They say money talks, but ours only says goodbye

imageThey say money talks, but ours only says goodbye. This is generally the case unless you are in the tiny elite that has accumulated immense wealth in Zimbabwe through corruption, patronage and greed.

In today’s papers alone, the front page headlines go like this: “Audit unearths multi-million dollar scam” and “Hospital chief in car scandal.” The chief in question is alleged to have spent $88,359 on a Jeep Cherokee from hospital funds when there is a dire shortage of life-saving drugs and basic medicines, including simple pain killers and aspirin, at one of the biggest state referral hospitals in Harare.

Squandering resources on luxury cars is nothing new. Acquaintances in the elite say they wouldn’t be seen dead driving a small pick-up like mine. It’s a question of status, don’t you see?

Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2009, adopting the U.S. dollar amid world record hyperinflation.

The accounting firm Deloitte has just been going through the books at the National Social Security Authority, the state pensions body. Aside from the massive salaries, perks and allowances – and cars – executives received there are real nuggets like this in the Deloitte report. NSSA bought the old Kodak building down the street from the central bank and spent about $1.4 million refurbishing it. Deloitte say the incremental rental for the building as a result of refurbishment is expected to be about $31,000 a year, so it will take 46 years to earn back the money spent on the renovations.

NSSA, like all pension schemes, is supposed to invest its pension contributions wisely. There was apparent “window dressing” in cost estimates for the refurbishment, according to Deloitte. Nor is it clear who might have benefitted from doing the work. Enough said.

image

George Washington: Oh my God. What is happening to the money?

There are holes in the NSSA accounts you could drive a coach and horses through. Failed property investments in Masvingo and the Midlands have lost millions in depositors’ money.

Mr Mugabe’s ZANU PF wants to spend $800,000 throwing an extravagant one-day 92nd birthday bash for him in Masvingo province next month. Masvingo is suffering acute food shortages and its population is among the 1.5 million people in the south of the country in need of emergency food aid right now, with the numbers facing starvation rising daily in the current ‘lean months’ across the country, says the United Nations World Food Programme.

imageAs the admirable local columnist Muckraker has already pointed out, in February we are heading for a Marie Antoinette moment: “Let them eat cake.”

 

Marie Antoinette was executed by guillotine in 1783 during the French Revolution for her arrogance, extravagance, disdain for the poor and her profligate, corrupt spending  on jewels and luxury. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.