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Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
from Weekly Media Update 2004-16
Monday April 19th - Sunday April 25th 2004
governor Gideon Gono’s monetary policy review statement for the
first quarter of the year provided the government-controlled media
with yet another opportunity to portray him as the messiah of the
country’s economic recovery.
their analysis on the drop in inflation, these media narrowly viewed
the monetary policy as the only solution to economic revival and
disregarded the broader macro-economic and political environment
under which the policy is being implemented.
private media acknowledged that Gono’s policy had, to some extent,
arrested some economic ills, they examined the policy and pointed
out that it would not prevent economic collapse alone, saying that
other issues, such as a return to the rule of law, had to be addressed
In their preview
of Gono’s statement, ZBC (19 & 20/4, 8pm) and The Herald
(20/4) sought to present the monetary policy as having been a resounding
success. The Herald for example, noted that, "great
strides have been made in addressing the country’s economic challenges
following the unveiling of the new monetary policy…"
The paper, and indeed ZBC, then cited the closure of asset management
companies and banks and the drop in inflation to substantiate such
both failed to give a comprehensive analysis of the targets Gono
set himself in December and what he has achieved so far.
next day The Herald (21/4) continued to use the decline in
annual inflation from 603 percent in February to 583 percent in
March and the stabilisation of month-on-month inflation at about
six percent to passively endorse Gono’s policies.
Said the paper:
"Stabilisation of the inflation figure is testimony to
the workability and effectiveness of the several policy changes
brought about by the monetary policy…" Radio Zimbabwe
(22/4, 1pm) even allowed Small to Medium Enterprises Development
Minister Sithembiso Nyoni to claim - without any substantiation
- that the policy had resulted in the creation of more jobs.
It was hardly
surprising therefore that when Gono finally made his statement,
the government media found themselves uncritically embracing its
(22/4), for instance, quoted government media’s favourite economic
commentator Jonathan Kadzura as saying the statement had shown that,
"The governor is really determined to put the economy
right on track in the next oncoming months".
Herald (22/4) noted that Gono had "set the
pitch for economic recovery".
Its comment, which praised government for its "fiscal
discipline", stated: "
…The progress has been swifter than even the most optimistic hoped,
thanks to all who manage our economy pulling together in the right
To give Gono’s
review public approval the paper (23/4) claimed that, "several
people expressed optimism on the future performance of the economy
in view of the interventions taken by the central bank".
Only three people were quoted.
media however, was more critical. For example, the Zimbabwe Independent,
while highlighting some of Gono’s achievements, pointed out
that inflation was still "extremely high when compared to
our neighbours and major trading partners". Studio 7 (21/4)
quoted MDC official Eddie Cross echoing similar views.
also questioned the RBZ’s hope of reducing inflation to 200 percent
by year-end saying, contrary to claims by The Herald (22/4)
and ZBC (22/4, 8pm), " there is at present too little fiscal
discipline to complement his (Gono’s) measures", and pointed
out that, "Several ministries have already exhausted their
votes allocated last November, and given the current electoral drive
it is unrealistic to expect ministers to stop spending".
(23/4) agreed. It observed that, "three months is too
short a period to measure the success of the policy"
adding that "inflationary pressures are still present
in the environment". It cited the recent
250 percent pay increases to civil servants and the hike in electricity
charges as examples.
paper rebutted claims, especially by the government media, that
the Zimbabwean currency was firming saying that would only make
"sense if the parallel market rate of $8000 per US dollar
is recognised as official".
It thus concluded
that the review statement "may be over optimistic".
Mirror (21/4) was equally skeptical in its article, Will
Gono reduce inflation? It noted that, "the monetary policy
is not a panacea in itself to harness inflation and must be visibly
complemented by government through an operating and binding framework."
the private media failed to fully explain the reasons behind the
decline in inflation.
media however, tried to do so. The Herald (21/4) pointed
out that factors such as the "stability on the foreign
exchange market since the inception of the auction system in January"
and the "tight rein on money supply growth through firm
control on liquidity support and overnight accommodation to financial
institutions" had contributed to the decline in inflation.
But the paper
and its stablemates were so pre-occupied with the inflation rate
that they ignored other factors that will limit the success of the
central bank’s policy.
This was despite
the fact that ZBC (21/4, 2.30pm) quoted Gono slamming division and
continuing lawlessness in the country during the live broadcast
of his policy review.
Said Gono: "Land
and factory capacity under-utilization, disunity among us as a nation,
indiscipline and deliberate sabotage and disruption of productive
land, factories, mines and tourism capacity will also undermine
our efforts towards early revival of the economy".
Independent (23/4) also quoted Gono’s remarks and cited the
recent seizure of Kondozi and Charleswood farms and Hippo Valley
Estates as examples.
that while Gono acknowledged the effects of the destruction of the
productive sector his weakness remained "his proximity to the
ruling party which obliges him to studiously ignore national governance
issues upon which the success of his policy depends."
private and government media pointed out that Gono’s new exchange
rate of US$1 to Z$5,200 for Zimbabweans living abroad would add
another layer to the country’s multiple exchange rates, none of
them gave a clear explanation of the underlying effects such a scenario
has on the economy.
Independent merely viewed the move as a devaluation disguised
as attempts to entice Zimbabweans living abroad to send money home.
monetary policy review exposed Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s exaggeration
of the total number of tourists that have visited the country, in
an effort to give the impression that the tourism sector, one of
the country’s main foreign currency earners, was on the road to
Independent reported that in his review Gono revealed that tourist
arrivals had increased to 1,089 million last year, compared to 739
284 in 2002. Two weeks ago ZTA claimed that the tourist arrivals
had increased from 2,04 million in 2002 to 2,2 million last year.
Zimsun boss Shingi Munyeza was quoted in The Daily Mirror (21/4)
also disproving ZTA’s figures saying there has been no marked improvement
in the industry over the last two years.
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