Cash strapped Zim ignores court order, blocks massive conservancy development

JOHANNESBURG  – Zimbabweans may have "grabbed" the land from the descendants of colonisers and those whose ancestors "stole" the land from indigenous blacks, but the consequences have been dire – food security has vanished along with any joy experienced after Robert Mugabe’s ouster. 

The new government – led by 76-year-old Emmerson Mnangagwa, the man now in charge of Mugabe’s Zanu PF party – exhibits the same failed traits of using brute force to solve economic problems.

Many factories and businesses have closed even when commanded to remain open. Money and the lack of it continues to bedevil that country’s government. Rising prices and three tier payments – US dollar, bond and RTGS – have not only confused the market but have also eroded profits.

Since Mugabe’s ouster in a bloodless coup in November 2017, poverty and joblessness have increased. The economy has all but collapsed. The beleaguered government’s hopes are now pinned solely on the return of the Zimbabwe dollar. 

The local currency, which was abandoned by authorities just over a decade ago, in 2008, after inflation reached an estimated 500 billion percent, made its return on Monday. 

For four decades, the Zimbabwe government has acted with impunity regarding individual and property rights – they have even been so emboldened as to ignore court orders that they do not like. Accusations are that those in power only act when court rulings favour them.

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Paramount Chief Ndiweni with Brian Davies. PHOTOS: Supplied.

It therefore comes as no surprise that in Zimbabwe, an initiative to set up a massive wildlife conservancy and historical tourism venture that would benefit the local community, as well as contributing to the revival of tourism and the economy by attracting international tourists, is on hold. 

The combined farm and safari operation, which is integral to the project and would generate vital foreign currency, continues to be illegally occupied by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) who took it over by force in July 2007.

Their ongoing occupation is in flagrant disregard of a confirmed court order of September 2007 compelling them to vacate the farm and return it to its lawful owner, Dave Joubert, a high profile Matabeleland farmer of approximately 50 years, and owner of Portwe Estate since 1982.

The failure of the government to remove the police from Joubert’s Portwe Estate and Bembesi conservancy demonstrates that Zimbabwe is not “open for business”, as President Mnangagwa claims.

This visionary project involves Paramount Chief Nhlanhla Felix Ndiweni, whose father, the late Paramount Chief Khayisa Ndiweni, endorsed the initiative, together with the then governor, Welshman Mahbene. 

Chief Felix Ndiweni has risen rapidly to prominence in Zimbabwe since returning from the UK to take up the hereditary chieftainship.  

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The Bembesi Lodge before it was taken over by the police.

He was sent to London in 1981 to study for a degree in engineering technology and mechanical engineering, and lived there for more than 20 years.

Ndiweni also has degrees in management studies, specialising in local governance, and law. 

The paramount chief is committed to bringing independence and an end to poverty to his people through individual property rights. 

If the police and the Mnangagwa government continue to defy the law and the Zimbabwe constitution, there will be implications regarding the government’s re-engagement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the European Union. 

With the economy in the grips of a meltdown, kilometre-long fuel queues, devastating power cuts and rapidly rising inflation, President Mnangagwa has said that restoring ties with the West and multilateral lenders, including the IMF, is one of his priorities.

As for the country itself, everything is going south and fast. South Africa’s Eskom has recently stopped supplying electricity to Zimbabwe which has run up a massive debt. Zimbabwe also owes Mozambique a substantial amount of money for electricity.

Unconfirmed reports said rolling blackouts that last up to a week have forced Zimbabwe to make a payment to Eskom. Zimbabwe’s Energy Minister Fortune Chasi this week said Zimbabwe had paid US $10 million to Eskom.

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Damage to the Bembesi Lodge after the property was taken over illegally by the police.

Many urban areas are without tap water, and where it is available its cleanliness cannot be guaranteed. Hospitals long ran out of drugs and civil servants, including teachers, are threatening strike action.

The solutio, Mugabe’s successor says, lies in bring back the Zimbabwe dollar.

On Monday, Mnangagwa, who won a disputed election last year, outlawed the use of a multi-currency payment system, ostensibly to tackle the ever-rising black market exchange rate. 

“The British pound, US dollar, South African Rand, Botswana pula and any other foreign currency whatsoever shall no longer be legal tender alongside the Zimbabwe dollar in any transaction in Zimbabwe,” said a notice in the government gazette.

The opposition MDC led by 41-year-old Nelson Chamisa have long warned of an economic melt-down.

DaveJoubertlodgedamage2June19m r - Cash strapped Zim ignores court order, blocks massive conservancy development
Damage to the Bembesi Lodge after the property was taken over illegally by the police.

Commenting on the re-introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar, Chamisa likened the development to “guerrilla economics and ambush currency" measures which he said were "ill-advised, destructive and confidence-draining".

Chamisa said any successful re-introduction of the local currency required that macroeconomic fundamentals, public confidence, trust, fiscal discipline, political stability and legitimacy be in place first.

Ken Yamamoto, the renowned Japanese researcher and commentator on Zimbabwe, has proferred a solution saying: "It is not rocket science to solve Zimbabwe’s problems. It requires honest, selfless and sincere leaders to build a culture of honesty and inspire everyone to work for the country."

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MDC president Nelson Chamisa, 41.

 

– African News Agency (ANA) 

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