How long oh Lord, how Long?

Source: How long oh Lord, how Long? – The Zimbabwean

We seem to have been putting up with lousy Government, corruption, nonsensical monetary and macroeconomic policies forever. First, we had the Rhodesian Government from 1960 onwards which resulted in the imposition of mandatory UN sanctions and then the liberation war. Were these inevitable? I do not think so but with the national leadership we had at that time, both were unavoidable.

Emmerson Mnangagwa

Then we had the Mugabe Government for 38 years. Was this inevitable? I do not think so but given the situation in 1980 and thereafter it was probably unavoidable. The cost has been staggering by any measure. Our GDP per capita is a miserable US$1 200 – in Botswana, it is now close to US$13 000 while in Mauritius it is now about US$35 000 per capita – both States were poorer than Zimbabwe in 1960 and in 1980. China was poorer than Zimbabwe in 1975!

The human cost of bad policy and leadership has also been heartbreaking. A third of our population has fled to greener pastures, another 4 million have died prematurely from every malady you can imagine. Many diseases we thought were beaten in 1980 are back. The migration of millions to other countries has been qualitative as well as quantitative – most were well educated and many with vital experience and skills.

The problem? One word – leadership.

When finally, the Mugabe regime overstepped the mark and forced the Mnangagwa group to take action against him, the relief throughout the country was palpable. The people of Zimbabwe, from Beitbridge to Nyamapanda, poured out onto the streets in celebration. The celebrations went on for days and I saw perhaps a million people gathered in Highfield – the very centre of the Nationalist movements that had won our Independence in 1980. The symbolism was inescapable. We were delighted and relieved to see the back of the corrupt oligarchy that had abused us as a nation for nearly 4 decades. It brought to mind the fall of the Wall in Berlin in 1989.

Perhaps we could tolerate a bit of a mixed bag in terms of leadership after the “Military Assisted Transition” but when Mr. Mnangagwa achieved a narrow majority and became President, I think we had the right to expect more. He had made all the right noises – he was going to put the past behind us and build a new Zimbabwe in which every Citizen would have the same rights, he was going to compensate the farmers, he was going to engage with the International Community and institute the reforms needed to secure assistance. He was going to deal with corruption and end the culture of entitlement. He was going to restore the rule of law and respect for the Constitution.

Who could argue with that? No one who had the welfare of the country at heart. Then he appointed a new Cabinet – younger, 5 technicians and a significant proportion of women and Ndebele speaking Ministers. The two Vice Presidents did not inspire but so what? They did not have much influence or real power. In particular, we welcomed the appointment of a real professional as Minister of Finance.

That was six months ago. After the high expectations that we all had once the Mugabe era had been closed down, the country has slid deeper and deeper into a feeling that nothing has changed, corruption continues, even at the highest level of Government leading to implications that the President himself is involved and a beneficiary. The President of Pakistan has just been sentenced to a long prison sentence just because he could not explain where his wealth had come from. If we applied that principle here, I do not think a single person in the past Cabinet would escape the net. Many others would end up in jail – Military Officers, senior Civil Servants and managers and Directors of State Corporations.

But not a single person of any stature has been convicted – not even Dube from PSMAS who, together with other senior managers and Directors took more than half the total revenue of the Medical Aid Society over three years. Not even the former Minister of Mines responsible for the Marange scandal which resulted in diamond revenues amounting to over US$23 billion disappearing over an 8-year period.

It’s not that the new leadership has done nothing, they have done a great deal and I have given them recognition for all of those things. They have dealt with the fiscal deficit which was completely out of control. They have demilitarised the Joint Operations Command and installed new leadership in the armed forces and the security establishment. They have scrapped indigenisation – the greatest single impediment to new investment, they have tried hard to be more open to business, but with very little to show for months of rhetoric. They have stated their intention to scrap POSA and IEPA – both Acts which have stifled national debate and opposition for many decades – perhaps more than 70 years.

But they have not given Zimbabweans the economic, financial and political freedoms that have been promised by successive Governments. This failure is now destroying everything that they have achieved since November 2017.

We have a Reserve Bank Governor, whom the President says will be there for another 5-year term, who is clearly out of his depth. He insists that the “Bond” currency which he created is valued at 1:1 with the US dollar, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Yet despite this – we have Government departments and even Zimra demanding payment in real US dollars for services and in taxes. We have schools demanding part of their fees in hard currencies. The fuel industry is in complete shambles, some outlets sell fuel only to “Card Holders”, others ask for hard currency, even on the forecourts. Where the ubiquitous swipe card can be used, we have queues kilometres long and people sleeping in their vehicles. Yet the State denies there is a problem? Are they nuts?

It is not that we do not know what the solutions are. In 2009, in a 15-minute statement, Chinamasa abolished exchange controls, price controls and restrictions on gold sales and allowed us to trade in many currencies. In 10 days the fuel shortages vanished, in a month you could buy whatever you wanted at market-driven prices, in the currency of your choice. In six months we were nearly fully dollarized and inflation was close to zero. Revenues to the State grew by 70 per cent per annum (that is not a spelling mistake) and standards of living improved every year.

If you put a mealie cob in a can with a hole the size of a hand in one end and put it where the baboons can find it, a baboon will put his hand in the hole to grasp the cob – and will not let go to get his hand out even when threatened. Many of our leaders are just like that baboon – they have their hands in the till and cannot let go even if they are threatened. There can be no progress in this country until our leadership starts to put our national house in order and compels all those Ministers and Officials or even just politically connected individuals, to take their hands out of the till and allow us to repair the damage that they have done to us a Nation over the past seven decades.

That is what the people are asking from you Mr. President – not more words, action, not more promises, delivery and most of all real leadership to take us out of the morass we are in and give us a start on the long road back to a better quality of life.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 12
  • comment-avatar
    Ndebele 4 years ago

    But these are the “chosen ones” that you have been waxing lyrical about, Eddie. ED, Chiwenga and Shiri all the grand architects of the Gukuruhundi – and you sincerely believe that they have the genuine interests of the people at heart? What about “the people” that they raped and murdered with the Fifth Brigade? What would make the people in the Western Wolrd believe you or them – that they really care? To appoint Shiri as Minsietr of Agriculture and having him prancing around Matabeleland where he was with his Fifth Brigade in the 80’s and you are asking us to believe you and trust your judgement? You may need to read Einstein – “Doing the same things against and again and expecting a different result is the sign of insanity.”

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    Goredema 4 years ago

    Now I believe those who say ”The African has no capacity for perspnal development”

    THe security guards are in charge. They determine who the CEO will be. Thanks to their guns, not intellect, bought by tax payers. Now they sweat, and don’t understand what’s the solutions.

    Their sons, daughters and in-law’s still sell forex and drugs at the unofficial rates while they intentionally play blindness. They themselves are busy offloading national assets to Asians and Russians for ‘commissions’ to sustain their Hollywood lifestyles

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    Nyoni 4 years ago

    Then again ZanuPF is insane. Greed , nonsensical, corrupt and just plain useless is their monica. 

  • comment-avatar
    makonde 4 years ago

    The author is dead right. Corruption is the root evil and they have ruled as gangsters for 38 years. A return to a normal tax paying formal economy is about as realistic thinking as believing in the easter bunny. Maybe the swiss banks should be forced to freeze accounts and return the money that they so willingly accept under their ‘client confidentiality’ policies. Overseas bankers are party to the looting and impoverishment of African countries and they too have blood on their hands.

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    really really 4 years ago

    I blame this on Lord Soames, Thatcher, Carrington, Peter Walls(was duped, not malicious), the snakes at Lancaster House, the Scandinavian Countries, World Council of Churches, Catholic Church, etc.

    Get my drift.

  • comment-avatar
    really really 4 years ago

    I forget to blame Jimmy Carter and Andrew Young.

    Get my drift?

  • comment-avatar
    really really 4 years ago

    What was wrong with the Bishop, anyway?

    • comment-avatar
      Ndebele 4 years ago

      Lord Soames was told to install Robert Mugabe at any cost – and he did as he was told  by The Foreign Office. Pretty simple really really. And Prince Charlie was sent out to watch the official hand over to Mugabe as per The Foreign Office Plan, really really. The Poms are really really smart. Then after 38 years they decided to back a coup and revert to their Plan B – really really and install ED.

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        really really 4 years ago

        All so very sad. All the players installed Mugabe to feel good about themselves. Then they all went on their merry ways and forgot Rhodesia-Zimbabwe ever existed. No once cared when 20,000 were slaughtered soon after Mugabe to power.

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    Batsirai 4 years ago

    You have nothing until you fix the farms. Get people who can, and want, to farm. Mnangagwa is sitting on his farm right now taking a break from doing nothing at state house… Is he farming? Didn’t think so. Get him off, and gets someone in there who wants to farm.

    • comment-avatar
      really really 4 years ago

      You have nothing until you control runaway population growth.

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    Flick 3 years ago

    “First, we had the Rhodesian Government from 1960 onwards”. YEP! those were the days when the economy was strong, everyone who wanted to work had a job, everyone got an education, everyone had health care. Along came sanctions and, guess what, the economy got even stronger all thanks to the hard work of everyone. Then, alas, along came 1980 and mugabe, who was handed the lot on a plate, and then everything went down hill at an ever increasing angle. So we arrive at 2019 and what have most Zimbabweans got, Nothing, Zero, Zilch. Good luck for the future.