Divine Church showed that his audience knew what he was talking about.
Lesson one: Time after time the Zimbabwe government does stupid things which anybody with any sense will know that when exposed to the light of day, they will not pass the test.
As we were going to press, the following decision by the Zimbabwe Supreme Court was relayed to me. “After a one to one (of the US dollar to Z$ dollar) conversion, (of) the RTGS dollar takes the value and character of the US dollar.” The question that cannot be avoided is whether the learned justices pronounced a truth.
Surely the judges will say that they are not interested in “truth”. They are interested only in what the law says.
Dr King faced a similar situation. The law in Montgomery, Alabama, said that blacks (assumed to be less human) should ride in the back of a bus. When King organised resistance, and ferried workers in private vehicles, Judge J Carter wanted to throw him in prison because he was running a taxi business without a licence.
In the Zimbabwe case, the applicant had invested US$3 885 000 prior to February 22, 2019. He was paid RTGS$4 136 806 which in today’s value (January 20) is equivalent to US$258 550.
Advocate supreme sister Fadzayi Mahere has asked a colourful question: Does anybody expect the original investor to follow up his investment with fresh deposits?
Unlike the advocate sister, my interest is limited only to moral issues. Dr King assumed that “evil is ultimately doomed”. It really does not matter how long it takes, “good eventually emerges as a victor”.
In this case, did the state intend to deprive the investor of the value of his investment by declaring that the US dollar was equivalent to the fake Zimbabwe dollar?
There are other examples, but one more will suffice. South African Airways has continued its services to Zimbabwe out of solidarity with the brethren. It has US$65 million locked up somewhere in Zimbabwe.
My information is that SAA was advised that if it accepted 5% of the money they have, exchange arrangements can be made. I am at a loss as to why SAA is expected to accept less than what they have in a bank.
Lesson two: How long?
I am firmly convinced that the longevity of the twin geniuses of Zimbabwe’s fake financial world is now in question.
These two brothers, Dr John Mangudya and Professor Mthuli Ncube, in devaluing Zimbabwe’s dollar on February 22 in the midnight hour, forgot Dr King’s “eternal message that dawn will come”.
When the same authorities, on February 22, reversed their position by introducing new Zimbabwe RTGS money, the populace realised they had been fooled in holding fake money.
Dr King was certain that even the greatest among sinners cannot get away with wrongdoing forever. The intention here is to deprive the populace of the proper value of their savings on a massive scale. If that is true and verified, then according to Dr King, the state actors cannot get away with it. To argue otherwise is to assume that physical force is the decider of human events.
No siree, argued Dr King. There are immutable spiritual forces at work as well, which must be taken account of.
Since the removal of Jim Crow laws, the US Southeastern region has been growing by leaps and bounds. International companies, once fearful of racial animosity and tense situations when their mixed employees visited, are now relaxed.
The introduction of the Zimbabwe fake dollar has been a disaster for all of us. As more light shines on the devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar, the magnitude of the destruction of wealth becomes apparent.
At the beginning of 2019 the combined retirement assets, according to official statistics would have been Z$10 billion. A pensioner earning US$100 per month in February 2019 would need Z$2 500 (at times 25) at the end of 2019. By no stretch of imagination can the retirement assets generate these new numbers.
So the populace is impoverished by incremental matrices. By the end of January, the fake Z$ will be valued at 25 to U$1. The citizen will be chasing the shadow of the inflation index.
In a memorable speech, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere told our students at the University of the West Indies that: “We found ourselves running in order to stay in the same place.” In an aside, even though they were running, they could never catch up with the demands of the time.
In trying to avoid its obligations, government devalued its currency, thus committing an egregious sin, and hoping to get away with it.
Dishonest policies bring dishonest results. The assumption, in February 2019, was that the government was the only sovereign actor in the space in which it worked. It forgot universal rules.
The fake Zimbabwe dollar has brought an explosion of poverty and a decline in creative activity. The great merchant house of OK Zimbabwe reported a 23% decline in activity. Meikles Hotel is selling out after prolonged losses. Universities and school fees have exploded beyond the ability of parents to pay.
Prof Mthuli Ncube’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme has transitioned from bad to worse and destabilised everything in its wake.
Lunch plates which sold for Z$5 before February 2019 at Afro-Fusion in Harare, have “jumped” (Zimbabwe English) to Z$100 per person.
My insurance agent says that the fake dollar has destroyed the value of my death policy, the third such policy I have taken out with them.
While foreigners may have 25 times more power than a native earner, the example of South African Airways is forbidding.
The dream, which Mthuli Ncube once held, that of paying off international debts, has now become a pipe dream.
Simple problems are now beyond solution. The government estimates that the lowest civil servant will be paid Z$1 023 per month in 2020. The buying power is US$41, less than what the worker earned last year.
My hope, with Dr King is that the twin geniuses of Zimbabwe’s financial world are seeing the writing on the wall: MENE MENE TEKEL.