#PFEE Economy Collapsing: Why ED Has No Answers !!!🤔

 | Kennedy School, Harvard University

 4 minute read

When President Emmerson Mnangagwa campaigned in July for Zimbabwe’s presidency, he promised to be a business friendly leader, and to return his country’s economy to twentieth century times of plenty and prosperity.

But Mnangagwa has already shown himself incapable of jettisoning the state centrist, rent-seeking predilections of his predecessor. A “big-bang” sharp break with Zimbabwe’s recent past is essential to reassure consumers and capitalists. Yet Mnangagwa and his cronies have so far rejected anything forward-looking and sensible.

Mnangagwa’s administration is struggling to overcome the national economic destruction wreaked on Zimbabwe over two decades under Robert Mugabe. This included profligate spending, immense debt pileup, colossal corruption, and ravaging of the country’s once immensely productive agricultural sector.

As a result, Zimbabwe now lacks foreign exchange with which to buy petrol and ordinary goods to stock the shelves of its supermarkets. In the last few weeks many shops – such as Edgars, a long-time clothing store; Teta, an eatery; KFC, a fast food outlet – have simply shut their doors. Queues for petrol stretch for miles.

Banks have no US dollars, or South African rands or Botswana pulas (the notional national currency), and therefore cannot supply stores or customers with the funds to carry on business as usual.

The locally created Zimbabwe bond note which is officially supposed to trade 1 to 1 with the US dollar, has been trading as high as 10 to 1 on the Harare black market according to unconfirmed local shopping experiences. In its October 20th edition The Economist reported that the bond note, known unofficial as the zollar, was trading for as little as 17 cents, or roughly 6-1.

The new administration has naturally resorted to printing its own faux money. That inevitably has led, as always, to hyperinflation and monetary collapse.

China may yet help Mnangagwa – but in exchange for multi-years worth of precious minerals and Virginia tobacco at discounted prices. With Zimbabwe’s leadership so thoroughly tainted by decades of peculation and mendacity, and devoid of any real notion of “the public interest,” Mnangagwa’s regime is otherwise unlikely to clean up the prevailing fiscal mess because of its refusal to break sharply with the fiscal derring-do of the Mugabe era. Its principals continue to profit from Zimbabwe’s economic mayhem.

What went wrong

Zimbabwe’s economic weaknesses are unsustainable. Governments in such parlous straits would turn, even now, to the International Monetary Fund, for a bailout – as Pakistan has just done. But Zimbabwe is already in arrears to the international lending institutions and has very few helpful friends left.

Government is running a hefty overdraft. And it’s been unable to collect as much as it needs from the national tax base. Its now attempting to impose a 2% tax  on internal electronic financial transactions. This only shows desperation. If implemented, it could yield twice as much revenue as is derived annually from VAT. But that losing manoeuvre has already helped drive commerce underground. It has also undermined what little confidence consumers and financiers have in their current rulers.

The Mnangagwa government has also reimposed import and exchange controls, thus creating additional incentives to avoid regular channels of commerce. Those controls also permit officials to allocate “scarce” resources and licenses to import, export, and so on. These are well-known occasions for corruption and for giving rent-seeking opportunities to cronies.

It wasn’t always this bad. Despite the massive loss of formal employment that occurred under Mugabe, the informal sector flourished and Zimbabwe’s poor probably benefited. This was partly because under the unity government of 2009-2013, when Tendai Biti of the Movement for Democratic Change was finance minister, there were no such controls and there were plenty of US dollars and no questionable bond notes and Treasury bills. Hard currency (the US dollar) permitted Zimbabwe to start growing economically after the long Mugabe slide, and individuals and businesses to prosper. The country ran a budgetary surplus.

But this all came to an end when the government of national unity collapsed in 2012.

What needs to happen

To begin to restore the economy, the government needs to acknowledge corrupt dealings and repatriate the huge amounts of cash that have fled the country as laundered money.

The regime could also try to take ill-gotten gains away from Mugabe and Grace Mugabe, as Malaysia’s new government is doing to its previous kleptocratic prime minister and his wife.

Gestures in that direction would help to begin to restore confidence, a step towards eventual prosperity. So would promises to restore the rule of law. Investors might also return if a sound currency was likely. But that would only follow shedding of ministers, civil service layoffs, military reductions, and many other indications that Mnangagwa and his minister of finance were serious about reducing the debt hangover.

Cutting some sort of deal with the IMF would also be worthwhile, but that could mean giving control over the Treasury to foreign advisors. Zimbabwe is and, since Biti’s day, has been, a basket case. It’s time to acknowledge that fiscal reality and to do something about it.

Robert Rotberg does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.Originally published on The Conversation. 
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Diary of a Zimbo Studying Abroad:Fitting in New Shoes

One minute read

The world has developed an addiction to social media. There is a constant need to check the notifications panel, check your likes and be responding to a text every two minutes.

My fellow Zimbabwean friends and family are helping out to credit the first two sentences, ever online or updating their status on Whatsapp.

Family and friends are two of the greatest assets life can ever present. They are the gifts we value in a way that we would like to chat with them all day. My school work here at university has barred most of the surface level fun and deep social media conversations, but I respond quickly to their critical texts.

Immersing myself into life at Ashesi University has created a new vista in me. I have found myself ever occupied by academia and clubs. I have little or no time to have strings of long conversations for hours on end on social media anymore. I have utilized most of the short time I get to be present and soak up the Ashesi diversity.

My friends and family back home in Zimbabwe see the need for constant communication, same as me.

However, a few now understand the reasons for my recent slow text backs and stagnant profile and believe I am trying my best. It is easy for many to think that I’ve shunned them since I have left the country, but really I am trying to live.

Our humor is different right now. I am in my shoes. They are in their shoes. It’s difficult for them to fit in my shoes. They are now trying to fit in. I wrote chapters with them. I am grateful they are now coping with me being away in my new environment. They will learn that it is time for me to write more chapters here at Ashesi.

Curated from USAP Perspectives: http://www.edmattersafrica.org

#WisdomWednesday: Numbers don’t lie

by Joseph Nyamayaro
1 minute read

If Mathematical numbers were given an opportunity to speak, I think some were going to accuse zero and one. But why accusing zero and 1???

Any number that is multiplied by zero gives zero.
Zero will bring down numbers to nothing.
There are some people in life who are like number zero.
If you associate with them no matter how valuable you are, they will bring you down to zero.

How about one???
Any number multiplied by one remains unchanged no matter how big it is.
There are some people in life that are like one.
No matter how they touch your life you remain the same.
You don’t grow, you don’t improve, you remain the same.

What kind of person are you???? and whom do you associate with????
May God separate us from everyone carrying the spirit of Zero (0) and One (1).
May God also help us grow and be greater than 1 so that when we touch others lives, we will add value.
Stay blessed and continue to be a blessing to others.

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40% off fees for students on industrial attachment

by Talent Gumpo

TERTIARY students on industrial attachment heaved a sigh of relief yesterday when the government slashed their attachment fees by 40% to promote inclusive and quality education in line with Sustainable Development Goals’ Vision 2030.

In a statement, Higher and Tertiary Education permanent secretary Desire Mutize Sibanda said the students would now be required to pay 60% of tuition fees with immediate effect.

“The ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology is pleased to advise all parents, guardians, sponsors that all higher and tertiary education students on industrial attachment/teaching practice will now be required to pay 60% of tuition fees with immediate effect,” he said.

“…the decision was influenced by the economic environment and the socio-economic status of the majority of the students.”

Sibanda said the decision was influenced by the economic environment and the socio-economic status of the majority of the students.

“Students on attachment meet the costs of accommodation, food, and transport to and from work. The ministry considered the variable and fixed costs attendant to students’ supervision and utilisation of teaching and learning facilities,” he said.

“In reducing the cost to 60% of tuition, the ministry considered that institutions require funds to meet supervisory costs for each student on attachment albeit the majority of students continue to access library and other learning facilities and social developments of the country.”

Last year, the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (Zinasu) petitioned then Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo demanding the scrapping of attachment fees for all students on industrial attachment.

Zinasu secretary-general, Ashley Pfunye said the government should have scrapped 60% of the fees.

Zim students in Cyprus: Journey of broken promises

10 minute read
Roselyne Sachiti 

An advert in a daily Zimbabwean newspaper is quite imposing. It is colourful, has catchy information which easily entices any student eager to take up university studies in Northern Cyprus.

The advert is like a food platter and attractive in every aspect. It states that fees are affordable, and puts up a salivating menu, which students and parents fall for hook, line and sinker.

Yet in reality, some students in Northern Cyprus, enticed by the same “food platter” are caught between a rock and hard surface and wish they could turn back the hands of time, back to the day they made the decision to study in that country.

Misled by local agents and agencies representing universities in that country, Zimbabwean students are being “pushed” into all forms of vices, exploited in workplaces and verbally abused just to make ends meet.

Some are trapped in huge debt.

Zimbabwean students are enrolled in state and private universities that include Near East University (NEU), Girne American University, Mediterranean University, European University and Lefke University.

Most of the universities are privately owned by billionaires who run them as money making enterprises.

Investigations by The Herald revealed that a total of 800 Zimbabwean students who privately went to Northern Cyprus for university studies have messed their lives, dropped out of university and are now irregular migrants.

Their stories bear all the traits of human trafficking and to some extent modern day slavery. The Herald spoke to some of the students who have seen it all in Northern Cyprus.

Case 1

Students like Mathew (name changed for fear of victimisation) say leaving his banking job, selling all household property to take up studies and also “dragging” his wife along to Northern Cyprus remains his biggest regret.

He says the journey had been extremely tough and blames it all on an agent, Ralph James Martins, who allegedly deceived him.

“It was full of pain and tears. Finding a job was not easy because of language barriers. Where you get a job, sometimes you have to work 12 hours of hard labour.

“You are told to come to work at 7am and work up to 7pm yet you have to attend classes. Sometimes you are verbally abused and called names like Zenji, Harab, Ziatan etc. They use you and misuse you. We are so tired by the time we get home. This is why sometimes some end up not attending class, we will be exhausted,” he revealed.

He said some employers do not pay salaries on time especially when the job is tough.

“They promise to pay the money at the end of the month so that you keep coming. If you stop reporting for work and come at the end of the month, the boss will say they do not remember that you were working for them and refuse to pay.

“Where the money is paid, sometimes it is three or four days after the agreed pay date,” he added.

He said reporting to the police bears no fruit as they first ask if the student has a resident permit.

“If you do not have a permit, they will tell you they do not recognise you. If your papers are in order, they will ask whether your employer is Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot. If the employer is Turkish Cypriot, they will act as if they do not like them. But, if the employer is Cypriot the issue is swept under the carpet,” Mathew alleged.

He said the employers were always a step ahead of students and win cases if taken to court as they have money to pay lawyers.

Mathew added that living an honest life was hard when in Northern Cyprus.

“I remember applying for a job at the university I study at.

“I told them about my situation that I had moved there with my family after being deceived and as such I needed more income. Only those who are well connected get the job. If you are living an honest life you get nothing.

“I had tensions with Martins, the guy who duped me, and he was connected with the university people and they made sure my life was difficult,” he said.

At one time, Mathew explained, life became unbearable when his wife had to undergo surgery to remove a swollen ovary.

“I had to go to work, and also take care of my wife, then go to school in the evening. It was hard and I was under extreme stress and scored bad grades that semester.

“Sometimes I worked half day so that I could take care of my wife. Because of this, I received half my salary,” he explained.

He also said the universities overcharged students on many occasions.

“When you query they throw figures around and apologise for overcharging you,” he further alleged.

Mathew added the situation was worse for female students as some desperate ones ended up in relationships with Nigerian and Turkish Cypriot nationals.

In worse cases, some of the female students allegedly prostitute themselves in bars just to make ends meet.

Mathew said his biggest regret in life was moving to Northern Cyprus and taking his wife along.

“Martins and his wife promised us that we would get jobs that would give us sufficient income to pay for fees and other needs.

“Martin’s wife told us that she was earning US$500 but after confronting her she said she meant 500 Turkish Lira,” he said.

He added that Martins and his wife have used that trick on many students giving them fake promises.

“They have a way of convincing you. They will tell you the university is going to give you a scholarship based on merit. Come the time, no scholarships comes. Actually the university devised a way of cheating the students by telling them everyone is on 50 percent scholarship,” he said.

Mathew added that they were also told that Northern Cyprus was an easy gateway to other European countries.

“They say it is easy to apply for visas. I have not seen other Zimbabweans who start from here moving there either to find work or even to visit. But when they lied back in Zimbabwe, students believed yet they were manipulating us to get a commission.

“Once here you do not see them. They avoid you saying they are busy; then switch off their phones. That is what Martins used to do here, after lying to parents.”

According to Mathew, many other students have been disappointed.

“Sometimes you are made to enter into contracts that are binding on you.

“You can’t move out of their contracts. If you say you do not want the contract, they will put the debt on your account. But they would have made promises to students that life will be easy and things are not expensive yet they are. They can easily breach their contract, you can’t,” he added.

He said the new political dispensation should ensure that agents that deal with tertiary education are registered with the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education.

“This brings assurance to parents as they know they are dealing with genuine agents and agencies rather than those that are concerned with money.

“This reduces problems as they can be tracked, especially those who would have done wrong,” he suggested.

He said his wife was back in Zimbabwe and faith in God keeps him going under these tough conditions.

Case 2

When Thomas (names changed for fear of victimisation) was lured to study in Northern Cyprus, he thought his life would transform for the better.

He would finally get the education he had always dreamt of and fulfil his dreams of learning abroad.

Today, he says he is vulnerable and prone to exploitation due to deception tactics used by a Harare-based agency which dangled a juicy carrot at him and his parents.

“When I secured a place, I paid $250 visa fees through the agency only to realise later that it costs $60.

“I was told to pay an extra $300 for transport from the airport and after staying in Northern Cyprus I learned that universities provide a free shuttle for all its students. I could not recover my money from the agent,” he said.

He said upon arrival in Cyprus, all hell broke loose.

Before leaving Zimbabwe his parents had been told to pay a deposit of $1 000 to the university, the minimum required to process a visa through the Turkish Embassy in Harare.

“Once the visa was approved, our group of 20 left Zimbabwe for Northern Cyprus. I was happy to go there. We were all clad in branded T-shirts of the agency that facilitated our move to Northern Cyprus,” said Thomas.

Reality sunk in when he arrived in Northern Cyprus.

“I was given between three days to one week to register and pay up annual fees. Four other students in our group were treated the same. Our fees were 5 000 Euros and this was not conveyed to my parents before I left the country.

“This was my initial shock. We were thrown out of boarding facilities as we were not paid up.

“We were told that we would only attend class and access dining facilities after paying up,” Thomas added.

As a result, he and two other Zimbabweans looked for an apartment to rent as they sorted out the fees issue.

“The rental facilities required six month’s advance payment. We did not know what to do. We looked for three more Zimbabweans so that we could split the rent. The landlord complained that we were too many. It was a difficult time and I thought of coming back home,” he added.

He said he got a construction job, where he was paid a wage, but not enough to clear the debt he owed the university.

“I borrowed money from a Nigerian loan shark. The debt has grown. He is holding on to my passport and will only return it when I repay the money and all the penalties,” he said.

Case 3

When Rudo left home, she only had one dream, to get quality education.

Her move was facilitated by a local agency and she left Harare on a flight with six other students.

“Upon arrival, we were told that the money we had paid was just a deposit to secure a place. We were given a few days to stay on campus as we sorted out the fees issue. After a week we were told to leave. They needed 7 000 Euros,” she said.

Rudo says she came across female Zimbabwean students who had been affected by this before.

“One of the ladies I will call Naomi told me the way to survive was to date rich Nigerian and Turkish Cypriots men. I had no choice, at some point I could not even afford sanitary pads. I would tear T-shirts which I used as pads. Jobs were hard to come by. I had to pay rent, eat and the university wanted their money. The Nigerian guy I hooked up with paid my rentals, but this was not all for free. He demanded sex even when I was in class. He would call me. Sometimes he would also pimp me, that’s how he recovered his money,” she said.

She also said life was extremely hard, but she cannot come home as yet. She still owes her university money and they are holding on to her original academic certificates.

Case 4

Mary comes from a wealthy family and her story is rather different from others. Her journey since leaving home in 2016 has been smooth. She sought the services of an agency in Harare who processed all her paperwork.

“Upon arrival in Northern Cyprus, I received my student letter from the university. I also stay on campus and do part time jobs just to earn a bit of my own money. My father sends money every month end and he also pays my fees,” she said.

She, however, said the situation with other female students was sad.

President of the Zimbabwe Students Union (ZISU-CIU) Cyprus, Mr Collete Ruzive said universities in Cyprus, like many world institutions, outsource their advertising to agents and agencies in that country and abroad.

“There are good and bad agents and agencies that sell dreams. Just like in marketing, there are ethical and unethical marketers. But the universities have websites, people normally just want to run away from Zimbabwe and do not pose and sober up to do research and match expectations to realities. But through social media platforms like Facebook, people can inquire from people on the ground and alumni who have been there,” he said.

He said the main problems students face in Northern Cyprus have been to do with challenges most had back home.

“When most thought they ran away, those challenges followed. Cyprus is a small Island with no industry of any sort, but mainly strives on tourism and education. So preference for the few good jobs that come goes to locals and all the dirty and donkey work remains for students. These include construction and farm work,” Ruzive said.

He said the working conditions were extremely bad with no protective clothing. He also said students work up to 12 hours per day for a small wage.

“It’s not easy to get part-time work here. With that backdrop, many Zimbabweans who come with ulterior motives other than education have their hopes dashed.

“Some Zimbabwean parents send their children here with the hopes that they will work and fend for themselves and that’s almost impossible here,” he said.

He added that being a foreign student means they rely much on support from back home.

“So if things are well for parents, they would be well for students in foreign land. Government has put plugs on sending of money outside Zimbabwe. Parents have to buy foreign currency on the black market at high rates. Think of what young girls will end up doing if a parent fails to support her,” he said.

He said some students have been assisted by organisations like Careshare, a group of fellow students.

“Careshare collects food, sanitary pads, clothes from the haves to assist the have not’s. In worst cases, the society calls for donations to raise airfares so that those who are stranded can return to Zimbabwe,” he said.

How agencies benefit

A Zimbabwean national Ralph James Martins who is based in Northern Cyprus left Zimbabwe in 2015 and is believed to have recruited more than 500 Zimbabwean students getting a commission for his role.

Information gathered by The Herald revealed that each company or individual who brings a student to Northern Cyprus Universities is paid between 10-15 percent of total money the student would have contributed towards studies.

This has compelled agents to lie to students about the realities of life in Northern Cyprus.

The agents also deceive parents and guardians and students of merit based and sibling scholarships which they say are awarded to students that will study in North Cyprus and that students can easily get jobs during studies.

Some greedy Zimbabweans based in Northern Cyprus and have connections also allegedly take stranded students whom would have found their own way there and register them as having been facilitated by them.

As a result, the university authorities give those agents a commission for the role.

At these universities, tuition fees are charged depending on degree programme and on whether a student is using boarding facilities which range from economy, standard to upmarket flats and apartments.

Since the boarding facilities attract different costs, agents usually opt to place students in high value apartments in order to obtain more from the percentage payment that the universities give them per student.

At some point, the universities misrepresented that they will offer merit based and sibling scholarships but nothing of that sort is delivered upon arrival.

The merit based scholarships are purportedly given to outstanding brilliant students and the sibling scholarship is for students from the same family.

Zimbabwean students also go through rigorous medical checks that include HIV, tuberculosis and herpes.

Those found positive of any of the three diseases are immediately quarantined while awaiting deportation while those who pass the tests get a student letter they use to get student visa of $150 per year.

Students who fail to raise fees for the semester are allowed to defer studies by freezing the semester and pay 250 Euros for that first semester in order to resume studies.

A further 500 Euros will be charged for the second semester before student is struck off the register. Students end up paying 1 550 Euros for the semester so that they clear fees arrears including accommodation and dining facilities they would not have accessed.

The universities also allegedly hold on to students original academic certificates until they pay up their outstanding arrears.

Some students have been promised sibling scholarships which never materialised.

The most affected students are orphans who would have sold inherited properties to travel and become destitute on arrival and never attended class in the past three years.

The majority of stranded students whose parents suffer from social pressure also hail from high density suburbs.

ZAOGA church pastor, Hillary Mwale who is based in Northern Cyprus has also been helping more than 300 Zimbabwean students who attend church in Kyrenia Town.

If they could, the students would reset time and go back to the day they chose to study in Northern Cyprus.

Image credit: http://www.iliteentgroup.com

A Student’s Eye: Perspectives on Campus Culture

Enjoy reading a collection of stories written by students from tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe.  Edited by Lackson Munkombwe and Pofela Ndzozi. Published by The HYD Collective, 2017, on the sidelines of its inaugural Inter-Collegiate-Convention for students. The HYD Collective is a consortium of student led organisations in partnership with Sexual Rights Center. HYD Collective comprises Campus Moments, The Joel Foundation, LSU Alumni and Student Councils at Bulawayo Polytechnic, Zimbabwe School of Mines and Hillside Teachers College. Here it is below.

 

 

Campus Conversations: Timeline Review(Jul 14 – Oct 6 2017)

Here is a timeline of the series of panel discussions entitled #CampusConversations that have been running from the 14th of July and  will end on the 3rd of November 2017. #CampusConversations are an initiative of Campus Moments in partnership with Sexual Rights Center Bulawayo.

View story at Medium.com

 

 

Nust Student in gun suicide after accident

by Sunday News Online | Sunday, Mar 12, 2017

A 28-year-old National University of Science and Technology (Nust) student allegedly shot himself and died at his Hillside suburb lodgings in Bulawayo after being involved in a road accident in the early hours of Saturday. The student, Tapiwa Zhanje, a relative of Bulawayo businessman and former Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial youth league secretary for finance Cde Davies Muhambi, was reportedly driving Mr Muhambi’s Mercedes Benz S600 to Kumalo where he wanted to drop friends after attending a party.

He is said to have lost control of the car and rammed into a gate and precast wall opposite the Hockey Stadium in Kumalo suburb. Cde Muhambi confirmed the incident. “He is my nephew and I was staying with him in Burnside.

It is unfortunate I was in Harare when it happened. I received a call at around 5AM today (yesterday) and I was told that he had been involved in an accident. I asked if people were injured and they did confirm that there were injured people. I then tried to call Tapiwa but his number was not being answered. I called back home and I was told he came and said he had come to take money from the safe to pay for a cab he had hired at around 6AM,” he said.

Added Cde Muhambi, “I understand Tapiwa said he came home with a cab because he had locked the car keys inside the car and could not open the car. That is when I am sure he took the gun and left my house.” According to Cde Muhambi, he was staying with Tapiwa but learnt that he also had another apartment that he was renting at Hillside suburb. “After he took the money from the safe he went to the apartment along Weir Avenue in Hillside where he took his life with the gun and the firearm belongs to me. The car he was using is also my car. I had asked him to pick it up from Tristar (garage) as I was not around, so he took the car and some friends and I do not know where they were going to when they had the accident.” Cde Muhambi said he had not received full details of what really transpired during the accident. The six other passengers, also Nust students, were immediately taken to the United Bulawayo Hospitals where they are  receiving medical attention.

The owner of the house where the car crashed into, Mrs Debra Mweke said she was asleep when the accident occurred. “I was asleep when l was awaken by the impact of the car, l thought thieves were trying to break into the house and when l came out l saw the car burning in our yard, the gate had also fallen,” she said. Mrs Mweke revealed that the car had caught fire after the impact and neighbours had to assist to put it out using water. “There were three women and three men in the car who said their families were in Harare and only one lady who identified herself as Nozie was from Bulawayo.

The driver ran to the gate and stood there in shock while we were trying to help the people who were in the car.” Mrs Mweke said she suspected that the driver thought the passengers had died as he immediately fled from the scene. “From what I heard from the police, the guy went to Hillside and shot himself, we don’t know exactly the place but that’s what we got from the police,” she said. One of the residents who witnessed the accident Mr Anglistone Sibanda said they struggled to remove the trapped students from the car. Contacted for a comment, Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango said she had not received details of the accident and shooting.