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A philanthropic spirit encompassed with an entrepreneurial mind, I am passionate about technology and the things technology can help people to achieve.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Zimbabwe: What is the Alternative to Bond Notes?

Much has been said about Bond Notes introduction in Zimbabwe, the consensus is that “we do not want them”. In other articles I have written about the consequences Bond Notes introduction in the Zimbabwean economy. One Twitter user (@Mmalenyalo_) asked a pertinent question, “What is the better option?” Below is the better options:

Engage the People

The people of Zimbabwe were surprised by the announcement of Bond Notes, it was the first time many outside of ZANUPF circles were hearing about them. The fact that ZANUPF people defended them and proffered answers to them means they were well briefed before the people were made aware. Government policies that do well are those which people have contributed towards and believe in. so Zimbabwe government must go to the people and engage them as the ones who put them where they are. Citizens are the shareholders of a nation & government is the board. As with companies, the shareholders must vote on such pertinent issues, for or against it is their prerogative. In this case the government must have assumed people will reject the Bond Notes and sought to ambush them. The $200 million facility could go down the drain and still Zimbabweans have to pick up the burden of poorly done policy. Zimbabwe government must go back to the drawing board, do a bottom up engagement before launching the notes.

Bring Back the Money

The Reserve Bank is on record as saying they know how much was externalized by companies mostly. If this is the cause of the shortage of money in the economy it follows that this money should be recovered and brought into the economy. We cannot solve a problem of externalization by pumping more money into the economy, soon there will only be Bond Notes left as foreign currency will still be externalized. Are we going to ask the Afrexim Bank for another loan facility? After recovery of externalized funds the government must then look to see if the shortage still persists and determine further causes, if it is too many unnecessary imports then look at measures to curtail such although this should only come after effort has been made to stimulate the exports to match imports.

Seek Funds from Abroad

It is evident the Zimbabwe economy is in dire need of an injection of foreign currency and the Bond Notes are equal to $200 million. Our government is broke and has defaulted on repayments to external creditors for a long time so seeking funds from abroad might seem like hitting a brick wall. But there is one external source that should still be willing to extend funds to Zimbabwe. That source is Zimbabweans in the diaspora who number no less than 5million citizens the majority of whom are in South Africa. Zimbabweans in diaspora are highly resourceful and industrious such that many are able to live a life that is higher than that of the average citizen. If we take each person in diaspora giving something to the government there will be a lot of funds flowing into Zimbabwe. I have had debates with Tendai Biti on his facebook page chastising him for leaning too much towards the western funding solutions such as IMF & World Bank, he didn’t take too kindly because he appeared keen to show himself smart to the guys in USA and Europe. Below is a table I have done on the assumption that out of all the Zimbabweans in diaspora only 3,500,000 have the financial means to extend money to the government.

Insight into Diaspora Potential

Above I have noted different levels of funding scenarios e.g. if each of the 3.5 million contribute $10 per month for 6 months the country would receive $210 million. The ideal would be to get $50 per month for 6 months which would amount to $1 billion. A billion dollars in 6 months is 30% of the country’s budget, this can revive water reticulation systems in Harare, equip the major hospitals to almost normal capacity and stimulate the economy.

Of course I can see people objecting to this being possible as people who went to diaspora left on account of the same government’s failure and persecution. But the truth is every Zimbabwean whether black, white, Indian, Coloured or Colourless relish coming back home and would give anything to hear that their family left behind is doing well and taken care of. The scariest thing is to hear your loved one in Zimbabwe has been hospitalized in a government institution, you can almost picture death creeping because the facilities are run down, would they not pay to ensure proper healthcare? They certainly would do so.

So Why is Nobody Tapping into Diaspora

Ever since the Government of National Unity there was talk of engaging the diaspora to help back home, it has all been jaw jaw and no action. Even at this moment the government is always heard talking about tapping into the diaspora. What they must know is that the little remittances they get are for day to day expenses in families. Very little if any is for investment and capital expenditure. The diaspora have access to credit facilities, if today government invites monies to invest in road infrastructure for a stake in ZINARA, I would have no problem approaching the bank for a personal loan of $3,000 to invest. However the government is paralyzed by fear and that fear is on account of the following:

Bargaining with Diaspora – the people in diaspora will obviously not roll out the red carpet for the government, they will bargain before reaching into their purses. On the negotiating table would be things like how much stake would be acquired, who will account for the proper use of the money and most importantly giving diaspora community a say in how the country is governed. Many would want to have their right to vote guaranteed and for ZANUPF government 3.5 million people who are mostly to vote opposition is very frightening.

Being Accountable – the ZANUPF government is used to doing things its own way, having to become accountable and explain themselves is something they are not prepared to do. Because of the manner in which ZANUPF goes about winning elections, they are aware that the wealth of the nation is concentrated among the people who do not like them. So in pursuit of their own survival they rather throw the whole country under the bus even though they are unable to drive the same bus because it is broken down.

Jealous & Hate – these evil twins are prevalent among Zimbabweans. I always say certain utterances attract certain demons. Everyone can remember Robert Mugabe mocking people who did not go to the liberation struggle often calling them sellouts. Never mind that those same people were feeding and hiding guerillas in their homes, some were in the diaspora. Mugabe played the same tune to Zimbabweans at home mocking the people who went to the diaspora and some Zimbabweans caught on to it and label people in the diaspora sellouts. These are mostly feeling guided by jealousy that those abroad are doing much better. Now would the same people go around asking for help from people in the diaspora? Would people in Zimbabwe welcome it that diaspora citizens recapitalize ZESA, NRZ, ZINWA, Air Zimbabwe in exchange for a stake? Some might but some will stand against it being jealous that they are getting ahead of them.

So there are solutions that can revive Zimbabwe’s economy but the government is not willing to go with them for their own survival. There is also the element of greed, imagine a minister contracting someone to receive money so they can setup an appointment with him? That is what Acie Lmumba said of Patrick Zhuwao. Many people can testify of being asked for a stake if they went to ministers for help with getting their ideas off the ground. They want their hands in on everything so much that one wonders where all the money goes, they are among the highest paid officials in the country but are still chasing after the little that citizens are trying to make honestly. Unfortunately Zimbabwe is not the only country in such a situation, many African countries with a sizeable number in diaspora are on their knees swimming in poverty while their citizens are doing very well abroad. We saw the likes of Cecil John Rhodes, John Smith Moffat and Charles Rudd leave United Kingdom and come to Africa (diaspora). They paved the way for colonization and helped United Kingdom be what it is today working closely with their Kings and Queens. If you remove this diaspora element, United Kingdom would not be where it is today, but we are too blind to see that if we do the same we can revive Africa until it can be looked to as a great continent.

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