Silly Ministries

4 07 2007

In the wake of the precipitous collapse of the dollar over the past two weeks the government has slapped a price freeze on basic commodities. This has not been gazetted so I don’t know how “official” it all is but we are apparently supposed to revert to prices as they were on the 18th of June. The government has even formed a squad of “price police” whose duty it will be to enforce the oft ignored price controls. Already the effects can be noticed in the empty shelves in the supermarkets (not replacing stock and not restocking) and other outlets. My usual stop at the bakers this afternoon was not worthwhile; I could see without getting out of the pickup that there was nothing in the shop. Now government has said that they will ease the problem with food and fuel subsidies, and indeed one of the weekend papers reported that the money crash was due in no small way to government agents buying up black market cash with freshly printed Zim dollars! This is apparently going towards buying the fuel to be sold at $15000 a litre instead of the going rate of $150000 a litre. Both of the major weekly papers, The Independent and the Financial Gazette predict that these “control” measures will merely drive the black market further underground and fuel even more spectacular inflation.The most impressive part of the pink paper as the Financial Gazette is known was the 38 page full colour supplement ostensibly put out by the Reserve Bank. Rather grandly entitled “The launch of phase 1 of agricultural equipment acquired under the RBZ farm mechanization programme – celebrating the birth of a mechanization vision and the consolidation of our land reform programme” it is a monument to the breathtaking stupidity of those in charge. While there is a certain amount of repetition of photographs, the range and quantity of equipment displayed is impressive. I must stress that it is not cheap and nasty stuff; it is all top of the line Massey-Fergusson, John Deere and Landini 4×4 tractors and Claas combine harvesters, Gaspardo planters and other assorted equipment. All this whilst Zimbabwe is reeling under 80%+ unemployment, estimated 10000% inflation, highly disruptive power cuts due to lack of money to maintain equipment and a government debt of over 2 trillion dollars (admittedly Zim dollars but that is still a lot of money). That aside, I am really mystified how splurging on highly technical equipment is going to solve our economic crisis. I do wonder just who managed to get their fingers into this particular pie because as sure as the Pope’s a Catholic, it is only going to fail without the technical expertise to get and keep it all running not to mention the finance (I guess the printing presses are running red-hot right now). It is interesting to note that in the same papers the collapse (or rather the non-start) of the much vaunted winter wheat programme is detailed. Of the 80000ha of winter wheat envisaged by the government, just 8000ha have been planted. So where has all the money for the rest of it gone? And why, pray, do we need all those combine harvesters for only 8000ha of wheat?

The Zimbabwe Government has the unenviable reputation of having the world’s largest cabinet. In the centre of the pullout there is a lovely example of just how they have achieved this. Pictured at the top of page 7 is “The Honourable Minister of Agricultural Engineering and Mechanization” – I am not joking, we have such a ministry. In charge of it is one Dr (of what one cannot imagine) Joseph Made, who with a little help trashed the entire Zimbabwean agriculture industry when he was the Minister of Agriculture. That he is not in jail is testament to the corruption that pervades the government of this country.

I have only paged quickly through the rest of the document – I have a limit to my patience. I do find it interesting that they have inserted it into a business orientated newspaper that is only likely to be bought by those with a bit of cash to spare and therefore a reasonable education and so are unlikely to be taken in by the blatant propaganda. Or so I would have thought.



One response

4 07 2007

Wow, passionate writing.

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