Economic crisis a silhouette of the political crisis 

Source: Economic crisis a silhouette of the political crisis – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 9, 2019

Guest Column: Learnmore Zuze

The enduring crisis in Zimbabwe presents a conundrum to a lot of people.

To the generality of Zimbabweans,whose only desire is the pursuit of a dignified existence, the debilitating liquidity crunch, foreign currency shortages, rising inflation, spiralling basic commodity prices, erosion of disposable incomes, power outages and low productivity are a weight unbearable to carry.

Retrospectively, inclusive of the former President Robert Mugabe era, it would be accurate to say that Zimbabwe has shifted from one crisis to another for nearly two decades now.
Twenty years of skills flight and economic instability are a long time of suffering.

It is for this reason that Zimbabweans seem to have resigned to fate to the extent even of shunning stayaways that always result in loss of lives and property.

Zimbabweans passionately loathe the situation within their country, but clearly do not have the wherewithal to alter it. They are simply going on with the tide of a catastrophe they cannot stop.

Some Zimbabweans, born around 1999, are now moving into adulthood, having grown under a cloud of economic uncertainty; the Zimbabwean political and economic tragedy has become the norm of Zimbabwean life.

While it is easier to understand the Zimbabwean crisis in terms of how it presents itself through the economy, it is profoundly critical to realise that the Zimbabwean tragedy is squarely traceable to the politics of the day.

This self-evident truth was symptomatic of the Mugabe (Zanu PF)–Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC) political feud, which culminated in the Government of National Unity in 2009.

In any set up, no economic progress can occur in the presence of a political crisis where one entity has political power, while the other wields economic influence.

Today, Zimbabwe finds herself caught up in a situation where the economic crisis is nothing, but a silhouette of the terrible political problems bedevilling the nation.

The current government has gone halfway around the world on an offensive to win international confidence.

The Bretton Woods institutions, among many other potential helpful monetary institutions, have been engaged so that they extinguish a colossal US$18,6 debt to no avail.

Meanwhile, a raft of measures, including direct threats to businesses operating in the country and austerity measures have been applied in an attempt to contain the revolting economy, with little success.

Banning of the use of the United States dollar in local transactions has not stopped the public from using it.

The liberalisation of fuel imports has not tamed the ever-growing fuel queues in the country.

It appears the more efforts are made to control the damage, the more the damage continues. This simply points to one thing: Zimbabwean problems are indicative of something deeply wrong with the politics.

Without pulling punches, the real key to unlocking the situation in Zimbabwe is to start by fixing the politics of the country.

As long as nothing happens in the way of both political and economic reforms, then the country still has a very long way to go.

It is a given that one of the worst ever things to happen to the present administration is its failure to win the confidence of Zimbabweans, in particular, and that of the world in general.

For example, it is an open secret that Zimbabweans have plenty of foreign currency stashed in different places as they mistrust taking it to banks.

History has contributed to this general apprehension.

People remain sceptical of taking their hard-earned currency to banks in exchange of the bond notes.

It is simply a question of lack of confidence in the government by Zimbabweans.

The forex reserves held up by people probably run into millions of US dollars, but an apparent lack of confidence in the system is feeding the crisis.

With regards the extent to which the confidence of the international community has been harmed, there really is no secret.

The United States was honest enough to tell the Zimbabwean government last month that it needed to fulfil some tough conditions, including political and electoral reforms, accountability for past atrocities and compensation for the white farmers who lost their land under Mugabe’s land reform programme, among others.

The US even went further, clearly highlighting that it was urgent that the killer soldiers who fired at protesters in the post-election August 1, 2018 demonstrations be made to account.

We may debate theories, postulate and pontificate about the economic malaise in Zimbabwe, but the untainted truth is that massive changes have to occur within the broader politics of this country.

It must be clearly mastered that a simplistic view in mending the economy is self-defeating. Fixing the Zimbabwean crisis is not as easy as picking an alternative currency like the South African rand or Botswana pula.

In the absence of production, where almost everything has to be imported coupled with an archaic industrial infrastructure, then no economy can be revamped. It sounds rather trite, yet it is the truth about the Zimbabwean crisis.

Only when the essential political problems are adequately addressed, can the international confidence return.

Zimbabwe is a country of massive potential, but remains trapped in an economic paralysis whose major panacea is simply the return of confidence in the Zanu PF government.

 Learnmore Zuze is a legal officer and writes in his personal capacity