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Reductionists think that they are playing a game of telephone: as the message of reality travels upward, from the microscopic to the macroscopic scale, it becomes garbled, and they must work their way downward to recover the truth. @NewYorker
Whether these researchers are on the right track or not, the web of
explanations of reality exists. Perhaps the most striking thing about
those explanations is that, even as each draws only a partial picture
of reality, they are mathematically perfect. Take general relativity.
Physicists know that Einstein’s theory is incomplete. Yet it is a
spectacular artifice, with a spare, taut mathematical structure.
Fiddle with the equations even a little and you lose all of its beauty
and simplicity. It turns out that, if you want to discover a deeper
way of explaining the universe, you can’t take the equations of the
existing description and subtly deform them. Instead, you must make a
jump to a totally different, equally perfect mathematical structure.
What’s the point, theorists wonder, of the perfection found at every
level, if it’s bound to be superseded?
In most cases the desire to control the internet is rooted in governments' determination to control the political narrative. @qzafrica
Already in 2019 there have been shutdowns in Cameroon, the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Chad, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Last
year there were 21 such shutdowns on the continent. This was the case
in Togo, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Ethiopia, among others.
The internet is seen as a threat because it disrupts older forms of
government political control, particularly the control of information.
The stranglehold on the production and dissemination of information
has always been an invaluable political tool for many African
The loss of this control, at a time when the media has brought
politics closer to the people, presents governments with a distinctly
unsettling reality. Social media, for example, inherently encourages
political indiscipline and engenders the production and circulation of
alternative political narratives.
Be Careful What You Wish for: Strongman Exit Can Leave Chaos @bpolitics
When Zimbabweans celebrated after the military toppled Robert Mugabe
in late 2017, few could have foreseen that just over a year later
their economy would be collapsing and soldiers would be on the
It’s a scenario that’s played out all too often when a strongman who
has ruled for decades leaves the stage.
For almost all of Mugabe’s nearly four decades in charge, his
decisions were unquestioned, and his ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front’s grip on power rarely wavered.
By replacing him with Emmerson Mnangagwa, the military won a factional
battle within ZANU-PF, weakening it, and sidelined the once-powerful
police force and secret service that were key Mugabe allies.
“The glue it had in the past 38 years, that cohesive, forced consensus
under Mugabe -- it’s gone,” Tendai Biti, a senior leader of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said in an interview in
What’s happening today in Zimbabwe echoes the experiences of other
African countries and bears similarities with the chaos currently
taking place in Venezuela, six years after the death of Hugo Chavez.
In Ivory Coast, Felix Houphouet-Boigny’s 1993 death in office
triggered a power struggle over succession and ultimately a civil war
that divided the country in two for almost a decade. Somalia hasn’t
been a functioning state since Siad Barre was toppled in 1991, and in
Congo the overthrow of Mobutu Sese Seko after 32 years in power
sparked the world’s most deadly conflict since World War II. In
Burkina Faso, the intelligence services fell apart with the ousting of
strongman Blaise Compaore, making the country a target of jihadist
To be sure, there are political differences between West and southern
Africa. In the south of the continent most countries, including
Zimbabwe, are governed by parties formed during the liberation
struggle against white rule.
In West Africa, power is often concentrated in the hands of one
dominant character who maintains control by weakening state
institutions, making those nations even more vulnerable to disruption
when they’re gone.
“There’s usually one conductor playing the orchestra,” Vincent
Foucher, a research fellow at the National Center for Scientific
Research in Bordeaux, said of West Africa.
“Once the leader is out, his political party is completely weakened
because there is no ideology that keeps it together.”
In addition to the West and central African nations that have fallen
apart following the departure of long-term leaders, others may follow.
Paul Biya has been in charge of Cameroon for almost 37 years and the
country is riven by a separatist insurgency that’s left the ruling
elite increasingly divided.
Politicians in Gabon are jockeying for power in the absence of
President Ali Bongo, who suffered a stroke in October last year and
has been recovering in Morocco.
In Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema has presided over a
kleptocracy since 1979.
For Zimbabwe the outlook is dire. A currency shortage means it can’t
afford essential imports, factories are closing and protests over a
more than doubling of fuel prices last month were crushed, with at
least 17 people killed.
Teachers were intimidated by the military in a subsequent strike and
soldiers are a common sight in buses, gas stations and supermarkets.
“There have been several confirmed reports of extra-judicial killings,
allegations of rape and torture,” said Fadzayi Mahere, a lawyer who
ran as an independent in last year’s elections.
“The military seems to want its pound of flesh for its role in removing Mugabe.”
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube says the government is moving as quickly
as possible to revive the economy. Nick Mangwana, Zimbabwe’s secretary
for information, said that since Mugabe’s exit media freedom has
improved and cabinet has approved the rescinding of a much maligned
act that hindered reporting on the government.
“With the situation we inherited, it was also going to be a tough
struggle,” Ncube said in a statement. “The process of restructuring,
reforming and rebuilding our economy is just beginning. But the train
has left the station and we are moving firmly in the right direction.”
Even so the situation is complicated by the tensions between the
police and the army, open divisions within the ruling party and rumors
of strains between Mnangagwa and his deputy and former armed forces
commander, Constantino Chiwenga.
Mnangagwa retired four generals this week while Chiwenga was
hospitalized abroad for an undisclosed ailment, in what has been seen
as an attempt to boost his hold over the military.
Yet the ruling party is unlikely to be dislodged easily. Mnangagwa is
a former spy chief who takes pride in his nickname the “crocodile,”
with his office sporting a mug themed on the reptile.
“Zimbabwe has a long tradition of political violence, and Emmerson
Mnangagwa is a very, very old crocodile who’s always been at the
center of that,” Foucher said.
“Even though Mnangagwa has presented himself as a moderate, it’s clear
that he wants to hold on to power.”
That hasn’t eased the chaos. Communications officials often contradict
each other, and Mnangagwa has twice condemned violence by his own
“You don’t have evidence that this is a government that can actually
make decisions, whereas under Mugabe you had no doubt who was in
charge,” Biti said.
“It’s a fragility that I’ve not seen before. The state is in a
permanent state of paranoia. That’s why they are putting soldiers on
the street picking up people.”
Zimbabwe Devalues Its Quasi-Currency in FX Regime Overhaul @economics
Zimbabwe’s government dropped its insistence that a quasi-currency
known as bond notes are at par with the dollar as it overhauled
foreign-exchange trading and effectively devalued the securities.
The measures are a step toward trying to create a new currency and
stabilize Zimbabwe’s economy, which has been plunged into crisis as a
shortage of foreign currency stoked the fastest increase in consumer
prices in more than a decade and caused shortages of food, fuel and
Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2009 after inflation spiraled
to 500 billion percent, allowing the use of the U.S. dollar and other
units as legal tender. Bond notes were introduced in 2016.
The central bank will immediately establish an interbank
foreign-exchange market in which the bond notes will be denominated as
electronic money known as RTGS dollars, Governor John Mangudya said at
a briefing Wednesday in the capital, Harare.
While the government has previously insisted that bond notes and RTGS
dollars are worth the same as U.S. dollars, the units currently trade
at between 3.66 and 3.8 to the dollar respectively on the black
Denominating bond notes as RTGS dollars will “establish an exchange
rate between the current monetary balances and foreign currency,”
“The new framework is set to bring certainty, predictability and
functionality to the economy’s foreign-exchange market.”
The announcement amounted to an effective devaluation, Harare-based
economist John Robertson said.
“He didn’t mention it by name, but they have devalued it,” he said.
“We should now see a convergence of a stable rate going forward.
Buyers and sellers will now need to meet and agree on a rate.”
RTGS dollars would be used by all entities including the government to
price goods and services
The use of RTGS dollars would eliminate the existence of a
multi-pricing system; prices should either remain at their current
levels or decline “in sympathy with the stability in the exchange
The central bank has arranged “sufficient lines of credit” to enable
it to maintain foreign currency to underpin the exchange rate
Foreign currency from the interbank market will be used for
“It is a small but key step that will support a long road of reforms
needed to bring transparency and clarity to the country’s monetary
system,” said Chiedza Madzima, a senior analyst at Fitch Solutions in
The refusal by foreign traders to accept bond notes as legal tender
resulted in payment problems for companies such as gold miners and
grain millers and exacerbated shortages of raw materials.
Shops also charged customers different prices depending on which unit
they used to pay, offering discounts as high as 70 percent to those
who used real U.S. dollars.
The central bank measures are a step toward Zimbabwe reintroducing its
own currency, Secretary for Information Nick Mangwana said by phone.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has said he wants a new currency
introduced within a year.
“The move is largely constructive as the government now officially
recognizes that U.S. dollars and RTGS$ are not at parity,” Neville
Mandimika, an analyst in Johannesburg at FirstRand Ltd.’s Rand
Merchant Bank, said in response to emailed questions.
“The introduction of a Zim dollar will be just in name, but the RTGS$
is essentially the Zim dollar.”
Ncube has given few details on plans for the new currency, beyond that
the central bank was building reserves, which currently cover barely
two weeks of imports. He’s also trying to restructure billions of
dollars of defaulted multilateral debts so that Zimbabwe can obtain
new international loans.
While a new currency is possible, it’s likely to behave the same way
bond notes and RTGS dollars did, said Steve H. Hanke, a professor of
applied economics and expert on hyperinflation at Johns Hopkins
University in Baltimore. Both units depreciated against the dollar
after their introduction.
“It would sink like a stone,” he said. “They have created such a mess
with the bonds and RTGS dollars. What they should do is get this
cancer out of the system.”
08-OCT-2018 :: Government's "Voodoo Economics"
There are $9.3 billion of Zollars in banks compared to $200 million in
reserves, official data showed, a mis- match that creates a premium
for the U.S. dollar and fans the black market. On the black market,
the premium for the U.S. dollar spiked to a new record on Saturday,
reaching 165 percent from 120 percent on Monday, traders said that
means buying $100 in cash via a bank transfer cost $265, up from $220
earlier this week. The Government’s ‘’Voodoo Economics’’ where it
spent $1.3b pump-priming the economy ahead of the election [money it
did not have] was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
21-JAN-2019 :: The Point I am seeking to make is that There is a correlation between high Inflation and revolutionary conditions
The Point I am seeking to make is that There is a correlation between
high Inflation and revolutionary conditions, Zimbabwe is a classic
example where there are $9.3 billion of Zollars in banks compared to
$200 million in reserves, official data showed. The Mind Game that
ZANU-PF played on its citizens has evapo- rated in a puff of smoke.
President Mnangagwa was cavorting around the World with his scarf [As
violence unfolded on the streets, Mnangagwa traveled to Russia. He’s
also scheduled to visit Kazakhstan, Belarus and Azerbaijan before
flying to the World Economic Forum in Davos] at the very moment that
his Citizens like Roberto Durán II in his fight with Sugar Ray Leonard
turned away from Leonard towards the referee and quit by apparently
saying, “No más” (Spanish for “No more”).
The Petrol price hike was the proximate cause and ‘’ignited the
already dry tinder on the ground’’ [Piers Pigou International Crisis
.@BarrickGold's Cost of Doing Business Could Shoot Up With @AcaciaMining Deal
A deal that would see Barrick Gold Corp. split returns from its
Tanzanian unit with the government could have ramifications for its
negotiations with other countries, including Papua New Guinea and
Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Toronto-based miner’s long-term license to operate its mine in
Papua New Guinea is due for renewal this year. The question is whether
officials there, and in other countries where the global miner
operates, will push for a similar arrangement as resource nationalism
continues to gain traction around the world.
The largest gold miner may already be trying to get ahead of that tide
in PNG. Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow met last week with
government officials about extending its license for the Porgera mine,
Barrick’s joint venture with Zijin Mining Group Co.
Executive Chairman John Thornton had said previously that Barrick may
one day sell its remaining 47.5 percent stake to Zijin. But since
taking Barrick’s reins in January, Bristow has backpedaled on that.
The miner issued a statement this week calling Porgera a long-term
asset for both companies. It then added that, without an extension to
its mining lease, it would be “difficult to justify” the significant
capital investments the mine requires.
Elsewhere, Bristow has also hit the ground running. The company has
already reached out to the new government in the Democratic Republic
of Congo, after President Felix Tshisekedi was sworn in late last
Barrick, and other miners, have been pushing for changes to the
country’s mining code, but so far have been rebuffed. The country’s
mines minister said earlier this month the rules won’t be reopened.
Zambian Central Bank Mulls China Debt Swap to Build Reserves. @economics
The Bank of Zambia is considering asking China to convert its dollar
loans to the southern African nation into renminbi, as it seeks to
build foreign-currency reserves that have plunged to the lowest level
this decade, Governor Denny Kalyalya said.
The bank is “looking for ways how we can maybe get some swap
arrangements,” he told reporters Wednesday in Lusaka, the capital. “If
it can be denominated in renminbi, that could also mitigate the need
to get dollars. Right now that debt is also serviced in dollars.”
Zambia’s external debt almost doubled to $9.5 billion in September
from $4.8 billion in 2014, as the government built hundreds of
kilometers of roads, power plants and airports. The cost of servicing
foreign loans this year is equivalent to about 90 percent of the
nation’s international reserves, according to Renaissance Capital.
To help repair them, the central bank has engaged the government on
debt contraction and the rate at which it’s drawing down reserves to
service loans, he said. The Bank of Zambia is also in talks with gold
producers to add the metal to its reserves portfolio, according to
“We are not sitting idle and just watching the reserves go down,” he said.
DTB official charged in Dusit attack case Business Daily
A bank manager suspected of facilitating the financing of the dusitD2
hotel attack which left 21 people dead, via huge M-Pesa transactions,
was Wednesday charged in court.
Sophia Njoki Mbogo, a DTB Eastleigh branch manager, appeared before
Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi and pleaded not guilty to three
Ms Mbogo was charged with failure to report suspicious activity
regarding proceeds of crime and anti-money laundering, aiding and
abetting commission of a terrorism Act, as well as failure to report a
suspicious transaction amounting to Sh34.7 million.
28-JAN-2019 :: "I used to think it was possible for an artist to alter the inner life of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory," Don DeLillo, Mao II.
Don De Lillo wrote about this about Terror
‘’Terror’s response is a narrative that has been developing over
years, only now becoming inescapable. It is our lives and minds that
are occupied now. This catastrophic event changes the way we think and
act, moment to moment, week to week, for unknown weeks and months to
come, and steely years. our world, parts of our world, have crumbled
into theirs, which means we are living in a place of danger and rage’’
“I used to think it was possible for an artist to alter the inner life
of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory,”
Don DeLillo, Mao II.
The truth of the matter is more people die on the roads everyday.
Terror is a mind game. The response was professional and effective.
The city moved forward. I extend my condolences to all who lost their
li- ves. A lot now depends on whether this was a one off or not.