Source: Reflecting on adopted ZANU PF indaba resolutions | The Herald January 31, 2020
Tafadzwa Mugwadi Senior Writer
ZANU PF, as the ruling party, has had several National People’s Conferences, most of which took place during the reign of former president, the late Robert Mugabe.
Two have been held under President Mnangagwa in the Second Republic.
As such, resolutions have characterised 18 conferences so far.
By way of disabusing the public, resolutions are key decisions and programmes of action adopted at the gathering, which means they are the major reason why the party meets annually.
Such key decisions and programmes of action are supposed to become the verses and chapters guiding the party and its Government until the next conference in terms of priorities and conduct.
This entails that all Government and party efforts should focus on implementing such resolutions to ensure that people’s aspirations are met.
If the party’s resolutions are not implemented, it means people just come all the way to gather for some few days and disperse afterwards. Or probably that certain elements or departments in Government are using the wrong verses and chapters which are contrary to what the people would have resolved.
While it could be understood that various resolutions did not see the light of day between 2013 and 2017 owing to elite dis-cohesion ahead of the resolution of the succession question which became the dominant political discourse in that period, it is clear that there was need for change in the implementation of resolutions.
This piece seeks to take stock of the recent two conferences with a specific focus on the disbanding of the multi-currency system as well as dealing with the illegal parallel money market.
What have been the hindrances to the full implementation of resolutions that are as clear as daylight?
The Government, following a resolution to stabilise the pricing system and disbanding of the three tier system adopted at the Esigodini Conference of 2018, outlawed the multi-currency regime which was by and large anchored on the US dollar.
This was spelt out through Statutory Instrument (SI) 142 of 2019 which outlawed the use of multiple currencies.
Under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) (Legal Tender) Regulations, the Government abolished the use of the British pound, the United States dollar, the South African rand, the Botswana pula and any other foreign currencies, as legal tender.
That means the use of US dollars by consumers to buy goods or services is an offence.
Again, the same law outlaws the pricing of goods and services by providers both retailers and manufacturers in foreign currency.
Literally, the issuance of foreign currency is now supposed to be an exclusive right and privilege of banks under the RBZ oversight.
There is no ambiguity on this one.
However, what is obtaining on the ground is completely the opposite of what was agreed upon, pointing to the conclusion that the implementation of programmes and resolutions has become a serious challenge which ZANU PF has to handle decisively.
The resolutions are the aspirations on the ground and people expect the leadership to follow through such resolutions to their fullest conclusion.
The decision was reaffirmed at the recent conference in Goromonzi where measuring by the quantity of ululations and ovations, there was no resolution that was greeted by such celebrations as the resolution to ban the use of foreign currency to price goods and services as well as trading in foreign currency on black and parallel markets.
Sadly, the 2019 festive season was one of the toughest as retailers and other service providers were defiant and priced commodities in US dollars while some have been rating cash and RTGs dollars as well as coins.
Despite such a noble resolution, 25 cents and 50 cents bond coins have been rejected in shops while in most of the cases, a commodity is charged 10 percent higher if one is paying in coins and 40 percent higher than the actual price if one is paying by swipe or mobile money transfer.
This has become the sad reality confronting Zimbabweans daily. The situation has been compounded by vendors, some of whom have been selling basic goods in US dollars.
Furthermore, after the Goromonzi resolution to disband the trading of forex on the parallel market, there has been a sad proliferation of cash barons.
The million-dollar question is where is the missing link in the implementation matrix?
Who is supposed to implement and operationalise such resolutions and why has he or she not done so?
Where are the barons getting cash and why are they still roaming the streets?
Why do some service providers continue to receive forex while it is unlawful to do so?
If all these economic malpractices happen in broad daylight, then why did we put in place laws and regulations which the Government cannot enforce or is not willing to enforce? This is a call for leadership to take action to show the public that rules are put in place to be observed and not violated with impunity.
More-so, it is equally advisable that the party, through its Government, reviews the decision of giving some companies preferential treatment over others.
Some companies like DSTV were allowed to trade in US dollars and this has created a catch-22 situation in the resolution of the currency issue because it is easy for a cash baron to simply say he is trading cash to raise money for DSTV payment.
Such loopholes are becoming an albatross to the economy. A company that has no respect of nor desire to trade in local currency has no need to access the local market itself.
There cannot be justification for a Zimbabwean company to go and invest in South Africa, but refuse to trade in the rand.
Equally, there should be no justification for a South African company or any company from any party of the world to enjoy investment opportunities in Zimbabwe but refusing to trade in the legal tender which is the Zimbabwe dollar.
This is the recipe for speculation and fuelling of discord.
In the court of public opinion, there has been a pervasive perception that the party and Government is fearful of tackling the cash barons, parallel money changers and pricing of goods because high-ranking officials are accomplices.
This is what has become corridor talk in both public and private and worse, so in the villages where the party is strong in electoral terms.
Now, what does that mean? It simply means that if the party is serious to maintain its dominance, it must clear these allegations which have become pervasive even in its traditional strongholds.
Indeed, it would be difficult to diffuse and subordinate public theories emanating from ordinary folks, because officially, there is no justification or legitimate excuses for the failure or lackadaisical approach in arresting these vices.
If the Criminal Investigations Department is expected to investigate a case of robbery that has taken place without any trace and still manage to catch the culprits, how easy is it for the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and the State to arrest a money changer?
If this question is difficult to answer, then it is with such difficulties that leaders will dispel rumours of high-profile involvement in such vices.
The economy can never thrive sustainably in the auspices of another country’s currency.
It is a fact that during the dollarisation period, the country was robbed of a huge opportunity for growth due to a gold rush by companies that came to invest.
The zeal to invest in Zimbabwe then was never inspired by the potential that the country has per se, but by the desire to access and rob the hard currency which had become the medium of exchange.
It is in this period that high profile externalisation and smuggling of money happened. The recoveries made by President Mnangagwa during his first three months in office after that moratorium given to culprits is clear testimony of how much had been lost during that period.
While it is clear that the majority of Zimbabweans are struggling and suffering because of these parallel market exchange pricing systems which have been continuously hinged on the US dollar, it cannot be satisfactorily deniable that very few individuals who are supposed to end these vices cannot do so because they are benefiting.
If they are not benefiting from these daylight economic crimes, why have they allowed the criminals to continue unabated?
If the Government can decisively deal with violent demonstrators armed with catapults, stones, and various weapons as we saw in January 2019, how can the same Government pleads failure to arrest and punish a few cash barons and money changers who are only armed by bond notes and US dollars?
If the Government can declare war on machete gangsters and arrest thousands of them armed with dangerous weapons to the teeth, honestly, how much effort do the same law enforcement agents need to apprehend money-changers who have become a nuisance in every corner of our cities.
This clearly means someone somewhere in the implementation chain is holding progress for completely selfish reasons and certainly not in the public interest. Such officials must be shown the exit door. The President who is the appointing authority of most of these officials may need to reflect on their performance so that those found to be deliberately sleeping on duty for selfish reasons must be fished out.
If there is no follow-up on implementation, then I am afraid that conferences in the future may never be taken seriously. The future of Zimbabwe and its people as well as its trajectory of economic development is invested in ZANU PF, the only party which they know is not afraid of making and taking drastic and bold actions to empower and uplift the people.
However, even so, the cardinal principles of political and behavioural sciences attest to the fact that human nature is not static and attitudes subsequently change. The people’s trust in ZANU PF is historically documented and cemented by electoral victories, but certainly, it is not permanent.
A word for the wise is a novel.