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“Business pulling govt down”?

Professor Jonathan Moyo

Dear Minister @MthuliNcube

I read the above cited article in Tuesday’s Herald newspaper with great interest.

There is a historic reason with important lessons for the global south why China undertook comprehensive root and branch reforms to adopt a socialist market system in the last century and is doing exceptionally well today, with even better prospects for all its people beyond the horizon.

Since the dawn of decolonisation, textbook theories of unbridled market centred economies have not worked for developing countries, especially for those in the eye of intrusive and meddlesome geopolitical storms from Western powers.

In the early 1990s Zimbabwe uncritically adopted a World Bank sponsored economic structural adjustment programme – dubbed Esap- and sought to use the ill-fated programme to recklessly liberalise the economy leading to major structural dislocations and policy gaps that had disastrous consequences, which spiked between 1998 and 2000 and got worse in 2008, from which the country is yet to recover.

In the recent past, Zimbabwe’s economic direction has basically been the injudicious pursuit of a policy of appeasement of some vested Western interests, under the veil of market-centred mantras.

It is therefore little wonder that, instead of getting the country out of the hole it dug itself into when it uncritically adopted Esap in the 1990s, Zimbabwe has fallen back into its 1990s hole to the depth of its horrifying 2008 levels to now dig itself even deeper into it.

As a country, after some 23 years of hard times we have learnt enough from treacherous experience that by their very nature, structural dislocations and policy gaps cannot be resolved by pointing accusatory fingers at persons or groups who are either convenient scapegoats or are political opponents, but only by undertaking thorough going root and branch reforms for everyone and everything to fall into place, as amply shown by the instructive lessons from China’s reform experience.

Professor Ncube, there is no need for a rocket scientist to tell you that the business community now being blamed for the current pricing and currency mayhem across the economy really has no horse in the forthcoming harmonised general election.

If anything, Zimbabwe’s business community knows the country’s power dynamics and how they work, only too well. Besides, memories of November 2017 are still very fresh across the economy and society.

In the circumstances, I have two suggestions for your consideration.

First, your silence while prices and currency markets go haywire is too loud.

Everyone knows that you are the designated pilot of the situation that has now hit turbulence. The pricing and currency markets need to hear something substantive from you, something believable which they can trust and act on its positives and strength.

Second, and as former finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and some captains of industry in the know will tell you, in times like this shouting matches and open brawls between government voices with discordant messages and the business community benefit neither party, but only serve to make the bad situation worse for everyone, and particularly for ordinary people who have no means of navigating the economic turbulence that’s threatening their livelihoods.

And to be clear Prof, there is no sabotage going on here, none whatsoever, there are only problems with no solutions, when they are in fact solvable. Claims of sabotage are the refuge of people who have no solutions to problems that have solutions.

Consequently, consider quietly getting everyone who needs to be there into one room, put everything on the table, have cash-talk, and come out speaking with one message in many voices on what is going to be done immediately, intermediately and over the long term with government and business acting with a common purpose.

Just the message that government and business got together to address the pricing and currency volatility in the economy, will go a long way to restore hope that the turbulence will not get worse, but will be arrested.

Last but not least, it would be remiss of me not to wish you well Professor Ncube in your campaign for the Cowdray Park parliamentary constituency in Bulawayo in the forthcoming harmonised general election. So far so good and ceteris paribus, you are on course for a resounding August victory.

But because you are the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, one of the top and key portfolios in government – and you are thus everyone’s finance and economic development minister who manages everyone’s national purse – seriously consider spreading your solution-based campaign message and replicating your inspiring interventions and campaign projects beyond Cowdray Park to Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and indeed nationally.

When you win in Cowdray Park, as I pray you will and as the writing on the wall says so, everyone should win.

So long for now Prof Ncube and kind regards.

Jonathan Moyo

@HeraldZimbabwe 23 May 2023

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WFP help build resilience in Zimbabwe’s rural communities

HARARE – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomes an US$8.7 million contribution from the United States to power its resilience building activities for more than 65,000 people in five food insecure communities for the next six months.

The contribution, provided through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), comes at a critical time in Zimbabwe. It will be used to provide participants under WFP’s Food Assistance for Assets activities with food assistance in return for work, support the creation or rehabilitation of small-scale farming infrastructure, village savings and lending groups, as well as provide training on business management in Kariba, Masvingo, Mwenezi, Rushinga and Zvishavane districts.

“Our longstanding funding for the Food Assistance for Assets program demonstrates the U.S. government’s commitment to tackling food insecurity in Zimbabwe,” said Ramses Gauthier, USAID acting Mission Director. “We are happy to work with a ready, willing, and capable partner, the World Food Programme, to accomplish this vital task.”

Under the initiative, which is designed to meet immediate food needs through food distributions while investing in productive assets, participants receive monthly food allotments consisting of maize meal, pulses, and cooking oil for the duration of the work while the entire community benefits from the completed assets. Participants also receive training on insurance and financial inclusion and food processing and are linked to nearby markets.

“We are grateful to the U.S. government for its continued support in enabling vulnerable communities in Zimbabwe to withstand the negative impact of climate change and recurrent economic shocks,” said Christine Mendes, WFP acting Country Director. “The beauty of transformational activities lies in empowering communities not only to have food today and tomorrow but also to prevent and mitigate future food crises, as well reduce humanitarian needs over time, while paving the way toward self-sufficient futures.”

The United States’ support comes at a critical time, as farmers across the country harvest their cereals. Although the country has received good rains this agricultural season, many families still face food insecurity. Some smallholder farmers live hand-to-mouth due to the cumulative effects of droughts, insufficient livelihood opportunities, and economic shocks.

Since 2011, through its resilience building activities, more than 1.2 million people in 30 districts have benefitted from WFP-supported productive assets. WFP has created approximately 400 small dams and 80 irrigation systems, helped establish 520 hectares of vegetable gardens, and drilled more than 60 mostly solar-powered boreholes.

USAID remains the largest donor of humanitarian assistance in Zimbabwe and supports sustainable solutions for communities affected by food insecurity.

The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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Zimbabwe Central Bank Sees Foreign Exchange Rate Converging With Black Market

HARARE — Zimbabwe’s central bank sees “near convergence” of the country’s official and black-market foreign-exchange rates, after a currency rout led to a 58% slump against the US dollar this month.

Measures announced by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube this week are expected to help provide stability to the exchange rate, according to John Mangudya, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor.

“We see this happening in the shortest period,” he said Tuesday in an interview by phone from the capital, Harare. “As of this week, we have already seen a softening of the parallel exchange rate, which was running away.”

The local currency has fallen to officially trade at 2,577 per US dollar, which compares to a still much weaker 3,200 to 3,600 on the unofficial market. The official rate is set at weekly auctions, where the central bank will start capping dollar sales to $5 million.

The limited dollars at the auction will force companies seeking US currency to place “realistic” bids, Mangudya said. “We see near convergence of rates, that’s because I am mindful that a parallel market exists worldwide,” he said. “Anything under 20% is acceptable.”

The International Monetary Fund recently urged authorities to free-float the local currency, but Mangudya ruled that out, saying it would be difficult to achieve in a dual currency system. Three-quarters of transactions in the country use US dollars.

Read: Zimbabwe Rules Out Free-Floating Currency After 26% Slump

Instead, the southern African nation intends to stick with its unconventional policy of issuing gold coins and gold-backed digital tokens as it remains cut off from access to lines of credit from international financial institutions including the IMF, World Bank and Paris Club. The digital money move has been criticized by the IMF.

“We are customizing our policies,” said Mangudya. “We don’t get IMF support and have limited foreign credit, so we need to think outside the box and maximize the tools at our disposal.”

A second phase of the digital currency, which allows for everyday transactions between ordinary people and businesses, is currently in a “testing environment” and will be launched in mid-June. “People will be able to swipe in the realm of gold and also send transfers,” said Mangudya. – Bloomberg

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Ice Cube faces backlash after describing A.I. as ‘demonic’

Ice Cube

Rapper Ice Cube is the latest high profile figure to speak out against generative Artificial Intelligence (A.I.).

The veteran Compton, California, rapper recently responded to a Tweet challenging his point of view by doubling down on his recent claim that A.I. was demonic.

After a Twitter user by the name of David Robbins cited an article by Fortune magazine that sought to make a case that Cube was a hypocrite for criticising A.I. during an interview on the Full Send podcast on the basis that Cube has a history of sampling other music, Cube fired back.

“Samples are approved or denied by the song owners,” he said. “Totally different than taking a dead artist and making a new song they never approved and saying things they may not agree with. That’s evil and demonic to me.”

Previously, during the aforementioned interview, Cube had sparked controversy online when he shared his controversial views on the matter, “I think A.I. is demonic. I think there’s gonna be a backlash because of A.I. I think people are gonna want things organic and not artificial.”

His tweet drew a range of responses:

“So the dead artists you’ve sampled who don’t own their songs due to slave contracts and may not agree with what you are saying on the record; yet you got the greenlight to sample it,” said @360_karma.

“But the beef is with A.I. music ? Run that back one more time and make it make sense.”

@visisyd added: “agree to a point,.. depending on the context of lyrics and intent tho. I had the idea years ago before the technology existed,.. wanting something creative for my vocals and it actually work with the concept behind my music.”

@reallythough described A.I. tech as inevitable. “Nothing demonic about simply using new tech to play around with voices you love from artists who put out recordings O.G. Completely inevitable actually. Dead that weird thinking.”

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