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Manhunt for a biology teacher; Zimbabwe’s shame

As dismal O-level exam pass rate of 31.6% is announced.
All this and more while Zimbabwe’s lenders lost 95% of their money overnight. Image: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg

It never rains but it pours in Zimbabwe.

Having melted through weeks of unbearable heat with temperatures over 38 degrees Celsius, the rain finally moved into Zimbabwe with high winds, deep purple clouds and pounding rain.

In some places storms of 150mm (6 inches) of rain were recorded in a couple of hours. One such place was Hwange, where our biggest thermal power plant is; 135mm of rain in a couple of hours flooded the town and the power station.

Read: Zimbabwe electricity woes worsen as flood takes out plant

Our lights that usually only come on in the middle of the night didn’t come on at all for a couple of days until things dried out, and then we went back to our normal abnormal state of 18-hour-a-day power cuts.

Meanwhile flying ants swarmed out of the baked ground in their millions and mushrooms appeared from nowhere growing at a speed almost as fast as our government finds ways of making money for themselves.

Read: How politics and poverty affect electricity provision in Zimbabwe

This week our government got off the hook with regard to their obligation to pay doctors the same salary they were earning a year ago. Zimbabwean Strive Masiyiwa and his Higherlife Foundation has established a fund that will pay junior doctors US$300 a month for the next six months.

Read: Zimbabwe billionaire to pay striking doctors to return to work

Tawanda Zvakada, spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, said: “This is not a long-lasting solution but this is an opportunity for our members to go back to work and finish their training.”

While this deal was being finalised our Supreme Court ruled this week that all debts incurred before February 22 last year will be settled in the local currency on a US$1 to Z$1 basis. The ruling was made by Chief Justice Luke Malaba, the same judge who ruled that Emmerson Mnangagwa won Zimbabwe’s 2018 disputed, contested election.

In the week that Justice Malaba made the currency/debt ruling, the bank rate for US$1 was Z$17 and the black market rate was US$1 for Z$25.

To put Justice Malaba’s ruling into context: if someone owed you US$100 in February 2019, they can now pay you back $100 Zimbabwe bond dollars which today is worth the equivalent of just US$4, not quite enough to buy three mangoes in the supermarket.

Read: Zimbabwe imports corn as catastrophic hunger looms

The Supreme Court ruling was made in response to an appeal over a US$3.8 million debt owed by Zambezi Gas to mining-related company NR Barber, which is now to be paid in Zimbabwe dollars and worth only US$145 000.

Undoubtedly this ruling will mostly benefit the well-connected and the political elite, because who else can access such huge debt in a bankrupt country?

Borrow a million, pay back fifty thousand. What a bargain for Zimbabwe’s big borrowers; they must be rubbing their hands in glee.

Legal commentator Alex Magaisa calls this the ‘great heist.’ The rest of us just shake our heads at the disgrace. What a tragedy for Zimbabwe’s lenders who have overnight lost 95% of their money. They have been reduced to paupers like the rest of us since the Zanu PF government changed US dollars to Zimbabwe Bond dollars 11 months ago.

Meanwhile, while our government is off the hook with doctors and off the hook with debts, so far they are doing nothing realistic about the teachers who are earning the equivalent of US$40 a month and can’t afford to do their jobs.

When a school teacher and 153 students in Bulawayo held a demonstration last week to highlight the absence of teachers and the huge school fee increases, police launched a manhunt for the teacher who had by then gone into hiding.

Bulawayo biology teacher Brian Mutsiba subsequently released a letter that reads in part: “The presence of officials from the president’s office, military intelligence and prisons intelligence on that fateful day is testimony enough to say there are threats on my life.”

If there was any doubt about the need for the demonstration by Mutsiba and 153 students from Njube High School, the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council announcement this week says it all: there was only a 31.6% pass rate in November’s O-level exams.

There is shameful irony about a manhunt for a biology teacher when teachers can’t afford to go to work and children can’t afford to go to school.

We are left asking who will bail out Zimbabwe’s teachers and who will then bail out Zimbabwe’s police, where a constable earns just US$43 a month – and then the soldiers, nurses and the never-ending list of people after that.

Isn’t this what governments are supposed to do with the taxes we pay them?

Cathy Buckle is a Zimbabwean writer and blogger living in Marondera, Zimbabwe.




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Socialism at it’s best.

That is not socialism. It is highway robbery. Socialism was NEVER practised in Zimbabwe despite the pre-independence clarion call of “Gutsa ruzhinji” meaning plenty for the majority. Rather a very corrupt form of capitalism has been in place since 1990, in which a corrupt ruling ZANU-PF elite has hogged all the “milk and honey” for itself.
Socialism is defined on as a social and economic doctrine that calls for public (i.e. the general population)rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources.

Zimbabwe is a corrupt form of capitalism you say? According to the definition you provided, socialism is the “sharing of resources”, the means of production are owned by the collective or the abandonment of property rights and the rule of law. Socialism by definition, is the rule of man, or dictatorship, in contrast with the rule of law, or capitalism. Socialism is a system where the power is concentrated in the hands of the most unscrupulous individuals. Socialism is a system that discourages accountability and rewards unaccountable and irresponsible behaviour patterns. The lack of property rights acts as an incentive for everyone to exploit the resource at a maximal rate. Nobody strives to protect the shared resource. All the destructive forces of greed and corruption are enabled, rewarded and focused on the exploitation of the shared means of production.

The current situation in Zimbabwe is a real-life experiment in socialism. Zimbabwe displays the heart and soul of socialism.

The rule of law, property rights, individualism and accountability form part of the free market capitalist system. Zimbabwe has abandoned and rejected capitalism the moment they nationalised the farms “without compensation”. Now they are paying for it with their lives.

The textbook definition of Socialism that you refer to above is of no use whatsoever in the real world. How it plays out in reality is ALWAYS that the most cynical and ruthless sociopaths rise to become the leaders of the great people’s revolution – and then promptly grab the power and all assets for themselves; all the while claiming that it is for the ‘people’ and the ‘poor’. And nobody can argue with them, because they (the leaders) are after all the persons appointed by the ‘people’ to look after the interests of the populace. Ask yourself this: Who is the public? It is not you and it is not I, therefore it must be the Great Leaders…
Note that this is not a Bug, it is a Feature of Socialism.

The same sequence of events plays out over and over again in all corners of the world where the great socialist experiment is performed.
Read FA von Hayek’s ‘The Road to Serfdom'(1944) or Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged'(1957) to see how people who actually lived through it experienced it.

The fact that you missed the actual nature of the events that unfolded in Zimbabwe over the last four decades is not Socialism’s fault, it is yours.

It seems you’ve fallen for the socialist semantic games. The “people” in socialism doesn’t refer to individuals as it would in private ownership, instead it refers to people as an abstract collective concept. In a socialist country when “the people” own something, it’s not owned by each individual, but it’s owned by the state which stands in the place of and represents “the people”.

People who vote for socialism, and then suffer the consequences, are not victims, they are perpetrators. When these perpetrators face the inevitable judgement for their actions, they suddenly claim to be victims. No! The system hands them the just and fair punishment for their criminal acts!

Sensei, it seems you are unaware of the events that have led to the current situation in Zimbabwe. No farms were nationalized by the ZANU-PF ruling class. The government in 2000 fomented the illegal and brutal invasion of farms owned by Zimbabweans of European origin. A few of these farms were given to landless citizens, but most of the land was shared out to ZANU-PF loyalists, some in the Mugabe-led government ending up with as many as half a dozen large farms each. That was not socialism. The word socialism vanished from party speeches in Harare more than thirty years ago.
Like everywhere in Africa today, the emphasis is on every man for himself, winner takes all. That is the essence of capitalism.
Unfortunately, the goals of socialism can never be achieved, because those elected to leadership positions tend to get drunk on power and forget all their noble promises.
The NHS in the UK and social welfare systems in Nordic countries are examples of how beneficial aspects of socialism can be.
My point is, it is stupid to blame the Zimbabwe economic and social meltdown on socialism, because there never has been socialism in that country, just a corrupt cabal of money- and land-grabbing capitalists!

Samurungu We can call it whatever you like but ultimately it was the ruling Black political leaders and parties abusing and oppressing the ordinary Black man (their supporters) in the interests of their own personal gain plus using race as an distraction while they plunder. It is a model the ANC follow enthusiastically yet, despite their experience, I don’t hear any Zimbabweans talking out about it. Sad hey?

Samurungu, thank you for the opportunity to debate the issue.
You make a statement regarding the essence of capitalism. Well, let’s ignore the emotional side of the debate, let us see the victim mentality in perspective. Let’s try to forget the envy and resentment for a moment and try to focus on the cold facts.

Capitalism is a system wherein people are rewarded for their efforts. In this system, an individual can only become wealthy if he contributes to society. In this system property is the reward for serving the consumer with the best product at the best price. In this system it is impossible to acquire and keep property, if that property is not constantly employed to add value for society. The house, car, farm, or factory of the entrepreneur can only be acquired if the consumer voluntarily pays for it. The moment this entrepreneur stops to satisfy the needs of the consumer, he will lose his income, hence he will lose his property. His property will then go to the next guy who manages to serve the needs of the consumer. This is total freedom of choice for the consumer.

Capitalism is not every man for himself, winner takes all as you stated. Capitalism is a system where the consumer, or society in general, rewards individuals for rendering a service to them. The system is highly effective and stable because the incentives and rewards are aligned with the common good. Socialism, on the other hand, is a system of exploitation where individuals can only gain wealth by exploiting others. People can only acquire wealth in a socialist society if they exploit the public and if they plunder the shared resources. This is slavery for the consumer, as his personal freedoms are stolen and his freedom of choice disappears.

Look around you for examples. Mr Johann Rupert serves the consumer with an abundance of items from cigarettes and watches to medical care and bursaries. He enriches the lives of people. Ace Magashule on the other hand, well……….

Socialism only “works” in very good capitalism systems, once you get to the end of the easy money (Zim at 1990 – 2000), then the true face of socialism shows itself. The “brilliant” leaders then turn to anyone who shows any sign of unhappiness (police and army unleashed onto the average citizen), then cruelty becomes the norm, with excuses searching for all kinds of scapegoats (Zim = 4 000 farmers & IMF). The end result poverty forever.

Samurungu, the welfare programs in Scandinavian countries are not a triumph of socialism, it’s a triumph of a tiny, homogenous, highly educated society sitting on massive oil reserves while not having to spend money on defense (they have NATO and the vast US military budget for that), they don’t have to spend money on medical research (again the US does most of that) among other things. So yes, one can be generous if one respects private ownership and have other countries footing your bills. Moreover even Norwegian ministers have urged socialists like Bernie Sanders to stop using Norway as an example of a successful socialist country, because they are not socialist. They HAVE welfare, that’s all.

Socialism cannot claim exclusive ownership of the concept of welfare programs, welfare is just as at home in a capitalist society, in fact nothing has lifted more people from poverty across the world than capitalism, whereas nothing has lead to more death, starvation and humanitarian rights violations than Socialism.

To claim that Zanu-PF and the so-called war veterans were money-grabbing capitalists is simply laughable.

You say that the problem with Zimbabwe is that the Zanu-PF was power hungry, and that’s exactly the point, when you concentrate the power in the hands of the state, then the power-hungry will inevitably use the mechanism of the state to acquire and abuse the power. This has happened in every single socialist country ever. Which is why proponents of socialism nowadays have to reach for non-socialist countries like Norway to offer examples of “successful socialism”. There was a time when Venezuela was also offered as such, but it seems that every time socialism destroys a country and leaves a pile of skinny corpses in it’s wake, the socialists will claim it wasn’t *real* socialism.

We used to have Polish neighbours that escaped from Poland when the Communists took over. Ignoring the finer semantics, Socialism is pretty much just a nicer word for Communism – which has ruined over 50 countries. My neighbour told me about a Polish proverb that defines the whole thing: ‘If I stand up, I earn 1000 kopeks a month. If I lie down, I earn 1000 kopeks a month. Why stand up?’
Capitalism, or free enterprise, rewards people for working hard. Socialism does not. It destroys initiative and work ethic. A proven rotten system. And with just 3 million people in SA providing 97% of ALL income tax (SARS figures), plus most of VAT and CGT, how on earth can 3 million pay for the other 54 million people in SA? Providing 17 million social grants? Massive, bloated govt salaries? Free education? NHI – ha ha? Can’t go on.

Africa operating at its level with no outside interference.

The people in Zimbabwe embraced the opportunity to turn their environment into a manifestation of their mindset. The ongoing process of decivilization and decay strives to bring equilibrium between the quality of the infrastructure and service delivery on the one hand, and the intellectual capacity of the voter on the other hand. This is what democracy is supposed to do. Democracy is a sophisticated system for sophisticated voters, but a death sentence in the wrong hands. Radioisotopes are a sophisticated solution in the hands of a trained oncologist, but very harmful in the wrong hands.

We should ask ourselves what the eventual state of equilibrium will look like. Can it get worse? Will it improve? Where will the situation settle to be sustainable? The situation will settle at the level of sophistication of infrastructure, service delivery, food security and life expectancy before the introduction of the capitalist system, before colonialism in other words. The population size will shrink to be on par with what it was before the implementation of property rights. It is impossible to avoid this process once property rights are removed. This process is working towards equilibrium in Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Argentina and South Africa. When the legal system stops to protect the right to own property, South Africa cannot provide for more than 5 million people at most. The average Venezuelan lost 14 kgs of body weight per year in 2017 and 2018. Their nutrient status reflects the status of property rights.

Eventually, there is some kind of correlation between the intellectual capabilities of the average voter and their life expectancy and quality of life. Democracy enforces this phenomenon. Democracy is a system that gives people the power to kill themselves through hunger and disease.

Sensei, is Zimbabwe democratic at all? Looks like a dictatorship to me, under the camouflage of a socialist state.

Socialism is dictatorship. There is no room for personal liberty in a socialist system. How do we reconcile the right to vote in a democratic system with the fact that people then vote to be enslaved?

We can only explain this by concluding that the slave mentality uses the right to vote as a tool for enslavement.

“Fascism is the stage reached after socialism has proved an illusion” – F.A Hayek

SPD, Socialdemocratic Party of Germany = Social & Democratic
NSDAP, National Socialist Deutsche (German) Arbeiter(Worker) Party = Socialist, see where it got the Germans

The debt ruling will destroy what is left of “investor confidence” in Zimbabwe. No trust = no investment, true for regulated investment and *very* true for “unregulated investment”.

Vote ZANU PF because Zim is open for business.

Vote ANC to grow with us.

Sensei, mind if I copy your response? Another quick question: how many elections did zanupf actually lost and were assisted by the ANC (if memory serves, the first time under Mbeki) and eventually regain or stay in power?

Under the socialist rule, the voting public is a “shared resource” because individualism is not allowed. The exploitation of the shared resource is the hallmark of socialism. Therefore, it is only logical that the voting public will te treated like cattle or sheep, to be exploited for the gain of the most unscrupulous in that group. Socialism allows, motivates and rewards the exploitation of the voter. Nobody acts to change this destructive phenomenon because the accountability lies with the collective, nobody is responsible. The system itself motivates, and allows, vote-rigging and the intimidation of voters. This is how they exploit themselves.

The people from collectivist communities elect the leaders that can deliver them to this destination of utter destruction and chaos via the shortest possible route. This is also true for South Africa. With this information, you can predict and determine what policies they will eventually implement here.

My point is the people of Zimbabwe did want to embrace democracy at some point in their history. But SA help to resist democracy from trying to root in Zimbabwe by assisting the current zanupf regime on more than one occasion.

As my mother saw when leaving Umtali for SA in 1980:

“Will the last person to leave Rhodesia please switch off the lights”.

Ironically, fast-forward to 2020, and there are no lights to switch off.

Decolonisation for thee and not for me is the mantra of many African governments.

Despite ZANU-PF fiddling with every election, why are so many Zimbabwean people still voting for ZANU-PF?

They are not. The elections are rigged …

The dems in USA must be happy about this, socialism is a ugly thing.

End of comments.


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