Ag shame! On the 6th of July I came across a shockingly screaming newspaper headline ED creates 60 000 jobs, I was in the sprawling border town of Beitbridge.
By Ishemunyoro Mupokosera
Being one not to quickly believe or write off assertions without subjecting them to empirical verification, I approached a group of six airtime vendors plying their trade just outside the service station from which I had come across the periodical.
Upon enquiring on whether any of them knew of anyone who got employed ever since the ascendance of President Emmerson Mnangagwa (ED) to power in November last year, the answer was a resounding “no”. I then suggested to them that the news headline was thus a big lie, to which one of them objected.
Instead, he advised, ED’s government had conducted a census of the airtime vendors countrywide and published it. Laughter followed his suggestion, then a quick silence. I then concurred with his humorous suggestion, but then went on to ask whether any of them had commenced vending airtime in or after November of which the response was negative, as all of them had been in the trade for some years now. Conclusion, no jobs whatsoever created by ED!
Such are typical lies Zanu PF has churned out every election season since the infamous former President Robert Mugabe promised to ferry manure with helicopters for the Masvingo folks. Recently, ED was at his best again, claiming that he was failing to meet the demand for his pair of scissors to cut ribbons officially opening new companies. Then he was officiating at the opening of the Pepsi plant in Harare. But where else has he been invited to commission any other new business venture? By the way, was the Pepsi venture launched during his tenure? Were the 60 000 jobs created at Pepsi alone?
Remember, ED came to power with the zeal of a toddler that has just discovered how to walk, promising heaven and earth within his first 100 days in office. Alas, problems cannot be solved with the same level of awareness that created them, Albert Einstein famously advised. The man ED has been in cahoots with his predecessor for about half a century, thus he is just a Mugabe-lite.
Some 200 days into his tenure as coup leader, bank queues have become longer, crooks still call the shots in his government, companies are closing shop and the macro-economic policy regime is still as murky as before!
Ever heard of a company called Karo Resources (Pty) Ltd investing in platinum in Ngezi and creating a whopping 90 000 jobs? Yes, hitherto from serene and credible Mines minister Winston Chitando. But having joined Zanu PF, Chitando could have, to all intents and purposes, lost all his dignity. Coincidentally, I had already read about the Pouroulis family-led company’s intention to sink a $4,2 billion investment in Zimbabwe in the Mining Weekly (8-14 June). Their present handicap is that they, like any other investor, are waiting for the holding of free and fair polls before they can invest in the country. Their assessment of the prospects of free and fair elections is dim, as ED has acceded to only one of the 10 demands made by the opposition. As for the 90 000 jobs, the Mining Weekly fell short of providing any such estimates.
Similar deceit and dissimulation underlie ED’s claim that Zimbabwe is open for business with hotels always full to the brim, with investors seeking audience with him. Yet, the British investor, Kenneth Vincent Grant-Coker, who intended to sink a $100 billion investment in the country, was driven like a reveller after a Bacchanalian orgy by the country’s immigration authorities on flimsy grounds that he had overstayed.
His own version of the story is that he refused to pay a bribe demanded by one top Zanu PF official and Cabinet minister (name supplied). Reminscent of the Mugabe-era, Zimbabwe is still open for shoddy deals. As for those foreigners filling our hotels as claimed by ED, my guess is that they are either mainly bona fide tourists enjoying the country’s sunshine or they are undercover journalists trying to further understand the Croc.
The scourge of corruption, the man promised to come down heavily on known crooks like a tonne of timber. Result, very hot air indeed! The promise to cage land barons has not materialised either.
The opaque macro-economic policy regime that spooked investors during the Mugabe era continues unabated despite claims to the contrary by the ED regime. It claims to have scrapped the 51% requirement on foreign-held investments, but concurrently maintaining the 51% requirement on gold and diamond mining ventures.
But why? Because ED has gold mining claims in Kwekwe, we hear. Top Zanu PF and government officials reportedly have interests in diamonds in Chiadzwa, we are informed and gold mining deals with some Chinese in Makaha, Mudzi where I am standing as the MDC Alliance’s parliamentary candidate.
ED claims that a total of $16 billion worth of investments has reached our borders since last November. His lieutenants assert that only half of that has, in fact, been invested. Whom then do we believe and where is the proof of such investments?
After trying in vain to reign in cash shortages, we heard some loud noises of threats to arrest forex dealers from one Patrick from Headlands. As usual, the noise fizzled out and the dealers still rule the roost. Reserve Bank governor John Mangudya also responded by banning banks from dealing with Golix the country’s sole Bitcoin trader, effectively sealing the fate of the company that has since relocated to safer trading destinations on the continent namely Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa.
As if failing to understand the economic matrices, Mangudya has commissioned research into block chain technology the same which underlies Bitcoin and other coin offerings. It’s worrying. We are quite accustomed to State Commissions; from the Nziramasanga Commission on education to the Sandura Commission on the Willowgate scandal, and the Chidyausiku Commission into the rampant abuse of the War Victims Compensation Fund, the bottom line being nothing done afterwards.
With fraud prevention and detecting mechanisms such as the triple-ledger as by-products of block chain technology, I wonder whether the current regime would be keen on adopting it.
Not to be outdone, the bespectacled Higher and Tertiary Education minister, Amon Murwira, was recently beaming with confidence flanking Mnangagwa, claiming the nation was about to set up innovation hubs at local universities, a buzzword from countries with functional economies where companies fund such projects.
One wonders whether the country’s two remaining adults in the room, namely Delta Corporation and Econet Wireless, will be in a position to fund this programme. With the banks unable to provide funding for start-up ventures, technological ventures such as Golix would have helped fill that void. Most probably the result will be the incubation of such innovation hubs and the graduates of such join the queue to sell airtime on the roadside.
The State media has been waxing lyrical about Mnangagwa promising more jobs, with stories claiming a project in Betbridge will create thousands of jobs and yet more jobs will come from among other areas like the Kunzvi Dam in Goromonzi which I last heard of in 2005 from former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, using it as election bait again.
Citizens have been told that a hacker got into the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s database and stole the data of registered voters. The question is how then did such information end up in the hands of Zanu PF and why use ill-gotten information to further the party’s own strategies? Truth known to me is that the country’s cyberspace is quite porous and committing such acts is quite simple since it has the highest number of unprotected internet protocols. With dudes from the olden days heading initiatives at the ICT and Cyber Security and Media Information and Broadcasting Services ministries, what more could one expect?
The list is endless, but I hope the electorate is watching. The man who runs behind a car will get exhausted, but a man who runs in front of it gets tired, once said Confucius.
Its better run in front of the Zanu PF car of lies, get tired and as the Shona adage goes, the forest provides for the one who is tired, for once vote for the MDC Alliance come 30 July.
Ishemunyoro Mupokosera is an MDC Alliance candidate for Mudzi South constituency. He writes in his own capacity