How can Zimbabwe have money when everyone is taking it out?


In one of its first surveys on corruption in Harare, Transparency International Zimbabwe, found that quite a substantial number of Zimbabweans believed that corruption promotes development.

Their argument went as follows. Someone gets money through corrupt activities, invests that money into a business, the business thrives, it benefits the people and the business employs Zimbabweans. That is development.

Rwandan academic Nshuti Rugerinyange shares the same argument. He says African leaders are corrupt, but that is not the only reason why the continent is poor. The West was not built by saints either, that’s why some of those who built the United States and Britain were sometimes called “robber barons”.

The difference between African leaders and robber barons is that after making their fortunes the robber barons built universities, companies, industries, railroads in their own countries.

African leaders invest their loot in Western countries and thus help Western countries to develop instead of their own poor countries.

“Africa hasn’t progressed much in the last half century because our leaders, both political and business, have no vision for Africa or have their vision outside Africa,” he says.

Take Zimbabwe, for example, Central bank governor John Mangudya says the country imported goods worth $2.99 billion in the first half of the year compared to exports of $1.23 billion. So we externalized $1.76 billion.

Mangudya adds: “The fact that we are importing more than what we are exporting shows that there is a demand in the market which can be covered by the locals.”

So why are locals not producing. Because they are looking at profits of 50 percent and above!

“Producers must start recognising mark-up of between five and 10 percent not this mentality of having 50 percent mark-up. That’s why we have more imports than exports,” Mangudya said.

But that’s only the official figures. Go to Beitbridge, Nyamapanda, Chirundu or Plumtree, you will be amazed at the number of Zimbabweans bringing goods into the country. All that is money being shipped out of the country.

There are too many excuses you will get if you ask why people are buying goods from outside the country, but the question we are addressing here is the issue of money in Zimbabwe. If there is no money in Zimbabwe, where are all those people getting money to buy goods to bring into the country?

And if there is no money in Zimbabwe, why are they importing goods because there should be no buyers because people do not have money.

Look at the number of cars being imported into the country. One recent report said that according to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority 300 cars were being imported into the country every day. Even if they are all the cheapest cars people can buy, they would be worth an average of $2 000. This would mean that $600 000 is going out of the country every day. Conservatively this means between $156 and $220 million is being taken out of the country every year.

But one knows Zimbabweans have very expensive, showy tastes and buy cars for as much as $400 000. The largest car plant in Zimbabwe, Willowvale Motor Industries, only requires $10 million to get back on track.

Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa which means its schools are good if not the best. But how many parents are sending their children out of the country? That is all money going out of the country.

In fact, the situation is so sad that when Limpopo Province of South Africa recorded the lowest pass rate at Matric, the Provincial Premier had a ready answer. He said we are going to import 600 teachers from Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean doctors made history in July when they separated conjoined twins. President Robert Mugabe was all praise for the doctors, but he is treated outside the country. Money once again going out of the country.

The irony is that at one time someone was shipped all the way to Cape Town for special medical attention only to be treated by a Zimbabwean doctor.

Even the Men of God, do not trust that God can look after their money in Zimbabwe. They are investing money obtained in Zimbabwe in London and elsewhere.

There is indeed money in Zimbabwe. We are just not cut to develop our own country. And the more one looks at it, we might not even need the intervention of organisations like the International Monetary Fund which only put our country into more debt.



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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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