Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Zim Bond Coin Vexing the Masses, Smiling all the Way to Reserve Bank

By Takura Zhangazha*

There are conversations that we are not having concerning our more mundane economic realities in Zimbabwe. I boarded a commuter omnibus, commonly referred to as a ‘kombi’ in our country.  An elderly lady, most probably a working mother, had a heated conversation with the kombi conductor about the change that she was handed for her one US dollar.  She had been given a South African five rand coin which she vehemently refused.  She argued that the five rands would not get her to next destination, by way of cost, because the rand is not as valuable as the bond coin.

Because of her rather loud remonstration, the kombi driver also got a talking to in which she explained the fact that  her next station’s arrival cost would be seven rand even though she had been given fair change for the route she was currently on. She therefore insisted on being given bond coins as change because that is only what the kombis on her onward journey would accept.

So  a journey that would have normally cost five rand, now costs seven or the 50 cent bond coin.
 Apparently it is the fall in value of the rand that has triggered this new informal exchange rate.  Except that the bond is not officially a currency. It was introduced to deal with the problem of a lack of lose change for retail businesses.  And initially it was quite unpopular. Fast forward to a year later and it is now a most valued ‘currency’. 

And I am certain someone at the Reserve Bank and the Ministry of Finance is smiling.  Primarily because this new found purchasing strength of the bond coin probably makes some sort of case for the return of a Zimbabwean currency.  Even if it is predicated on the promissory note of the African Export and Import Bank (Afrexim). And of course, that little talked about US$50 million loan.

But there is a pattern to all of this, apart from some economists referring to this a s evidence of the effectiveness of the free market.  Essentially the bond has become the currency of the majority poor. They may not understand its full import in relation to the fact that we do not have an actual currency but they are learning how to ‘deal’ with and in it.

From the vegetable vendor, through to the kombi conductor, passenger the refrain about the South African rand is that ‘this will not be accepted where I am going’. The preference is the US dollar or the bond coin.

What is not publicly debated is how all of this really works.  The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe mints the coins in South Africa with money received from Afrexim Bank. The latter also guarantees the equivalent of the $US value of the coin (1:1).  It is distributed to local banks who in turn distribute it to retail and other businesses at an equivalent rate.  From then on, it becomes laissez faire. 

And in this framework, there is room for the return of the money dealer of yesteryear, that is, 2007. In this the key question is one of who really has access to these bond coins when they are in circulation.  And this is the shadowy world of middle men and women.  Not that they will make a significant profit. But they will be able to at least make the proverbial dollar out of fifteen cents.

So the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has some serious explaining to do. Though I am sure they are quite comfortable (and very pleased) with the fact that their bond coin scheme now has 'transaction' legitimacy. Especially via the informal sector.

What we essentially have is a free market economy that confounds the poor before it affects the rich. Such little mini-battles about the value of small coins is not something that will be witnessed or argued in the leafier surburbs of our cities.  Probably because there the minimal denomination is the US dollar note.

But then again, we are used to the default mode of our national economy.  We do not collectively question the effects of specific economic policies. Nor do we get regular explanations from policy makers anyway.  Hence the bond coin has evolved from being the replacement for notes and sweets for change, to becoming an actual domestic currency. Knowing the ‘entrepreneurial’ spirit of those that are in proximity to political power and office, someone, somewhere is going to make a ‘killing’.  Particularly if the rand strengthens against the US dollar.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Monday, 26 October 2015

Zim’s Crouching Ethnicity, Hidden Tribalism in Succession/Coalition Politics^

By Takura Zhangazha*

There is a new but old currency to our national politics in Zimbabwe.  Its infamously referred to as 'tribalism' and where one is politically correct, ethnocentrism or simply ‘ethnicity’.  In the academic world these are highly contested terms particularly where they become linked to analyzing electoral and political power contests.  

Our politicians rarely present their pursuit of power on the basis of ethnic identity publicly.  The proof always turns out to be in the power sharing configurations either in the run-up to an election, its aftermath or national ‘unity’ agreements. Or alternatively, gate-keeping of specific provinces as 'no go areas' for other opposition political parties. 

In our immediate contemporary politics there is the whispered aspect of this ‘ethnic’ dimension to political power and even opposition political office.  

In the case of Zanu Pf’s ongoing succession battles it has been whispered in the corridors of power that it’s the turn of the ‘Karanga’s’  in muted reference to current deputy President Mnangagwa’s potential to take over.  Others from the same party reportedly  swear that it will never happen and appear to be propping up other candidates in an apparently ‘counter-ethnic’ coalition basis and in similarly muted fashion.

In the opposition, the same can arguably be said to be true, though with the intention of courting former Zanu Pf supporters into a grand opposition party coalition. This in somewhat similar fashion to the Kenyan example of political coalitions. 

In all of these developments, a key question that emerges is whether it is right or wrong in the first place to claim an ethnocentric place at the table of power.  Especially via appealing to an ethnically derived popular base. There is no one answer and no one reason at which the same are arrived at.
In fact there are varying arguments in support and against the use of ethnic identity to pursue national or localized political office.  

One of the most significant arguments around this was posited by the late academic Professor Masipula Sithole where he argued that essentially there is nothing inimical to democracy about ethnic identity on the African continent. Not only because such politicization of ethnicity is universal (its there in the West as it is in the South) but also because both Marxism and modernization have ostensibly failed to resolve the issue on the African continent. In his view what might be more important is democratic inclusion. 

Other contrary arguments against ethnicity playing a prominent role in national politics posit that it causes divisions and diversion from national unity, which in most of our African experiences is more contrived than it is democratically arrived at. This approach has wrongly led to dictatorial attempts to forcefully stamp out diversity in pursuit of what is a false national unity via one party states. 

These somewhat real and equally academic arguments are sometimes dismissed as not quite understanding ‘African politics’ or a claim at a base uniqueness of ‘tribe’ to the African continent. The truth of the matter is that the post colonial state will always have vestiges of ethnic identity.  They do not however remain permanent. They are however subject to gross politicisation and ‘instrumentalisation’ to whip up emotions in pursuit of power for its own sake. 

As Ugandan academic Mahmood Mamdani argues, these usages of ‘tribe’, ‘ethnicity’ even ‘race’ only became full political strategies at defining and ruling with the onset and consolidation of colonialism.  Sadly they have been carried over by our contemporary African leaders to present day politics.  Even if in whispered tones as is currently the case in Zimbabwe.   

The point that however must be made is that there is much more to our national politics beyond ethnicity or tribe.  It is a point that must be made beyond the centrist intentions that were the one party state (and Marxism) or the colonial modernization project (divide and rule). Across Zimbabwe, and across many African states, we may have differences that include geographical location (particularly where its away from the lucrative center), language, historical injustices and in rare cases cultural differences but we share a common humanity that transcends the pursuit of political power.

This latter truth is what our competing political leaders are better off making greater reference to. that is our common challenges that include but are not limited to human rights and equality for all, access to basic social services, jobs, and secure livelihoods without discrimination.

While the electoral battles over succession in Zimbabwe may now unfortunately include whispered references to ethnicity and 'tribe' we have to overcome such misrepresentations of our values in pursuit of power.

Yes we are a postcolonial state that is still reeling from the impact that colonialism had on African identities but this is not reason for us to regress.  You can come from a specific village, district, province or speak a different language dialect as does everyone else in Zimbabwe, but we have to forge a much more elaborate, inclusive and democratic culture that transcends these more often than not contrived identities. It is not only what you say to your own kinsmen/women that matters.  Instead it is now what you say to the whole country while keeping your fingers on the national pulse that in the end is more visionary.
^Title of this blog borrowed though with different meaning from the title of the Chinese Film, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Zim Opposition’s Crisis and Denial.

By Takura Zhangazha*

Zimbabwe’s opposition political parties are in serious trouble and are functioning on a wing and a prayer.  They however will not admit to it. The largest  opposition in Parliament and also popularly, the MDC-T, appears to be entering a new phase of contrived factionalism spurred on by differences over congress outcomes and alleged coalition talks. 

Its most recent offshoot the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), in the aftermath of its congress is pursuing the path of name-calling its former allies, not so much the ruling party Zanu Pf, at its rallies. This while simultaneously laying ridiculous claim to having 'friends with money'. 

Another offshoot, the MDC as led by Welshman Ncube, is smarting from leadership departures and holding on by a thread to a public profile largely driven by a social media presence.

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and Transform Zimbabwe (TZ) are regularly putting up candidates in by-elections which they most certainly know they will not win (even at council level). Their hope being that they maintain some sort of grassroots presence to at least be able to win some proportional representation seats in 2018 and by dint of the same become eligible for funding via the Political Parties Finance Act.  Though no one knows what they really stand for.  The other parties, even the still to be launched  People First,  have already defined themselves as neo-liberal outfits in similar fashion to Zanu Pf. 

A common factor to all of these opposition formations has been their trepidation at a Joice Mujuru party and how to react to it.  For the majority the intention is to ride on whatever political momentum she can bring to the table with her People First outfit.  Some, even while missing the irony of it,  have gone as far as claiming that one of their reasons for splitting from the main MDC-T has been to form a strong electoral coalition of opposition parties for 2018. And for them this coalition could not have a better redeemer than People First. 

Never mind that their own internal politics may be in serious disorder and that any such coalition may face the very same challenges that led them to leave their parent political formations. That is personality cults, lack of internal democratic accountability and transparency together with monopolizing leadership roles or borderline dictatorship. 

The opposition is therefore not being honest  with itself, its memberships and the people of Zimbabwe.  The latter know too well the road they have travelled in supporting the main opposition MDC-T and they are always going to either grow weary of the culture of splits largely based on personality clashes or alternatively they will begin to have materialist expectations of politics that are  similar to those of Zanu Pf supporters. 

Hence one of the most coveted electoral offices in the opposition ranks is surprisingly not that of becoming a Member of Parliament.  Instead it is the office of a councilor and the direct link it has to the distribution of local government resources such as land and tenders.

The dilemmas of the opposition do not end there. They now have to contend, at least going forward, with an expansion of this materialist culture to our national politics as defined and spearheaded by Zanu Pf.   As things stand and in order for the opposition to mount a meaningful electoral challenge for power in 2018 it shall need a lot of money.  And that is not an understatement. It is however doubtful they will get the required resources without having to sell their souls.

Unless they shift from their current politics of personal entitlement, internal autocracy, perpetual splits  and monopolization of leadership. This will entail a much more organic understanding of their own values in tandem with their membership and active permission of others to represent these same said values at ward, district, provincial, national levels.  This too while paying particular attention to the youth and gender dimension in order to achieve what has been referred to as cross generational consciousness or ‘generational praxis’.

Such an approach would enable them to begin the process of establishing a true counter hegemony to Zanu Pf, if not a revolutionary one that will have far reaching positive implications for our country’s democratic posterity.

But then again, we know our opposition leaders.  While demonstrating messianic tendencies they appear to be waiting for their own messiahs. Be they in the form of a Mugabe departure from power (which they cannot influence), Joice Mujuru as an opposition leader (again which they cannot influence) or an economic catastrophe (which they can only hope for), they remain as stubborn in their ways as ever.  A trait which makes one assume that they may, in the final analysis, be content with being exactly what they are, opposition leaders.

*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Zanu Pf's New Succession Dynamics, No Stalins Waiting in the Wings

 By Takura Zhangazha*

There is no doubt that the ruling Zanu Pf party is now in definite leadership transition.  It will of-course deny this with abstract consistency but it is all too apparent. And the media is correct to speculate as much as it reasonably can about the ambitions of first lady Grace Mugabe or the reality of internal factions.  Even if she refers to the stories written about her as ‘rubbish’, as she did at her rally in Rushinga. Or where the two vice presidents (Mnangagwa and Mphoko) remain either mum about their own ambitions or pliant in serving at the mercy of the president.

What is however apparent is that Zanu PF's succession battles  are now at their peak. And yes, the key players in these battles remain the first lady and vice president Mnangagwa. But however it goes beyond the personal. There are structural/formal and broader political legitimacy issues that those that aspire to succeed President Mugabe have to contend with.

The first lady, in her recent and future rallies is seeking to address the issue of her own national popular legitimacy.  Meeting thousands of Zanu Pf supporters is a sure sign to those that would oppose her ambitions or at least her ‘kingmaker’ role that she is increasingly unassailable.  And probably directly unchallengeable. In this, she is pursuing what can be called a ‘heart and minds’ political campaign with grassroots supporters of the ruling party. Handing out basic and other commodities to these supporters essentially means she will be etched in their memories for some time, even if the goods are not fairly distributed. Also making reference to the fact that everyone participated in the liberation struggle, not just war veterans, is intended to counter the claim that only a war veteran can succeed her husband. 

The vice presidents can only hang on to her coattails on this particular strategy.  Either they have to attend the rallies, as does VP Mphoko, or not attempt any of their own, hence VP Mnangwagwa’s caution. 

All of this means that the only other person that will get a resounding standing ovation and absolute recognition, apart from the President at Zanu Pf’s annual conference in December is most likely to be the first lady.  Thus cementing her legitimacy within the Zanu Pf national membership and by default availing herself as a successor to her husband.

The other dimension to the succession dilemma  is a structural one.  And its twofold. The first is in relation to the presidency of the country which in terms of the constitution essentially places either of the two vice presidents in line to succeed the incumbent should he resign or become incapacitated. In the event of this occurring it is the vice president who was last acting president that assumes the office of president. At least for 90 days until the ruling party writes a letter to the speaker of parliament confirming him as president for the remainder of the incumbents term of office.  This is what positions any of the two vice presidents to succeed president Mugabe. At least at law and as long as they hold their current positions.

The other element to succession which is again legalistic is that of the Zanu Pf constitution. After the ruling party’s elective congress in December 2014, the constitution was amended to give the president and first secretary of the party the power to appoint his two deputies.  Whereas previously, these two positions had been by way of provincial nomination, the key change is that they now cannot claim any form of electoral/popular legitimacy via their party structures.  They serve quite literally at the pleasure of the principal who appointed them. In the event that the principal is unhappy with them, he can dismiss them at whim and appoint new persons to the positions.

This essentially means that the two vice presidents cannot individually or publicly claim to be in line to succeed the president without his express permission.  Hence the general caution and demonstrations of loyalty by both Mnangagwa and Mphoko.

In an odd way, and because of structural similarities (politiburos, central committees, congresses) and historical linkages, the current succession scenario is reminiscent of that which occurred when Stalin took over the Russian communist party after Lenin.  Or when Huo Gonfeng became a compromise leader after Mao Tse Tung in China. 

In both cases the wives of the former leaders played some sort of role.  In the then Soviet Union it has been written that  Nadezhda Kruspkaya, Lenin’s wife  had an understanding with Stalin and dismissed Trotsky as a potential successor. In China, Jiang Qing was part of what was referred to as the ‘Gang of Four’ that sought to influence who would succeed her husband, Mao.

In Zimbabwe’s case, the first lady is therefore now a key determinant on succession if not a potential successor herself. She has done so by occupying political space within the ruling party. First by becoming secretary for women's affairs, secondly by seeking out a popular appeal and mandate via her rallies and therefore becoming a political authority in her own right. 

Unless any other potential successor (including the two vice presidents) can maneuver around their central committee, politburo and congress as did Stalin in the then Soviet Union or Deng Xiaoping in China, they would be advised to prepare for a Grace Mugabe leadership of Zanu Pf and by dint of the same until the 2018 general election, an increasingly possible Grace Mugabe presidency of the country. 
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity ( 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Messrs Chinamasa, Mutsvangwa's 'Difference is the Same' Public Economic Spat

Three Zimbabwean government ministers appear to be at ideological loggerheads.  At least on the face of it.  Minister Chinamasa (Finance) has been engaging with the International Monetary Fund very directly and responding to most of the latter’s Staff Monitored Programme (SMP) requests with public promises of full compliance.  

Minister Mutsvangwa (War Veterans) has in turn been quoted in the media as saying these IMF sponsored reform programmes are not in Zimbabwe’s best interests. 

He has gone so far as to pen an opinion in a local weekly in which he proposes that government should instead examine the option of looking to China for financial assistance.  Minister Zhuwao, new to cabinet, has used some of his first public appearances/speeches to make what can be considered rather populist statements against the firing of government workers in line with the SMP requirements.

There are however no ‘big issue’ ideological differences that are at play here. And in any event our country is already dealing, though poorly, with all elements of a similar global financial and economic system.

 For Mr. Mutsvangwa the essential point he is making is that ‘better the devil we know’ with regards to China.  He evidently feels that with his own track record of having served as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to that country, and its historical linkages to our liberation struggle he is better disposed to give his cabinet colleague a couple of lessons on why it should be a serious option to engage the Chinese on debt and financial assistance. 

Mr. Chinamasa on the other hand, in a media interview argued for engagement with the IMF on these key issues of debt relief while explaining that there is no capitulation to western interests on his part or that of government. I am certain he also had his two vocal cabinet colleagues in mind.

The truth of the matter is whether we are looking west or east for financial assistance, the economic template for engagement remains the same, that of laissez faire economics. So there is no new virtue or different public interest good that emerges merely be arguing for Zimbabwe to look to the Asian Investment and Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) or even the Brazil, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) New Development Bank (NDB).   The latter two banks lending intentions may appear somewhat more political (solidarity) but essentially they function on the basis of accepted international norms and standards of investment, i.e emphasis on the exploitation and even creation of markets for multinational corporations for profit.  Hence the irony that even the IMF and World Bank have no big ideological query with the AIIB.

So when the niceties of historical solidarity or even ‘sustainable’ or ‘infrastructure’ development are put aside, these three cabinet ministers are singing from the same hymn sheet.  Attempts at populism as those being undertaken largely by Mr. Zhuwao only seek to mask our ‘between a rock and a hard place economic realities.’

In the settling of the dust in this war of words, not economic ideologies, it all comes back to their principal’s state of the nation address in Parliament this last August. As President Mugabe indicated, the trajectory of government is now all about ‘the ease of doing business’.  This is a phrase that will be found in Western or Eastern backed global financial institutions. It will include private public partnerships to seek the privatization of public goods and services in order to make profit.  As of the old imperialist project, this entails a creation/ exploitation of ‘ new markets’ with the only difference being, it will be with the permission of independent/sovereign governments.

Admittedly this hegemonic/complete hold on economic development narratives is one that is very difficult to propose alternatives to.  But our cabinet ministers would do well to be advised not to create what are essentially false binaries between what comes from Beijing and what comes from Washington.  Indeed the Chinese and the Russians may have vetoed the intention to impose United Nations sanctions on Zimbabwe but that too was not out of mere solidarity but in their own best ‘market’ interests. 

So while the public spat between ministers from the same cabinet can go on so will the reality that Zimbabwe is ‘open’ economic sesame.  Despite all our claims to radical nationalism and unless we can contextualize our search for economic solutions much more democratically, learn to seek some protection for our small markets, we are kneeling at the altar of neo-liberalism. Whether we face East or we face West. And as always, it’s the grass that suffers.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Grace Mugabe's Crude Materialism, Attempting to End Politics by Ideas

By Takura Zhangazha*

There were no new shrill attacks on rivals by the First Lady, Grace Mugabe at her Chimanimani rally this week.  I am certain  that to the surprise of many, she did not mention former vice president Joice Mujuru or engage in what had become trademark attacks on those that she ensured got expelled from the ruling Zanu Pf party.  So if one was looking for the usual political entertainment (because that’s what it essentially is) she was disappointingly reticent.

She went through the motions of not only explaining governments ZimAsset economic blueprint but also elaborately explaining what most of us learnt in our early years of secondary school, the water cycle . 

The undercurrent import of the rally was however not to be found in the speech in and of itself.  While she mentioned that she is the equivalent of a referee in Zanu Pf, it  is the theater of the  rally that demonstrated her current power.  The fact of having vice president Mphoko introducing her with great deference should  be enough evidence of the power hierarchy in the ruling party.  That is, that party’s vice presidents are only third in line after the President and his wife.

The more important element  of the rally is the materialist element that the first lady has continued to impress upon her supporters and potential voters.

And she made it very clear that she was not just in Chimanimani to talk.  She had brought ‘gifts’ for the people of Cashel Valley.  IF she was not the one donating, at least she had made sure others donated at her behest. 

The list of these gifts was astounding.  From heavy duty items such as tractors, tonnes of cement, roofing material through to cooking oil, soaps, handbags, shoes, school bags and maize it was a veritable charity fest.  To the extent that the thousands that had gathered were to sing in unison ‘amai vanopa’ (mother gives) at the end of it all.

This crude political generosity has serious consequences.  Since the 2013 harmonised elections, the ruling party has been unapologetic in using materialism as a key mobilization strategy.  It went beyond the traditional t-shirt and cap to include spoons and cups, as unbelievable as that may seem.
The first lady is therefore pursuing her party strategy but this time not for a broad election campaign but a demonstration of power and political control within her party. 

In order to do this, she needs money.  And she appears to have plenty of it either personally or via donations. 

What this however implies is that there is the creation of a new materialist culture to our national politics. It affects all political parties and leaders as it affects ordinary citizens and voters.
At grassroots level, politics is being redefined by this crude materialism which is shifting it from being about values and more about what benefits a candidate can bring even before they win an election. 

So what you say at a rally may not be most important element of the political campaign.  It is what you hand out that becomes of key value.  And sadly the material expectations are mutual.  The recipient and the giver understand politics as being about the proverbial belly. 

These new dimensions of our politics and the first lady’s ongoing material benevolence are intended to end the democratic assumption of politics being a Platonic virtue or a public good practice. It intends to make politics the practice of the privileged and rich.  Or at popular grassroots base, politics as being the profession of those connected to those that have money or resources to hand out. 
It is an emerging culture that must be circumvented if we are to still have a country that relates to values more than it appears to be for sale.  

What the first lady  and the ruling Zanu Pf party are doing is to make politics a very expensive and exclusive endevour. In the process they intend to create the impression of a reality in which Zanu Pf becomes undefeatable in the minds of ordinary citizens. Especially if they do not have access to the kind of  resources that the first lady so easily gave away in Chimanimani. 

For those that remain committed to the fact that the country belongs to all who live in it and not the political elite (even as they squabble over factions) they would do well to counter this renewed attempt at materialistic political hegemony as led by the First Lady.

*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity ( 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Zim, Zambia’s Man-Made, Colonial Legacy Electricity Crisis.

By Takura Zhangazha*

It was always going to be a man made crisis. That is the power shortages being experienced by Zimbabwe and Zambia due to the sharp drop in water levels at the worlds largest man-made water reservoir, Kariba Dam.  The government of Zimbabwe and it electricity supplier Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) are at pains to explain the primary cause as being that of low rainfall last year.  

Well, it turns out that this is not entirely true.  It was former Zambian vice president and current member of that country’s parliament, Guy Scott, who removed the paper over the cracks.  He accused the electricity regulators of both Zimbabwe and Zambia of mismanaging the water in the lake. 

Further media reports are increasingly revealing the fact that contrary to general assertions of a drought causing the water levels to drop, it is actually the fact of the expansion of the electricity generation capacity undertaken almost simultaneously by both countries that is the primary cause.  The addition of new turbines appears to have led to a disproportionate increase in the water exiting the dam wall.

And now there are long periods of electricity load shedding in both Zambia and Zimbabwe that are affecting not just industries but more importantly ordinary citizens. From hospitals that now have to find alternative sources of power, through to regular cooking, lighting and security,  the inconvenience for small enterprises (butcheries, home furniture manufacturers, small supermarkets) schools, universities and colleges, this is a major crisis. 

President Mugabe’s response to the crisis has been rather curt.  Apart from blaming last years low rainfall, he told his supporters that businesses must operate during the night where he believes electricity is most abundant.

But the Zimbabwean public has reacted by scrambling for alternative sources of energy, at least for their domestic needs.  Satire too has become a way of coping with the frequency of the load shedding. Social media is awash with comments ranging from downright mockery of ZESA to just downright good pictorial humour.   

There is also now grandiose talk of solar energy as an option. At least via licensing more private solar energy companies.  Experts have also weighed in accusing government of failing to expand or upgrade coal based electricity production in Hwange. 

All of this points to the ostensible fact that our power crisis is a man made one.  It has very little to do with the drought that government officials keep mentioning and repeating.  Furthermore, it is also a key fact that we are faced with an electricity supply infrastructure  that is to all intents and purposes still colonial in nature and therefore intent. Kariba Dam was built in 1965 and Zimbabwe’s other power stations such as Hwange Power Station date back to the 1970s and Munyati Power station was built in between 1946 and 1957. Further expansion and refurbishment of these power stations has still failed to meet the ever growing demand for electricity.

In our post independence statehood we have failed to create new sources of power and relied heavily on those that were effectively part of the colonial modernization project.  This has meant that our governments in the region but particularly those of Zimbabwe and Zambia  have patently failed to see what was coming. And this includes the fact of the weakening of the Kariba Dam wall, which again is another elephant in the room. 

In such circumstances of a crisis, the all too familiar route likely to be taken is the opportunistic one of disaster capitalism. That is, there shall be strident calls for the further privatization of electricity and motivation of supply by way of profit.  This will mean in the long term electricity is going to be a costly commodity. Even if it is generated via our generally ubiquitous sunlight or the natural waters that are  tributaries of the Zambezi River basin.

In such circumstances and because electricity is a finite resource, it is those that can pay for it that will always get first preference.  And it will not be as cheap or as affordable as many would hope for.  Unless the ordinary people of Zimbabwe and Zambia start a broader public debate about electric energy sources and usage that is both contextual, futuristic and above all geared toward promoting access for all. 
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (