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Archive for the 'Shortages and Inflation' Category

Survey reveals the political and economic state of Zimbabwe

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Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 by Lenard Kamwendo

As the nation gears up for a constitutional referendum, approximately seven in every ten people claim to have heard about the COPA process and 59% claim to be aware of the draft Constitution of Zimbabwe published in July 2012. The figure drops to 30% of adult Zimbabweans reported to have heard about the Second National All-Stakeholders’ Conference.

The Mass Public Opinion Institute revealed these results yesterday at a dissemination meeting on the State of the Economy and People’s Survival Strategies survey. The survey covered the period from 2009 to 2012 and had a national sample size of 1200 randomly selected participants, above 18 years of age.

Politics still dominate the economic turn-around of the country. The survey revealed that 16% of people interviewed think the Inclusive Government should seek external aid and create a more conducive environment for investment. According to public opinion, state organs and institutions were performing badly regarding the Global Peace Agreement. A majority (57%) of the respondents were not in favour of increasing the term of office for the Inclusive Government. The survey data shows the general impression that Zimbabweans will vote YES in the referendum but a substantial proportion said they do not know how they will vote since some claim not to have ever heard about the draft Constitution and the COPAC process.

Perceptions on the death penalty in Zimbabwe show a contrasting view to that published in the COPAC report. The MPOI survey shows 53 % of people interviewed to be in support of the abolishment of the death penalty. The support mainly came from female respondents.

On the issue of national elections this year, Zimbabweans of voting age feel the nation is ready to hold the election. Only a small portion (25%) disagrees as compared to 68% who are in favor of elections this year. Much emphasis on the need to engage international observers from SADC, EU and UN was suggested to ensure free and fair elections. The survey projected a closely fought race between ZANU PF and MDC-T with the latter still commanding a large support base in urban areas, especially among the male electorate.

On the economic state of the nation, 58% of the people interviewed felt that availability of consumer goods had become better over a period of one year but 59% of the urban respondents lamented the worsening employment crisis. The multi-currency system adopted by the nation continues to receive nationwide support with 68% supporting the dollarization of the economy.

The survey also noted high incidences of poverty as 61% of Zimbabweans indicated that they have sometimes gone without clean water, 62% say that they have not had enough to eat, and 70% lacking adequate medicine.

The source of income for many Zimbabweans is still agriculture with a few depending on a regular salary. Others have engaged in income generating activities like cross border trading.

Colourful, useless notes: Zimbabwe 2009

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Monday, February 11th, 2013 by Bev Clark

Zimbabwean banknotes 2009

Via blackcontemporaryart.com

Zimbabwe is not a personal tuck-shop for MPs

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Friday, February 8th, 2013 by Bev Clark

Committee of the Peoples Charter (CPC) Press Statement on Proposed Government Exit Packages:

‘Say No to the Inclusive Government’s Politics of the Belly’

Issue Date: February 08 2013

The Committee of the Peoples Charter (CPC) is gravely disappointed with the departure lounge intentions of the inclusive government’s ministers and the current Parliament to award themselves ‘exit’ packages in the form of luxury vehicles and houses, as reported in the February 8-14 edition of the Zimbabwe Independent. Such an intention is grossly hypocritical as well as thoroughly unjustified and undeserved.

In a year where the country is facing a major drought as well as deplorable social services where there is lack of clean drinking water, affordable health care and a crisis in our education system, awarding these policy makers these ridiculous exit packages would be the height of political insensitivity.

These leaders would do well to be reminded that being in government is a service to the people of Zimbabwe and not a mechanism through which they must seek to enrich themselves.  Unfortunately this latest intention is only but the latest indication of the warped thinking that informs the inclusive government where and when it comes to matters of allowances and perks for its officials.

Against better advice, the inclusive government has over the last four years had a ridiculously high foreign travel bill, a penchant for purchasing luxury vehicles for ministers and their deputies while simultaneously claiming that the country has a mere US$217,00 in its bank account. That MPs and ministers now want ‘exit packages’  is akin to severance packages in a country where unemployment is reportedly as high as 80%, can only be viewed as a demonstration of utter contempt for the suffering of the ordinary people.

The CPC strongly advises the inclusive government and parliament to show contrition and sensitivity to the people that elected them into office by not seeking to loot the national purse for personal aggrandizement.

Zimbabwe is neither their personal tuck-shop nor theirs to treat as an ‘endgame takes all you can’ country.  Where the inclusive government decides to proceed with dishing out exit packages to itself, the CPC shall mobilize all Zimbabweans against such extravagance.

Where’s the water? Stories from Bulawayo

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Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 by Bev Clark

Mary Banda (aged 80) came to Zimbabwe in the 1960s from Malawi for ‘greener pastures’ with her now deceased husband. She is one of those old sweethearts who wax lyrical about the “good old days,” only too happy to reminisce about “how things were better when we were growing up,” a life story she gladly tells anyone who will listen. She says they had five children but all are deceased and she is left with grandchildren and great grandchildren all of whom live elsewhere. She stays with lodgers, and since she cannot go to the borehole by herself she has to rely on their benevolence for water. “But they also have their own needs,” she says referring to her tenants who have a young child. When water “finally arrives” she tries to stock up. She is old school and knows Zimbabwe like the back of her hand. She says she is disturbed by the water problems and “someone must have done something for the rains to have disappeared in the country.”

Simba Dube (aged 36) is a vendor at Machipisa shopping centre. There is a public toilet just behind his stall where he and a number of women sell vegetables. The toilet hasn’t been functioning for years now and is under lock and key. But he says that this has not stopped folks from shitting on the toilet’s doorstep. It is symbolic perhaps: the logic seems to be, “this is a public toilet and we will shit here even if it is locked!” There are a number of public toilets in the suburb but Dube says none are functioning. The story is the same everywhere: they are all littered with faecal matter outside their entrances. It is worse for the vendors, he says, as the convenience of a public toilet is no longer there and he has to rush home every time he wants to answer the call of nature. “It has now become like a landline (telephone). I can only answer the phone at home and nowhere else,” he quips.

Zenzo Moyo (aged 33) is a kombi driver in Bulawayo CBD. His kombi rank is at TM hyper, one of Bulawayo’s busiest commuter omnibus ranks. Drivers, touts and commuters previously used the public toilets at TM Hyper but now, because of the water shortages, the loos are under lock and key. What is now available are pay toilets, at R5 per visit. “That’s money I cannot afford,” Moyo says. “It means my tout also has to dip into the day’s takings to use the toilet and there is no telling how many times one may want to use the loo,” he says matter-of-factly. Typical of these chaps known for all sorts of adventures and misadventures, they have turned alleyways into latrines, creating an odour the Devil would be proud of. “What do they (the municipality) expect us to do? Paying to use a toilet for me is like paying to drink water,” he says, expressing a common sentiment.

Jairos Ngwenya (aged 29) is a cleaner at a cocktail bar. Folks never seem to run out of cash, they have money to burn as they patronise the joint everyday of the week and business is brisk. But this comes at a price for Ngwenya. No running water for days on end means the pub is also affected, and the laws of necessity have meant even without running water, the pub still remains open. Just because there isn’t any water doesn’t mean the patrons don’t shit, and Ngwenya knows this painful truth is a part of the job. “It’s a tough call anyway, expecting tipplers not to piss or shit,” he says rather grudgingly. He has even found human waste on urinals after some drunk defecated where others piss. “I wonder what time they do this,” Ngwenya muses. I jokingly suggest that maybe one patron stands guard by the door to stop others from entering while his friend shits by the urinals? He laughs: “That’s possible.”

Marko Phiri and Chumile Jamela writing for Kubatana.net

More stories, and photographs here

A curse of drought and elections in March

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Tuesday, November 27th, 2012 by Lenard Kamwendo

As the summer of 2012 continues to be windy and dry almost everyone is now wondering what the Gods have in store for Zimbabwe this season. In the midst of jostling for political power and dishing out of farm inputs not much attention is being given to the weather patterns. The Meteorological Department Services recently indicated that the country is likely to face yet another dry season characterized by erratic rains. These predictions are slowly proving to be true as we are almost reaching midway of the summer season and very little rainfall has been recorded countrywide. March 2013 has been set as the month for holding the next elections in Zimbabwe. March is a month familiar with elections. During the month of March in 2008 the country experience food shortages, violence and hyperinflation. Elections in Zimbabwe bring nightmares to many, even worse when the rains have been erratic. Election fear and hunger will characterize the 2013 ballot. My spiritual fear leads me to think that maybe drought is a curse bestowed on elections in this country.

Insurance companies, banks in Zimbabwe must pay up

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Monday, November 12th, 2012 by Lenard Kamwendo

Imagine making monthly pension contributions for six years and when you try to claim your pension from your insurance company you get a $20 bill on the spot as a once off payment. I was reading with great concern an article published in The Herald of 9 November 2012 on the feud between pensioners and insurance companies. Pensioners in Zimbabwe continue to suffer in silence as insurance companies reap big. The economic meltdown orchestrated by the hyperinflation environment of the 2008 era gave insurance companies some reasons to get away with it. To say that contributions were wiped out by inflation without considering value of the policies pre-inflation era somehow is tantamount to day light robbery. Some of these insurance companies invested in immovable assets, which appreciate in value and for the record, these insurance companies’ own most commercial buildings in city centers and they charge exorbitant rentals.

The paltry payments are not even enough to foot the transport bill for an ordinary person traveling from Gwanda to Harare, where most of these insurance companies are located, to make a claim. With no source of income, and having reached retirement age, most pensioners are left with no option but to accept the peanuts on offer from the insurance companies. This daylight robbery also left depositors penniless when banks failed to account for depositors’ money after Zimbabwe began using the American dollar; up to now it’s still a blame game between commercial banks and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.