Top stories for August 1-5


Biti says we can even use firewood as currency- Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti, one of those who fought against the return of the Zimbabwe dollar while in office, says the country must ditch the United States dollar and adopt the South African rand instead. Biti said there was no way the country’s economy could recover with the United States dollar as the main currency.  “We can actually use firewood as a medium of exchange, it can work. Money is just an infrastructure of facilitating the base which is production. The challenge is that this economy is collapsing because it is not okay. We are not producing; the capital account is not okay, the current account is in deficit these are the things that you need to fix. These are the structural things that you need to fix.  But the debate on currency is relevant because the US dollar has become overvalued. We don’t have an economy to sustain that. We don’t have the current account to sustain that, which is the export and the imports.  What we need to do is to devalue the US dollar but you can’t do that because you don’t print it. Now there are calls for the return of the Zimdollar and this will be a disaster. We propose that the US dollar should be devalued by bringing in the rand as the official currency and joining the Rand Monetary Union. However the tragedy is that these guys in ZANU-PF cannot afford to meet the requirements of the central bank of South Africa, they just can’t do that,” he said.

Msipa says Zimbabwean doctors are just as good so why seek treatment outside

Former Midlands provincial governor Cephas Msipa says Zimbabweans must use local health facilities instead of going overseas for treatment because the country’s doctors and nurses are just as good. He said this at the opening of a US$1 million casualty ward at the Gweru Provincial Hospital funded by Unki Platinum Mining. It was not clear who he referred to but one of the people that has consistently sought treatment outside the country is President Robert Mugabe.  “Do we really have to go outside the country for treatment? We should be proud of our own health care services. Our doctors and nurses are capable and compete well with other health professionals in other countries. There is no need for people to go to India and other countries to seek medical attention because our own practitioners are equally competent,” Msipa said, adding: “Some people always say go to India for treatment but I have always refused. I have sought treatment at our local hospitals in Harare where I have received tremendous reception and medical care as well as attended to by various specialists.” Health Minister  David Parirenyatwa said Msipa was one of the few that had the guts to speak out hismind even in the politburo.  “VaMsipa is one of the few people who is free to say out things which most of us will not be able to say in ZANU-PF politburo meetings.  At times there are sensitive issues which we feel should not be discussed in the politburo meeting but vaMsipa always raises these issues when everyone will be afraid to talk about them.”


MDC supporters reject second Vice-President’s post

Movement for Democratic Change supporters have rejected the creation of a second Vice-President’s post within the party saying it will not advance anything. The party currently has only one Vice-President but wanted to emulate its main rival, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, which has two Vice-Presidents. ZANU-PF was forced to have two Vice-Presidents at the merger of ZANU-PF and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union in 1987. This was seen as the swallowing of ZAPU because ZANU-PF retained its structures and only accommodated ZAPU as junior partners.  The two posts also created a lot of confusion as it was never clear who was senior Simon Muzenda or Joshua Nkomo, and Joseph Msika or Joice Mujuru, and Joice Mujuru or John Nkomo. To make matters worse, the prevailing constitution was also vague about which deputy would succeed the president in the event of an untimely death.  There is widespread feeling that the MDC wants to adopt a similar structure to protect party president Morgan Tsvangirai. There have been reports that the party wants to water down the powers of other senior posts especially that of secretary-general. The two splits within the party over the past 15-years have both been engineered by the secretary-generals, who ironically are both lawyers. The Tsvangirai faction of the MDC is due to hold a special congress in October. It was forced to push forward its congress by two years following calls for Tsvangirai to step down to give way to new leadership after he had failed to unseat Robert Mugabe for the third time.


Government now getting its diamond revenue immediately after sale

The government is now getting its share of the diamond revenue immediately after the sale instead of waiting for dividends at the end of the year, Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa told the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy.  “We have now worked out a way of saying let’s not wait to share our dividend at the end of the year. Let’s say we have taken away the depletion fee and the royalty, we now remain with the cost of running the company, exploration and new development. We agree on how much we will set aside for that. The rest we share 50-50: this one goes into a Government account and this one goes straight into the partner’s account. That is the system basis which we are working on now.”  Royalties pegged at 15 percent go to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority while depletion fees of two percent go to the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation. ZMDC is a joint venture partner in five of the diamond miners at Marange- Mbada,  Anjin,  Diamond Mining Company, Jinan and Kusena- and wholly owns Marange Resources.  There have been complaints that Zimbabwe’s diamond sales are not transparent and the government could be losing a lot of revenue.


Zimbabwe’s problems are temporary says army boss

Zimbabwe National Army commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda says the current economic problems that  the country is facing are just a passing phase. “No good thing comes on a silver platter.  We have to work for it and the suffering that we have gone through, that we are going through, is because there is something good we have done for ourselves which other people don’t want to accept.  They are trying to send a message out there that if we are allowed to succeed we will be a bad example to others in a similar situation like ours….. We believe that, yes, the challenges are there, but we are dealing with these challenges and we will not be overwhelmed by these challenges.”


Obama admits sanctions are hurting the innocent but you have to send clear signals

United States President Barack Obama admitted that sanctions on Zimbabwe, said to be targeted at individuals and firms, are hurting the innocent but the United States had to send clear signals about how it expects elections and governments to be conducted.  Responding to a question from Zimbabwean entrepreneur Takura Chingonzo that the so-called targeted sanctions were affecting innocent people like him, Obama said: “Well, obviously, the situation in Zimbabwe is somewhat unique.  The challenge for us in the United States has been how do we balance our desire to help the people of Zimbabwe with what has, frankly, been a repeated violation of basic democratic practices and human rights inside of Zimbabwe.  And we think it is very important to send clear signals about how we expect elections to be conducted, governments to be conducted — because if we don’t, then all too often, with impunity, the people of those countries can suffer.  But you’re absolutely right that it also has to be balanced with making sure that whatever structures that we put in place with respect to sanctions don’t end up punishing the very people inside those countries.  My immediate suggestion — and this is a broader point to all the African businesses who are here, as well as the U.S. businesses — is to make sure that we’re using the Department of Commerce and the other U.S. agencies where we can gather groups of entrepreneurs and find out exactly what can be done, what can’t be done, what resources are available.  It may be that you and a group of entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe are able to meet with us and propose certain projects that allow us to say this is something that will advance as opposed to retard the progress for the Zimbabwean people.  So what I’d suggest would be that we set up a meeting and we find out what kinds of things that the young entrepreneurs of Zimbabwe want to do, and see if there are ways that we can work with you consistent with the strong message that we send about good governance in Zimbabwe.”


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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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