Thursday, May 10, 2007

THE HERALD - MDC, Mechanisation In Agriculture, Economic Stabilisation Fund

Zim opposition intolerant
By Reason Wafawarova

SOMETIMES one wonders what people living under a polarised political environment stand to either benefit or lose as many adopt a callous culture of intolerance where they feel they can only read or listen to what they want to hear.

Winston Churchill talked of jaws and not wars when he was confronted with the complexity of international conflict in the early 1940s. The international, or geopolitical, system is one of diversity where ideologically one has to live up to the fact that capitalism, socialism and communism are ideological realities which won’t go away simply because one says they can’t stand them.

Politically, democracies differ in models: from representative democracy, as seen in many parliamentary democracies; mass democracy, as Hugo Chavez is implementing with his 21st century socialism; corporate democracy, as is found in the United States, where corporate power determines who is in government more than the people; all the way to guided democracy, as is the case in some Islamic states like Libya and Iran.

Power politics or real politik dictates that some countries are more powerful than others and that the power within countries can be used in different ways and targeted at different strategic points. It is always crystal-clear that aspects of the geopolitical processes, such as human rights, liberties and international law, are always viewed from various perspectives as motivated by cultural values, political views, religion, age and social interaction.

While ethnocentrism would have some believing that the whole world should see the world from their own ethnic point of view, the real situation is always that cultures differ the way sub-communities, families and individuals will always differ.

This, inevitably, entails that conflict can only be solved by communication; either at individual, cross-cultural or inter-group levels.

This is not a socio-political lecture, but a reality based on the intolerance being exhibited by some of our Zimbabwean citizens, especially those in the so-called Diaspora community. The political process in Zimbabwe is divided, as is the situation in many countries. At the moment that division centres mainly between the ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition MDC.

Generally, the MDC is a protest movement with a default support base of disgruntled former Zanu-PF supporters as well as discontented workers and urban families that cannot stand the declining economy since the collapse of the deceptive International Monetary Funded-prescribed Economic Structural Adjust-ment Programme in the second half of the 1990s as well as the ruinous sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the US, the European Union, Australia, Canada and New Zealand after the land reform programme was launched in 2000.

On the other hand, Zanu-PF is a political party with a liberation legacy, the majority rule philosophy and grassroots policies, such as the land reform programme.

Pro-opposition opinion pieces in the media portray Zanu-PF as a party of murderous thugs at the command of a ruthless dictator, that despite the fact that President Mugabe holds massive star rallies across the country at least twice every six years, the last being in the 2005 general election.

This is the analysis that some people cannot stand. They can’t fight it by reason. Rather, they resort to such buffoonish grandstanding as is seen in the foolishness of advocating that those residing or studying in the West must necessarily support all Western policies as well as endorsing the MDC as a bona fide democratic movement before they swear themselves in as avowed critics of President Mugabe and his Government.

One wonders if it ever occurs to some people that much as they are of the conviction that Zanu-PF is a dictator’s party, there are many out there who are more than convinced that the MDC is not only a protest party, but one led by hopeless puppets only good at outlining the country’s problems with no clue on how such problems can be solved outside handing the problems together with the country to their "democratic masters" in the West.

While Zanu-PF has a lot of planning and implementation to do as the ruling party, those in the MDC should know that they have a lot of policy explaining to do; far more than the protesting they are bent on pursuing.

That way it is jaws and not wars.

The MDC has representatives in both chambers of Parliament — the House of Assembly and the Senate — and one of the factions has its headquarters strategically located in the central business district, while the other has its own base just five kilometres from the city centre, in Hillside. However, one gets the impression that the MDC is similar to Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army that is headquartered in the middle of the jungles of Uganda without any semblance of legal existence or tolerance.

The MDC has held countless political rallies across the country, some successful some abortive; but they only care to tell the world of those rallies they attempted to turn into mass protests and were accordingly thwarted.

When one speaks like this, our intolerant fellow countrymen residing in the Western Diaspora see red and become combative, physically that is. They want some form of emotional or physical pain inflicted on whoever allows their minds to see the MDC as a party lacking in one aspect or the other.

They want to set the Western authorities on such individuals in the hope that some kind of punishment may be meted out on their perceived nemesis.

Surely one would expect those posturing as champions of free speech and expression would also not want to be seen as the masters of brutality against divergent opinion. This writer thinks what has happened in Zimbabwe in the past seven years is clear testimony that wielding Western threats to achieve some political end is but a futile exercise.

The media in Zimbabwe is full of political opinions from both sides of the political divide and those who want to be part of the political process should aspire to engage themselves at this level of debate instead of pursuing primitive and laughable strategies as is portrayed in the so-called Fair Deal campaign on the rabid website going by the name

There, some of the Zimbabweans in the Diaspora are of the opinion that they can silence opinion by wielding threats of a Western nature or even fooling themselves into believing that they can whip all Zimbabweans in the Diaspora into following the MDC line simply because the MDC has sympathy with the ruling elite of some Western countries.

This writer believes some of the people holding such opinions need to be reminded that there is a lot of company in anti-capitalist politics in the West and that some in the West do not see the MDC as an alternative solution to the challenges in Zimbabwe.

Rational debate on the political processes in Zimbabwe, Africa and the world is not going to be aborted because there are some Zimbabweans who use lies about or hate for President Mugabe as an excuse for living in Western countries do not want it.

That is simply not possible.

l Reason Wafawarova is a post- graduate student reading for a Master’s degree in International Relations at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He can be contacted at wafawarova +

Agriculture mechanisation will help fight inflation: economists
Business Reporter

THE ongoing mechanisation of the agricultural industry will go a long way in taming inflation, as it will help boost productivity as well as cut imported inflation, economists say. According to economic commentators, the use of interest rates to bring down inflation had so far failed to bring about the desired results.

It was therefore time to look at other measures in the medium to long term. These included raising agriculture output significantly, increasing export competitiveness and generating more foreign currency.

"Against a multiple and diverse interest rates, the use of accommodation rates as a tool of fighting inflation has not been effective," explained an economist with Kingdom Asset Management.

"The recent (interim monetary) policy reflected significant cash payouts to tobacco and maize farmers that should seriously impact on monetary aggregates.

"As such, food imports will seriously impact on high inflation since the food basket contributes the highest percentage on the CPI figure.

"Based on these factors, inflation is expected to remain upwards and very high" in the absence of a fully functional agriculture sector.

Others said while exchange rate management remained a thorny issue in the short term, long-term economic recovery could only be achieved by boosting industrial output in all major sectors — agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and mining.

This year, Zimbabwe expects to spend US$200 million on food imports. Government, which has admitted inflation will climb higher in 2007 due to drought, has forecast an output of 800 000 tonnes of maize from the 2006/07 season, leaving a shortfall of about 1,2 million tonnes to be met from imports.

This would put more pressure on the local currency and inflation, already sitting at a record high of 2 200 percent as at March 31.

Economists indicated, however, that Government continued to realise the importance of agriculture as the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy, as reflected by the vast amounts of money poured into the sector. This year alone, over 400 tractors have been shipped from China to help ease shortages in the industry.

Central bank governor Dr Gideon Gono has so far released over $410 billion in support of agriculture under the Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility. He announced more incentives for the industry again during his interim monetary policy review report in April.

He outlined an aggressive programme of agriculture mechanisation that should see more farming equipment being imported with various orders already in place.

Support in the form of ox-drawn implements would be given to A1 farmers with analysts predicting "a lot of funds will be dedicated towards farming in the coming years".

Zimbabwe is an agro-based economy in which agriculture contributes about 30 percent to GDP.

Latest statistics from the Reserve Bank show that agricultural produce (excluding tobacco and horticulture) worth at least US$48,9 million worth was exported in the first three months of this year.

Last year, exports in this industry hit a low US$30,3 million, reflecting a constant decline since 2004 when exports stood at US$58,3 million.

‘Economic stabilisation fund will boost mining sector’
New Ziana.

THE Chamber of Mines says the introduction of the Drought Mitigation Economic Stabilisation Fund by the central bank will encourage the mining sector to boost production of minerals, particularly gold.

"The move by the central bank is very welcome for the industry. This should help boost production, especially among the gold producers," Chamber of Mines acting chief executive Mr Doug Verden told New Ziana.

He said although a lot more needed to be done to significantly boost production, the introduction of the fund was a step towards achieving this aim.

Mr Verden also said the assurance by the central bank that it would soon pay out foreign currency owed to gold producers would revive production of the metal.

"We are pleased with the statement by the governor and as soon as the money is paid, gold producers can be in a position to start production," he said.

The mining sector has been calling for a more competitive price for minerals to enable them to sustain its operations and the fund is also expected to breathe life into other sectors of the economy such as tourism and agriculture.

Presenting the Interim Monetary Policy Statement last month, central bank governor Dr Gideon Gono announced the establishment of the fund which includes a Drought Mitigation Accelerator factor of 60.

This means that any holder of foreign currency who approaches the central bank, authorised dealer, Homelink or money transfer agent, will sell the foreign currency at the official exchange rate of $250 to the United States dollar multiplied by a factor of 60. — New Ziana.

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