Zimbabwe proved to the world many years ago that the bottom of the barrel was a lot further down than anyone had every expected. The age old saying “It can’t get any worse”, was put to shame daily as Zimbabwe’s economy spiralled into free fall and inflation reached a staggering painful plateau in September last year. However since the formation of the GNU, the world have watched as Zimbabwe struggles to bring itself back from the brink, and slowly but surely we begin to see the signs of recovery and rebirth of a lot of the fundamental structures of a thriving and successful economy. Admittedly Zimbabwe is nowhere near what you could consider as a thriving economy, but there are little signs that escape from the beleaguered African country that give you hope that maybe, just maybe with a little help from abroad, we can kick start the economy back into the black zone. In a sign of economic recovery in Zimbabwe, share trade has surged to 1,3-million a day from 50 000 a day in March, signalling a return of foreign investors to a country still reeling from economic meltdown and political strife. Small progress, but progress none the less.
Brokerage Renaissance Capital says the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange is sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest by trading value. I was astounded to learn this. The country is on its knees and in the worst kind of economic crisis of a country not at war. Zimbabwe has set its own world records in inflationary percentage, free fall economy and length of time it took to destroy a vibrant and flourishing state, without firing a single shot. However it is still the third biggest trader on the Sub-Saharan stock exchange. Well put that in your pipe and smoke it Bill Gates. I think that is remarkable fact and while admittedly I shudder to think at the back of my mind if Zimbabwe in its abysmal state is the third largest trader, what condition must the rest of the countries in the region be like, and they don’t even live under a tyrant like Mugabe.
In his brilliance, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono ordered the house shut down in November, accusing some traders of fraud as President Robert Mugabe blamed pressure from western countries for pushing the economy towards collapse. Anyone living in the West is now well accustomed to being blamed for all ills in Zimbabwe. Be it a cholera outbreak, to the mismanagement of the land redistribution, Mugabe has always found his first port of call to hide behind colonialism and blame the white man and the west for Zimbabwe’s problems. It is somewhat of an irony when we discover that it is a White man, Billy Rotenbach and his good old best mate John Bredenkamp who manage and bank roll Mugabe. I am sure he’d be quick to deny this, but a rather interesting Channel 4 documentary followed the course of the men that “Bank Roll Mugabe.” I often wonder if Mugabe suffers from Dementia and can’t remember the difference. But anyway, back to the Zimbabwean economy. Inflation soared to nearly 500-billion percent in September, and Zimbabwe’s dollar plummeted to 12,6-trillion per US dollar.
The stock exchange resumed trade in US dollars on February 19, a week after a coalition government was sworn in under a power-sharing pact between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Delta Corp, Zimbabwe’s largest beer and beverage maker, climbed 150% to 50c this year. Yes it’s a fact, the Zimbabweans love their beer almost as much as the British. Maybe that can’t afford it as freely and those living in the UK, but it is hearty to see that a Zimbabwean based business can still prosper. Econet Wireless Holdings, the biggest mobile phone operator, jumped 200% to 2,99. The two have been among the most heavily traded stocks. The market value of shares listed on the exchange reached Z$4,03bn yesterday, from February’s estimated Z$1bn, Renaissance Capital said. Its most bullish forecast, in April, was for Z$3,5bn by the end of the year. I bet as Gordon Brown reviews those figures of growth he turns green with envy wishing he could take that projection of growth to the commons to show his buddies. But I take heart in reading these figures as even I had written Zimbabwe off as being unable to come back from so far down the line. Ok lets be totally frank, yes I work hard to see Zimbabwe rebuilt, and volunteer my time to support charities working in the Zimbabwean theatre, but yes, I am not afraid to admit that privately even I had assumed that Zimbabwe was too far gone.
The International Monetary Fund said on July 2 there was evidence of a “nascent economic recovery”. And so I stand corrected, and thankfully so. It is a warm comfort to know that in small measures things are changing in Zimbabwe. While there are things that cause frustration and make us maybe loose hope, there are also indications that there is a revival taking place in the African country. China has agreed to lend Zimbabwe $950m, although what concessions they have been given in return for that injection of funding does concern me a little, but then again, maybe it is prudent to be dealing in such friendly terms with the new emerging world power. Who knows maybe in 2020 when the leadership of power has swung fully from the West to the East we will be well placed to develop and grow strongly. Let’s hope Mugabe is not still clinging on to power then, as he’ll be buggered when he can’t blame the West any more to his own evils. Could you imagine him trying to blame corruption, greed and the next cholera outbreak on Beijing!
I found an article published by the Patriot Alliance for the Refoundation of the Congo online a few days ago, and although it is in French I was prodded into slowly working my way through it, making use thankfully of an online French to English translation tool when I came across some really difficult text. The document is titled An Autopsy of the Congo Tragedy. As a bi partisan review of the melt down in the Congo in 1998, it is a document that does not hesitate to land its punches, and very clearly points its finger at those responsible for the second deadliest war in the history of mankind. 5.4 million people were killed as a result of the war and millions more were displaced from their homes. Congo to this day still bears the scars of that war as sections of it still fall under the governance of warlords that waded into the conflict seeing Congo’s massive mining rights as a method of payment for their support for the governments war on the rebels. Interestingly enough, I was not surprised while reading the document to see three names crop up. Mentioned as being in the Congo for no reason other than to lay claim to huge assets in diamond mining was none other than Robert Mugabe, Billy Rotenbach and John Bredenkamp. I was stunned to learn that since the end of the war in 1999 they have remained in the Congo, committing Zimbabwean troops to guarding their mining operations as they have dug huge quantities of diamonds out of the ground for sale on the international market. I had believed that the world would not deal in blood diamonds. Surely these are such? It beggars belief really. Imagine for a moment that those diamond mines were legitimised and given to the Zimbabwean government as a source of funding. Imagine they were traded on the stock market. Surely those mines alone would go a huge way in providing for and funding the Zimbabwean government in its job of running Zimbabwe. Just a thought, but if one’s greed was not so openly obvious then it would seem that Zimbabwe could be one of the most powerful and successful countries in Africa.