Through the loophole and other stories

17 01 2009

At first glance it looked straight forward; supply a proforma for some 70,000 seedlings. The tricky bit was what currency to use as we are not licenced to deal in anything but Zimbabwe dollars that are becoming increasingly difficult to get rid of – only the electricity authority will take them. I made a few enquiries and soon found out that it was for the setup that were cultivating and planting the land around the nursery and the person behind it all is Grace Mugabe – Bob’s wife. Why she thinks she has to go farming is anyone’s guess as she is certainly not short of money. That aside, it would probably have been unwise to pass on a proforma in real money, she might well have taken umbrage and send the revenue authority along (assuming she even knows what is going on in her own company which is not a given). I could have made it up to a ludicrous amount in Zim dollars in order to either put her off or persuade her to offer real money (which is not illegal) but the risk would be that she would dump the ludicrous amount on me just for amusement or because she could.

The solution came on a visit to the gym where they were selling diaries in “units” – a unit being the equivalent to a US dollar or some other type of barter trade to be negotiated. Apparently it is illegal to sell in currencies other than the official one (Zim dollars) but using a “unit” for barter trading is not. The unit can be anything you like except money. That afternoon I programmed my computer to be able to sell in units of fuel coupons or anything else for that matter. The idea was not to get a lot of fuel coupons (one does not go to a filling station with cash; it is necessary to buy a coupon for say 20 litres at another outlet first) but to prompt people to offer to pay in something else, like US dollars! I cannot see this loophole lasting but we’ll see. Even before I’d implemented it a customer had asked to pay in coupons and I agreed before seeing them. I ended up with the equivalent of 260 litres of petrol for which I have minimal use (my vehicles are diesel). Not to worry, I used 3 to pay my monthly internet subscription!

Chatting to my landlord this morning he asked me if I’d heard that Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank and prime architect of the financial debacle – from which he and his cronies profit immensely – wanted to stop the US dollar trading and revert to the Zim dollar because there was not enough (real) money to pay the army whereas they could always print Zim dollars. If they stopped stealing it all there would be plenty of money to go around from the diamonds alone. Anyway, that’s one genie that is well out of the bottle; it cannot often happen that the official currency of a country is not even wanted by the country.



One response

20 01 2009
Big Blister

Sounds like a most delicate tightrope !

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