Thursday 24 July 2008

Asiimwe Paul

Zimbabwe Currency under threat!

In a threat like no other that President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and his economic wizards have faced, reports that security printers may be forced to stop printing Zimbabwe's currency.

The problem stems from trade sanctions and unrelenting pressure against Mr.Mugabe's regime, largely from the US and EU states opposed to his unique style of leadership. Giesecke & Devrient the German firm that has been providing watermarked paper for Harare's Fidelity Printers & Refiners was forced to stop exporting the paper last month by the German government. The Zimbabwe government is now apparently looking at alternative printers in Malaysia or China.

In case the Malaysian option is being considered seriously, what is currently of great concern to the Government is the likelihood that the printers' software license may be revoked by the licensor as a means of enforcing the ban. Amidst an ever weakening Zimbabwe dollar, civil service and army wage bills are pending payment. Failure to ensure continuous printing of watermarked currency notes could severely lead to a hemorrhaging of the financial system and further undermine the economy. Unfortunately, Buzzle reports that the officials responsible for the software contract at Jura JSP are 'away on holiday'!

Amidst this storm, one wonders whether the compulsory licensing provisions under the TRIPS agreement would offer any help to Zimbabwe in this time of need. Is there legal or other compelling reasons for circumventing digital rights management measures if the Government of Zimbabwe had the software?

If ever there was a case that clarifies the importance of intellectual property rights, this one clearly does.

Asiimwe Paul

Asiimwe Paul

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