Mugabe The Grinch Who Stole Our Christmas
When the financial gods of the world sneezed and nearly caused the apocalyptic demise of the world, as we know it, the West, the United States and Asia became the news and leaders scrambled to “save” humankind by all means necessary. However the effects are still being felt as our children will not get their Nintendo wiis and other super Chinese electronic gadgets that Santa has always delivered year in year out without the talk of tightening belts, and the word recession being mentioned at dinnertime. The recovery will take some time so will the adjustments of consumers from big spenders to big savers.
For the people in developing countries, the recession meant less financial donations from the West and equally a need to tighten belts and adjust to the recession. Not much of a task for most in poor nations especially in Africa. They never overload shopping carts with electronic gadgets at Christmas anyway. Neither do they overburden themselves with unnecessary gifts to each other. A trip to the rural homes to visit the clan is more than the Christmas present they expect from each other. Jovial is the mood at Christmas and nobody sulks over gifts or lecture on the effects of the recession at dinnertime.
Most in Africa especially the rural folks have no idea what all this talk of a recession is all about. Like AIDS when it started ravaging communities in the 90s, the rural folk were the last to accept it as a world threat, including their obscure villages.
Taking life on a day-a-day basis has always been a proud hobby of most Africans. In Zimbabwe with a non-existent economy and no cash (local currency) for over a year now, thanks to Mugabe and Zanu Pf ‘s unprecedented demolition of a modern economy, the population has adjusted faster than the West will ever recover from the recession. History does repeat itself and in history we learn lessons for today and tomorrow. So rather than wait for the endless power sharing talks that are yielding nothing for the people, villagers in Zimbabwe remembered the glorious days of barter trading eons of years ago. Quite a novelty and equally an intrigue where goods are exchanged for service rendered.
A live chicken will pay your bus fare for a 200km journey and a cow will get the body of your dead relative delivered to its resting place of your desire. A gallon of milk will fetch a bucket of corn meal. Two goats will pay for a semester of High school education. One can also pay a cow as exam fees. There are obviousl disparities on the actual values of the goods or services involved in the exchange. For instance a cow costs upwards of US$500 but exam fees for eight subjects cost less than US$200.
With inflation running above 230 billion percentage, the local currency was not even worth the paper it was printed on and the Finance Minister Tendai Biti from the MDC party, had no choice but to discard the useless money in favor of foreign currency that had long become the preferred choice of the people especially in the cities. Inflation went down dramatically overnight to about 3% and has held steady as long as the local currency is not reintroduced. However the move has adversely affected the villagers with no means of getting the US$, the South African Rand and the Botswana Pula that have become acceptable currency along with the British Pound.
President Mugabe and his blue-eyed Governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono who siphoned and helped others in power to siphon the treasury dry, have advocated the populist approach of bringing back the local currency against the wisdom of the Finance Minister and the dictates of the economy. As the Governor of the Reserve Bank one would think that he understands the difference between economics and populist sentiments. But to ask him this, is to ask him to go against the modus operandi of Zanu Pf for decades, in which they printed money rather than let industry produce revenue.
No wonder the Vice President Ms Joyce Mujuru, is said to have lashed out at the Finance Minister for not dolling out the IMF loans that have not yet been disbursed because the Unity government does not have the required structures to start using the money. To her if the money is there just give it out. She is not used to be denied money when she wants it and the Reserve Bank for a decade had pandered to the whims of these bigwigs and operated as a quasi-Zanu Pf party entity. More certainly she would have ordered money printed without a second thought just like they were used to.
Now with the money printing machine in the Masasa industrial area east of Harare the capital city, lying obsolete, for over a year, the frustration is obvious on the economics- challenged goons in Zanu Pf and especially the so called War Veterans who have called on the government to print the local currency regardless.
On the villagers, the frustration is more of not knowing what they have done to deserve Mugabe for all this time. They will not be seeing any of their children and relatives whom most have run away from the repression of Mugabe and the ensuing economic meltdown. And this Christmas, they wish they could trade Mugabe for Tsvangirai in their every day barter trade renaissance which has become the norm. So much for wishes.
All this would not be if only Mugabe had not vowed to go down with the ship and threw a tantrum that destroyed a country, young lives, an economy, education, health care, transportation, tourism, and most importantly agriculture that had always been the mainstay of the economy setting us back fifty years in terms of development.
Welcome to the Stone Age in the twenty first century ala Mugabe way.
I wish you a Merry Christmas Africa, especially Zimbos.