Finance minister presented national budget for 2014

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa presented a $4,1B national budget for 2014, with an economic growth estimate of 6%. To encourage processing of minerals locally, Chinamasa proposed a penalty on platinum exported in its raw state. To further prevent loss of revenue, gold bullion will be sold only to the RBZ. Chinamasa pledged support to agriculture and said tighter controls would be introduced on diamond mining.

It is not clear where the minister will source funds for agricultural sector and also doubtful that government can suddenly put a lid on the theft of minerals after permitting corruption to become firmly entrenched in society. Chinamasa proposed a new road levy and has introduced a levy on mobile phone fund transfers. The finance minister hopes to collect $4,4B in revenue and announced that civil servants’ salary increments would be staggered. Government salaries account for 70% of state expenditure. In 2013, revenue collected was $3,8B.

If Chinamasa does indeed manage to collect the targeted $4,4B revenue, there does not appear to be much room for the proposed government wage increases. In comparison, Zambia's 2014 budget is $5,96B and economic growth is projected to be 7%. What is quite telling is that Zimbabwe's western neighbour expects to create only 200,000 new jobs despite positive economic outlook. It is therefore strange that Zimbabwe, a nation operating in virtual isolation, can expect to invent 2million jobs, with its moribund agricultural sector and a mining industry dogged by corruption and inefficiency.

Even the projected economic growth of 6,1% confirms that job creation is improbable, bearing in mind that growth was estimated at 5% in 2013. If the Zanu PF government anticipated the creation of new jobs – 2,2million jobs over 5 years or 550,000 jobs per year – then the economic growth forecast would also reflect a vast difference from that of the previous year. What is also doubtful is the $150M recapitalisation of the RBZ. Like a lot of other ministerial hot air, there is not much indication of the source of funds. Only time will tell if these plans bear fruit but time might mean further economic decline.

Fake Unity

December 22 was Unity Day. It is the anniversary of the merger of Zanu PF and Zapu, which ended what government always refers to as ‘political disturbances’ and what Robert Mugabe flippantly called ‘a moment of madness.’ President Mugabe officially opened the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo airport in Bulawayo. At the same time he unveiled the statue of the late Dr Joshua Nkomo and renamed Main Street to Joshua Nkomo Street. Dr Skhanyiso Ndlovu has said it is incorrect to say PF Zapu was swallowed by Zanu PF. But all signs point to an inequitable sharing of power after the merger of the parties.

The unity accord was signed 24 years ago but until now, no major streets have been named after a former Zapu member. Matebeleland lags behind in development and most critically, there has been no public acknowledgement by government of the torture and civilian deaths that occurred in the 1980s. There have been no attempts to even offer monetary compensation to the survivors who lost relatives and property. People like Lieutenant General Lookout Masuku – the ex Zipra commander who died in detention, despite never being formally charged for 5years – are still recorded in history as dissidents.

What is cruelly ironic is that the statue is rumoured to have been constructed in North Korean, the same country which trained the murderous Fifth Brigade which is wiped out more than 20,000 civilians in Matebelaland.

Put a Stop to Torture

European Union ambassador, Aldo Dell’Ariccia has called on Zimbabwe to sign the UN convention on torture and to abolish the death penalty. How does the UN expect the ZRP to extract confessions out of suspects if they are barred from beating the soles feet where no medical examiner can find evidence of brutality? And the CIO would find it very inconvenient if, as a result of the UN convention, they cannot attach live electricity cables to people’s genitalia.

Even Morgan Tsvangirai experienced the agony of de feet – heh heh – after having his soles truncheoned by Chihuri’s boys. Dispensing with the torture humour, a neutral commentator must wonder why the EU should appoint itself the promoter of UN convention. It is such utterances which only sharpen the sword of Robert Mugabe who for 13 years has accused Western nations of interfering with the affairs of sovereign nations.. Mugabe the playground bully sits on the chest of a small boy while telling anybody who intervenes to ‘stop meddling.’

Hard Times Behind Bars

The Research and Advocacy Unit and the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers’ Association have revealed the appalling living conditions for female inmates. Prisoners recycle sanitary wear and sleep on lice-infested floors, owing to shortage of beds. Their report sites a lack of running water necessary for the flushing of toilets and an unvaried diet of mainly sadza with beans or kapenta or spinach. Even prisoners are deserving of basic human rights. However, the situation in prison is reflective of the country as a whole. Chikurubi’s sadza and beans is an improvement on the tree roots and wild fruit on which Lupane villagers survive. There are people in the countryside who eagerly anticipate the April cotton harvest, for the free cotton, which is a widely used, in its unprocessed and non-sterilized form, for sanitary purposes.

The Southern Africa Aids Dissemination Service (SafAids) has noted that retailers have refused to reduce prices of women’s sanitary products, despite a 15% reduction in import duty. According to SafAids the use of leaves and rags is a monthly reality for some young women in Zimbabwe. For any sort of improvement to be made in the quality of life within the prison system, a change is required on the outside.

The Fall of Caesar’s Empire

Friends, Zimbabweans, countrymen. Lend me your ears…

Last week, an article appeared in the Herald, under the heading ‘Gono Biti Ties Raise Suspicion,’ following Gideon Gono’s appointment of MDC-T’s Tendai Biti as chief legal counsel to defend the corruption allegations against the former RBZ Governor. The article suggests that Gono is unsuitable for the appointment to vacant seat of Buhera Senator. Minister of information, media and broadcasting, Professor Moyo said the article was based on ‘emotive and false assertions that smack of a hidden political agenda.’

Zanu PF bigwigs saw the story as mischief-making and, unfortunately for Zvayi, the article was published barely a week after Didymus Mutasa had warned the state-owned newspaper about fuel disharmony within Zanu PF. There appeared to be a spat between Didymus Mutasa and Jonathan Moyo. It is possible that Moyo’s decision to bury Caesar, like Brutus, is an attempt to appease the politburo.

Like a preterm baby caesarean-sectioned out of the womb, Zvayi, who was only appointed editor a few months ago, has been prematurely torn away from the warmth of his new office by the very same man, Professor Jonathan Moyo, who handpicked him for the job. Officially, Zvayi has been suspended but in all likelihood, he might not return to George Silundika again. Editors at Zanu PF’s propaganda machine are all political appointments. Politics is a game of mud and, as Muchechetere and Zvayi have recently learned, singing Zanu PF praise does not guarantee one a job.

When Nelson Mandela died, Caesar Zvayi and his minions at Horrid House rushed to their laptops, callously questioning Mandela’s legacy even before Madiba’s casket had been selected. Never mind Mandela’s legacy because it speaks for itself. What is Zvayi’s legacy? Deported from Botswana and ejected from Herald House. He has certainly made a habit of being expelled from places.

It is food for thought that Gideon Gono has failed to find one reliable lawyer among those that are aligned to Zanu PF. Either Gono cannot trust any lawyers within the Zanu PF camp or his nomination of the former finance minister is confirmation that even Zanu PF bigwigs feel safer in the hands of the MDC-T.

It is the fiction writers and embellishers of Pockets Hill and George Silundika that have helped keep Mugabe’s regime firmly in place. There is no sympathy for those that polish the very boot that oppresses the masses. However, it is worrisome that the ruling party can be so blatant in its interference with press freedom. By Zanu PF standards, a good editor can only be one who tows the party line.

Till next year, my pen is capped. Jerà

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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