Predictions for 2006


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What is in store for Zimbabwe in 2006? That is anybody’s guess. The country’s politics is very volatile. Anything can happen. The economy is in shambles. But the so-called economic crisis has lasted for almost a decade. The same old figures have presided over Zimbabwe for more than two-decades. How many more years will they stay on? Here is what we think is in store for Zimbabwe in 2006.

The politics

  • The most important political development will be the Movement for Democratic Change Congress scheduled for February. The congress will decide who will lead the party. Will it be Morgan Tsvangirai or Gibson Sibanda or even Welshman Ncube? This could mark the official split of the party into two but there is likely to be a fight over the name.
  • Former ZANU-PF Masvingo provincial chairman Daniel Shumba is expected to launch a new political party, the United People’s Party. Jonathan Moyo is still to unveil his United People’s Movement.
  • The battle to succeed Mugabe will intensify. Things to watch will be constitutional amendments to pave the way for his preferred successor. Right now the constitution is silent on the successor as elections have to be held within 90 days of his death or incapacitation.
  • There should be increased debate on what really led to the split in the MDC? Were members of the other faction paid by ZANU-PF? Or at least by the state (There is speculation that funds provided under the Political Finance Act were given to the Ncube faction as it has the treasurer Fletcher Dulini-Ncube). Since the plot to get rid of Tsvangirai failed, there is speculation that ZANU-PF might spill the beans as the Ncube faction is no longer of any use.
  • This will be the year to watch the ZAPU element in ZANU-PF because it strongly believes it is its turn to take over leadership of ZANU-PF if the 1987 unity accord was genuine.

Elections

  • A number of local government elections are scheduled this year. They will provide a barometer for the support ZANU-PF still has and which of the two-MDC factions has the upper hand. Already the two factions are fielding candidates in local government elections in Chitungwiza.
  • Mugabe is too busy trying to consolidate his power and pave the way for a successor though he still publicly insists he is not grooming anyone. He is therefore not likely to reshuffle his unusually big cabinet unless the present internal battles for succession spill over and he gets rid of the rebels. Business says Mugabe could do with half his cabinet but that will be the day.

The economy

  • The most important economic development will be how the government handles inflation. Currently at 586 percent (Dec) it could rise to more than 700 percent before it starts falling perhaps in the second half of the year. But the key question is, will it drop to less than 100 percent by the end of the year.
  • Another important development to watch will be the local currency. Is Gono going to introduce a new currency or if he retains the present one is he going to introduce higher denominations? With the cost of living at $16.6 million a month, for a family of six, the present currency does not make sense any more. Bread costs $44 000 and milk $52 000 a pint. It would make more sense if these fell to dollars and cents rather than thousands of dollars. But economists say introducing a new currency without addressing the economic fundamentals will not help. The new currency will just plunge. If Gono retains the present currency he may have to introduce a higher denomination note. The highest note at the moment is $20 000 but it does not buy anything. It’s just enough for bus fare one way (to work or from work). And at the moment one can only withdraw $800 000 at a time from an ATM which is not enough for one’s daily needs.
  • Another economic development to watch will be how the country addresses the shortage of foreign currency and in turn the shortage of fuel in the country. Most people now believe it can only do so if it normalises relations with the international community. To achieve this President Robert Mugabe would have to tone his speeches down and stop blaming all the economic ills on Tony Blair and George Bush. The Look East policy might not work because China and other Far Eastern countries are interested in Zimbabwe’s raw materials and might therefore not offer balance of payments support which is what the country needs. But at the same time Zimbabwe is keeping the West on its toes.
  • One of the most important things to watch this year will be the rains. The season seems to have started off well. The country has received good rains for the whole of December. Most people believe that if the country has a good season, it will be easier to turn the economy around. But a good season will also mean that people will be freer to express themselves since they will no longer be relying on government for food handouts.
  • With unemployment now said to be around 80 percent, it will be interesting to see how the government will address this issue because it is already having serious repercussions. Robberies are on the increase. Thefts from employers both at domestic, commercial and industrial levels are also on the increase. Another interesting aspect to this is how the government will handle the wage issue. Always interested in appeasing voters especially in view of its waning support the government might push for a minimum wage linked to the poverty datum line. Industry says this would be disastrous, but government is already heading in that direction.

Trade and investment

  • The biggest event to watch is Zimbabwe’s membership of the International Monetary Fund. The country got a reprieve in September last year and was given another six months. Will it survive again? If so how? Will it rejoin the international community?
  • There will also be the international trade fair in April. Will it be just another show or investors will really come in?
  • With the interest in methane gas and uranium, will investors finally come in and boost the mining sector?
  • Electricity power sharing is likely to end next year, what will Zimbabwe put in place to make sure it has adequate power supplies after 2007?

Security and military

  • How will the government handle the issue of spies and what will (Andrew Brown) Aubrey Welken testify? Will he expose more senior people in ZANU-PF? Were the spies passing on information only to South Africa? This will be interesting to watch.
  • Will the old military guard keep their jobs? Will Augustine Chihuri remain commissioner of police with his poor health (His contract is now being renewed every year)? If he goes, who will take over. Will it be one of Mugabe’s relatives? Innocent Matibiri is already a deputy commissioner? How about Perence Shiri at the Airforce and Constantine Chiwenga in the army, Paradzai Zimondi in Prisons and Happyton Bonyongwe at the Central Intelligence Organisatin?

People to watch

Politicians:

    • Robert Mugabe ( Remains the king maker, holding the nation at ransom. There is a feeling that if he goes and even if someone from ZANU-PF takes over the country’s fortunes will turn around).
    • Joyce Mujuru (Presidential hopeful backed by her husband Solomon Mujuru who is now playing an active role behind the scenes to pave the way for her).
    • Morgan Tsvangirai (Leader of opposition and presidential contender).
    • Emmerson Mnangagwa (Mujuru’s main challenger).
    • Welshman Ncube ( Tsvangirai’s main challenger).
    • Dumiso Dabengwa (Key player in the succession plan, pushing the ZAPU card and a key player even in the MDC split).

Business people:

    • Robbie Mupawose of Delta one of the country heavyweights
    • Muchadeyi Masunda ( A renowned arbitrator and director of several companies)
    • Eric Bloch ( A business consultant and director of several companies).
    • Tobias Musariri (Keeps low profile but close friend of Solomon Mujuru, prominent businessman and farmer, owns car assembly plant).
    • Shingi Mutasa (Executive chairman of TA).

Heads of key organisations:

    • Wellington Chibhebhe (Secretary general of ZCTU).
    • Luxon Zembe (President of Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce)
    • Pattison Sithole (President of Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries)
    • Jack Murehwa (President of Chamber of Mines).
    • Davison Mugabe (President of Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union).

(47 VIEWS)

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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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