Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Looming ‘Budget’

Tomorrow the ‘Acting Minister of Finance’, Patrick Chinamasa, is going to present his ‘budget’ to Zimbabwe. This is going to be very interesting. The teachers are holding out for the $US, the railway workers have been on strike for the past couple of weeks holding out for their $US, one assumes that Army and the Police have also been promised the currency of their dreams as well as every worker and manager who is not receiving them right now.

Tsvangirayi is being set up by the ZANU PF electronic and print media for the kill with his un-named ‘insiders’ telling us that Tsvangirayi and the majority of his inner circle have agreed to take part in the GNU while his deputy, lawyer Tendai Biti is the deviant holding out for better offers from Mugabe. The whole piece is most probably a pack of lies dreamt up by ZANU PF propagandists such that when Tsvangirayi eventually comes out with his ‘no deal’ he will be accused of his usual dithering and pandering to the west.

The real problem Tsvangirayi faces is what can he sell to his supporters and what can he not sell to them? At a lunch today the black members of the group suggested that Tsvangirayi will lose any legitimacy he has with his supporters if he goes into the GNU while one white member of the group felt very strongly that Tsvangirai must accept the deal, warts and all.

The ‘budget’ and what it can and cannot deliver is now the key to the next step in our Zimbabwean saga. Chinamasa, who probably can’t multiply 2 x 2, ably assisted by the RBZ, is said to be coming up with a ‘new deal for the civil service’ where they will be paid in $US promissory notes that will be exchangeable for goods (and services?) at licenced US dollar trading outlets. Who will accept these fake notes, for that is what they will be? Will the civil servants accept them in good faith? If they do will the licensed traders, who have to import almost everything they sell using real US dollars or real SA Rand, readily accept them?

Not likely given the recent track record of the government and their promises of ‘more money for the worker’

And where and how are all these mythical US dollars going to appear from? Of interest perhaps is that my government pension was paid into my account on the 23rd of January and was paid in Zimbabwe dollars (what a surprise!) and has increased from 2.5 billion in December to 3.4 trillion in January. Today the street is trading at between 4 and 40 trillion to 1 US dollar!

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