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Monday, 3 December 2007
That there is a serious raging crisis in Zimbabwe is not in doubt. That the inflation rate is far above 10,000% is not in doubt. What is completely puzzling is how the country continues and how the people survive in that kind of situation. Some are even building magnificent houses that are not even commonly seen in South Africa.
Journalists at “SWRADIOAFRICA”, “STUDIO 7” of the Voice of America and “the VOICE OF THE PEOPLE” always ask the Zimbabweans how they survive. May I take this opportunity to thank all the Donors and all the journalists who work inside and outside the country to provide other sources of news about the crisis-ridden country of Zimbabwe. Whoever calls those radio stations “Pirate Radio Stations” is a hypocrite who must not be taken seriously.
Professor Jonathan Moyo is one that is now benefiting from having his views heard on these same Radio Stations that he called “pirate and sellouts” and his writings are accessed by many through www.newzimbabwe.com among other websites. Does he still call them “pirate radio stations”?
THUMBS UP TO RAY CHOTO, JOHN MATINDE, TERERAI KARIMAKWENDA, VIOLET GONDA, MANDISA MUNDAWARARA, VICTOR MUDZINGWA, etc etc.
SO HOW ARE THE PEOPLE SURVIVING??
It is said that a Medical Doctor earns an equivalent of R120 per month as we speak. Teachers earn an equivalent of R70. Since nearly all foodstuffs and other commodities are imported from
South Africa, it really makes it tragic and pathetic that professionals have been reduced to such frightening destitution. How do they afford the goods that are brought illegally into the country and are sold at higher prices that they cost in South Africa?
I will not give the full statistics of what costs what in Zimbabwe at the moment but surfice to say under normal circumstances the country of Zimbabwe should have been declared insolvent and closed down were it a private individual or a Company.
Numerous professionals, as we all know, are now fully employed in South Africa, the UK, etc. Some joke and say Zimbabweans now need Councillors and MPS where they are now permanently residing whether its Botswana or Namibia. Those working in foreign lands send millions of rands, pounds, US dollars etc back home. Without this input, millions at home would die of hunger, disease etc and be literally buried.
The ZANU-PF Regime itself prints trillions of local currency (if those bearer cheques are currency) and they buy the much-needed foreign currency on the flourishing black-market. Those that deal on the black–market would also starve to death if they did not buy and sell the various currencies. They buy at a slightly lower rate than the one they sell at and each day they make thousands of rands etc in profit.
If one starts off with, say, R5,000 and makes only 5% profit on each rand they sell, that gives them R250 on that “capital amount”. Now the truth is that they usually have R30,000 or more each which can be sold in a single day. They buy rands from those arriving from South Africa and sell them to those going to South Africa and use the acquired Bearer Cheques to buy more rands which will give them “buying power” to acquire even more rands etc etc and the “business” grows bigger and bigger with each passing day.
In an economically volatile situation like Zimbabwe, no-one should be blamed for trying to make a quick-buck from the crisis. But who ultimately benefits from these illegal business empires?
Zimbabwean Police, Soldiers and other civil servants have their relatives, girl-friends etc operating these informal “World Banks.” These Government workers spend most of their time buying in bulk at points where scare commodities are available and under the guise of “controlling queues”, purchase in bulk various goods which they will give to their wives, “small houses” and other agents to sell for them at various illegal “underground” illegal selling points.
So in effect, the ordinary taxpayer is funding these activities by supplying the Civil Servants with the precious fuel, the vehicles and the man-hours they use in the promotion of the myriad of illegal financial transactions.
Whoever is related to these civil (or rather uncivil) servants does benefit as they assist in related activities eg the advertising, actual selling etc of the scare commodities that disappear from the shelves and “surface” on the black market.
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, survive by services rendered in these illegal markets. Whoever can buy from these expensive markets can still make more profit if they go into the rural areas and to the “new farmers” and exchange the sugar, the bars of soap etc with maize, “dovi” (peanut butter) and other such stuff which will then be sold in the urban areas.
They can use the money thus acquired to buy other goods eg clothes which they can similarly exchange for cash or illegally mined gold, diamonds etc at the numerous illegal mining points.
The trick is to calculate well before falling for any transaction. Old ladies who appear illiterate will shock you by producing 12-digit calculators from the strangest sections of their garments.
This raging crisis has produced the best mathematicians from the least expected among the Zimbos, believe it or not!
On trips to Zambia, South Africa etc there are numerous other beneficiaries.
Bus drivers and their support staff are some of the greatest beneficiaries of the crisis. Over and above the bus fares which they usually quote in Rands, Pulas, etc, they make even more as they charge (say) R100 to R200 for each of those “parcels” which you see hanging precariously on their overloaded and under-mantained vehicles. Make a calculation of R100 each from 65 passengers and multiply that by a possible 10 trips per month. That’s a frightening R65000 in a single month to be divided among a crew of not more than three and the owners of the buses may not know a thing about this extra cash since receipts are not issued for these extra transactions.
And we have looked at just one bus! How many buses are involved in “cross-border” trade?
Bus crews and cross-border truck drivers make even more by charging 10% for the Foreign Currency which they carry into the country to deliver to hundreds of thousands in Zim from their relatives in SA, Botswana, etc. How much is being ferried by each bus and each truck each day can never be known or even estimated. But suffice to say it runs into tens or even hundreds of millions of Rands, Pulas etc each month. Ten percent remains with the bus and truck crews.
How can you fail to get “building booms” in Zim when you have millions landing in the hands of simple drivers, etc? Whoever says, “I went to Zim and I saw double-story houses going up in many of the towns” should know that its not the faithful simple workers who are erecting those structures. The common worker can’t even pay for his transport to work from the salary he receives. It’s the few “dealers” who make astronomical figures in illegal income who are giving the impression of Zim as a functioning economy of some sort.
Numerous also benefit from bribes as they undertake to protect these illegal actors.
Police and soldiers on both sides of the border make unquantifiable amounts in bribes.
Bribes to let in travellers without travel documents, bribes not to search the buses and trucks, bribes to ignore any anomalies they make come across etc.
Dealers in foreign currency at Musina, at Beitbridge, at various points along the way and even in the cities of Harare, Bulawayo etc must have cash ready to oil the hands of any official who pretends to be checking on these illegal activities. These officers get much, much more in these bribes than they would ever get from their humble salaries.
As I wrote in a previous submission, this is actually more prevalent on the South African side than on the Zimbabwean side. So the gains to a certain select few of the Zimbabwean Crisis can never be quantified or estimated.
Many analysts and politicians wonder why there are low voter turnouts whenever Elections are held in Zimbabwe especially of late.
Besides the fact that:
(a) there is general voter apathy and that being caused by people’s frustration by the rigging done by ZANU-PF and
(b) that numerous are busy “suffering” and hence worried more about matters of survival than politics, attending rallies, voting etc; and
(c) the fact that the Oppositions Forces are being led by thick-headed individuals who can not “iron out” their differences and present one united front, the more frightening truth is that hundreds of thousands, if not millions are actually praying that the crisis continues lest they loose the returns which they are getting from the numerous illegal activities which would disappear if Zimbabwe were to return to a more normal situation.
SO WHAT IT WAY FORWARD IN SUCH A DEPRESSING SITUATION?
It is very important to recognise that ZANU-PF is not really in charge of the situation in Zimbabwe. ZANU-PF continues to be in power just because there is none that can be charismatic and relevant enough to challenge the corrupt status quo.
Tsvangirai did his best (apparently) but he is not able to acknowledge anyone else. He is as myopic as Robert Mugabe.
The struggles of the 60s and 70s were able to evolve because the people followed a new leader if he explained why the previous leader had to be discarded. Robert Mugabe followed after the Rev Ndabaningi Sithole who followed after Dr Joshua Nkomo etc etc.
Now to Morgan Tsvangirai, Professor Arthur Mutambara is a CIO implant who must be shunned.
Shame on you Mogiza!
The so-called “Mutambara faction” did not take you to Court for various issues simply for the sake of not disrupting the overall struggle. But we will not leave you untouched lest we develop a worse character than Robert Matibili-Mugabe.
Mugabe and ZANU-PF are at their weakest and Morgan you have also chosen to be myopis and stiff-necked!
We will never forgive you Morgan! But its not your fault. A person cab never rise above his own limitations. Unfortunately morons do not see their limitations. Over and above that, they breathe fire and brimstone on those that humbly try to assist in complementing the efforts of those that started before them
If Morgiza were a true Statesman, he would have long worked with his fellow brothers in the other so-called “faction” and we would be talking of “HEZVOKO”, “ONE TIME” etc etc with confidence.
So our salvation will have to come from elsewhere.
I FEEL TEMPTED TO AGREE WITH THOSE WHO SAY ONLY A MILITARY “COUP” (IF THERE ANY UPRIGHT PERSONS IN THE ARMED FORCES) OR AN INVASION OR AN ARMED STRUGGLE OF SOME SORT CAN RESCUE THE SATANIC ACTIVITIES RAGING IN THE BEAUTIFUL BUT CALAMITOUS LAND CALLED ZIMBABWE.
Whoever does anyone of the above three options will not hand power to Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai, we are more concerned with the future of millions and not just having you or anyone else having “Bed, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner” at that haunted State House where Matibili presently resides with Stanley Goreraza’s wife.
Tsvangirai, do you know what Statesmanship is all about??
Rev Mufaro Stig Hove.
(Please also read the article below ex "THE ZIMBABWEAN": LINK!!! )
How do ordinary Zimbabweans survive?
Wednesday, 28 November 2007 14:37
BULAWAYO - How is it possible for a worker to earn less or slightly above his monthly transport budget but still report for duty daily? Inconceivable, you might say, unless you come from Zimbabwe.
This is the predicament thousands of workers, including civil servants, find themselves in, in a country whose economy has virtually collapsed. Inflation is at a staggering 15,000 percent and continues to rise.
Indeed there is serious brain drain in the country, as professionals and general workers leave in large numbers to seek greener pastures in regional countries, mostly South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Britain and Canada are the favourite destinations for many other Zimbabweans.
But not all have managed to cross the borders in search of better remunerating jobs as some are surviving through other means and there are those who simply won't leave because they remain hopeful the economic crisis will end.
Most of those who have stuck around in the face all the hardships the majority of Zimbabweans are going through have resorted to crime. That's their survival tactic.
The criminal activities are carried out at workplaces, or in some cases, masterminded there but executed elsewhere. It all depends on what sort of trade one does. If, for example, you are a traffic policeman, you take bribes from motorists. Instead of issuing a ticket for a traffic offence, you pocket what the driver is offering, as long as it is an acceptable figure.
Commuter omnibuses are a big source of revenue for the police in Zimbabwe. The drivers at times operate on expired permits, overcharge passengers but they almost always get away with it as long as they know how to grease (street lingo for bribe) the cops.
"We also drain fuel (from the vehicle) and sale it on the black market. At times we are hired by a group of people, say from a church, and we charge them a fixed amount. We give the boss (operator) his average daily takings and of-course the rest is ours," confessed Dumisani Jamela, a commuter omnibus driver from Bulawayo.
What does an electrical appliances repair shop worker do? He diverts some of the customers who call at the business premises and does the job for them privately at their homes for far less.
A cellular telecommunications employee buys several lines under fictitious names and resells them for a profit of up to 40 times the official price. And you expect such a person not to report for duty every day?
A sugar company worker gets a sugar allocation every month. He sells the commodity on the vibrant black market and makes about Z$8 million from each of the bags.
A bus driver capitalizes on transport blues to take bribes from anyone who wants to jump a queue. Then, after dropping off his passengers, he drives to his house or finds a secluded place, drains some diesel and resale it on the parallel market.
If the usage of company fuel is under strict monitoring, he connives with the manager and they share the spoils.
The practice of draining fuel from vehicles is rife among those using company cars, including managers. The temptation is too much to resist given that as little as 5 litres of fuel gives you Z$7 million.
The majority of Zimbabwean workers in industry get a net salary of between Z$10-Z$15 million a month against transport costs of about Z$12m.
Teachers engage in private lessons for children not in formal school and the lucky ones are paid in foreign currency by parents of the scholars, who would be abroad.
Recently a High Court judge stunned employers when he openly stated that they were promoting criminal activities at workplaces by paying ridiculous salaries, which fell far short of basic needs of workers.
"Have you ever paused to wonder why the majority of workers persistently bother to go to work everyday at great expense without fail when at the end of the day, they get paid wages which are not enough to cover their basic transport costs, let alone food and other basic amenities of life?
"The answer is simple: It is at work that they play criminal games for survival.
"What has never ceased to amaze is what will be going on in the employer's mind when he sees employees whom he does not pay enough to cover their basic transport costs religiously reporting for duty everyday," said Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, when addressing participants at an Institute of Personnel Management of Zimbabwe 2008 Labour briefing in Bulawayo recently.
– Own correspondent.