Local banks started the issuance of the new Zimbabwean dollar coins and notes as of this morning following a ZWL$30 million allocation to banks by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), 263Chat Business can report.
The new notes are expected to ease liquidity crisis in the market resulting in people paying more to get cash which is usually sold at a premium on the black market.
A survey by this publication revealed that most bank clients were being issued the new ZWL$2 coins with notes less visible.
The withdrawal caps however, remain stuck at $ 50 at most banks in line with RBZ drip-feed strategy of the new cash to monitor new money effects in the market.
"I have just received the new cash in $2 coins. I'm however saddened that we came here with high hopes of securing all our money but they still restrict us to just $ 50. What tangible thing can I buy with $ 50?," said Allan Kodzaimaoko, who had just come out of one banking hall.
The Central Bank announced that it will still cap the weekly withdrawal limit at $ 300 in order to maintain money supply balance in the economy and only up until a time it feels the economy is in balance it will then raise the limit.
Authorities also say banks are expected to start feeding the cash into the automated teller machines (ATMs) soon to improve convenience for customers.
Zimbabwe has been reeling from serious cash shortages for over two years now but the Central Bank intends to increase cash threshold from current levels of four percent of broad money supply to just above 10 percent.
The shortage of cash has been creating serious problems in the economy, hence high cash premium were being set against all forms of electronic money transactions.
This has had adverse effects particularly on the exchange rates.
But analysts are skeptical of monetary authorities' remedial action citing deficiency of confidence in the banking sector as the biggest threat to the economy.
"Money moves from formal to informal sector; it gets trapped there," RBZ Governor, Dr Mangudya conceded.
Some have also raised concern of the small quantities of notes in a market in hyperinflationary mode.
"I must say I'm worried about the fact that the highest denomination is going to be $ 5. You cannot buy a loaf of bread with $ 5 yet it's the highest denomination. Actually it's going to be costly for them because the nominal value of the $ 5 is less than the cost to print it," said economic analyst Brain Muchemwa, in a local radio station interview yesterday.
Zimbabwe's economy is predominantly informal, making it difficult for money to circulate in the formal banking channels and this is a challenge authorities will have to urgently address to bring stability in the financial sector.
Zimbabwe’s central bank chief, John Mangudya, said he would introduce a new currency in the next two weeks to address biting liquidity shortages in the economy and regain monetary policy control after years of dollarisation.
Mangudya told journalists in the capital on Tuesday that the as-of-yet-unnamed currency will have denominations of coins and notes with a maximum value of five Zimbabwe dollars (US$0.25).
“We are going to be releasing money into circulation. To be precise, within the next two weeks, we will have the new currency,” Mangudya said.
He said the new currency would trade along with the bond notes and the coins and would have the same value as these surrogate currencies.
Mangudya defended the bank’s decision to have a note worth only five Zimbabwe dollars as the highest denomination in a hyperinflationary environment, saying he wanted uniformity with the denominations that were already in the market.
Mangudya said that in line with the law, Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa must agree to the creation of a new monetary unit. After he assents, the minister of finance will then issue a decree, paving the way for the printing of the currency.
Zimbabwe ‘s inflation was last measured at 350% after Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube ordered the country’s statistical department to stop publishing annual inflation numbers until February of next year.
Back in 2009, soaring inflation prompted Zimbabwe to ditch its failing sovereign currency in favour of a basket of foreign currencies led by the United States dollar. But “dollarising” the economy hit a major bump in 2015 when greenbacks started vanishing from the formal banking system.
In a bid to end the US dollar shortage, Zimbabwe’s central bank introduced bond notes – a form of surrogate currency – that was backed by a US$200 million bond facility from the Africa Export-Import Bank. But black market speculation quickly eroded the bond note value, triggering a shortage that the central bank tried to offset by creating electronic notes.
Then this past February, bond notes – both physical and electronic – were merged into the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) dollar.
In June, the government moved to defend the Zimdollar against speculators by banning all foreign currencies in local transactions. But the effort has largely failed after the Zimdollar quickly fell prey to black market speculation that sent its value plummeting.
“There is a misconception that once you introduce a currency, then inflation is going to increase. We are simply giving people a chance to choose between electronic balances and cash,” said central bank chief Mangudya.
Economists are not holding out hope for the new currency.
“The only worry about a local currency is excessive money printing by the central bank, which makes multiple currencies dearer options when forced to choose,” Victor Bhoroma, a Harare-based independent economist, told Al Jazeera.
“The solution for Zimbabwe does not lie in any new currencies [whether Zimbabwean dollars or foreign currencies].”
The solution, according to Bhoroma, is instituting key reforms in governance, reining in expenditures in government, creating supply-side interventions to boost production, engaging in confidence-building, and strengthening institutions – such as the rule of law, property rights, and policy consistency.
Gift Mugano, an economics professor at Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University, told Al Jazeera that the introduction of the currency will accelerate its own value decline.
The new currency will have the same value as the bond note and RTGS dollars circulating in the economy.
“This is a continuation of a process that started on 24 June when the central bank outlawed the use of the US dollar and introduced a new currency,” Mugano said.
“What is important to note is that they did this when economic fundamentals were very weak. The fundamentals have not improved as we speak.
“The central bank doesn’t have the reserves to back the value of the currency and has only a month’s import cover at best. It’s going to be difficult to maintain the value of the currency.”
Mugano said the bond note and the RTGS dollar, the Zimbabwe dollar’s predecessor, had failed to act as a store of value, forcing ordinary Zimbabweans and companies to buy US dollars to preserve value.
He sees companies using the new currency to acquire US dollars.
“What will happen is very simple: companies will get cash to buy US dollars and then the rate will go higher as more cash chases the few US dollars in the market,” Mugano said. “The pressure on the exchange rate will be higher.”
The RTGS dollar and Zimbabwe’s surrogate currency, the bond note, have both struggled to hold value against the US dollar as demand outstrips supply.
Once valued at 1:1 with the greenback, the currency is now trading at 1:20 against the US dollar on the black market.
“It is obvious the Zimbabwean dollar will not hold any value because of negative fundamentals in the economy which include key among them confidence deficit and high demand for foreign currency to import commodities [current account deficit],” Bhoroma said.
“It is also inevitable that the central bank will continue to grow money supply in the economy to fund runaway government expenditure. This will further weaken the local currency.”
This year alone, the economy in Zimbabwe is contracting by more than 6.5%.
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday described Western sanctions as a “cancer” sapping the economy, and his supporters denounced the measures during marches held around the southern African country.
Mnangagwa’s opponents stayed away from the demonstrations, saying they were a distraction from the president’s mishandling of the economy, which is grappling with 18-hour daily power cuts and shortages of foreign exchange, fuel and medicines.
Mnangagwa has so far failed to unify the country since taking over from the late Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in 2017. Hopes of a swift recovery have faded as the economy struggles to exit its deepest crisis in a decade.
Mnangagwa, like Mugabe, blames the sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union since 2001 for the economic ills and sees them as a tool to remove the ruling ZANU-PF party from power.
“Every part and sector of our economy has been affected by these sanctions like a cancer,” Mnangagwa told a few thousand supporters inside a 60,000-seater national stadium. “Enough is enough, remove them. Remove these sanctions now!”
Earlier, 7,000 government supporters led by Mnangagwa’s wife Auxillia and bussed from across Zimbabwe marched for 5 km to the national stadium in the capital Harare.
Singing and dancing, they waved placards inscribed “No sanctions, no discrimination, sanctions new version of slavery,” and “Enough is enough, remove sanctions now.”
“We have no jobs because of the sanctions. America wants to remove ZANU-PF from power through sanctions but we will defend the party and our president,” said 32-year-old Martin Mafusire.
Similar marches were held throughout Zimbabwe after Mnangagwa declared Friday a public holiday.
The EU and United States imposed financial and travel bans on ZANU-PF and top military figures for alleged human rights abuses and electoral fraud. The government says the measures are punishment for its seizures of white-owned farms.
ZANU-PF supporters condemn the sanctions while the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change says they are not the cause of the country’s economic crisis.
The regional Southern African Development Community has rallied behind Zimbabwe’s call for an end to sanctions.
While the government ran documentaries and articles in the official press criticising sanctions, the U.S. and EU embassies took to social media to rebut the official narrative.
U.S. Ambassador Brian Nichols wrote an article in a private newspaper on Thursday saying “the greatest sanctions on Zimbabwe are the limitations that the country places on itself”.
He said the United States remained the biggest donor to Zimbabwe but corruption and lack of reform had dragged down the economy.
Harare says the U.S. sanctions have been the most devastating. These bar U.S. officials at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank from voting for debt relief or fresh lending for Zimbabwe.
In March, President Donald Trump extended by one year sanctions against 141 entities and individuals in Zimbabwe, including Mnangagwa.
Zimbabwe's militant teachers' group, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) says its members will from today start reporting for duty only twice a week as they could no longer afford transport fares to and from work.
This, they announced through a Friday letter they addressed to Public Service Commission chairperson, Vincent Hungwe.
PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe said teachers under his 15 000-member union will also be abandoning formal dressing during their course of duty as they can no longer afford the clothing.
He said teachers' earnings have been eroded by continued price increases that have propelled the country's inflation to an alarming 591 percent, according to top world economist Steve Hanke.
"We hereby give our notice of incapacitation and with effect from Monday the 21st of October 2019 our members will be reporting for duty twice a week at most," Majongwe said.
"Mr Chairman, teachers would also like to advise and notify you that because of their plight, they will no longer be able to abide by the Strict Dress Code Rules as the little pittance they are getting is not adequate to feed them and their families, let alone buy formal clothing."
Majongwe said teachers under his organisation will only resume full time duty when government starts paying their wages based on the US dollar interbank rates, which on Friday stood at $15.8 against USD$1.
"Our humble and honest request to government is simply a radical adjustment of teachers' salaries to the last USD salary paid, at the current interbank rate, that is pegged at $15.8 today," he said.
The pending job action by the radical teachers group comes as junior doctors working in the country's public hospitals Friday went into Day 47 of their crippling strike demanding a review of their wages and allowances based on interbank rates.
The doctors insist they were prepared to report for work, but they were financially incapacitated to do so.
Government has offered the critical health staff a 60 percent wage hike which has been turned down by doctors who want their salaries pegged against the US dollar.
According to latest wage talks, government Friday revised the offer to 100 percent.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa Thursday accused the striking doctors of being used by the enemy to advance a regime change agenda against his under-fire administration.
Credit: New Zimbabwe
Since Zimbabwe’s land reform of 2000 – when around 8 million hectares of formerly large-scale commercial farmland was distributed to about 175,000 households – debates about the consequences for food security have raged.
A standard narrative has been that Zimbabwe has turned from “food basket” to “basket case”. This year, following the devastating El Niño drought combined with Cyclone Idai, some 5.5 million people are estimated to be at risk of hunger, with international agencies issuing crisis and emergency alerts.
It is unquestionable that this season was disastrous – only 776,635 tonnes of maize was produced, more than a third below the five-year average. Nevertheless, the story of food insecurity is more complex than the headline figures suggest.
But Zimbabwe suffered food shortages, often precipiated by El Niño events, before land reform. These too led to the need for more imports. And surpluses have also been produced since land reform. For example, in 2017, there was a bumper crop. Some of it was stored and has been used to keep people going.
Getting behind the headline figures and understanding an increasingly complex food economy is essential. Our on-going research shows just how complicated the picture is.
Farming and food
Since land reform, we have been tracking livelihood change in resettlement areas in a number of sites across the country. Our research is exploring how people have fared since getting land, asking who is doing well and not so well, and why. Some of our key findings include:
Crop production is higher in the land reform areas compared to the communal lands. Larger land areas allows new settlers to produce, invest and accumulate.
There are substantial hidden flows of food between land reform areas and poor rural and urban areas, as successful resettlement farmers provide food for relatives, or sell food informally.
There is a significant growth of small-scale, farmer-led irrigation in resettlement areas. This is often not recognised, as production occurs on disparate small plots, frequently farmed by younger people without independent homes.
Trade in food across regions and borders, facilitated by networks of traders, often women, is significant, but unrecorded.
Market networks following land reform are complex and informal, linking producers to traders and small urban centres in new ways. Outside formal channels, the volume and flows of food through the system is difficult to trace.
Simple aggregate analyses of food deficits, estimating the numbers of people at risk of food insecurity, do not capture these new dynamics. National surveys are important, but may be misleading, and local studies, such as ours, often do not match the national, aggregate picture.
So, what is going on?
Access to food: complex relationships
Food insecurity is not just about production, it is also about access. This is affected by the value of assets when sold, the ease with which things can be bought and sold in markets, the value of cash as influenced by currency fluctuations and inflation, local and cross-border trade opportunities, and all the social, institutional and cultural dimensions that go into exchange.
When these dimensions change, so does food security. And this is particularly true for certain groups.
Take the case of Zvishavane district, in Midlands province of Zimbabwe. In the communal area of Mazvihwa, there was effectively no production this season. Some got a little if they had access to wetlands, and a few had stores. But compared to 30 years ago, production is focused on maize, which stores poorly, rather than small grains that can be kept for years.
How are people surviving? Some seek piecework in the nearby resettlement areas; others have taken up seasonal gold panning; others migrate to town, or further afield; others get help from relatives through remittances; while others are in receipt of cash transfers or food hand-outs from NGOs.
With small amounts of cash, people must buy food. It’s available in shops, but expensive. So a vibrant trade has emerged, with exchanges of maize grain for sugar or other products. And it’s especially people from the land reform areas who are selling their surpluses. Many have relatives who got land, and some travel there to get food, but there is also a network of women traders who come and sell in the communal areas.
Aggregate surveys almost always miss this complexity. There are sampling biases, as the importance of the resettlements as sites of production and exchange are missed.
There are data problems too, as it is difficult to pick up informal exchanges, and income-earning activities on the margins. The result is that each year there are big food insecurity figures proclaimed, fund-raising campaigns launched, but meanwhile people get on with surviving.
This is not to say that there is not a problem this year. Far from it. But it may be a different one to that diagnosed.
Economic collapse is causing a humanitarian crisis
As the Zimbabwean economy continues to deteriorate, with rapidly-rising inflation, parallel currency rates, and declining service provision, whether electricity, fuel or water, the challenges of market exchange and trade become more acute. Barter trade is more common, as prices fluctuate wildly and the value of physical and electronic money diverge. With poor mobile phone networks due to electricity outages, electronic exchange becomes more difficult too.
Collapsing infrastructure has an effect on production also. Fuel price hikes make transport prohibitive and irrigation pumps expensive to run. Desperate measures by government often make matters worse. The now-rescinded edict that all grain must be supplied to the state grain marketing board undermined vital informal trade. Meanwhile, the notoriously corrupt “command agriculture” subsidy scheme directs support to some, while excluding others from the provision of favourable loans for government-supplied seed, fertiliser, fuel or equipment.
Economic and infrastructural collapse is threatening food security in Zimbabwe. Even if there is good rainfall this season, the crisis will persist. Farmers will plant, produce and market less this year. While food imports are needed for targeted areas and population groups for sure, this may not be the biggest challenge.
Stabilising Zimbabwe’s economy is the top priority, as economic chaos is causing a humanitarian crisis.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki has said former President Robert Mugabe delayed embarking on the land reform programme to allow successful negotiations between the African National Congress (ANC) and the apartheid regime.
He said this at Durban City Hall on Tuesday during an ANC memorial service for Cde Mugabe in KwaZulu-Natal.
"As we began the process of negotiations here in South Africa in 1990, the 10-year period of the Constitution of Zimbabwe negotiated at the Lancaster House came to an end," said Cde Mbeki.
"Zimbabwe could now redo its Constitution, including addressing this matter of the land question, particularly as it related to the principle of willing buyer-willing seller.
"The then secretary-general of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku from Nigeria, then approached President Mugabe to plead with him not to change the Lancaster House provisions related to the land question.
"His (Chief Anyaoku) argument was that if Zimbabwe did something like that to address the land issue, correctly as they needed to address it, it would frighten the white population in South Africa and make it difficult for ANC to negotiate with them."
Cde Mbeki said Cde Mugabe then acceded to Chief Anyaoku's plea.
"That is why the land reform process was delayed in Zimbabwe for at least a decade," he said.
"It was done in order to give us a space here in order to succeed in our negotiations with the apartheid regime."
Cde Mbeki said he went to the UK and spoke to Prime Minister Tony Blair and urged the British government to honour its Lancaster House agreement.
"As South African government we told Prime Minister Blair that we think you must honour your promise on the land question that particular year UK, Canada and Australia and New Zealand, the so called white Commonwealth, all of them for some reasons had budget surpluses and so we said to him (Prime Minister Blair) that if he committed himself to raising the money, we will talk to other Commonwealth countries to support him and he agreed," he said.
"A donor conference was held in Zimbabwe in 1998 to address this matter and it was agreed, but dishonoured in the first instance by the UK.
"The matter came up again a bit later when the war veterans started occupying some of the farms and at that particular time there were 115 farms that were available for sale and they would have cost 9 million.
"Zimbabwe sent a delegation to the UK to ask that they be given the money to buy those farms to take the war veterans onto these farms that would have owned away from these commercial ones and the British government said they had no money."
Credit: The Herald
The death of Robert Gabriel Mugabe (95) saw another of the first-generation leaders of newly independent southern African states leave the world stage.
Southern Africa was the last region on the continent to obtain majority rule. The independence of Zimbabwe (1980), Namibia (1990) and democracy in South Africa (1994) ended white settler minority regimes. They were replaced in power by liberation movements. The Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu, later Zanu-PF), the South West African People’s Organisation (Swapo) and the African National Congress (ANC) have been in government since then.
Mugabe’s death invites a look at the succession – or lack of – in these three countries.
Despite the cultivation of heroic narratives and patriotic history, the first-generation freedom fighters who took over the state offices are not immortal. Mugabe’s male-dominated leadership structures based on liberation struggle credentials remain entrenched.
In all three countries a second struggle generation is gradually entering the higher echelons of party and state. But the “born free” – people who were born after liberation – as well as women have hardly made significant inroads into the meritocratic, male-dominated core structures of power.
The question is how much longer the “old men syndrome” will remain alive and kicking in the three countries, despite growing frustration among the politically powerless.
Celebrated by many as an icon of the anti-colonial struggle, Mugabe was nevertheless an autocratic ruler who overstayed his time in office. The military finally replaced him with his longtime confidante Emmerson Mnangagwa in a soft coup in November 2017.
Mnangagwa’s sidelining was initiated by Mugabe’s younger wife Grace (born in 1965, she was 40 years his junior) to hijack the succession of her husband. She led a group of Zanu-PF members, dubbed the G40 (for Generation 40). The name referred to a constitutional clause that everyone above the age of 40 qualified as a presidential candidate. But, the military and security apparatus and its leadership was still firmly rooted in the struggle generation and opted for “Team Lacoste” named after “the Crocodile”, which is Mnangagwa’s nickname.
This ended the political careers of the G40. So far, the “elders” remain in charge and in firm control.
After Tsvangirai’s death earlier this year the much younger Nelson Chamisa (born in 1978) won the internal party power struggle. He challenged Mnangagwa in the elections in July last year.
Thanks mainly to rural area results, Zanu-PF recorded a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections. Mnangagwa also secured a (disputed) and much more narrow first term in office as elected head of state.
This is partly due to a continued stricter social control in rural areas. Political interaction and activities in villages can be much more easily monitored than in urban areas. But it also suggests that traditional values – such as respect for elders – remain alive. This gives the generation in power a comparative advantage over younger competitors.
Similar generational constellations also benefited the governing parties in Namibia and South Africa.
Namibia has had three state presidents since independence in 1990. Sam Nujoma, co-founder of Swapo in 1960, was its president until 2007 and the country’s first head of state for three terms until 2005. In May he celebrated his 90th birthday in seemingly good health. Though he remains influential, he has been less visible lately.
In a heavy-handed inner-party battle he ensured that his crown prince Hifikepunye Pohamba (born 1936) followed for two terms. Pohamba was succeeded by Namibia’s first Prime Minister Hage Geingob (born 1941).
After a clash with Nujoma, Geingob left Namibia to head the Global Coalition for Africa in Washington. Returning to Namibia’s parliament, he made a comeback under Pohamba. Reappointed as Prime Minister in 2012, he became state president in 2015 and party leader in 2017.
Geingob is tipped to be reelected as head of state for another five-year term in the next presidential and parliamentary elections in November. His current Vice President Nangolo Mbumba is the same age. In the Swapo electoral college on 7 September he secured another top ranking on the party’s candidate list for the National Assembly and will remain in the inner circle of “Team Hage”.
Party president Geingob could also fill ten secure seats on the electoral list and brought some of those seniors back, who did not make the cut. As the head of state he can appoint another eight non-voting members to parliament. This will allow him to retain several more of the trusted old cadres.
Despite this, Namibia’s second struggle generation (those who went into exile in the mid-1970s) is gradually taking over.
Nelson Mandela,(1918-2013) served only one term as state president. His successors Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma (both born 1942) were recalled by the ANC and did not survive the full two terms in office.
Zuma was succeeded by Cyril Ramaphosa. Born in 1952, he is ten years younger than his predecessor.
Inter-generational tensions have begun to show in South Africa. In the latest national elections young South Africans, or “born frees”, showed their disdain for the ANC’s old guard and agenda by staying away from the polls as a form of protest.
This younger generation has shown its frustration with the limits to liberation. Many dismiss formal politics. Their preference is to engage in social movements or other parties.
One such choice is to support Julius Malema (born 1981) and his Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) which was founded in 2013 and appeals to a smaller pan-African segment of the younger generation. But the party’s election results remained behind its expectations and kept it in a distant third place, garnering only 10,80% in the latest polls.
For obvious reasons, the first-generation freedom fighters, who took over the state offices after liberation, continue to place a high value on seniority in age.
Younger generations of leaders and women make only limited inroads into the structures of power, and the “born free” are not represented.
Rather, the second struggle generation is moving upward to take over, maintaining a system which leaves little room for renewal beyond the confines of individual credentials within the ranks of the former liberation movements.
The continued cultivation of a heroic narrative and patriotic history includes the internalised conception that freedom fighters never retire. Theirs is a lifelong struggle. “A luta continua” remains alive as long as they are.
But this is a backward looking perspective, nurtured by a romanticised past. It blocks new ideas and visions by younger generations contributing to governance, which would create ownership and make them feel represented. It prevents rather than creating a common future.
Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile operate, Econet Wireless is having Tesla batteries installed at its base stations around the country as a backup to electricity shortages currently hitting the country.
The power utility company, Zesa (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority), early this year, introduced 18-hour long load shedding schedules to contain the situation as it is producing less electricity due to low water levels in Lake Kariba, the country’s largest source of power, exacerbated by drought.
Zesa, which also relies on importing power from neighboring countries, owes South Africa’s Eskom around $23 million in unpaid bills. At present Eskom supplies 400 megawatts to Zimbabwe which is not enough to restore the situation to normalcy.
Zimbabwe has had cash shortages as its economy continues to fall and mobile money is essential for most daily transactions by Zimbabweans. Large chunks of the country’s economy runs through electronic systems and mobile money, which is dominated by Econet’s Ecocash with 95% market share. It’s estimated around 5 million transactions a day moving more than $200 million.
All this means local mobile network base stations need to always be on regardless of electricity shortages. In July, Econet generators failed to kick in after a power outage forcing a mobile money blackout for a day. Most citizens were stranded and economists estimated the country lost millions of dollars.
With fuel shortages and unstable prices, mobile operators are finding it hard to use diesel-powered generators to back up their stations and have turned to the Palo Alto, California-based automaker and storable-energy company Tesla to provide them with batteries to keep providing services to their subscribers.
Tesla’s larger-than-life founder Elon Musk, who was born in neighboring South Africa, launch the Powerwall in 2015. The residential version is a rechargeable lithium-ion battery designed to be mounted in a garage or on the side of a house. The device, the size of a small refrigerator can store power from a home’s solar panels, or connect to the electrical grid, storing up electricity when rates are low and providing backup electricity supply in case of a blackout.
The lithium-ion batteries stores energy and can stand up to 10 hours, enough time to power up a station until electricity supplies are restored in some parts of the country and Econet-owned solar specialist Distribution Power Africa (DPA) is currently doing the installations.
The commercial Powerwalls which costs $6,500 each will be used when solar panels cannot generate enough electricity during the night or when there is bad weather.
DPA chief executive officer Norman Moyo recently told Bloomberg his company is installing 520 Powerwall batteries, with two going into each base station of the 1,300 base stations in the country. He said base stations power supplies were critical considering that for transactions to run in Zimbabwe telecom network should be up adding that “Telcoms have become the lifeblood of the economy.”
Read More: Quartz Africa
Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, has died. Mugabe was 95, and had been struggling with ill health for some time. The country’s current President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced Mugabe’s death on Twitter on September 6:
The responses to Mnangagwa’s announcement were immediate and widely varied. Some hailed Mugabe as a liberation hero. Others dismissed him as a “monster”. This suggests that Mugabe will be as divisive a figure in death as he was in life.
The official mantra of the Zimbabwe government and its Zimbabwe African National Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) will emphasise his leadership of the struggle to overthrow Ian Smith’s racist settler regime in what was then Rhodesia. It will also extol his subsequent championing of the seizure of white-owned farms and the return of land into African hands.
In contrast, critics will highlight how – after initially preaching racial reconciliation after the liberation war in December 1979 – Mugabe threw away the promise of the early independence years. He did this in several ways, among them a brutal clampdown on political opposition in Matabeleland in the 1980s, and Zanu-PF’s systematic rigging of elections to keep he and his cronies in power.
Inevitably, the focus will primarily be on his domestic record. Yet many of those who will sing his praises as a hero of African nationalism will be from elsewhere on the continent. So where should we place Mugabe among the pantheon of African nationalists who led their countries to independence?
Slide into despotism
Most African countries have been independent of colonial rule for half a century or more.
The early African nationalist leaders were often regarded as gods at independence. Yet they very quickly came to be perceived as having feet of very heavy clay.
Nationalist leaders symbolised African freedom and liberation. But few were to prove genuinely tolerant of democracy and diversity. One party rule, nominally in the name of “the people”, became widespread. In some cases, it was linked to interesting experiments in one-party democracy, as seen in Tanzania under Julius Nyerere and Zambia under Kenneth Kaunda.
In Zimbabwe’s case, Mugabe proved unable to shift the country, as he had wished, to one-partyism. However, this did not prevent Zanu-PF becoming increasingly intolerant over the years in response to both economic crisis and rising opposition. Successive elections were shamelessly perverted.
When, despite this, Zanu-PF lost control of parliament in 2008, it responded by rigging the presidential election in a campaign of unforgivable brutality. Under Mugabe, the potential for democracy was snuffed out by a brutal despotism.
A wasted inheritance
Whether the economic policies they pursued were ostensibly capitalist or socialist, the early African nationalist leaders presided over rapid economic decline, following an initial period of relative prosperity after independence.
In retrospect, it’s widely recognised that the challenges they faced were immense. Most post-colonial economies were underdeveloped and depended upon the export of a small number of agricultural or mineral commodities. From the 1970s, growth was crowded out by the International Monetary Fund demanding that mounting debts be surmounted through the pursuit of structural adjustment programmes. This hindered spending on infrastructure as well as social services and education and swelled political discontent.
In contrast, Mugabe inherited a viable, relatively broad-based economy that included substantial industrial and prosperous commercial agricultural sectors. Even though these were largely white controlled, there was far greater potential for development than in most other post-colonial African countries.
But, through massive corruption and mismanagement, his government threw that potential away. He also presided over a disastrous downward spiral of the economy, which saw both industry and commercial agriculture collapse. The economy has never recovered and remains in a state of acute and persistent crisis today.
On the political front, the rule of some leaders – like Milton Obote in Uganda and Siad Barre in Somalia – created so much conflict that coups and crises drove their countries into civil war. Zimbabwe under Mugabe was spared this fate – but perhaps only because the political opposition in Matabeleland in the 1980s was so brutalised after up to 30 000 people were killed, that they shrank from more conflict. Peace, then, was merely the absence of outright war.
Some leaders, notably Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere in Tanzania, are still revered for their commitments to national independence and African unity. This is despite the fact that, domestically, their records were marked by failure. By 1966, when Nkrumah was displaced by a military coup, his one-party rule had become politically corrupt and repressive.
Despite this, Nyerere always retained his reputation for personal integrity and commitment to African development. Both Nkrumah’s and Nyerere’s ideas continue to inspire younger generations of political activists, while other post-independence leaders’ names are largely forgotten.
Will Mugabe be similarly feted by later generations? Will the enormous flaws of his rule be forgotten amid celebrations of his unique role in the liberation of southern Africa as a whole?
A Greek tragedy
The problem for pan-Africanist historians who rush to praise Mugabe is that they will need to repudiate the contrary view of the millions of Zimbabweans who have suffered under his rule or have fled the country to escape it. He contributed no political ideas that have lasted. He inherited the benefits as well as the costs of settler rule but reduced his country to penury. He destroyed the best of its institutional inheritance, notably an efficient civil service, which could have been put to good use for all.
The cynics would say that the reputation of Patrice Lumumba, as an African revolutionary and fighter for Congolese unity has lasted because he was assassinated in 1961. In other words, he had the historical good fortune to die young, without the burden of having made major and grievous mistakes.
In contrast, there are many who would say that Mugabe simply lived too long, and his life was one of Greek tragedy: his early promise and virtue marked him out as popular hero, but he died a monster whom history will condemn.
Robert Mugabe, the African revolutionary hero who liberated his country from white rule but then turned the new, independent nation of Zimbabwe into his personal fiefdom and a virtual one-party state during his 37-year reign, has died, the country's current president said on Friday. Mugabe was 95.
"It is with the utmost sadness that I announce the passing on of Zimbabwe's founding father and former President, Cde Robert Mugabe," Mugabe's successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, posted on his official Twitter account.
Mugabe was forced out of power by a military coup in 2017. The cause of death was not immediately confirmed, but Mugabe had long battled health issues.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born into poverty in 1924 in what was then Southern Rhodesia, a British colony named after the notorious colonialist Cecil John Rhodes. Like neighboring South Africa, Rhodesia was allowed self-rule, but under a brutal system run by the white minority.
Mugabe was educated in Catholic missionary schools and became a teacher in what was then known as Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. He later lived in Ghana when that country became the first African nation granted independence from Britain in 1957. He returned to Southern Rhodesia in 1960. Five years later the country's white rulers broke away from their British overlords in order to keep power and renamed the country Rhodesia.
Mugabe was one of the founders of a revolutionary political party in Rhodesia called the Zimbabwe African National Union, or ZANU-PF. His actions led to him being imprisoned in 1964 without trial. He served 11 years behind bars, but while in prison, he was chosen as president of ZANU-PF.
After his release, he directed guerrilla warfare efforts against Rhodesia's white government from exile in Mozambique.
Mugabe became known as a skilled negotiator during his time in exile, according to BBC News.
He made a name for himself during the independence movement, and Mugabe's ZANU-PF won an overwhelming majority in the first free elections in what had been officially renamed Zimbabwe in 1980. Mugabe then became the country's first post-independence prime minister.
"The phase we are entering, the phase of independence should be regarded as a phase conferring upon all of us — the people of Zimbabwe — whether we are black or white — full sovereignty, full democratic rights," Mugabe said in 1980.
Zimbabwe seemed to have a promising future, but bitter divisions remained. Mugabe soon moved to consolidate his ZANU-PF party's hold on the country, crushing his opponents in a brutal crackdown in which thousands of people were killed. He altered the constitution in 1987 to make himself president.
Although Mugabe initially invested heavily in social programs, including education and health, Zimbabwe's fortunes turned dramatically over the next decade. Mugabe blamed the white farmers, who remained in the country after the civil war, for economic malaise, and a vote was ordered to alter the constitution so the government could confiscate white-owned farms. The referendum was defeated, but Mugabe ordered his followers to carry out the farm seizures anyway.
Between 2000 and 2001, more than 1,000 farms were seized, Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes" reported at the time. A group of Mugabe's followers called the "war veterans" drove the white farm owners off their land, wrecked homes and barns, killed livestock and then left the land fallow.
"The white farmer is the crudest of the whites in this country," Mugabe told Kroft, "the most backwater in terms of enlightenment and education."
The wife of one white farmer who was forced to drink diesel fuel before being shot blamed Mugabe for her husband's murder.
"Why?" Mugabe asked Kroft during the interview. "I wasn't there, I didn't give instructions to anyone."
The farm seizures led to condemnation by the international community, and loans to Zimbabwe were banned. Once known as the bread basket of Africa, Zimbabwe's farming industry collapsed and the country descended into desperate poverty.
A rival group, the Movement for Democratic Change, grew in power and won a majority in the first round of elections in 2008. But its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, pulled out of the runoff after violence that left an estimated 200 people dead, according to NPR.
But through the chaos Mugabe lost some of his grip on power. The U.S., EU and many of his fellow African leaders tried to pressure him into leaving. In a defiant speech before Parliament in 2008, Mugabe claimed the international criticism, which extended to his handling of a vicious cholera epidemic, was a "pack of lies," and vowed he would not be intimidated into leaving.
"I will never, never, never surrender," he said. "Zimbabwe is mine, I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans."
In 2009 he was forced to agree to a power-sharing agreement with Tsvangirai, but he managed to keep most of the power for himself. The economy went into free-fall. Unemployment soared and diseases were rampant. The Zimbabwe dollar was being printed in denominations of billions amid astronomical inflation.
Mugabe insisted he had won a clear victory in a contested 2013 election, and ended the power-sharing agreement. But his grip on power only lasted a few more years. He was finally ousted when his longtime allies, the country's military commanders, turned against him amid concerns he was setting up his wife, Grace, as his successor.
Mugabe had battled a number of health problems in recent years, and was receiving medical treatment in Singapore when he died. He had been there since April.
Mugabe once insisted he would never retire or go into exile. "I fought for Zimbabwe, and when I die I will be buried in Zimbabwe, nowhere else," he said in 2003.
Credit: CBS News