Why should Zimbabwe import urine- Manheru asks?


Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru, who is widely believed to be President Robert Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba, today defended the introduction of bond notes because the United States dollar had made Zimbabweans so pompous that they were now “importing urine”.

“I am going to be nasty. We were now importing purified urine from Gauteng in the name of mineral water. As if we don’t pass water here, what with all the drinking we do! I mean if I have to buy purified urine, just allow me the decency to have it home-passed to have it indigenous,” he wrote.

“Why do I have to have it imported as if there is something in it that beats national, indigenous urine, as if Zimbabweans do not drip? All the doings — foibles — of my kind will fill my pages, I pledged. When a nation cedes its right to set priorities — grants every man the sovereignty of decisions, the result is chaos. You get into any supermarket you cannot get convinced this is a country short of foreign currency. Need we then wonder at the trade deficit?”

Manheru said because of the United States dollar Zimbabweans had developed an acute kind of universal money illusion and the big boys of the region.

“And like a global elite, we did not have to bend down and soil our hands breaking the clod, cleaning oils on engines. Who needed to produce anything? What for? And with the ever strengthening dollar, we seemed to have stumbled on a sound economic reason not to produce. And we all watched Lever Brothers turn a huge factory into a huge warehouse. No one read the full meaning of it all. And meanwhile the global money illusion sequestered us from the sheer untenability of our position,” he wrote.

“You could fly to Dubai — political and business elite alike — and do your shopping undeterred. You could fly into South Africa with a few hundreds and not just bring in bags and bags of tradeable goods, but also come back with a feeling of being the sub-regional boss by way of purchasing power.

“Who dared us, who? It was a terrible illusion, one which we now seek to defend by indecently raising the gorgon of 2008. And poor the poor, it is an argument of an itinerant elite with jaded tastes for things foreign, an elite realising it now has to be curbed. It raises populist arguments as if its joys then were ever democratically distributed.

“Even our sense of corruption put on this cosmopolitan dimension: we had to steal enough to stick out in New York, Dubai and Rio. Look at how little boys flaunt ill-gotten wealth, literally drowning in the US dollar we used to see once in a lifetime. My goodness! And those youngsters are not wrong; they are what is wrong about us collectively.”

Manheru said what was needed was for the country to get back to production, not just the US dollar, the South African rand or bond notes.

“My humble submission is, that is none of the above, if the matter is to be answered with finality. Our basket of currencies has contained all manner of currencies, US dollar and rand included. The bond coins have been in circulation, in fact toppled the rand. So one cannot be proposing new scenarios by postulating the extant……..

“The key to all this is a return productivity, starting with agriculture. We have to meet our food self-sufficiency. And to generate marketable surplus which feed into industry. And it is such a low hanging fruit that we are talking about a season. I see efforts in that direction. But we should not think this must be left to market forces. Never. The emotive value of land has now been exhausted, people have been given time to prove they are good farmers. It is time to move on, which is why Arda and her partnerships model is a good starting point.

“We need targeted cropping, something fairly achievable. This will have an instant impact on Agro-processing concerns, which happen to employ millions. The lessons of contract farming in tobacco must now inform other sub-sectors of agriculture.”



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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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