May Day “celebrated” by printing money

HARARE - The state-run media's coverage of how Zimbabwe "celebrated" workers' May Day was marked by farcical praise of the Zanu (PF)-supporting labour union body, downplaying the trival Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and, as usual, failing to blame massive unemploymen

t on the authorities.
Perhaps the most telling moment was an interview featuring Economic Development Minister Rugare Gumbo on ZTV’s Face the Nation in which he announced that the authorities would “print money” to fund pay hikes for state employees. “What did you want us to do?” Gumbo said.
Indeed. “It (ZTV) did not query the economic prudence of the move or how the poor performing private sector was then expected to pay their workers ‘decent’ wages when they had no similar access to money printing machines,” commented the media watchdog, the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), in its report covering May 1-7.
“Neither did ZBH interpret the agricultural chaos as symptomatic of the authorities’ chaotic land reforms or show curiosity at revelations by Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Davison Mugabe that tobacco output had dropped from 230 million tonnes in 1999 to a mere 16 million tonnes in the last season,” added MMPZ.
The regime’s ally, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), was portrayed in the state media, along of course with the authorities themselves, as committed to alleviating the workers’ distress. There was no mention of hyperinflation, fuelled by money-printing, collapsing agriculture and all the rest that have led to Zimbabwe beng ranked recently by the US magazine Foreign Policy as 5th among “failed states.” Zimbabwe had moved up 10 places, but is still behind – though working on it – Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast and Iraq.
Apart from, as usual, the Mirror group, the private media in its May Day coverage mostly traced the economic decline and deterioration in the living conditions of the minority with jobs to poor policies. “They also highlighted how these poor policies had led to acute shortages, accelerated militarisation of the economy and a bad international image of the country,” said the media monitors.
In the Zimbabwe Independent, for example, the Muckraker columnist pointed out that the private sector could hardly heed exhortations from the ZFTU to follow the regime’s pay hikes for the simple reason that commercial firms don’t have their own money-printing machines.
Highly critical remarks by US Ambassador Christopher Dell about Zimbabwe’s poor human rights record and muzzling of free speech naturally got short shrift in the state media. But privately owned Standard carried the full text of Dell’s remarks to students at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo. The Financial Gazette and other private media also gave it coverage.
“Typically, the government media either censored his statement or carried articles that dismissed outright his observations,” said MMPZ.
The dreadful human cost of Zimbabwe’s woes was reflected in figures of malnutrition-related deaths in January released by the Bulawayo city health authorities: 34 adults and 29 children.

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