|A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD." (Isaiah 40:3)||
|Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. . . . For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much. (Alan Paton, Cry the Beloved Country)|
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
For those of you unfamiliar with the situation, the black market is effectively the ONLY market for foreign currency (forex) in the country.
The regime is holding the official / bank exchange rate at an artificially low price, yet have passed a law decreeing that all foreign ccy must be exchanged through the banks.
Because of the shortage of forex, the banks have virtually no forex available anyway. So industry (indeed anyone who needs forex) is forced to go to the black market, where they pay a market-driven price for the forex they purchase.
The only people who benefit from this crazy system are those whose political connections enable them to purchase scarce forex at the bank rate (about Z$4500 = 1 Rand); they then make a killing by selling that same forex on the black / parallel market for anything in excess of Z$70 000 for 1 Rand.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The Latest in Zimbabwe
Water is available on only two days a week, coming on at about 5pm, and going off again at about 10am the next morning.
Electricity cuts are scheduled for 6 out of 7 days – usually for between 3 to 6 hours a time.
The occasions when you have both water and electricity are therefore rare, and are normally during the night-time hours, so those are the times when you are able to put on a washing machine load, or have a hot shower. People have reorganised their lives around these things, getting up at 2 in the morning to put a load into the washing machine, or to fill up their water containers. You do things when you are able to: having a hot shower, even having a 'bucket-shower' if you want hot water, flushing the toilet, cooking your main meal, filling thermos flasks with hot water for tea. For a single person, or a couple where both are working full-time, life must be a nightmare, as you simply don't have the flexibility to do all these basic things when you need to.
The supermarkets are empty – shelves quite simply have nothing at all on them. The few products that are left (mainly cleaning materials, local wines, olive oil, some jams…) are spaced out on the shelves to give a vague illusion of plenty. There is no meat, no milk, no cheese, no mealie meal, no bread, no flour, no rice, no pasta…. The large commercial fridges are empty.
Other shops have less and less for sale; or they have 'diversified' – a baker's shop which used to have iced cakes in the window, now has toiletries and hair dyes in their place!
The informal traders have some of the local seasonal fruit and veg, but only in small quantities. Many things are sourced by word of mouth, by just being in the right place at the right time. One man I know was in Mweb (an ISP), and a customer was telling his friend behind the counter that so-and-so had chickens available; he asked if he could get one too…! Someone comes into work and says that a certain shop has pork… and everyone rushes out to try and get some.
I was offered 6 eggs, and my very generous friend gave me 10 instead. I intended to give the extra 4 to my domestic but then, as I drove into the supermarket, on impulse I asked the car park attendant if he would like an egg! He was chuffed (and my domestic only got 3 instead of 4)! In what normal society does this happen?
In ordinary society, if you are invited to friends for dinner, you might take a bottle of wine, or some flowers, or even some chocolate. There, you take some pasta and a tin of tuna – people have so little food (even if they have money to buy it, there is none available) that just one extra mouth to feed is a problem.
Fuel is pretty much unavailable, unless you have access to foreign currency (forex), and even then, it is very difficult to source. You buy when you can, and if you don't have, you go without. The roads – particularly outside the towns – are noticeably emptier. However the road-worthiness of the cars still going is worse than ever – car parts or new tyres are a luxury which people can't afford or can't obtain, or both.
Some fortunate middle-class people have 'made a plan': buying 5000 litre water containers, and rigging them up in their back yards, either filling them when the water comes out of the mains, or filling them from bowsers which in turn have been filled from properties with boreholes. Some people have bought generators (but you still need the petrol or diesel to run them). A number of people cross the border to
Poorer people just don't eat, it seems. The World Health Organisation calculated the average life expectancy for women to be 34 years, and 37 years for men. This is the data for 2004. With the combination of AIDS, poverty and malnutrition, this figure is surely much lower now in 2007.
The level of hardship is unbelievable. Churches, while still preaching the Gospel, are mostly now concerned with meeting humanitarian needs.
My overall impression was that people are putting their heads down and focussing on day-to-day survival, as is to be expected. What continues to surprise me, though, is the amazing resilience of people: the ability to talk and empathise with a complete stranger in a supermarket, the sudden smile which breaks over someone's face as you greet them – friend or stranger, the little (and large) kindnesses among so much hardship.
I know that many people in many countries have to deal with such problems on a daily basis, but the sad thing is that Zim just wasn't like that 10 years ago, and things have gone downhill progressively since then. Please pray for
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Muse Time paper 9, August 1998, by Derek Carlsen, in Zimbabwe.
Now that the title has your attention...! The term, ‘hired guns’ refers to those who are paid to do the “dirty work” for people—work others don’t actually have the courage to do themselves. In the traditional sense, ‘hired guns’ exist in the “underworld” and it’s dangerous to associate with people whose value for life is purely financial—they will kill anyone if the price is right.
This term can also be used for activities that have nothing to do with murder, crime and the underworld, but merely refer to a person who has been hired to fulfil certain responsibilities for someone else.
While in principle there is nothing wrong with hiring someone to do something for you, there is always the danger that you will begin to neglect your responsibilities, handing the ‘hired gun’ more and more to do.
God who has created all of life has also ordained how everything functions—there is design and purpose behind every aspect of this world and nothing in God’s ordained workings is meaningless. God alone knows the beginning from the end, thus He knows the destination and what is required to reach it. In an age where ease, comfort, entertainment, pleasure and self-seeking have become the ultimate goals, the ‘hired gun’ philosophy has triumphed.
If you have studied basic biology you will know that the moth’s slow struggle, as it works its way out of its cocoon, is a vital step in the process of making the wings both beautiful and functional. To seek to bypass this “route” will result in an immature (undeveloped) creature that is incapable of functioning as a moth. It is the Creator who designed life to function in the way it does—it’s His training ground to maturity.
God’s discipline, order and instruction, as well as those qualities of character so highly esteemed by Him are not valued today. The result is that many aspects of life which are vital for our proper development are ridiculed, despised and avoided at any cost. When your values, principles and meaning of life are taken from the latest fad, the ‘hired gun’ philosophy offers an attractive “solution” to help you escape from the demands of life. This escape mindset has so infected every part of our society that it has become a religious dogma. As we have said before, true freedom cannot be separated from maturity (Muse Time, paper 7), but maturity cannot be attained without assuming our responsibilities—which serve us like the moth’s cocoon serves it.
A fundamental truth is that power will flow to those who assume responsibility. It is also a fundamental truth that someone will pick up any neglected responsibilities. In an age that defines freedom as having minimal responsibilities, is it surprising that society is in such a terrible condition? When people cast off their own responsibilities, which are then picked up by someone else, it ultimately creates greater problems. If you were breeding moths for some scientific project and in order to speed up the process for the moth to attain maturity you slit all the cocoons to make it easier for them to get out, all you would have is a pile of worthless, immature crawling creatures. With moths you could just redo the experiment, but when you have a host of immature people, you cannot dispose of them and their impact upon society is devastating, with long term consequences—reproducing after their kind.
Immature people gladly hand over their responsibilities to ‘hired guns’. The consequence of this is that they remain immature which causes them to hand over more and more responsibilities. The ‘hired guns’ however, are incapable of carrying out all these responsibilities properly, thus incompetence and immaturity are constantly increasing. Until everyone in society, i.e., individuals, families, churches, etc., once again whole-heartedly assume their respective responsibilities we will continue to live in the chaos of the ‘hired gun’ world.
Many parents try to escape from the intensive and self-denying responsibility of training their children, either consciously or sub-consciously handing them over to some ‘hired gun’ to bring them to “maturity”. These ‘hired guns’ do not know, love or care to train the children in the way that responsible parents can and should. Families are God’s fundamental training ground for bringing everyone within the family to ever increasing levels of maturity. When individuals reject their God given responsibilities within the family, this creates immature families, which effects every other area of life.
Immature churches are very common in our day and many who faithfully attend church limit the Kingdom of God to the institutional church. The ‘hired gun’ in this case becomes the pastor who is expected to fulfil all the work of the ministry—which is often defined by the whims of an immature congregation who refuse to assume their God given responsibilities. Immature churches either end up with a pastor who spends his day drinking tea with different people or with a pastor who is a controlling dictator—either way the church becomes irrelevant and the repercussions of this touch all of life.
What happens in the business world when the dominating philosophy is one of escaping from personal responsibility and despising hard work? Is this the formula for efficiency and success? When God asked Cain where his brother Abel was, Cain’s answer was, “Hey, I have no responsibilities towards him” (Genesis 4:9). But, oh how wrong he was! All life and all property ultimately belongs to God and He gives it to whom He desires, according to His secret will. However, everyone has the basic responsibility before God to protect and preserve the life and property of everyone else—this applies equally to all, whether you have much or little. To despise this responsibility as an individual has repercussions in every area of society (not just in the business world). Those who care little about their neighbour’s property will care little about his life. When people turn a blind eye to the violation of other people’s property, they must not be shocked when they find themselves living in terror of their own lives being violated.
When immature people abound so too does the ‘hired gun’ philosophy. In such a society people are most comfortable when fleeing from responsibilities. If something needs to be done, it is left for someone else to do. Immature people want instant rewards for hardly any effort. Is it any wonder that most people are incapable of imagining life without the all controlling modern government? They are incapable of thinking about education, hospitals, banking, helping the poor, etc., without the government’s involvement. This is a sad sign of just how immature our age is. As individuals cast off more and more of their responsibilities, the government picked them up and in so doing, attained more and more power, until these ‘hired guns’ controlled all things. The result of this has been the systematic destruction of a functioning society, yet all the immature do is wish someone else would alleviate their ever increasing hardships. They do not have the courage or character to take up their own responsibilities and push back the usurper.
We need to ruthlessly deal with the idea that the ultimate goal in life is to reach a state of no responsibility, no work and perpetual leisure. This is a denial of God’s Kingdom and purposes. Life has been designed as God’s instrument to bring His children to maturity and maturity in the Kingdom is manifested by hard, patient work. God expects nations, made up of individuals, families, churches, businesses, etc., to assume their respective God given responsibilities. The neglect of responsibilities in all these areas leads to immaturity and ultimately the destruction of nations.
For Christians to look at the chaos in their nation and say it is proof that God’s Kingdom has nothing to do with nations and therefore, they have no responsibilities in this area, is a total contradiction of Christ’s command (Matt.28:18-20)—the uncomfortableness the modern church feels towards these words arises from her deep immaturity. We are not to be governed by our traditions or feelings, but by the revelation of our King who is Lord of Heaven and the whole earth. It is time for us to arise and walk by faith, obeying everything Christ has said. We need to draw our strength from Him and assume our responsibilities, willingly picking up His yoke (Matt.11:30). What we fail to realise is that in trying to escape from His yoke, which is light and easy to carry, we place ourselves under the yoke of the oppressive modern state. We then spend most of our lives in the harsh, meaningless treadmill of serving their goals and ambitions. Rejecting our responsibilities places us in a situation comparable to the drug addict: handing our responsibilities over to a ‘hired gun’ is only a short term fix that ultimately leaves us in a worse position both economically and physically. Choose you this day whom you will serve!
Think about these things!
Romans 13--unlimited governmental power?
Muse Time paper 3, December 1997, by Derek Carlsen, in Zimbabwe.
Does Romans 13 give the government unlimited power to do whatever they want to do? Many assume that Christians must obey everything the government says. Even when the government’s actions are unjust and evil, people argue that it would be a greater evil to disobey their unlawful commands or try to reveal their unrighteousness by the light of God’s Word. Such thinking believes Christians are bound by God to obey the government no matter what—being responsible only to pray. A careful reading of Romans 13 and the rest of Scripture will show that God’s Word is light and salt for every area of life and it is through the actions and words of Christians that God’s truth touches all these areas. To withdraw God’s light from any area of life is immoral (Matt.5:14,15, c.f., vs.11,12).
When Paul wrote Romans 13, Nero was ruler of Rome (a wicked, cruel and ruthless tyrant). Therefore, it is argued, that since Paul said obey him, Christians ought to obey every government today. What this argument fails to realise is that Paul wrote Romans during the first 5 years of Nero’s reign which was, according to the historians, a period of enlightened and good government, making Nero famous throughout all the provinces. During these early years Nero was influenced by such men as the Roman Stoic philosopher, Seneca. Thus, when Paul wrote Romans 13, Nero’s immorality and wickedness had not yet been unleashed. We will see that Romans 13 does not give Christians the liberty of ignoring political immorality.
In Romans 13 Paul is not setting out a detailed account of government, but merely raising a side-issue within the whole of his letter. Nevertheless, Paul tells us that God has requirements for both the common person and for those in authority. He does not teach that the common people are under God’s authority, but governments can do whatever they want and make whatever laws they want.
Paul says in vs.1 that government is a divine institution—it has been ordained by God. This does not mean governments have been given supreme authority, for God alone has this. Rather what’s meant is that governments are accountable to God—since they derive their authority from Him they are accountable to His absolute authority. The state has not been given the right to act independently of God. For example, an ambassador derives his authority from the government that appoints him to that position. For an ambassador to then act independently of the source of his authority is to disqualify himself—he cannot disregard the commands and wishes of those who gave him his authority. An ambassador is given authority in order to further the wishes of those who gave him authority. Just as an ambassador’s authority is derived, so too, is all government authority. Only God has absolute, independent authority—all other authority is appointed by God and is therefore, accountable to Him.
It is strange indeed that some people think Paul is saying in order for Christians to be righteous, God expects them to obey commands that violate His Law. Rather, Paul’s point is that since God appoints leaders they are morally responsible to serve and obey Him in everything they do. In vs.4 Paul calls government officials by religious titles. He says they are “ministers of God”, or “servants of God”. A servant carries out the wishes of the master. Paul goes on to explain what God specifically wants His “ministers” to do. He wants them, in the name of God, to reward the good and punish the evil. Does God give authority to these servants to punish evil and reward good without defining either evil or good? Is it not great ignorance to think that God allows the government to determine good and evil on their own? Man’s desire to define good and evil independently of God is the root of all sin (Genesis 3). Humans were incapable of doing this even before sin infected our hearts, how much less able are we now after sin has seriously damaged our total being?
Are we to think that the government is being a faithful minister for God just as long as they are punishing some people and rewarding others? Is God indifferent to the “small” details as to who they are rewarding and who they are punishing? No, never! For someone to be rewarded in the name of God or to be punished in the name of God, it must be done according to the will of God. Anything less than this is an abusive use of delegated authority.
Since the government or magistrate receives authority from God, Paul tells us in vs.2 that this is the moral reason for obeying them. This is a general principle: authority and order are ordained by God, but to argue that this means godless principles and laws coming from these authorities are binding, is to do violence to Paul’s meaning. He clearly shows that everyone in society is responsible to obey God. When governments act independently of God (i.e., lawlessly), they are not representing God with respect to those lawless commands, therefore, to resist them at those points is not resisting God. Paul’s principle is that governments are appointed by God, therefore we must obey them, but to draw from this that God expects us to give absolute obedience to them and remain silent in the face of flagrant wickedness is faulty reasoning and certainly cannot be found in Romans 13. Especially since Paul shows that governments are God’s servants who are to fulfil His wishes and are accountable to Him.
The government has been given the “sword”, which means they have the right and responsibility to execute those whom God’s Word says are worthy of death (murderers, kidnappers, rapists, etc). Governments do not have the right to use the sword in any way they want—boundaries have been set for them and they cannot exceed nor reduce these bounds. The modern trend to oppose the death penalty is rebellion against God’s requirements. Those who think they are wiser and more merciful than God and thus do away with capital punishment will receive His judgement in their communities.
Paul is showing in Romans 13 what governments ought to be and how they ought to act. He is not promoting the office of government to some “divine” position and saying that whatever this “god” says, has to be obeyed. To separate the government’s authority from their moral responsibility to God is to unleash a destructive monster in our midst. This happens when people refuse to submit every area of life to the Word of God. God’s judgement upon such blind rebellion is usually to hand the nation over to a government that thinks of itself as god on earth. If a government refuses to be accountable to God, then there is no one they will be accountable to.
In Acts 5 the apostles were commanded by the Sanhedrin (the highest authority in the Jewish nation) to act contrary to the Word of God. Now, since all authority is ordained by God (Rom.13), these leaders had their authority from God, however, the apostles disobeyed their command. The apostles were not contradicting Romans 13. Those in authority are ministers of God and are to do everything in line with His Word and for His name. The Christian is not to think of revolution each time the government acts contrary to the Word of God, however, neither is he allowed to remain silent in the face of lawless rulers. Christians are to be the salt and the light at all times and in all areas of life. We are not to compromise the truth and we are not allowed to let injustice and wickedness go unchallenged. (The whole subject of Christian resistance needs more than a brief paper like this. What I want to expose here is merely the misunderstanding of Romans 13 that says the Christian has to obey any law made by the government and that we are not allowed to shine the light of God’s Word into the government’s sphere of activities).
John the Baptist was arrested and then lost his head because he rebuked the immoral “private” life of a political leader (Matt.14:4,5). Jesus called this same political leader a “fox” (Luke 13:32), drawing attention to his ungodly slyness. Elijah was hounded by king Ahab because he pointed out the king’s wickedness and rebellion against God (1 Kings 17:1; 18:18). The prophets were hated, persecuted and killed for exposing the very real day to day wickedness around them, both in the nation and in the lives of their rulers.
The government’s primary responsibility is to serve God and implement His justice. When they do this then they are servants of the people too. Modern governments don’t want to serve God or the people. They want to serve themselves—their own ambitions and goals. If God’s justice (i.e., His Word) is not the foundation for a nation, then what can bring stability and prosperity to that nation? As St. Augustine (a.d. 354 - 430) said in his day, “If justice be taken away, what are governments but great bands of robbers?” (The City of God, 11:4). Justice is not determined by parliament, but by the Word of God, for He is above presidents and parliaments. When God’s justice is ignored, it is because those in authority want to promote injustice and when a nation allows injustice to be called “justice” they are on a path of self destruction. All those who hate God, love death (Prov.8:36).
A government that persistently rejects God’s Word as the only standard for truth and error and as the only guide for all things, is heading for disaster. All authority is delegated from God and is to be used to minister to those who come under this authority. Rulers are to be the servants of those people they have authority over and they are to serve them according to God’s revelation found in the Bible. For rulers to act in any other way is lawlessness. For the citizens within a nation to ignore the lawless activities of their rulers is to share in their guilt. The modern church, in fleeing from its God given responsibility, has invented a doctrine of pietism that is not found in the Bible. They have reduced Christianity and the Kingdom of God to some small area within the hearts of individuals and have ignored their calling to be salt and light in all of life. They have reduced Christ’s commission from discipling the nations (Matthew 28:19), to discipling individuals—reducing Christianity to an internal heart religion, rather than a dynamic faith that touches and influences every part of God’s world. Christians have withdrawn the light of God’s Word more and more from every area of life (especially with respect to the state). As a result, darkness has increased in every part of society. This increase of darkness is then held up by these Christians as “proof” that God’s light and truth have no rightful place in these areas, resulting in greater withdrawals of light, leading to ever increasing darkness.
If we will not consistently submit to every Word of God and allow His Word to be our only light for every area of life then we will not fulfil our callings and responsibilities under God. Our nation is in desperate need of light, truth and courage, so in understanding, be mature (1 Corinthians 14:20).
Think about these things!
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Drifting onto the Rocks and Burning the Boat
“Drifting onto the Rocks and Burning the Boat”
Yesterday the regime published in the state press the list of those products
that are to be controlled at a fixed price. It covers all the basics from
milk to cement. The prices shown are between 20 per cent and 50 per cent of
the actual cost of producing and marketing those products. All other
products produced by manufacturers are now price controlled in that the
producer must fix their current prices at the level they were 3 week ago
(18th June) and must from now on get the written approval of the Minister
for any new prices.
June the 18th marks the start of this campaign. On that date they entered
the parallel market for foreign exchange using billions of dollars in local
currency just printed, driving the price of foreign exchange from about 100
000 to 1 for the US dollar and 7500 for the Rand (the two most frequently
traded currencies) to 300 000 to 1 or more; some trades were done as high as
400 000 to 1 for the US dollar and similar sorts of rates for the Rand.
As a consequence, since all imported items are priced at the replacement
cost in foreign exchange at the parallel market rate, prices rose across the
board. This pushed inflation well over the 15 000 per cent per annum level
and created all sorts of pressures in the local economy.
When the exercise stopped after 10 days or so (I assume they ran out of
cash), the foreign currency rates fell back to about 200 000 to 1 for the US
dollar and 15 000 to 1 for the Rand. Many prices were adjusted downwards
(fuel from 180 000 for a litre to 120 000) and business went back to
"normal". They then unleashed the next phase.
This second phase is now well under way and is expressed in the wholesale
arrest of business managers and Directors (nearly 2000 as of last night),
the physical control of prices by thousands of Police and Militia -
operating for the first 10 days without any legal backing at all and now the
promulgation of new regulations that are just plainly unworkable.
Just take what they did yesterday to the beef industry. They had fixed the
retail price of beef (for all cuts) at an arbitrary 90 000 or 120 000
dollars a kilogram (why the difference no one can tell me). In Beitbridge we
were forced to sell our stocks at 90 000, in Masvingo, just up the road,
they were forced to sell at 120 000. It did not matter really, just changed
the degree of your losses. When the final rush of customers was over we had
run out of stocks, lost many millions of dollars and could not find any
farmers who would sell us cattle at a price that would allow us to operate
at the new prices.
So what do they do? Yesterday they cancelled the licenses of ALL private
abattoirs across the country, hundreds of them. In their place, they
"instructed" farmers to approach their nearest Cold Storage Commission
abattoir to make arrangements for them to buy their cattle, slaughter them
and deliver meat at the "controlled" price to butchers.
Now I was the Chief Executive of the CSC when it was the largest meat
processor in Africa. It has a superb network of 5 internationally registered
Abattoirs capable of slaughtering up to 650 000 head of cattle a year. We
actually handled over 700 000 head in one year during a drought.
We no longer have that sort of industry, but still kill between 350 000 and
400 000 head a year. The CSC however is hardly a player. Two of the
abattoirs have not killed an animal for 15 years, the others are on a care
and maintenance basis with a tiny throughput. You seldom see a CSC truck on
the roads and they are almost moribund.
Now, at the stroke of a pen, the Minister thinks he can order the closure of
hundreds of small abattoirs that have taken the place of the CSC, open up
the CSC works and supply the country overnight with its needs. If ever you
needed to understand the extent of the stupidity of these so-called
Ministers, this is it, and Mad Made is not even the Minister of Agriculture
any more! When I was at the CSC we handled up to 140 000 tonnes of beef a
year, exported to many countries including the EU and employed 5000 people
with dozens of excellent engineers, accountants and managers - most with
more than 20 years experience. That is all long gone, they do not have the
physical, financial or management capability to undertake this exercise
thrust on them at a days notice.
Yesterday we closed down our clothing factory in Bulawayo and told the staff
to go home and come back next week when we might know what to do. The
reason, all our orders from local retailers have been frozen - they simply
cannot function under the new regulations. If there is no movement in a week
or so, they will halt all buying and run down their stocks and then, like
us, close down. We are affected immediately as we hold no stocks of finished
goods - we manufacture to order.
When existing stocks of controlled items run out there will be nothing left.
That includes all the basic essentials - salt, maize meal, flour, matches
and meat. When I wrote over the weekend about refugees flooding into South
Africa I do not think I overstated the probabilities. I now have no doubt at
all and all of us may be the new victims. What kind of reception will we
I heard talk in Beitbridge yesterday that the South African Army has just
shot 100 head of cattle straying into South Africa across the River. I also
heard disturbing reports that they had shot 7 "border jumpers". It may or
may not be true, but it does describe in graphic terms the sort of reception
poor, homeless, impoverished and desperate Zimbabweans get when they try to
escape to anywhere where sanity prevails.
As for the crazy guys at the helm here, they know their Zanu PF ship is
headed for the rocks of destruction in the SADC talks and their aftermath,
they have opted to burn the boat rather than face the music. The problem is,
we are all in this particular boat - not out of choice but simply historical
reality. If they are allowed to burn the ship around us like this, we have
no option but to take our chances in the water and swim to shore.
Do not think these Zanu PF guys are irrational or dumb. This is carefully
planned and is being ruthlessly implemented. Just the same as Murambatsvina
and at the same time we must recognise that they think they have a chance of
success, even if it is small and their commitment to the SADC process is
nil. Theirs is a plan to fight to survive and if they fail to leave nothing
I hope nobody thinks that next week will be business as usual. This week the
private sector has gradually wound down its operations. The retail sector -
most retailers carry stock for a month approximately, are the last to shut
down but already you can see empty shelves and shortages of all the fast
moving basic items are now widespread.
Butcheries and bakeries that work on stock levels of about a week are
already closed as their stocks ran out. The same with filling stations.
Manufacturers must work with quite significant stock levels - especially of
imported items and they will run these down and then close unless there is a
U-turn on the part of the government and new directives which are half
There are no signs as yet as to what the State will do when this shutdown
occurs. But all that we are seeing and hearing right now are threats and an
insistence that this situation is going to be maintained for some time.
The most immediate problem is the very basics - fuel for transport and the
essential foods, maize meal, rice, bread, meat and milk. By Monday all of
these will be virtually unobtainable. Farmers with pigs and poultry are
pondering what to do with their animals as they run out of stock feed, dairy
farmers also face huge problems as they cannot pay their feed bills and must
start winding down - how do you tell a cow in milk, used to being milked
three times a day, that she must stop producing?
Hundreds of thousands of workers and non-formal sector businesspersons are
being faced with no work and are being forced to stay home - at present on
full pay, but in a few weeks what then? There is no law to turn to; there
are no political leaders to go to with any sort of sense and authority. We
are in the hands of a madman who has nothing to loose but his life and has
his back to the wall and is using the only tools that he knows to try and
stay afloat while the country drowns.
How will the average Zimbabwean respond? Friends of mine are doing a day
trip to Francistown in Botswana - just 200 kilometers away, today. They will
buy what they need for next week and return. A few will do the same. Others
are going on holiday, unable to stand the specter of seeing all that they
have built up over the past decades swept away. They are the lucky ones -
what about the rest?
There is only one way out and that is across the Limpopo. I must warn South
Africa that they will now face a huge upsurge in economic refugees and they
had better brace themselves for that if nothing effective is done to halt
this madness. I mean hundreds of thousands of new, desperate, hungry
Zimbabweans flooding in and disappearing into the vast urban slums that
surround all South African cities.
The alternative is a military coup led by the junior officers with the
compliance of some in the ruling Party who see that this situation is not
sustainable and that it is creating a regional crisis of substantial
proportions. Such an event would close the door to the SADC process under
way today in South Africa and plunge the country and the region into a huge
political crisis that would require military intervention. Am I being
alarmist? I do not think so. The actions of this rogue regime in the past
week have been enough to tip us over and into a state of crisis we have
never faced before.
Irreparable damage is being done to the country and if this is not stopped
in its tracks by immediate and radical measures taken by regional
governments very serious consequences are going to follow.
The humanitarian and economic crisis that is about to break out in Zimbabwe
is simply staggering and certainly way beyond the capacity of the country to
handle on its own.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
It is Tyranny!
It Is Tyranny!
Any individual or nation in the world that understands the concept of freedom will agree that Zimbabwe is under tyrannical rule! This tyranny is not some unfortunate mistake that our leaders have stumbled into and for which they are sorry. Rather, it is by a self-conscious, calculated and determined effort that they have decided to adopt and maintain this kind of rule—holding onto power at all costs and silencing anyone whose differing tune threatens their plans in any way. Our leaders call for unity, but need to be reminded that unity cannot be built upon lies, deception and iron fisted terror. True unity can only be founded upon God’s truth and justice. To use any other basis for unity is like exerting yourself to find the pot of gold at the base of the rainbow—utterly foolish.
What is our responsibility at a time like this? The answer lies, partly, in knowing what our authority is. Remember, our leaders were given authority by the people. This means that national leaders are the servants of the people and true leaders will acknowledge that after God, their authority resides in the people. It should be obvious that those who give the authority to the leaders are above these leaders and the leaders are accountable to them for the way they use their authority. You don’t give authority to someone so they can tyrannise you with it, thus, people grant authority to leaders to be used for their safety and wellbeing, not their destruction. The authority they give is always conditional—upon the grounds that the leaders fulfil their promises to protect and advance the lives and interests of their subjects.
Whatever those in authority do, they do with a power that is borrowed from the ones who put them in power. Thus, they should be sincere servants of the people, always mindful of labouring for their benefit. Leaders have not been given absolute power to do whatever they want and they most certainly haven’t been given power for tyrannical use. The inescapable truth is that those who have power to make rulers, have the power to unmake rulers. The moment the people in a nation withdraw their consent to rule from those in authority, these rulers have no more authority. The authority that national leaders have, remains, at all times, a derived authority and they are therefore accountable at every moment to those whom they serve. The leaders’ commission to use force (Romans 13:3,4) is from the people, but, if they use it to tyrannise the people, the people have not only a right but an obligation to remove it. Very simply: leaders turning tyrant lose their authority; by violating their trust, they destroy their commission.
It is subversive behaviour if leaders refuse to acknowledge that they are under God, or the people who commissioned them and therefore refuse to be accountable to either—this kind of subversion is one of the greatest threats to the wellbeing of any free society.
Our leaders deny that their great office is (after God), from the people and that their commission forever remains in the hands of the people and can be withdrawn at any moment. If this commission is withdrawn, the leaders no longer have lawful authority and their refusal to step aside, should this happen, would be clear proof of their self-seeking, tyrannical desire for power. It should now be clear who has the authority and responsibility to act in our present dilemma—we do! Tyranny is satanic and if we don’t resist it then we are resisting God—there can be no neutrality in such matters. To fear and do nothing in the face of tyranny is to add fuel to the tyrants’ fire and makes us accomplices to their crimes. To ignore tyranny and hope to escape its attention is a most dangerous position to adopt because unopposed tyranny will increase in momentum and force—swallowing up larger and larger amounts of freedom. There can be no standing still once tyranny has unashamedly manifested its characteristics. It is to demonstrate a great ignorance of history to think that when tyrants single out one group of people, other groups are safe. The natural, though foolish, tendency when this happens, is to hope that the tyrant’s spotlight won’t fall upon you, thinking that if you just remain as quiet and still as possible everything will eventually return to normal. Tyranny, however, is a cancerous growth, ever needing new victims to feed upon.
Our leaders have refused to submit to the consensus of the nation that involvement in the DRC is without justification and only destructive of our people and economy. This stubbornness has led directly to threatening and tyrannising Zimbabweans and assaulting the freedom of the press. Where will such deterioration end if we don’t stop it now? To contemporize the words of a Lutheran pastor who confessed the woeful consequences of his silence in the face of Nazi tyranny: “They came for the Matabele, but I wasn’t a Matabele, so I did nothing. They came for the trade unionists, but I wasn’t a trade unionist, so I did nothing. They came for the news paper reporters, but I wasn’t a news paper reporter, so I did nothing. They came for the whites, but I wasn’t a white, so I did nothing. Finally, when they came for me there was no one left to hear my cries”.
We do not honour the office of government by remaining silent in the face of abuse and corruption. We are called to honour the office and we do this by making sure that the people who sit in that office honour God’s purpose for instituting the office. This is a responsibility God has given to every person in the nation and we dare not treat it lightly. When the trust and covenant between the rulers and the ruled is repeatedly violated, those rulers must be deposed and replaced with others who will honour the conditions of the covenant.
A simple illustration will help us see our situation and responsibility: the owner of a company gives authority to a manager to run his business. This authority makes the manager responsible to act in the best interests of the owner at all times. Now, if the owner discovered that the manager was stealing, destroying the business and tyrannising the owner’s children, he would be immediately replaced with someone else. Surely everyone would call the owner foolish if he left that worthless manager in his position to continue on his destructive path. In the same way, it is foolish to complain about the economy, how hard it is to survive and how sad it is that our friends and family members are dying in the DRC, yet refuse to exercise our authority and do something about it.
Those who think the solution to our problems lies in violent outbursts and property destruction, are woefully misled, for these kinds of activities arise from lawlessness, helplessness and ignorance. When people realise that the authority to make leaders and the authority to unmake leaders is in their hands, under God, then they don’t have to sit in frustration and self-pity saying, “But what can I do?” We can face up to our responsibilities and with a united voice withdraw our consent to rule from those who are presently causing much distress. If we understand this then we don’t have to rely upon mindless violence and destruction as the way to get things sorted out. Rather, we can act in a disciplined way, worthy of the authority we have from God. If, however, we don’t assume our responsibility and act righteously, then the Lord Himself will judge us, together with our leaders, since our hands will be stained with their corruption and our own refusal to oppose unrighteousness and tyranny.
There are legitimate “lesser” leaders in our nation who have shown their genuine concern for the people, e.g., the Supreme Court judges’ questions to the president were out of concern, not for themselves, but for the average person on the street. To have been so shamefully dealt with is evidence of how tyranny responds to the light. Tyrants, throughout history (Nero and Hitler being two examples), have always used the supposed “evil intentions” of minorities in their midst to justify their own tyrannical behaviour and used these minorities as “scapegoats” to explain away their own corruption and blunders.
The “lesser” leaders, such as our judges, union leaders, independent politicians, etc, have a responsibility under God to preserve the safety of our people and nation. It is through these leaders that the people in the nation can exercise their authority and change the existing leadership. We are in a crisis situation which requires desperate and unusual measures, however, they are still legitimate and lawful measures: those with the God given authority to make leaders, working through the “lesser” leaders, are to put into office new rulers who will be true servants of the people. These are God given rights and responsibilities and all those who truly love and understand freedom should be prepared, if necessary, to die for them.
Our hope must never merely reside in political means to find peace, prosperity and freedom. These things are found only in God’s righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ. While we have in the past and continue even now to call on everyone in our nation to turn from their own personal sin and embrace the truth, we at the same time need to show solid, practical, God-honouring principles whereby we can address the critical needs of our day. For example, we need to be seeking to help the oppressed in real practical ways while calling for repentance (Isaiah 1:17; 59:4; Jeremiah 22:15-17). Mere handouts can’t alleviate the present suffering if we don’t address the major causes of our economic woes. The policies, corruption and personal examples of our leaders have played a significant part in bringing us to where we now are. Their refusal to bow to God, or be servants of the people, or listen to the people, or admit any wrong on their part, together with their destruction of the economy and their aggressive responses to those who would question or strongly disagree with them, are grounds enough for their removal.
The government is not facing a conspiracy, but a population whose fear of them is now far smaller than their revulsion of the government’s lies, threats and abuses of power.
There is no moral obligation upon Zimbabweans to keep the present leadership in power. The moral obligation facing us all, however, is to act within the law, stay away from violence and exercise our authority to remove from power those who abuse that power. The moral responsibility upon the “lesser” leaders in our nation is for them to make it possible for everyone else to use their authority responsibly and so bring about change in a calm, lawful and democratic manner.
The only way to restore international confidence in Zimbabwe and thus investor confidence is if the present leadership is replaced. The only way for Zimbabweans to be assured that our nation will be run by the rule of law and not tyranny, is if we replace the present leadership (and watch the next leaders very closely). The only way to avoid total economic collapse and possible revolution and mayhem is if we act now without fear, being guided by godly principle and not empty rhetoric, lawless foolishness or prejudice. Mere complaining and self-pity will get us nowhere. I have suggested a strategy for action.
Think about these things, but not for too long!
We laugh at the idea that an ostrich would hide its head under the sand in order to escape from the danger of a predator. However, this is a very common practice among humans—figuratively speaking. We hope that if we just close our eyes and keep very quiet, “it” won’t get us and then eventually things will settle down again and life can continue just as before. To be silent in the face of injustice is to invite greater manifestations of injustice and eventual annihilation. The wicked are never satisfied unless they are committing wickedness (Proverbs 1:16; 4:16; Psalm 36:4; Micah 2:1-3)—silence only spurs them on to greater heights of corruption.
There is only One God and He has only one law-Word. When the people of God refuse to submit to Him in wilful obedience, then they will be forced to submit to another “god”. When people reject God’s revealed will as their only guide for all of life then someone else’s will for all of life will be forced upon them. Either we will serve God in loving obedience or we will serve someone else in terror and confusion—these are the only two options available in God’s universe.
The people of God are to be the salt and the light in these dark times (Matthew 5:13,14). If they fail to be these things then they become worthless and are treated as such by society, i.e., trampled under their feet. There is a great difference between being persecuted for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:10-12) and being treated as worthless and we should not confuse these two.
The government in Zimbabwe (much like many other nations) has assumed the position that only God can have. They are accountable to no one but themselves. There is no law higher than them and there is no evidence that this is about to change. In fact, the evidence points in the other direction, namely, that their claims to unbridled sovereignty are only going to increase, creating in its wake more hardship and destruction.
The people in this nation, in forsaking the absolute Word of God, have no standard of righteousness by which to challenge this out of control freight train. Inflation is accepted like some unstoppable alien invasion from outer space—nothing is related to the obese size of government or their mismanagement and corruption. No one questions the implications of fractional reserve banking or legalised counterfeiting.
The problems facing our nation are not racial issues (as some in high places try to use as a cover for their own deception, corruption and failures), but it is a righteousness issue. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). Righteousness here means doing all things in obedience to the revelation of God (this includes rulers who should be even more careful to walk according to the light since God has given them such a great responsibility).
When one group in the nation are charged an arbitrary extra tax—this should terrify everyone in the nation. Even those not directly affected should have the sense to see the danger if such behaviour is left unchallenged. Envy and fear are usually the reasons those unaffected remain silent at such times.
When the government illegally freezes all company foreign currency accounts and then forces them to sell at a below market exchange rate, what is the government saying, but that every single thing in the nation belongs absolutely to them. What will be next? It is only wilful ignorance that allows people to ignore such immorality.
When the president assumes sovereign ownership of all water in the nation, what does this reveal but his belief that he owns everything in the nation. If there is no law above such people then what security can there be? Are we expected to have a blind faith in the reputation of government—no questions asked, trust them with everything we have kind of confidence? What is the foundation for this kind of confidence?—their track record of no corruption, no mismanagement and diligent hard work?
If the Word of God is not going to be the final authority for all areas of life then the government’s arbitrary word will be—then justice and what is right are determined by who is the strongest. If the government says they want such and such, then any one who argues is wrong, for whatever the government decides is right. Why? Because they can implement their will by force.
The reason a nation gets into a situation like this is because the people in the nation are walking in violation of the counsel of God. When a people’s standard of right and wrong is not based upon the unchanging Word of God then, for example, when a small group of people within the nation are charged an extra percentage of taxation, those not directly affected are not incensed. When the government who has already implemented excessively abusive taxation laws, sees someone make a good profit they are unable to restrain their greedy inclinations and immediately pass a “law” so that they can “legally” take more of what doesn’t belong to them.
This is a blatant manifestation of legislated tyranny and tyranny is never satisfied until it has consumed everything in its reach—and the Zimbabwe government has made it very clear that every single thing within the nation is “legally” within their reach. God alone has this kind of power and authority—everything belongs to Him and He has not given such great powers and liberty to any government. To remain silent in the face of such repeated and increasing abuses of power is to commit suicide. Either its evil or its right, there is no other option. If it is right we should give the government everything we have right now! If it is wrong then we need to show why it is wrong—by whose standard are all things to be judged?
If there is no ultimate unchanging standard to appeal to then nothing can ever be said to be wrong. God’s Word alone provides us with an eternally unchanging standard for truth, liberty, peace and justice.
Wickedness will not go away on its own. It needs to be exposed by the light of the truth—constantly, courageously and consistently. We need to realise, as Otto Scott has said, that “Placating evil men does not imbue them with virtue, but emboldens them to more evil”. It is also true that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Dr. R.J. Rushdoony, aware of the tendency in the world to ignore the need to make clear moral distinctions said, “We have to understand that in the world there is that which is truth and also that which is not truth. There is that which is right and there is that which is wrong. All is not the same and equal”. To blur this distinction is to remove one of the fundamental pillars required to preserve society.
All people are responsible before God to uphold the truth and expose unrighteousness. If we compromise our right and responsibility to do this we will reap the consequences of tyranny. We are not only to be concerned that we receive justice, but that everyone receives equal justice—the same standard applied to rich and poor, black and white, politicians and common folk. If there is not one unchanging standard, then we do not have justice—no matter what we call it.
The starting place for any kind of change is primarily within the hearts of individuals. People need to be converted from walking in rebellion to God, to walking in loving obedience to Him, through His grace and mercy. We need both leaders and ordinary folk to fear God and walk before Him in obedience. We need to bring all our own thoughts and actions into line with the Word of God. At the same time we cannot release ourselves from the responsibility of being the salt and the light in society. Compromise leads to compromise which leads to compromise which leads to annihilation!
Finally I will conclude with a quote from John Philpot Curran who said in 1790, “It is the common fate of the indolent [idle] to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God has given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition, if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt”.
If justice, liberty and freedom (in the true sense of the terms) is worth anything to us, then may we not keep silent through fear and ignorance. However, if these ideals have no value in our minds, then most definitely we must keep silent and in so doing, speed up the goal of absolute tyranny!
Think about these things.
But don’t stop with merely thinking!
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Zimbabwe, once a breadbasket, now a basket case under Mugabe
The Associated Press
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Zimbabwe is reaching the end game, witnessing the last, desperate throes of a regime that has destroyed one of Africa's few successful economies, plunged millions of people into grinding poverty and led to the deaths of tens of thousands from malnutrition and lack of medical care.
It probably won't happen today, when President Robert Mugabe celebrates his 83rd birthday with cake and champagne at a $1.2 million party while hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans struggle to survive on bread and water.
And it may not happen in the weeks leading up to April 18, the 27th anniversary of the end of white rule and Mugabe's ascension to power.
But years of abuse and neglect are culminating in untenable crises.
"People's anger is mounting," said Zimbabwean political scientist John Makumbe. "They're no longer afraid to go into the streets and I think the government is growing very afraid of what may happen."
The world's worst hyperinflation is spiraling out of control, bringing shortages of food, fuel, medication and electricity. Police have banned demonstrations in opposition strongholds in the capital, Harare, for three months. And criticism is mounting within Mugabe's ruling party, which is divided over who will succeed him and when.
Mugabe blames sanctions, drought and former colonizer Britain for the collapse of an economy based on exports of a wealth of agricultural and mineral products.
Others blame land grabs over the past several years in which Mugabe encouraged blacks to violently force out most of the 5,000 white commercial farmers who owned 40 percent of all agricultural land that produced 75 percent of agricultural output.
White farmers had employed the country's largest work force and their ejection led to the displacement of 300,000 families. The farms, most given to Mugabe relatives, allies and cronies, lie fallow today and Zimbabwe does not have the foreign currency to import food.
The World Bank estimates it would take more than 20 years for Zimbabwe's economy to return to levels in 1980, when the country was considered the breadbasket of the region.
The rate of hyperinflation — running at near 1,600 percent — has the country in revolt. The number of Zimbabwe dollars that bought a three-bedroom house with a swimming pool and tennis court in 1990 will buy a brick today.
A lifetime public worker's monthly pension can't buy a loaf of bread. Charities have reported depression, suicide and malnutrition among retirees.
A hairdresser paid the minimum monthly wage of $30,000 Zimbabwe dollars said her bus fare to work costs more than her salary but she goes anyway to get the tips from clients that keep her and her daughter alive.
The list of deserters on the walls of army barracks grows ever longer despite a 300 percent pay raise in January, which fell short of the military's demand of a 1,000 percent increase.
Doctors and nurses have been on strike since December and the rest of the civil service is threatening to join them.
Makumbe, the political scientist, said an estimated 70,000 people have died this year because there are no drugs in hospitals and medical equipment such as dialysis machines don't work any more.
He said one 16-year-old boy who broke his collar bone in a fall has lain at home in pain for days because his widowed mother does not have the million Zimbabwe dollars needed to have the bone set.
Water shortages have caused a cholera epidemic that has killed dozens since November, medical officials said.
One in four Zimbabwean children have been orphaned and more than 2 million at risk of starvation, the U.N. Children's Fund said.
The government has tried to control inflation by printing money and setting the exchange rate. The official exchange rate is set at 250 Zimbabwe dollars to one U.S. dollar, but the real trading rate is 5,000 to one.
Party and government officials with access to foreign currency buy it at the official rate and then resell it at the real rate, making a huge profit.