Friday, 26 September 2014

Zimbabwe: The Good News - ZimAsset Bearing Fruits

By Bernard Bwoni

" Ideas build nations and ideas do not stem from negative mind sets.We have a great country, we own it and owe it to ourselves to preserve and protect it from the negative onslaught."

BEING negative is contagious and if not countered with that productive mind-set it spans with no bounds. It is disabling and when it festers the mind is unable to think beyond the paralysing enfold of the here and now. It takes over and permanently replaces positivity with pessimism. Under the gloomy cocoon of negativity, optimism and positivity are relegated to distant memories. Zimbabwe the country and Zimbabweans her people have gone through trying times of a magnitude unimaginable and, rightly so, the pessimistic eclipse prevails.

It is difficult if not impossible, sometimes, to think past pain and hunger. The freshness of the wounds inflicted by an economic crisis induced by sanctions overshadows optimism which is indefinitely tucked away under the misery, the sorrow, the commotion from the growling tummies and the painful outcomes of all combined. It would be insensitive and inhuman to judge those who went through the economic turmoil and casually prescribe positivity and optimism without genuinely acknowledging the devastating individual and collective experiences. The pessimism and negativity is an understandable short term reaction but when it roots itself into a state permanency then paralysis reigns.

Political failures are unwittingly demonising and destabilising their land
 of birth out of bitterness. It is a sad indictment of their mind-sets when
 they spend time scrawling the internet for negative stories
of their motherland.
The reality is that many in their questionable quest for 'democracy' have wittingly or unwittingly demonised and destabilised their land of birth and some are being encouraged into pointless marches onto the street. The false pessimism unashamedly camouflages the actual positives and prospects silently shaping up Zimbabwe. 

There are numerous positive developments taking place in Zimbabwe right now but more often than not it is the doom, the gloom and the disastrous that preoccupies the perennial party-poopers.

The recently concluded fiscally and ideologically important trip to China by President Robert Mugabe has been dampened and muffled by the constant choruses of doom. The signing of major investment deals between Zimbabwe and Russia including a $3 billion platinum project have all been negated and relegated to the periphery of economic relevance by the usual naysayers.

ZimAsset is anchored on four main clusters of Food Security and Nutrition, Value Addition and Beneficiation, Infrastructures and Utilities, and Social Services and Poverty Eradication. There are some initial signs of notable key indicators that things can potentially improve and a good example is in the Food Security and Nutrition cluster where a recent report indicated that the number of Zimbabweans requiring food aid is set to decline from 2,2 million to 565,000 next year owing to a resurgent agricultural sector which has seen maize production going over the 1.4 million metric tonnes which is enough for national self-sufficiency; as such imports will be mainly for stockpiling and reserves.

There was also another report that this coming season Zimbabwe is also headed for another successful agricultural season with the Presidential Well-Wishers Input Scheme for the 2014/15 season now set to cover all food crops. The agriculture sector has also been on the rebound following the contentious but necessary land reform programme. 

Tobacco production levels for 2014 are nearing the 236 million kilograms mark attained in the 1999/2000 season, a year before the land reform. Evolution and revolutions sometimes happen silently and the clusters of the economic blueprint have been steadily taking shape and silently taking off.

ZimAsset assigns responsibility of economic revival to Zimbabweans.
The two clusters, Food Security & Nutrition and Value Addition & Beneficiation are standing out. Over the past few months there have been a number of notable key indicators that things would potentially turn round the corner. 

There is also tangible evidence on the ground in the country which point to the Value Addition and Beneficiation cluster take off with a number of critical pro-Value Addition initiatives taking place nationally. The Diamond Processing Centre near Mount Hampden is nearing completion and these are some of the anchors of the revolutionary economic blueprint.

The $3 billion Zimbabwe-Russia Platinum deal is important in that there are, within the deal, provisions for the establishment of a refinery once full negotiations are complete. There are already plans and progress underway for another platinum refinery in Zimbabwe. This is a key development in terms of the economic blueprint as, currently, Zimbabwe is exporting raw platinum matte to be refined in South Africa which short-changes the country of revenue from platinum group metals that come as by-products of the refined matte.

 With value addition, precious metals such as diamonds and platinum will be processed and beneficiation will happen in Zimbabwe instead of exporting the raw product where the country loses out significantly. Value addition means our employment is not exported together with the raw matte but rather more jobs domestically.

With the Infrastructures and Utilities Cluster there are equally extensive and tangible initial signs of the intended outcomes of the economic blueprint. President Mugabe recently commissioned the $533 million Kariba Power project which will address the power challenges currently facing the country. The $2.1 billion Gwayi Power Project with potential to generate 600MW is also in the pipeline and preliminary work in progress. There is evidence on the ground of dualisation of the country's major highways with Harare-Bulawayo at an advanced stage, the Harare-Beitbridge, Plumtree-Mutare, the Harare-Mutare road and Airport road have taken shape, other road are taking shape and many others projects.

The stock market in any country is a strong determinant of the economy’s direction with a strong stock market pointing to earning estimates that are on the up and thus indicating that the overall economy is getting ready to grow. Similarly a down market may point to declining firm earnings and major issues with the overall economy. Indices on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) have continued to increase with market capitalisation also continuing to maintain growth since the beginning of 2014. The mining index has continued with impressive performance from June 2014 to date. The manufacturing index has not performed as impressively as the mining.

The country has remained receptive to positive engagement with all development partners. Although the strength of formal or payroll employment remains weak as an indicator there is an urgent need to harness the strength of the informal sector employment. Zimbabwe has made inroads in information and technology assimilation with a 100% mobile penetration according to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz). Zimbabwe has in excess of 13.5 million mobile phone subscribers. With a population of 13.4 million people that translate to every individual in the country having access to mobile phone communication.

Again, Zimbabwe is also ranked top of the literacy rate on the continent and that points to the progressive policies of the government. The European Council on Tourism and Trade (ECTT) recently awarded Zimbabwe the 2014 World Best Tourism Destination describing the country as 'a safe, open and perfect tourist destination'.

"To be negative about oneself is an inbuilt fear of own potential. Vultures often prey on that fear to permanently stifle that potential and the possibilities."

The list of positive things happening in Zimbabwe is endless, but these always and often get buried under that veil of negativity. Ideas build nations and ideas do not stem from negative mind sets. We have a great country, we own it and owe it to ourselves to preserve and protect it from the negative onslaught. To be negative about oneself is an inbuilt fear of own potential. Vultures often prey on that fear to permanently stifle that potential and the possibilities.

There are no boundaries to the possibilities that Zimbabwe has to offer her citizens and the opportunities are being presented without limits. Now is not the time for the so-called 'moderates' to champion the vultures' cause but to embrace these endless possibilities. The only way for Zimbabwe is up and you cannot help but notice. Now is the time to take a break from the usual doom and gloom and highlight the positives.

Learn more about  ZimAsset from the ZANU PF UK website.


Bernard Bwoni is the ZANU PF UK Deputy Secretary for Admin. 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

These Power Games are not Amusing to the People

By Nick Mangwana

Our constitution is very clear on one thing; bringing the Party into disrepute is a disciplinary offence. How many people including those in top leadership can look at themselves in the mirror without embarrassment at what they see? We have witnessed comrades calling Press Conferences with the sole purpose of denigrating each other and our stomachs have turned.  We keep calling each other “comrades”. Where is the camaraderie in all this? 

For we know the camaraderie is defined as, “a spirit of friendship and loyalty among members of a group.” For me the operative word is “loyalty”. We are bringing the Party into disrepute cdes. We cannot fill acres and acres of space in print and electronic media with attacks and counter attacks on each other. It is counter-revolutionary. We are a revolutionary party.

Is Zanu PF imploding? Hell, no! Water will always find its level no matter what the container. So things will level off in our Revolutionary Party at some point. We just don’t believe the people have the patience to tarry for that day while we feud and argue ad infinitum.  History is littered with revolutions that ate their children. We know ours will not be one of those. But it has to take us re-configuring our compasses and re-calibrating our priorities. 

ZANU PF is the People's Choice and will not implode. Water will
always find its level no matter what the container
There was an editorial in the Herald a few weeks ago. One of the key questions asked was whether people had forgotten what happened to UNIP and Malawi Congress Party. This was a key question and one really on point. We should never be complacent and forget that we can experience such a fate as a party if we take people for granted. 2008 was a wake- up call. And in 2013 we heeded the call but having suffered the humiliation of serving with the very limited and out of depth Tsvangirayi.  

In Zimbabwe there is a dead and token opposition- nothing to
scream home to mama about
A Party can lose power because it’s no longer fashionable. But more importantly a Party can lose power because it has become detached from the people. We hope we will never lose sight of that.  In Zimbabwe there is token opposition now. Nothing to scream home to mama about. Have we decided now to fill this void left by the opposition through finding our own opposition from within? Whilst that might help with a robust debate in the Party, is it not self-defeating? Zanu PF is a party that attained unparalleled success on the backs of ordinary people and the peasantry folks. If we have a totem pole then these are the very ones who have to be at the top of it. We need to prioritise the welfare of the common folks. 

Since Zim Asset was launched in October 2013 we have had 3 Conferences. The 14th People’s Conference in Chinhoyi themed “ZIM ASSET: Growing the Economy for Empowerment and Employment”.  The Youth Conference in August 2014 themed, “ZIM-ASSET: Growing the Economy for Youth Empowerment and Employment”, and the 6th Women’s Conference was also Zim Asset themed. But this seems to be the only time that we really talk about Zim Asset. Even during the conference itself the reportage is dominated by power games. Our resolutions are hardly Zim Asset themed. The intelligently crafted People’s blue print is under siege. We don’t seem concerned to defend it. Is it that we don’t believe it is worth defending or is it that we believe a good policy can defend itself. That would be wrong on both accounts. 

A day after we won the election there was a capital flight from the country. Before we even uttered a word in policy formulation the liquidity challenges had already started crunching. Economic sabotage? Of course! Smart Sanctions? Oh yeah. But at the heart of all this is the management of perception.  We are not na├»ve to believe that substance will ever prevail over perception! It doesn’t work like that. Perception will always prevail over substance but the combination of both is lethal for us.  Zim Asset is being maligned left, right and centre. What we presented as the hope of the people has been turned into a curse acronym. Jokes and gags have been composed on it. And all we can talk about is “faction this, faction that”.  Our people, do they eat factions? Do they even care about factions? 

Conferences come and go. From there what happens to the resolutions? We go back to our power games and forget about the people. Or maybe we don’t because we need the people to use as pawns in our power games! The President was asked on the eve of the election whether when elected he will serve a full term. His response was that he will not cheat the people. He said that if we elected him, he will fulfil our mandate. Well cdes, he was retained. The term has just completed its first year. We still have 4 years to go. Four years in which to deliver our promises.  One year is already gone and we have to stir the ship back on course. A bit of focus back on Zim Asset would help. 

To some these power games might be amusing. To the media they may be fascinating. But to the people, the real Zimbabwean women and children whose only hope is this Party; there is nothing amusing about these power games.  

For there is nothing amusing about being hungry, being penniless and have your children look at you with hollow but desperate eyes and yet you can’t deliver. You turn around and think. Who shall help me bring hope to my progeny? They look up to the Party.   No, they don’t find it amusing at all.


Nick Mangwana is the chairman of the ZANU PF UK Chapter