Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Will there, won’t there be an election early next year?

The media is awash with stories about the forthcoming election. Mugabe started it all by announcing that he was ‘sick and tired’ of the GNU and he wants an election sooner rather than later, with or without a new constitution. Is he politicking? Yes, of course. He’s testing the water. He’s testing the ZANU PF water and the MDC water to see how they respond to this initiative.

This weekend we heard that Mnangagwa, the erstwhile sometimes quoted to be ‘next ZANU PF president’ tells his audience that ‘we will not allow the MDC to win an election’. He bases this on the idea that to do so would be to negate the work of the freedom fighters who won independence in 1980 and who wanted to see a rich and successful Zimbabwe. In short, he is saying that if the MDC win, then there will be a coup of some kind.

I took an on-line read of the Zimbabwean newspaper published daily in the UK. Published there because it cannot be published here, although frequently I have seen it being sold on the streets of Harare. They have several stories of speculative interest. The first is that the police have been instructed that the 4th of December is the day when fresh violence will be directed at MDC supporters and that they will not, under any circumstances, investigate these incidents when they occur. A second is that ZANU PF is targeting the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti of the MDC, and will soon accuse him of corruption and theft of monies from the national exchequer. He will then be arrested and incarcerated until shortly before the elections when he will be released for lack of evidence. This will ensure that the MDC is pre-occupied with his arrest and detention and efforts to secure his release, in similar circumstances to the arrests some years ago of Morgan Tsvangirayi for ‘Treason’.

Hmmmm! It will be interesting to see whether these forecasts have any substance. But they do sound so typical of ZANU PF election strategy.

Golden Parachutes Zimbabwe Style

For several years I have watched in amazement as Zimbabwean Chief Executives of under-performing companies are sent off into the sunset with magnificent ‘packages’. This week we have the best of them all. Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has been under-performing for years. In truth, ZESA has been responsible for a large slice of the collapsed economy through its inability to provide power to agriculture, commerce and industry. Gold and Asbestos mines have closed due to flooding due to lack of power to pump out water from the workings; factories have closed due to lack of power to run machinery. Irrigated crops have not been grown because of the inability to pump water. And ordinary homes are subject to load shedding of mammoth proportions. In 1994 ZESA employed 2,500 people. By 2010 they were employing 8,500 people. Preventive maintenance that used to be done in the old (Rhodesia) days does not happen anymore. A short ride, walk or drive around the suburbs will reveal hundreds of trees infringing on the power lines. Close to where I Iive there are power lines dragging on the ground that have been that way for as long as I can remember. Business has had to invest in emergency generating capacity, import millions of litres of petrol and diesel to run them. When I asked John Robertson, the economist, how much had been spent on ‘emergency’ power supplies his response was ‘enough to build another power station’.

So with this kind of history, it is natural to blame the Chief Executive. I mean who else is responsible? This week the CEO of ZESA was awarded a $2 million exit package for his contribution to the nation! That’s 14 million Rand. There are few pople working in ZESA who will earn that kind of money in a lifetime. And where’s the money coming from? Where else but the consumer. It is not right – it is evil.