Friday, January 27, 2006

Fear Galore in Review Statement Aftershock

Just days after Reserve bank governor Gideon Gono issued his fourth quarter monetary policy review statement on Tuesday, the statement has taken on a life it's own spurring controversy in almost all quarters of society.

First and perhaps most poignantly critics were elated that on top of chastizing the government for extravagance, corruption, and continued chaos in the agricultural sector, Gono apparently gave the strongest hints of a deep seated fear of public revolt over hunger within ZANU.
"To quote the wisdom of General Chiwenga, Commander of the Defence Forces, a hungry man is an angry man, and as Zimbabweans, we must pull together to ensure full productivity in agriculture so that hunger is alien to every Zimbabwean,"
Gono said adding that,
"General Chiwenga told me: make sure agriculture is revived and make food available so we (soldiers) will not be forced to turn our guns on hungry Zimbabweans."
Critics of the regime immediately attributed this sentiment to the reality of a much shakier resolve at the core of ZANU-PF.
"The import of his statement is that beneath the veneer of a brave face, there is underlying fear of political unrest. The fact that they are now discussing their fears in public is a demonstration of the growing anxiety,"
Eldred Masunungure, chairman of the political science department at Harare's University of Zimbabwe said.

Then as if this wasn't enough, Thursday's Fingaz speculated on a pervasive fear in Mugabe's cabinet in the face of an impending cabinet reshuffle. Speaking anonymously a minister in Mugabe's cabinet said,
“Given the rate at which the economy is sliding downwards, the feeling among some of us is that the President (Mugabe) is slowly reaching a point where he might say enough is enough. He has not been happy with the quality of reports he gets from some of our colleagues and has really shown his dislike of officials who lie,”
But among the laity, the fear is a lot more searing as they have watched prices of most goods treble over three days as opportunistic businesses exploited Gono's inflation caution. Gono said he expected inflation to peak at 800%, approximately 300% higher than present levels. Businesses saw it fit to effect the 300% inflation differential immediately. In Bulawayo, a standoff was reported between commuters and omnibus operators who had unilaterally raised their fares from ZW$20,000 to $30,000 a trip. Further, Gono has since devalued the Zimbabwean dollar on the foreign currency auction, a move that will certainly catalyze inflation over the next few days.

In a nation weary from years of economic decline and perpetual uncertainty, it seems more uncertainty is all macro economic policy makers have to offer. So the fear, a deep, cutting, pervasive fear continues to rule the day after what many hoped would be the start of the nation's resurgence.

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