Eric Chiriga 31 October 2017
HARARE – I have always believed that part of the fundamental duties or
responsibilities of any leader – be it in the corporate, political and
even social sphere – is to be able to speak the truth and accept it.
Leaders owe their subjects the truth and vice versa.
In our Shona culture, there are two common adages; the first one says
chokwadi hachiputsi ukama, while the other goes akuruma nzeve ndewako.
Loosely translated, the first one simply means “speaking the truth can
never break friendship” and the other would mean; “the one who forewarns
you is your true ally”.
In any crisis, accepting the truth and acknowledging your mistakes is the
first step towards solving it.
No matter how bad it is. But in Zimbabwe, a country which has been
lurching from one crisis to another, it has become apparent that failure
to fulfil the two – speaking the truth and accepting it – has
significantly contributed to the nation’s demise.
On one hand, we have political leaders who do not want to accept the
On the other, we have the corporate and business community which, for
reasons best known to them, is not really biting the bullet by telling the
politicians the painful and probably scary truth – the leadership has
That’s the brutal truth. Surely, long-suffering but immensely patient
Zimbabweans cannot continue on this path of trial and error.
The policies which the political leadership is hell-bent on pursuing have
been tried before. And they failed. Dismally.
Let’s go back in time a bit. At the height of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis
around 2006-8, adamant authorities introduced the bearer cheques. It was a
unique currency meant to curb galloping inflation, among a myriad of
But the desperate move saw inflation reaching unprecedented levels, as the
cheques drastically lost value against the United States dollar by the
The crisis was only managed after government reluctantly dollarised the
economy in 2009.
Without belabouring that point, let us fast-track to 2016.
In November that year, government once again found itself trapped in more
or less the 2006-8 predicament of biting cash shortages, among other
mounting economic challenges.
Hoping we would have learnt from the past painful and horrendous
experience, the authorities instead prescribed the same solution as the
This time around, they introduced the bond notes – again a unique currency
but surrogate to the US dollar.
At this point, there were two things expected from the leadership,
especially for the sake of long-suffering Zimbabweans’ plight.
It was greatly hoped that after learning the hard way from the 2006-8
disaster, government would now come up with better and pragmatic
At the same time, the nation expected the business leaders, as stewards of
the economy, to speak out against introduction of the bond notes.
They were the most qualified to argue against the move. Alas, it was not
Driven like lambs to the slaughter house, they even endorsed and backed
the currency, knowing too well the consequences.
It was a Trojan Horse they were very familiar with.
It was a huge letdown for the masses who are now suffering from such
And the business sector is feeling the heat too. Today, the foreign
currency crisis has deepened, giving the business community nightmares.
On the one hand, prices of basic goods have skyrocketed.
It’s getting dramatic. Just last week, a local weekly reported that the
Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) warned that Zimbabweans must brace for
more price increases, with inflation likely to touch two-digit levels.
“It is clearly evident that the country is headed for two-digit inflation
by end of year 2018,” the PBO was quoted as saying.
Steve Hanke, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins University in the
United States, has painted an even uglier picture of Zimbabwe, saying the
country is threatened by a return to precipitous price rises.
It’s time our leaders – in all spheres – reflect, look each other in the
eye and tell each other the truth.
Cowardice and stubbornness has led to the nation’s demise.