2014: the year of no hope for Zimbabwe

In her end of year speech in 1992 Queen Elizabeth the Second described that year thus “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis’. I suspect that I am not alone in thinking so indeed.” Equally, Zimbabweans could be forgiven for thinking along the same lines about this preceding year.

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By Kenneth Nyoka

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Events, man-made, contrived and otherwise have conspired to deliver one of the worst years of the past decade both economically and politically. On the political dynamic, people were naively optimistic that after the respite provided by the short lived GNU there was going to be a change of the guard after the July elections and that this would usher a new era of foreign investment and new opportunities.

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This illusion was shattered when Zanu-PF “won” the election with a stunning majority amongst protestations of widespread rigging. There has never been conclusive proof tendered to buttress this allegation but the court of public opinion is unanimous that a shadowy Israeli company called Nikuv was instrumental in this rigging project.

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Expectant people were traumatised by this result that they went into default mode. It is akin to a bereavement where people go through the initial stage of denial and then acceptance and finally resignation. People were walking around as if they had been bereaved after the elections because they knew what was coming for another few years of the same regime that had reduced the country to a basket case in the last three decades.

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So as time went by, the old familiar faces were sworn in back into Government, the same dead wood recycled over and over again. This same old coterie which had brought the country to its knees were now back in Government. This time they were going it alone and the stunned opposition were telling them that they could rig the elections but not the economy. To an extent they have been proved right.

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The economy is now teetering on the edge because there is no money in the country. Companies are shutting down on a weekly basis throwing thousands of young men into the ranks of the unemployed.

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The country is not producing goods and services for both local and export markets which means that the country is not generating new money. Of that little currency circulating, most of it is spent on food and energy imports and this leaves very little for infrastructural repairs and development and other key sectors like health and education. As a result we have a decrepit health delivery system and a crumbling infrastructure which is really a relic of the colonial days. Some of our public buildings and hospitals

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Christmas bonuses have all but dried up, and the finance minister told the nation back in November’s budget that up to 4,600 companies had closed down since the Zanu-PF victory of 2013, with the loss of 60,000 jobs.

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Civil servants, the bedrock of the working force, find their salaries unable to meet the cost of living and there is a government scramble each month to pay them at all.

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The Grain Marketing Board, responsible for feeding the nation, is to ask its 3,600 employees to go on compulsory fortnightly unpaid leave each month starting in January 2015.

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It has not paid its workers for the past four months and owes farmers who delivered grain a year ago some m (£23.6m).

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The Harare City Council made some of its executives redundant last month because they could no longer meet the high salaries, but paid several of them up to 0,000 each in golden handshakes.

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These are disheartening figures in the season of good cheer, and it shows in the faces of the crowds milling around the rain-soaked shopping centres with half-empty shopping baskets containing only the basics.

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were built during the Smith regime and are no longer fit for purpose. The same goes for our local government infrastructure in the Cities – sewerage and water reticulation systems have reached the dead-end. Recent flooding in the Harare CBD is a good illustration of the inadequacy of these colonial relics to meet present day demands. Roads in most areas are in a terrible state and there is simply no money to refurbish them.

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Government is spending above 90% of capital on paying wages for a bloated civil service which delivers nothing but bureaucracy and corruption. Above this, our priorities seem to be hopelessly skewed in the wrong direction as we seem to always seek to purchase expensive vehicles for senior civil servants and heads of parastatals when there is no money for essential services.

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Foreign investors are not exactly stampeding to invest in our country, a legacy of the chaotic land reform process which has undermined property rights. Whilst the nobleness of addressing land imbalances was never doubted the manner and modality of the whole process did not inspire a lot of confidence in potential investors to come forward. The Look East Policy has yielded only dribs and drabs with the other side seemingly gaining more than us the original owner of the resources. There is reasonable suspicion that our Eastern friends have spirited away a large chunk of our diamonds to the extent that nothing much is being said about Marange now.

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The political arena has been dominated by Congresses held by the main political parties where major rivalries where played out in public resulting in the fracturing of the MDC-T into two separate parties amongst much recrimination and name calling. Some of the rhetoric of the so called leaders fell below the standards expected of national leaders and consequently some have lost the respect of their electorate. The same opposition has not covered themselves in glory as it has been revealed that they received money from Government in respect of the Political Parties grants but never informed their members of this development, instead choosing to share it amongst themselves Nicodemously with the Renewals.

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The dramatic rise of the First Lady and the fall of former VP Joice Mujuru and her subsequent sacking from Government have dominated headlines in the last few months of the year. She was sacked from Government with a host of Ministers and officials who were deemed to be sympathetic to her as she was accused of trying to topple the Dear Leader himself as well as being incompetent at her job and being corrupt. The allegations of sleaze have drawn a great deal of incredulity from the generality as this can be levelled against anyone who has been in Government in the last couple of years. The veracity of those claims has been doubted by many who see the real author of these spurious allegations as the First Lady herself. Her ambitions are the subject of wild speculation (Perhaps she is eyeing the ultimate post herself, they say).

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So we end the year with two new Vice Presidents and possibly a reshuffled cabinet of the same old dead wood (which will possibly include Dr Amai) who have not got a clue how to extricate the country from its current mire. We also end the year with strange bond coins which no one want to use. What is certain is the huge amount of recent University Graduates are going to end up on the scrap heap, selling air time on the street sides or perhaps joining the trek down south(To South Africa).I don’t think you can blame them when we have a government that pays its Drs US 250 a month.
\nAs for the rest of the people it is indeed suffer continua.

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Kenneth Nyoka is a former Public Prosecutor and Magistrate in Zimbabwe. He is at kknyoka@yahoo.co.uk