Pressure groups resolve to mobilise against bond notes

By Edgar Gweshe

Following the decision by the Zimbabwean government to impose bond notes, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) on November 7, 2016 convened a Civic Society Organizations (CSOs) coordinating meeting aimed at exploring civic society’s role in mapping the way forward in light of the government’s unilateral decision.

People hold crosses and banners during a protest against the introduction of new bond notes and youth unemployement on August, 3, 2016 in Harare, Zimbabwe ©Wildref Kajese (AFP/File)

The coordinating meeting was attended by representatives from 40 civic society organizations as well as social movements.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has since May 2016 been running the #SayNoToBondnotes campaign aimed at facilitating dialogue among key stakeholders such as Parliamentarians, business, labour and citizens in general over the implications of the bond notes.

Despite fierce resistance, the government of Zimbabwe has declared that there is no going back on the introduction of bond notes which they claim is backed by a $200 million loan facility from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

Renowned economist, Dr. Godfrey Kanyenze, in his presentation at the meeting castigated government for unilateral decisions that have negative effects on the already ailing Zimbabwean economy.

He said the bond note were not in any way a panacea to the economic crisis facing Zimbabwe but would rather lead to further decline of the economy. According to Dr. Kanyenze, “the high levels of financial indiscipline” by government is disturbing.

“Instead, we are going to see a shortage of real currency and an increasing rate of inflation. Essentially, bond notes are not about export incentives like we are being told. They are an attempt to close a gap. We are told that they are backed by a $200 million facility and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor said he should be trusted that he would print not more that $200 million worth of bond notes but we have legacy issues in term of trust. We all know what happened in 2008 when we lost a lot of money.

“The bond notes will not in any way resolve the liquidity challenges we are facing. The problems that we face are structural. They are actually deeper than what we are seeing. We have not resolved issues of corruption, illicit financial outflows and the economic environment which is repressed,” said Kanyenze

He added that citizens needed to mobilize and resist unilateral government decisions that come with negative consequences on their livelihoods.

“We need to raise the price of arrogance and ensure that we take this bond note issue everywhere so that citizens are enlightened on the disastrous effects of the bond notes introduction,” said Kanyenze.

Organizations present at the meeting condemned the ruling party, Zanu (PF’s) pre-occupation with power at the expense of the national economy.

It was unanimously agreed during the meeting that mobilization, especially at grassroots level was critical as this would help counter propaganda and enlighten the general citizenry on the level of economic decay in the country which is largely due to disastrous policies being implemented by the government.

Attendants at the meeting agreed that there was need to engage civic society organizations at grassroots level as well as to make extensive use of social media and other communication channels in the campaign against bond notes.

Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance (ZWIPA) Director, Lynda Masarira a said: We have to make sure that we are on the ground and inform people how their lives will be affected by the introduction of bond notes. This has to be a vigorous campaign that will spread to grassroots level.”

The sentiments were echoed by Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) Programmes Officer, Fortune Gwaze.

The debate on bond notes should cascade to grassroots level. We need to take the debate down to the people so that even people in rural areas are able to engage on the bond notes debate,” said Gwaze.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, (ZimRights) Director, Okay Machisa said civic society organizations had a huge task ahead in light of the continued misgovernance in the country.

“The role we have as civic society is to stop what the government is trying to do especially turning itself into a technical thug. The precedence that wehave had before is something that we should use as a yardstick to measure where we are going,” said Machisa.

It was also agreed at the meeting that civic society organizations“must take the responsibility of building responsible citizens who will take a pro0active role in resolving the Zimbabwean crisis”.

The missing link is the ordinary citizen. The issue of the introduction of bond notes has been made to be very technical and explained in such a way that the ordinary citizen does not understand and as civic society organizations, it is our role to ensure that we educate citizens,” said Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) Secretary General, Makomborero Haruzivishe.