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Home | ZimCrisis#97 -- Work in Progress -- Eddie Cross, July 18th

Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000 13:28:24 -0700
To: "Zimbabwe Crisis Mailing List":;
From: Zimbabwe Crisis
Subject: ZimCrisis#97 -- Work in Progress -- Eddie Cross, July 18th

I am a bit late this week with my normal review but I have been in the south of the country looking after business interests. On the way I caught a severe head cold which has kept me out of circulation for a couple of days. The only real news this past week was the eventual announcement of the new cabinet ­ it is an interesting line up with some notable exceptions and some gains. The new Ministers of Finance, Industry and Agriculture are all sound technocrats, the new Minister of Mines is not ­ an amazing development when you think of our potential as a mining country.

I was sorry to see Eddison Zvobgo go into retirement ­ in my view he would have been a good choice as Minister of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and in effect the Leader of the House. Instead they appointed Patrick Chinamassa ­ the present Attorney General who has been less than effective in that role but has been a loyal doormat for the President. Zvobgo has always been the main threat to Mugabe’s hold over Zanu PF and I think he will continue to be dangerous on the back benches.

There are three priorities ­ restoring the rule of law, turning the economy around and

resolve the conflict over land. The last is linked to the first and cannot be done until you have first restored respect for the law throughout the country. The actual position of the farmers has become impossible. They are the subject of random threats and are being forced to abandon their assets in the face of threats from a nondescript group of thugs who seem to be able to ignore all the norms of a society based on the rule of law. On Sunday my driver was at home in a rural district with his family when the local "war vets" came door to door inviting them to come with them to "get land". He caught a bus to Chinhoyi and left town as soon as possible to avoid giving the impression he was less than enthusiastic about "getting a farm". This is anarchy not land reform. There is no sign that government is about to change its ways ­ they are still holding the value of the dollar at an artificially high rate, still threatening price controls and ignoring all calls to get the budget deficit under some control. They also continue to talk about the Millennium Economic Recovery Plan as if it held some credibility ­ if it had any 5 months ago it has none today.

So where does this leave us? I got a copy of the Mining Mirror magazine from South Africa at the weekend and being restricted to bed read it from cover to cover. It was a very interesting read. Bobby Godsell, a South African financial guru said in the magazine that South Africa’s economy has never been better managed and he sited the following: - "On the economic front, inflation is well controlled, government deficits are being managed down, trade barriers have been rapidly reduced, tax rates are being lowered, exchange controls are being phased out and economic growth is stronger than it has been for decades." He went on to state that "the rule of law, government under the law, and as a constitutional state are well established." Elsewhere in the magazine you learn that the diamond industry is to be doubled in size in Botswana and that De Beers are expanding their investments in Venitia Mine ­ some 5 kilometers from the border with Zimbabwe and opposite a defunct diamond mine on the Zimbabwe side of the border. On the BBC this morning we heard that of all the States in Central and East Africa, only Uganda has hit its targets and qualifies for debt relief.

Now compare Godsells analysis with the situation in Zimbabwe ­ inflation is soaring to levels that could go over 100 per cent per annum within the next twelve months, the government deficit is over 20 per cent of GDP and still rising. Tax levels are rising ­ driven by rapid inflation and the absence of any management. The Zimbabwe dollar is trading at half the value it is now valued at by the market and our economy is likely to shrink this year by 10 to 15 per cent in real terms. 20 years ago we had a higher income per capita than Botswana ­ now their GDP per capita is some 5 times the per capita income of Zimbabwe and the gap is widening monthly.

The only comment on the Zimbabwean situation in the Magazine was a remark by the editor that "lets hope that the Zimbabwe land invasions controversy does not damage the upsurge in investor interest and dampen the growth shown recently by the SA mining industry." We are liability in the regional balance sheet and the reckless pursuit of the ambitions of one man and his close associates continues to harm not only our own prospects but also those of the whole region. Here, with the exception of the Congo, Angola and perhaps little Malawi, regional countries are all on the path to growth and recovery.

Yet when you compare us to the rest ­ we still have the best prospects of all regional states in southern Africa for growth and development. A highly educated work force, a rich resource base and strategic role in the regional economy from a transport and tourism angle. Despite all the problems of agriculture in Zimbabwe it is an industry that has grown consistently since independence in 1980, our tourism potential is huge, the mining industry is highly diversified and has great potential, industry and commerce all have potential ­ especially when viewed against the new trade opportunities that are opening up. The service industries of health, education, technical and communications are just beginning to show their potential.

So what is wrong with us ­ well we all know that, but what to do about it? I think that has been decided because Mr Mugabe knows now that he is basically finished. It may take 3 months or 20 but he will go soon and then we can start putting all our potential to work at solving a few of our national problems and not just those of a small outdated clique of Zanu PF relics who think that their welfare is synonymous with that of the national as a whole. The eventual coming to power of the MDC promises a completely new form of post independence government in Africa ­ one that could bring a new generation into power and a chance to show what they are made of. A team that really does believe in a market driven social democracy, that at last puts the country before itself. In the mean time, regard us as being "work in progress" ­ messy, but keep your eye on the eventual shape of the project we are building together.

Eddie Cross
18th July 2000

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Brief list of helpful sites on the issue:
- Zimbabwe Crisis mailing list archives -- http://www.niner.net/zimcrisis
- Comprehensive news updates -- http://www.1freespace.com/beetee
- Offers of and requests for help for Zimbabweans -- http://pub9.ezboard.com/boffersofhelp
- Commercial Farmers' Union -- http://www.mweb.co.zw/cfu
- Movement for Democratic Change -- http://www.in2zw.com/mdc
- Zimbabwe Democracy Trust -- http://www.zimbabwedemocracytrust.org
- BSAP Pursuit of Zimbabwean Criminals -- http://www.bsaphq.f9.co.uk