Cynicism reigns – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary

‘Electric car causes stir in fuel-starved Zimbabwe’ read the headline today on News 24. We can understand why the sight prompted interest given the return of long queues for fuel.

Happymore Chidziva MP addresses Vigil and MDC activists

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/31579355658/sizes/m/

But then reality kicked in. What about the difficulty recharging the car when electricity supplies are so erratic? Perhaps that was why the car was seen on the back of a recovery vehicle, thought the cynics. At least it wasn’t another $3 million Bugati seen being unloaded at Robert Mugabe International a few weeks ago.

Cynicism now reigns in Zimbabwe. Few now trust what they are told by the authorities. Even Zanu PF is increasingly rejecting the fantasy world bequeathed by ‘son of God’ Mugabe.

Deputy Information Minister Energy Mutode recognizes the problem: ‘This is an economy that is dealing with a legacy of . . . Mugabe. We are now in a new dispensation . . . so there are a number of economic issues we need to correct . . . Zimbabwe very much needs to access multi-lateral funding for its debt and if that doesn’t happen we will be in crisis.’ (See: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/19/zimbabwe-needs-aid-to-prevent-further-crisis-warns-ruling-party.)

Everyone experiences this on the streets. The value of bond notes has collapsed, as the Vigil predicted it would when they were introduced two years ago. Our diary of 26th November 2016 noted ‘because Zimbabweans have lived through this asset stripping before, they know exactly what to expect. Savings will be wiped out by rapidly depreciating Mickey Mouse money for the benefit of the elite which will externalize all remaining US dollars in the country’.

Now we hear that people suspected of externalizing funds are not being taken to court because the national prosecution authority does not yet have a substantive Prosecutor-General in office. A lawyer commented: ‘Economic crime is rife in Zimbabwe but there is no political will to deal with it (see: https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-147681.html).

The new Finance Minister Ncube realizes what’s happened and has announced the scrapping of the vaunted farm mechanization programme introduced by Mugabe in 2007. It was, he said, ‘riddled with corruption.’ A number of unnamed members of the political elite were said to have given themselves irrigation equipment, brand new tractors, combine harvesters and other farming materials. The loans were never paid back and the government had to write off more that $200 million. Mr Ncube’s decision came despite the government’s farming policy being championed by Vice President Chiwenga who said Zimbabwe could again become Africa’s bread basket.

This Zimbabwean delusion is scrutinised in an article by Michelle D Gavin, senior fellow for Africa Studies at the US Council on Foreign Relations. She says: ‘State media trumpets headlines about breakthroughs with the international financial institutions or new investments from abroad, but closer inspection tends to reveal far less than meets the eye. When creditors agree to a payment plan to clear longstanding debts, it doesn’t mean that new loans are coming, or even that arrears will actually get cleared. When start-up hedge funds commit to try to raise capital for unspecified projects in the future, it doesn’t mean that an influx of dollars has been secured. In their quest to paint a picture of a new dawn, Zimbabwean officials keep overselling small and preliminary steps, undermining their own credibility’ (see: https://www.cfr.org/blog/zimbabwes-falling-expectations).

The failure of the government to follow up on its promises, for instance in implementing the electoral reforms required by the constitution, has not gone unnoticed abroad. Those international electoral observers that matter were less than enthusiastic about the elections and even the others were shocked by the army’s shootings in Harare. The upshot is that Zimbabwe is not seen as ‘open for business’. A touted investment conference has been postponed for a year and prospects of being invited to rejoin the Commonwealth have dimmed according to Sue Onslow, Deputy Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

People have been disillusioned by the Mugabe fantasies: now they are increasing becoming cynical about the promises of the Mnangagwa regime.

Other points

  • The Vigil drew its biggest attendance for some time, boosted by MDC members who came to support MDC MP for Highfield Happymore Chidziva, who is MDC National Youth Chair. Mr Chidziva said the Vigil’s weekly protest outside the Embassy was very important and our message was getting through.
  • Thanks to those who came early to help set up the table and put up the banners: Shylette Chipangura, Daizy Fabian, Hellena Gusinyu, Deborah Harry, Josephine Jombe, Joshua Kahari, Junior Madzimure, Chido Makawa, Heather Makawa, Rosemary Maponga, Patricia Masamba, Joyce Mbairatsunga, Getrude Mudede, Nicodimus Muganhu, Margaret Munenge, Esther Munyira, Sipho Ndlovu, Molly Ngavaimbe, Pearl Shambare, Alice Shimika, Minienhle Sibanda, Ephraim Tapa and Sharon Zimuto. Thanks also to Josephine and Pearl for looking after the front table and to Heather and Pearl for handing out flyers.
  • A special thank you to Rose Maponga and Nyarai Masvosva for bringing sadza and stew to fundraise for the Vigil.
  • For latest Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.

FOR THE RECORD: 43 signed the register but there were many more than that present.

EVENTS AND NOTICES:

  • ACTSA Conference 2018 – Zimbabwe: More of the same? Saturday 27th October from 2 – 4 pm at Unite the Union, 128 Theobalds Rd, London, WC1X 8TN – nearest tubes are Holborn and Russell Square. Following Zimbabwe’s highly controversial national elections and the post-election repression, what does the future look like for human rights, equality and sustainable development in the country? Speakers include Daizy Fabian (Restoration of Human Rights / Zimbabwe Vigil), Hugo Knoppert (Zimbabwe Europe Network) and Glanis Changachirere (Institute for Young Women Development).This is a free event but please register by emailing [email protected] to confirm your place. And please share with your colleagues and networks: https://actsa.org/actsa-conference-2018-zimbabwe-more-of-the-same/.
  • ROHR Central London branch meeting. Saturday 17th November from 11.30 am – 1.30 pm. Venue: Royal Festival Hall. Contact: Daizy Fabian 07708653640, Maxmus Savanhu 07397809056, Sipho Ndlovu 07400566013.
  • The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
  • The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded over the past 15 years as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil for £10. All proceeds will go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
  • Zimbabwe Action Forum meets regularly after the Vigil to discuss ways to help those back in Zimbabwe to fight oppression and achieve true democracy.
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