Dinner with Grace: Five stories from Zimbabwe

2016-10-22 12:00
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Harare - Dinner with Mugabe? Forget it: the new prize is dinner with MRS Mugabe. As Zimbabwe sinks deeper into economic crisis, Zimbabwe corporates are being asked to fork out as much as $100 000 for a top table at a Zanu-PF fundraising dinner - where Grace Mugabe will be the guest of honour.

The money will be going to drought relief, won't it? Err... no, actually.

Read on for this and other stories you might have missed from Zimbabwe in the last few days. If you can't make dinner, there's always a bond note breakfast with the bank governor to fit in.

You'll have to pay for that too though.

Dinner with Grace: So, platinum tables at this swish event on November 4 are going for $100 000 each. This is an annual event ahead of the party conference in December, which is where the money is going. Not (as far as we know) to Zimbabwe's drug-starved hospitals or to buy new prison uniforms.

Corporates will have to dig deep to support this event - though there are always seat-takers.

When Joice Mujuru was guest of honour in 2014, the dinner raised more than $1m. She was sacked shortly afterwards, of course.

Or breakfast with the bank governor: Would you pay $50 to hear Zimbabwe's bank governor tell you that the new bond notes aren't going to be a disaster?

That's the charge for a Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting next week to be addressed by John Mangudya, the central governor whose careful attempts to persuade Zimbabweans that bond notes won't really affect them were wrecked by VP Emmerson Mnangagwa's insistence they'd be a currency.

The meeting will allow the Reserve Bank to "shed more light" on how the bond notes will be let onto the (extremely worried) market, an advert says. The $50 ticket charge (it's called an "investment", interestingly) comes as withdrawal limits from high street banks have sunk to $100.

Some other banks allow you to take even less, no matter how long you've queued. As one Twitter user put it, faced with the bond note breakfast charge: "Hang on..... pay real money to hear about useless bond notes really."

How not to get real cash: Would two Zimbabwe bank tellers have got caught out for swiping cash from deposits if one of them hadn't boasted that he could afford to have pizza flown in from South Africa every day?

The state-owned Chronicle is reporting that two Bank ABC employees from Bulawayo got caught out for failing to enter some deposits into their daily takings book.

Total alleged prejudice to the bank: $60 000. That's a fair amount of money in a cash-starved nation (remember that day in July when trading on the ZSE came to a princely $105?)

Stands for votes: Housing stands are the new vote bait, it seems. Ahead of the 2013 elections it was the cancellation of accumulated rates bills that persuaded a fair amount of voters to vote for Mugabe.

Now with a by-election in Norton this weekend, Zanu-PF is dishing out stands: 5 000 on Wednesday with a promise of more to come.

The link between the stands and the election couldn't be clearer: According to Newsday, Zanu-PF youth secretary Kudzai Chipanga said: "If you ditch the party, you will return to where you came from."

Why give stands to youths who don't have the money to build houses on them? That question was put to the ruling party's election candidate Ronald Chindedza.

Media watchdog @ZimMediaReview says the answer came back: "We're training them to build their own houses."

Protest pastor's #HowTheyRobbedUs story : Those #HowTheyRobbedUs stories keep on rolling in. As with #ThisFlag, there have been attempts to discredit the hashtag.

Zanu-PF supporters have posted pictures of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, suggesting that his support of Western sanctions on Mugabe and his allies is an example of #HowTheyRobbedUs.

But these counter-tweets haven't drowned out the sheer weight of this narrative. OK, so many of the voices come from urbanites. But the stories they tell are the stories of whole families, some in the rural areas, some in the diaspora, some who suffered at the hands of the Mugabe government back in the 1980s, well before the post-2000 political and economic crisis. #ThisFlag founder Evan Mawarire told his parents' story: "At 60+ years my parents have lost [their] entire pension & are labouring again yet they already worked honestly as civil servant."

 As bond notes loom, the fear is that the Mawarire seniors' story will be played out over and over again.

Read more on:    john mangudya  |  grace mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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