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Letter from America with Ken Mufuka: Zimbabwe: Failure is looking us in the eye!

By Ken Mufuka

A year has now passed since the removal of the evil dictator, Robert Mugabe from power in December 2017. After the initial euphoria, with 27 trips abroad by our president in a hired Dream Liner jet in thirteen months, everywhere I go, Zimbabweans say that they are looking at failure in the eye.

Ken Mufuka
Ken Mufuka

Religious thinkers say that before one can advance from a regrettable position to another level, one must introspect, repent and learn from one’s mistake. It is this lack of self-inspection that will be the ruin of ZANU-PF and its leadership.

It was something that my renowned brother Hopewell Chi’ono said about the prevalence of fake doctoral degrees among ZANU-PF’s leadership that caught my attention.

If a whole group of conspirators keep on repeating the sentence “Operation Restore (R)egacy”, they are apparently ignorant of the fact that Mugabe’s (r)egacy is an evil one. The term legacy usually refers to a positive record. Mugabe’s record in Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, destroying a country once the bread basket of Central Africa and turning it into a beggar mafia state, overwhelms whatever good that could be attributed to him in his early days of government.

Why it is that these brothers want to restore such a legacy is only comprehensible to mad men.

This lack of a proper education explains why they make simple mistakes that would shame a blind man or speak in gobbledygook, over speak aimed at over compensating for their fake education.

Here is an example: “All foreign liabilities or legacy debts due to suppliers such as Air transporters (and) declared dividends shall be treated separately after registering such transactions with exchange control for the purpose of providing the bank with sufficient information that will allow it to determine the roadmap for orderly expunging of the legacy debt.”

Ethiopian Airlines has $15 million which it cannot transfer to its home office in Ethiopia. Now it is required to go through a new process of registering and explaining how it came about that amount of money. This is a recipe for gate -keepers to demand an “influence fee” for accelerating the process.

If Ethiopian Airlines went to the bank and asked for US dollars (in an open market) it will receive U$5 million (the going rate.)

In a wide ranging statement by the Governor of the Reserve Bank (20th February), the brother is caught up in misstatements like con(z)uma (consumer), piporo (people): “Your money will be (eaten) by inflation.” Further; “The Zimbabwe situation is very simple and the shortage of foreign currency indicates the demand for foreign exchange is higher than the supply. Therefore, it can be solved by increased Foreign Domestic investment.”

My problem with this brother is that he has no sense of shame. In 2016, he promised us that the US dollar was at par with the Zee dollar, a fiction which he must have known be untrue. Common self respect would have guided him to resign when the falsehood of his position became apparent. This stubbornness in the face of contrary realities is highly regarded in ZANU-PF corridors where it is assumed that such posturing flies in the face of imperialism.

Secondly, if the problem of foreign currency was simple, why has it not been solved? It has gotten worse over the years.

Thirdly, the establishment of Bureau de Exchanges is not new and is a return to year 2008. If the brother had read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, he would have known that allowing a free for all market in the sale of foreign money is the solution.

Makorenyera (husslers) get their money from relatives abroad or from Zimbabwean businessmen with political connections. The tried and tested method is to allow the vendors to seek out the highest profits. Businesses will take care of themselves. Roumania allowed street vendors this freedom, and their need for U$ dollars vanished.

Bureau de Exchanges came at a cost of $10 000 for a license. We are told that in 2008, the exchange bureau kiosk situated at Meikles Hotel belonged to a Governor of the Bank.

Foreign Investment

In her farewell speech, the outgoing Swiss ambassador (2017) mentioned the trials and tribulations two Swiss Companies had been subjected to by Zimbabwe Revenue Authorities. A tax audit, pre-dated to 2009 showed that the two companies could not have complied with regulations as stipulated because Zimbabwe’s currency situation was in extreme distress. The movements from the Gideon Gono fake trillions to US currency made it impossible to calculate tax burdens.

All this was irrelevant to Zimra officials who imposed heavy penalties (up to 80 percent) imposed and laid down the threat of forcible closure hanging over their businesses.

This brings to the story which Brother Chin’ono has brilliantly illustrated. A retired Swiss banker, Richard Le Vaux, started a new career as an agro-entrepreneur in Chipinge. His European connections enabled him to produce and manufacture macadamia nuts, avocado and coffee products. The quality of his products attracted Hollywood film producers to his farm.

In my research trip on Robert Mugabe’s legacy, at Mashangano Cross Roads Flea Market, ten kilometers from Chipinge Village, there was a white farmer in similar circumstances. Makadama was his native name, having been born there. Right across from his banana farm was a virgin mountain, prime land for such products as he produced.

Provincial ZANU-PF officials had parceled choice farms there, which were derelict and returning to bush land.

It came to my attention that an Arafas Gwaradzimba was appointed by government as administrator over Shabani Mines in 2004. Gwaradzimba had once worked for Shabani Mines owner, Mutumwa Mawere who was dispossessed of his mines over trumped up charges.

The connection with Remembrance Gwaradzimba is interesting. Remembrance is the son of Ellen Gwaradzimba, the governor of Manicaland. Remembrance has grabbed Le Vaux’s farm.

The history of this family is a perfect example of a gate-keeper syndrome, where the gate-keeper harvests where he did not plant by virtue of his proximity to power.

But there is more to this story.  ZANU-PF learned nothing from the past, namely that it was this reckless disregard of the efforts of good citizens that wrecked the Zimbabwe state. In this case, Mawere, Le Vaux, and Makadama are good citizens, who merit consideration on the grounds of virtue and industriousness. Mawere’s mines were capable of producing 17 percent of all foreign exchanges revenue in 2002.The Swiss citizens are our connection to Nestle Food Company and to the European market.

Nestle Company is exploring the bottled water international markets. Chipinge and Manicaland have pristine mountain springs, of such purity that colonials did not add bleach to the water before feeding it to the Mutare populace. But the brother sinners have no imagination, except to grab that which others have achieved by the sweat of their brows.

The Swiss government is neutral and could be a conduit to bigger dreams. Oh, all these count for naught among the sinners.  Whatever they lay their eyes upon; they will not be satisfied until they have destroyed. Now, they want the whole world to feel sorry for them.

The behavior of these Gwaradzimba’s is but a single blade of grass in the morass that ZANU-PF has created.

Looking back to the US Report by senior State Department officials who wrote a  wrote a scathing report  on Zimbabwe’s new dispensation; namely that Zimbabwe is  for business. (July 25, 2019) They called it a monumental “charade” (their word).  A friend of mine called me from Washington, DC., with wicked enjoyment in his voice. “Hi there Ken. How do you continue to defend Zimbabwe’s policies and call yourself an honest man?”

  1. Ellen Gwaradzimba has a doctoral degree in Education. One wonders if the sister learned anything at school.

Ken Mufuka is an award winning journalist who writes from the US. He is the author of nine books. His latest book, Life and Times of Robert Mugabe: Dream Betrayed can be accessed from kenmufukabooks.com. He can be contacted at [email protected]