Asset management 2

10 06 2008

I should have been pleased that I’d just got a trillion dollar order and looking at the invoice I did notice that the itemized line needed some more spaces to fit in the 12 zeros.  I looked at the cheques again (no, only 500 million allowed per cheque) to see that the first one was missing the “dollars” after the “five hundred million” and was unacceptable to the bank. The second (you can only write cheques to the value of 500 million and they must be banked on separate days) was post-dated by a week and therefore unacceptable to me. I should explain that. Cheques take about 5 days to clear in this country so these were going to devalue by at least 50% before I could access them and then the bank would only allow me to draw 10 billion in cash in any one day. Cheques? Well, few outlets are accepting cheques these days – for the very reason that I was less than impressed. From the customer’s point of view we were just too good to pass up. He was getting rid of money (not a huge asset in Zimbabwe dollars) to get seedlings that were only going to appreciate (in Zimbabwe dollar terms if not real money). We were going to be getting rid of assets in the form of chemicals, fertilizer and other necessities for the growing of seedlings to get nearly useless Zimbabawe dollars. Clearly things were going to have to change. So this morning we have stopped accepting new orders for anything but cash. Preferably real money but therein lies a poisoned chalice. It’s illegal to deal in anything but Zim dollars though just about anyone will accept real money if they think the supplier will not rat on them. The customer in question is coming to see me in an hour or so to sort out his cheques. We will see what happens…

 

I was talking to a black customer on Tuesday. He farms in the north of the country and though I don’t know him very well he seemed to trust me with his less than flattering opinion of the powers that be. He was telling me that if you are vaguely successful you are seen as being a member of the Opposition (MDC). Likewise if you don’t supply food to the government “agents” or if you don’t supply transport on demand. Last week mobs had descended on his workers’ compound and burnt four houses. The next day they wanted transport to go to a rally. I didn’t ask the obvious question. He admitted that he now slept with a loaded firearm by the bed. When I asked if he wondered if there was any point to all this he gave the now predictable reply: “What else can I do?”


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