ZANE - Zimbabwe Action for National Emergency
ZANE ONLINE BRIEFING 16th MARCH 2021
The ZANE briefing online was introduced by Sir Malcolm Rifkind with speakers Tom Benyon (CEO), MDC minister David Coltart, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe David Nicholls, Prof Tony Hawkins, former head of the business school at University of Zimbabwe and Cathy, a ZANE fieldworker. With different speciality areas the speakers were able to give a broad perspective on the developments in Zimbabwe and, although an optimistic note was struck in relation to a recently good rainy season, the mood was on the whole still one of deep concern at the background of poverty, corruption and human rights abuses against which ZANE is operating.
After drought, the rains have made for a harvest that for the time being has averted widespread starvation. This, along with a commodities price rise, has led to an economic rebound. But despite optimistic forecasts by the Zimbabwe government, the bounce back is recognized as short term with no evidence to indicate sustainability Inflation may have halved in 6 months but, running at 322%, it is still the third highest in the world. And with less than 10% of working age in a total population of 15.6m in formal employment, a situation that has not changed since the mid-1990s, 35% of the country’s income is still in the hands of the 10% of the population while 2/3 of Zimbabweans are still on or under the poverty line, unable to access the private facilities of the elite, and so struggling to meet their daily needs, be they food, health, transport, water, energy related, within an unreliable infrastructure badly in need of investment.
The Farm Compensation Agreement with hopes attached to rebuilding international confidence in Zimbabwe has yet to be realized. While it is said that farmers subjected to land take-overs will be compensated for improvements to the land, albeit not the land itself, such is the state of the economy that it is difficult to see how this will come about. And even now land tenure remains uncertain with farm invasions continuing to discourage investment.
Zimbabwe’s infection levels are relatively low, although the fatality rate for those infected is high. However, varying levels of lockdown over the past year have had the inevitable economic and state control consequences and particular concern was expressed over the fact that children have not been receiving any meaningful education from government schools over the past year. Even when they open again it is unlikely that many teachers will return. By now, their salaries are such as to make transport to the schools unfeasible.
Corruption continues to be endemic as evidenced by a South African newspaper article citing the loss of billions in illegal mining practices. Anti -Corruption courts have been set up by President Mnangagwe but these courts are directly answerable to him and are being used in the interests of the government.
Human rights violations continue and the significance of the Patriotic Bill soon to go through parliament was underlined throughout this conference. Under this act criticism of the government would incur a prison sentence.
There is a fear that Zimbabwe’s plight will disappear off the radar in a world preoccupied with COVID. Conferences such as this online briefing by ZANE do what they can to ensure that it does not unnoticed. ZANE continues to need our help to provide for the most vulnerable caught up in the conditions described.
Despite COVID 4,000 children have been treated this year through their club foot programme and the new Bulawayo orthopaedic hospital for children, a venture in which they have had significant input, is due to open this month. They continue to work jointly with the UK government to ensure that aid reaches those most in need such as those requiring routine medication for conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. The presence of both the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe and representatives of the UK government at this conference is testimony to ZANE’s invaluable contribution, best appreciated by going on to their website and listening to the stories of people they have helped – and that you can help with your donations.
They need our help and you can donate here