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Archive for July 2008

Zero slashing time in Zimbabwe

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has announced that it will be slashing 10 zeros from the country's currency after record runaway inflation has caused prices of basic goods like bread to cost over $150 billion dollars.

Two years ago, the Gideon Gono, the Reserver Bank Governor cut three zeros but the problems that caused that inflation have never been resolved and so since then the situation has become worse and worse.

Early this month a $100 billion note was was introduced and this could not buy a loaf of bread at the time of its introduction and so its not surprising that this time they have now gone to cut off a whooping ten zeros.

That $100 billion note will now be worth $100 dollars and the highest note will now be $500.

What I find surprising is the fact that they want to re-introduce coins. I think these coins will be worthless very soon and nobody will be using them in a few months time because the problems causing the inflation have not been resolved and therefore inflation will remain high still.

So Zimbabweans have just come from being billionaires to nothing overnight and I think this zero slashing exercise should be done often to protect people from such high numbers like trillions to buy basic stuff or to pay for bus fare.

More links needed

Last week I had the chance to drive on the latest Melbourne tollway, the Eastlink and I was impressed with how much time I saved going to Kilysth South.

Now the free phase has finished and tolling has started on the Eastlink but I think in terms of time saved its a step in the right direction.

I also think that more links are needed and the one I would like to see is the link between the Metropolitan Ring road at Greensborough linking with Eastlink and the Eastern Freeway.

Even if its a tollway its far much better because at the moment it takes a lot of time to get from Greenborough to reach the Eastern Freeway.

A freeway or tollway between Greensborough and Ringwood would cut the time to less than ten minutes. It will also be quicker for people living in that part of Melbourne to reach Melbourne Airport.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai agree talks

Zanu PF's Robert Mugabe and MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai have signed a pact to start talks to resolve the current political crisis in Zimbabwe.

Arthur Mutambara of the minor MDC faction also signed the agreement to start talks that could lead to a new government being formed and start tackling the country's multitude of problems.

I think this is a good move because nothing has been happening for some time now and yet things have continued to get worse for the ordinary people because there has been a leadership vacuum in Zimbabwe for some time now.

I think the MDC didn't have much of a choice but I think the mediator should have been changed from South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki to somebody else and if they wanted somebody from a neighbouring country they could have gone for one of Botswana's former presidents.

Mbeki doesn't seem to see the gravity of the situation in Zimbabwe and he appears too sympathetic to Mugabe but I hope that this is his last chance to mediate in this situation.

I don't think a government of national unity will be a good thing unless its term is limited to something like two years but I would happy that there would be a transitional government that will organise another set of elections in six to twelve months.

I think Zanu PF will go for a unity government because as opposed to a transitional government because if free and fair elections are held again chances of them winning are very slim moreso after the recent violence.

On a positive note the good thing about MDC in government is that they will be able to foresee the whole process and make sure that nobody is above the law.

Fairness is critical in Zimbabwe where the opposition has been treated so badly that you would think they are an illegal party but I hope these talks will realise that the current problems cannot continue to go on but its time to start solving although that wont be easy.

We will see what happens in two weeks time and I hope they will agree on a new constitution that will take the country on a new path.

Related documents:

Jul 08 Memorandum of Understanding

Piquet gets surprise second

Reanult's Nelson Piquet Jr got his first podium finish when he finished second behind championship leader McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in the German Grand Prix.

At one time Piquet actually led the race only to be overtaken by Hamilton but he made sure that Ferrari's Felipe Massa did not catch him as he got Reanult to its best finish this season.

Hamilton started on pole and had a fine race and he could have spoilt the race by stopping during racing instead of during the safety car.

Hamilton now leads the championship by four points after Massa who was tied on points with him at the start of the race could only get third place.

BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld took the first position outside the podium in fourth and behind him was McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen.

Nothing seemed to work for current champion Kimi Raikkonen as he finished sixth and if he continues like this he could lose his title. He started the race in the same position and could not improve on that despite Fernando Alonso who started fifth finishing eleventh.

The races are beginning to run out and Ferrari must be aware that they have to do something now to have their drivers back on track.

BMW Sauber was the third team to have both its drivers score points in this race as Robert Kubica finished seventh and it was a race points finish for Toro Rosso-Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.

Unfortunately Mark Webber crashed out after 40 laps after he started seventh on the grid.

Hamilton has a chance to increase to increase his lead by at least six points if he wins the next race in Budapest in two weeks time.

Still going higher in Zimbabwe

The last time I wrote about a new note being introduced in Zimbabwe was two months ago when a $500 million note was introduced but now the highest note will be $100 billion.

This is not surprising when official inflation stands at 2.2 million percent and I think the problem is that they are not introducing high enough notes.

At this point it was better to introduce a $1 trillion note as the highest denomination because the $100 billion will not be worth that much especially in an environment of such high inflation.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduces a higher note when people are already looking past it.

I am also hoping that the introduction of the $100 billion note will mean that the daily maximum withdrawal limit will be increased to a higher value possibly a trillion dollars.

South Africa gets draw at Lords

South Africa managed to get a draw after what looked like a certain defeat after the end of their first innings when they were all out for 247 runs.

I am bit interested in this Test Series between England and Australia because South Africa will be touring Australia this summer and I am keen to see how good they are before committing myself to go and watch the Boxing Day Test.

I think they did very well to save the Test after having a very poor innings and were forced to follow in. They managed to score only 247 runs compared to England's 593/8 declared.

But South Africa had a superb second innings with three players Hashim Amla, Neil McKenzie and Graeme Smith all scoring centuries.

The question to ask is what happened to the English bowlers in South Africa's second innings? They have a lot of work to do in the case in the second Test which starts on Friday.

In the end South Africa had four century makers compared to England's two for a difference of just 47 runs and that's not too bad but I think the second Test will be a tight contest.

Nadal finally wins Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal finally won the Wimbledon grand slam title after two successive failed attempts as he beat defending champion and world number one Roger Federer in an epic five set thriller.

Nadal had met Federer twice before in the final and failed to beat him although he came very close last year and this time he went further to take the coveted crown.

It was the first time for Federer to lose a Wimbledon final in six years and I think momentum is now with Nadal. But he is still a very good player and the sets he lost in the final are the ones he lost in the whole tournament.

At last month's French Open it was clear that Federer had not closed the gap between him and Nadal on clay but now its now clear that Nadal has now closed the gap between him and Federer on grass and it could be a very interesting scenario next year.

But the good news for Federer is that only Nadal can pose serious problems to him at the moment since nobody managed to take a set away from him until the final and if somebody knocks him out for him in an earlier round then he can get back Wimbledon. But also its hard to hard to beat Nadal.

And then there is also the Djokovic factor. Unfortunately Djokovic was beaten earlier by Marat Safin knocked earlier in the first week and a possible semi-final match did not eventuate.

Unfortunately it was difficult to watch the full match for me from my Melbourne timezone but it was interesting to go to bed and wake up just after 6am and still watch the final moments of the match and the presentation ceremony. There must be a few more people who had a similar experience.

Hamilton notches Silverstone win

Lewis Hamilton won his home grand prix at Silverstone when he mastered the rainy conditions to take over the lead in the driver's championship.

The drivers' championship is changing hands after every race for the last two races now its Hamilton's turn after a superb drive at Silverstone in difficult conditions.

Hence its not surprising that there were seven retirements with David Coulthard being the first to spin in his last Silverstone race.

BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld came second and at least make sure that that BMW maintained their second position on the constructors' race.

I think it was a surprise to see Rubens Barrichello on the podium as he came third. This is a welcome return to the podium for Barrichello who was last there during his Ferrari days and and its good for Honda who seem to be making some slow progress this year.

And talking about Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen could only get fourth place despite starting ahead of Hamilton on the grid. His team-mate Felipe Massa did not fare any better finishing a distant 13th and with a few spins along the way.

Pole setter Heikki Kovalainen finished in fifth just ahead of former champions Fernando Alonso who came in sixth place.

The last two points places went to Toyota's Jarno Trulli and William's Kazuki Nakajima.

Its good to see Williams back to getting some points after failing to do so in the last two races in Canada and France.

The tussle continues in a fortnight's time at Hockenheim. It will be interesting to see who will be leading the drivers' championshiop after that race.

Venus shines through

Venus Williams beat younger sister Serena to claim a fifth Wimbledon title in a tight contest.

Its been a long time since the Williams sisters have met in a grand slam final and so I was very keen to see how this final was going to unfold and for once there wasn't a one-sided women's final.

I think Venus didn't have the best of starts being broken in the very first game of the final but she regained her composure and confidence and managed to win the first set 7-5.

Its interesting to see that both sisters entered this final without dropping a set and so Venus won without dropping a single set.

This was tennis of the highest quality and any talk of family decision was thrown out of the window.

Now tonight I hope there will be another epic final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. I just think that Nadal will win this time but we have to wait and see.

F1 to 2015 at Albert Park

Victorian Premier John Brumby announced that Melbourne's Formula 1 Grand Prix contract has been extended to 2015 without the need for night time racing.

The races will however start at 5 pm local time which is not that bad because that means that maximum the race can finish will be 7 pm although I expect most races to finish just before 6.30 pm if there are no major incidents on the track.

In March it looked like we had lost the race and everything seemed to be pointing to a race away from Albert Park but its good to see that the State Government has managed to secure the rights to the Australian leg of the grand prix without the need for night racing which we will witness in Singapore in September.

Meanwhile we will not be seeing David Coulthard again at Albert Park after he announced that he will retire from F1 racing at the end of the year.

With Mark Webber extending his contract with Red Bull Racing, it means he will have a new team-mate next season.

There has been some consistency in Webber's driving this season as he continues to pick point after point and now he has 18 points and that has helped him extend his contract.

Williams' sisters for Wimbledon final

The Williams sisters, Serena and Venus will meet for the third time in a Wimbledon final after winning their semi-final matches in straight sets.

Venus was first on the court and she beat Elena Dementieva to reach her seventh Wimbledon final.

Serena was second on court and she managed to beat unseeded Zheng Jie who had an amazing run to reach the semis. I think with a bit more experience Zheng could have forced a third set especially having had set point in the second set but Serena managed to see her off in the tie-break.

I think Venus will win the final possibly in straight sets to get her fifth title from the All England club.

Meanwhile in the men's draw, Rafael Nadal will meet Rainer Schuettler whilst in the other semi world number one Roger Federer will play Marat Safin.

I think its all pointing to a Federer/Nadal final for the third year running and this time I think Nadal will prevail.

AU goes for easy option

The African Union (AU) Summit ended in Egypt and the organisation went for an easy solution for themselves by calling for a government of national unity.

The AU totally ignored that the June run-off elections were declared neither free nor fair and in calling for a GNU they it means they don't have to consider how the elections were conducted.

Once again what is the purpose of observers when whatever they said is even ignored by organisations like the AU.

Another surprising thing is for the AU to ask South Africa's president Thabo Mbeki to continue his mediation process. His process, approach or method he is using has clearly failed and this was a chance for the AU to call for a change for in the mediator.

The biggest problem for Mbeki I think is his failure to see and admit that there is a big problem in Zimbabwe and that the country has been at a standstill for a long time. Remember his "no crisis" jibe?

Being the mediator he should have been the first to condemn the elections because he is closer to the action than anybody else but he says nothing as if nothing happened.

So I will wait and see what the UN will now do and also I am keen to see whether SADC will convene yet another meeting and see what they say.

But clearly these meetings don't seem to know that the issue at hand needs urgent attention and help the ordinary people of Zimbabwe.