Economic crisis a cause of concern! 

I HAVE followed the events that took place in the country during the past few days with great concern and it’s nearly less than six months after other demonstrations and protests that also destroyed millions of dollars worth of property in Zimbabwe. This is an indication of internal pressures that are boiling within the country, awaiting only a triggering device to set the nation at uneasy.

Source: Economic crisis a cause of concern! – NewsDay Zimbabwe January 21, 2019

Guest column: Blessing Machiva

My major concern is the naive and denial state of the government to deal decisively with the cause of these protests. Instead, the government and responsible authorities have decided to play the blame game and use threats under the arm of the security forces.

Although the barbaric acts of terrorism, violent protests and arson should be condemned, there is need to address and focus more on the cause of these tensions and pressures that are slowly building into a future uprising.

Our government has, for a very long time, failed to listen to the people’s serious pleas and concerns that have subjected the country to poverty. The ruling party needs to be reminded that it has been in power for nearly over 38 years and it is the one responsible and accountable for the economic malaise that Zimbabweans find themselves in. Millions of our countrymen have fled this country and are living in foreign lands amid economic crises in their motherland.

Blaming sanctions, opposition parties and other foreign countries will not save the ruling party from the anger of the populace especially amid chefs’ excessive spending, luxurious lifestyles, corruption and mismanagement of funds. Gone are the days of using lies, propaganda and hate speech in order to cover up and justify some failures. Many Zimbabweans are now educated, holding relevant powerful degrees obtained from local and foreign institutions of higher learning. Although these qualifications are not being put into good use because of the rampant unemployment rates ravaging the nation, at least what they can do best with them is to analyse the authenticity of reported information and to dig deeper into the political refuse and find the root cause of their economic problems.

It is high time as a nation and government that we learn to tell the truth, accept our failures and challenges and open our ears for better advice and solutions from the populace. No one holds monopoly of information and some of these public office holders and political leaders are appointed and placed in those positions not on the basis of merit, but on political grounds and now for them to think they know everything, that they themselves are the only ones with a right to do what they want, is mind blogging.

The major problems facing this nation were put in place by those who are in power through the extractive institutions that they laid out so that they can extract so much wealth while they maintain their monopoly as the governing body. Corruption, mismanagement, oppression, brutality, victimisation and looting are some of the causes of our problems today. We have seen security organs being used to protect the interests of the very few elite and powerful individuals who are leaving lavishingly at the expense of the majority while telling them to be so patient for the void vision 2030.

People have been very patient and I think this is now long overdue. No one needs to be reminded of the much-celebrated but greatly failed economic plan dubbed ZimAsset which, in the end was, in the words of William Shakespeare,” much ado about nothing”, hence people do not want to move along that same route again.

Much has been said and lots of lies peddled about the much-dreamt “new dispensation” that has up to now failed to restore even slight stability and confidence in our financial sector. Moreso, much has been preached about some investment projects that were lined up and only awaiting the legitimacy stamp from the July 2018 elections and many watched these disappear into thin air and seized to be songs of the day as we entered and progressed into the so-called “new dispensation”.

It’s barely two years since the government introduced bond notes in the face of public resistance and the mere announcement of such evil intentions caused much harm and panic, which was further elevated by the introduction of these which then created financial distortions, fuelling price hikes, causing shortages and eroding incomes.

This was further worsened by excessive money supply growth through money printing and the issuing of Treasury Bills to fund election-related activities that included purchasing of Isuzu twin cabs for the chiefs, excessive importation of ruling party regalia and vehicles.

People displayed their disgruntlement in all this, but the government and ruling party paid a deaf ear and now that the elections are gone and the government wants to mop up the excess money, they now tell people to swallow the pain as they introduce 2% tax on all electronic transactions, watch prices hiking as well as raising fuel prices through exorbitant taxes. This has eroded the values of fixed and meagre salaries that people have been earning, and now telling them to be quiet and patient is a wild goose chase as they know the major cause of their problems. Suppressing these in-built pressures using the thumb of force is a temporary measure, which is yet to erupt into an uprising.

The government and the ruling party need to face reality and address the cause of the people’s suffering as soon as possible. There is need to act swiftly and decisively in dealing with the economic crisis and mayhem by channelling scarce resources towards meaningful and traceable production activities that might include the reopening of closed companies, resuscitation and boosting operations in the already operating firms.

The government needs to channel more resources towards the manufacturing and services sector as opposed to agriculture, as it is believed that the marginal returns of agriculture are very small and take long to be realised.

Above all, in the short term, there is need to deal with the current financial crisis and clear all distortions in the financial sector through the short-term adaptation of the rand as the nation puts in place the right fundamentals necessary for the adaptation and use of the local currency. The government should move away from command economics as these have proved to have failed in so many countries including Zimbabwe.
The government should intervene in the economy with some limited roles as opposed to being at the apex of every economic activity.

There is also need to desist from hate and malicious speech by the country’s top leadership as the whole nation would be listening to their words, hence the wrong ones might trigger anger.

Public office holders should desist from uttering malice on social media, wrongly commenting or supporting some ill-thought out policies put in place as this could cause hatred. If they do not know the consequences of some of these policies, it is better to remain silent; a person cannot be a master in everything.

We want to nurture and build a better Zimbabwe!

Blessing Machiva is an economist and he writes in his own personal capacity.