Curious case of learned ignoramuses
ZANU-PF has just lost a crucial by-election. It can be argued that the loss of Norton is a bad omen for the party given watershed harmonised elections scheduled for mid2018. Except that the party requires fewer omens than decisive action in tackling the scourge of corruption and internal factionalism, before it can reorient voters’ sentiment.
Since the July 31, 2013 harmonised elections which left the MDC-T disoriented, Zanu-PF had not lost a by-election.
Equally true is that for a long time the ruling party has not resolutely dealt with factionalism or corruption, it has only paid lip service to the twin evils, to the chagrin of the voter.
It is not an implausible conjecture that in the Norton by-election, people expressed their frustration through the ballot.
That frustration manifested in a wide margin against Zanu-PF in the highly-charged by-election on Saturday. An independent candidate, Temba Mliswa, a former provincial chairman of the ruling party who was expelled more than a year ago, polled 8 927 votes against Zanu-PF’s preferred candidate, Ronald Chindedza, who received 6 192.
President Mugabe and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa have been on a campaign to denounce both corruption and factional politics in the ruling party. Their exhortations have gone unheeded, and no action has been taken.
Now even the army, which for all its political consciousness has generally reserved its comment on political matters, has spoken.
Speaking barely two days after the Norton loss before the parliamentary committee on defence and security in Harare on Monday, army Chief of Staff (administration) Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba, accused senior government officials of undermining the country’s economy through corruption.
He said the defence budget was far less than what the army required for food, training and salaries and that this was affecting morale in the uniformed forces.
“Corruption is a cancer which is taking the nation backwards, thereby causing insecurity to the nation,” said Major General Nyikayaramba. “(T) his is mainly because as a nation we continue to ignore critical issues that will bring stability and confidence to investors who would want to bring business to this country.”
He said corrupt people were using factional politics as a shield from the law and that ordinary people were watching with growing anger as the culprits went unpunished.
“It (corruption) is now a security threat because it is causing people to create mafias or alliances where if one is accused of being corrupt, he quickly asks for the help of other big names to protect him or her,” continued Maj Gen Nyikayaramba.
“Development is being derailed so that individuals can benefit at the expense of the whole nation,” he said.
The allusions are evident enough, and people are angry.
Those campaigning for the ruling party candidate in Norton, including Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere and VP Phelekezela Mphoko, accused those calling for the arrest of people suspected of corruption of selling out, treachery or of not being bona fide Zanu-PF members.
Potential voters must have read in this arrogance, a refusal to own up and a blatant defence of corruption and a perfect manifestation of the ugly face of factional politics in Zanu-PF.
In what can be described as a rude verdict, the people of Norton seem to have warned Zanu-PF ahead of 2018 elections: if you don’t deal with the rotten eggs in the party that’s how we shall deal with the party as a whole.
“Do not look at the face of the individual or their positions when dealing with corruption because that will lead to disaster,” Maj Gen Nyikayaramba told the parliamentary committee on Monday. It is candour of a rare kind.
---Bond and bullet--One thing that’s been acknowledged is that the country is facing serious economic challenges. There is no need for anyone to pretend they are revealing anything new, least of all captains of industry.
We have a problem, and every responsible person should be proposing a solution rather than telling us what doesn’t work. Give us what works.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe didn’t dream up bond notes and plastic money for their own sake. There was a problem. People didn’t have cash, they still don’t. The situation is dire in rural areas where people don’t enjoy the luxury of plastic money.
Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya explained in May when bond notes were first mooted that a lot of foreign currency was being externalised.
And we all know it’s not the ordinary Jack and Martha who does that. It’s the educated people who have access to US dollars, travel a lot outside the country, have foreign bank accounts and can sex up export receipts and falsify invoices to cheat the taxman.
It’s the same people who are easily confused whenever government announces any policy which seeks to benefit the country. They don’t understand indigenisation, they don’t understand SI64, they don’t understand “buy Zimbabwe”, they don’t understand the National Pledge, they don’t understand National Youth Service, they don’t understand black economic empowerment, they don’t understand solar geysers and pretty much everything in between - plastic money, STEM, command agriculture, so long as it is native.
So they don’t understand bond notes. It’s the same people who have worked themselves into a red sweat to poison public sentiment about bond notes in the name of what happened in 2008. To them the US dollar represents nirvana.
So I was not surprised to read as late as Wednesday this week the following comments from the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce:
“If you look at the bank transactions at the moment, about 4 percent only at any branch are deposits, which Valuation of motoring benefit The value of motoring benefit should be determined based on “cost to the employer”. The cost to the employer in this case is based on a deemed cost which is provided for in the Finance Act.
The deemed cost basis of valuing the motoring benefit is also mandatory in the sense that the prescribed amounts are not subject to variation in relation to the running costs or the vehicle’s value. Calculations of the benefit are goes to show that there is a serious problem. If people cannot deposit, it means that even the issue of plastic money comes into question.”
A second one followed: “Dr Mangudya will have an opportunity (at a breakfast meeting in Harare yesterday) to explain to people so that they understand. As we speak, people are moving their cash outside the country because they have not understood what the bond notes seek to achieve.”
Let’s clear the obvious issues. There is anxiety in the market about the bond notes, and the RBZ is guilty of contributory ineptitude in its communication.
Now dear reader, let’s revert to the learned quotations. Focus on the word “people”. Inclusion of the Benefit for VAT Purposes
IN the second quotation, are you and I ever invited to such important people’s meetings where a necktie and suit are treasured more than the quality of your contribution?
Which people attend? The same people who are always a phone call away from Dr Mangudya, play golf with him, probably went to school together and have been approached for possible solutions to the cash shortage, and their understanding of “thinking outside the box” and “biting the bullet” is to seek temporary refuge in the South African rand as the new anchor currency!
Second, you and I spend our day waiting in bank queues to get $50 or $100. Now we are told “the people” are taking their cash out of the country because they don’t understand the implications of bond notes. Which people?
Where would you hide $100 when you don’t have food, you haven’t paid rent and school fees? Who else would have access to millions of dollars to take out of the country but those who want more clarity everyday yet will never understand?
How do such people then explain to us after the breakfast what the bond notes mean when they don’t understand them?
You think there will be an epiphany, a blinding flash of sudden enlightenment during the snacking period?
No wonder foreigners insist they don’t understand the country’s indigenisation laws. Who explains to them? Who do they get into contact with in and outside the country?
Third, look at the absurdity of it. The RBZ came up with the idea of bond notes to limit the externalisation of US dollars.
Now industry is trying to turn cause into effect by telling us they are externalising US dollars for fear of bond notes! Hello!
Which came first: externalisation or bond notes? Were bond notes not proposed because of massive externalisation of forex under the multi-currency system?
In fact continued externalisation of US dollars as confessed by ZNCC makes bond notes not just necessary but inevitable because it creates a huge deficit in the market.
Fourth, they might need to enlighten us on this one. Is externalisation a corporate governance strategy or a naked crime under Zimbabwean law?
If people can demand that Professor Moyo be arrested over misapplication of Zimdef funds, what should happen to those who choose to externalise scarce foreign currency?
And then the RBZ’s own ineptitude. Why are people allowed to keep millions of dollars in foreign currency in their trunks and safes?
Why is that not a crime? Second, why are retailers and wholesalers allowed to demand cash for transactions of over $100 instead of plastic money or RTGS?
Don’t tell us in these days of hi-tech it’s still a challenge to find out who handles what cash transactions but they cannot be accounted for in the banking system?
Let’s examine the first quotation. These “people” really don’t understand. The ZNCC doesn’t understand that use of plastic money and the RTGS system necessarily means fewer cash deposits.
And what about money kept in Econet, Telecel and NetOne mobile cash wallets? Wasn’t that a reaction to a rigid banking system which didn’t respond to ordinary people’s requirements, the ease of doing business without usurious bank charges?
Now “the people” at ZNCC want to convince us that plastic money transaction is not working because they don’t see people depositing cash in banking halls.
Hopefully they see them withdrawing?
Again, hopefully these are not the same comrades Mangudya wants to enlist in his campaign to explain the bond notes to the poor who don’t have fat foreign currency accounts to protect.
Now for a parting shot: the bond notes might just achieve their intended goal because people don’t like them.
That should keep them in perpetual circulation hence no need to print more than are necessary.
The American dollar has failed us because people want to keep it in their pocket.
Money should be more a medium of exchange than a store of value.
It should help us acquire the assets we need rather than become a fetish. Worse if the currency is not your own.