Skewed govt policies promote criminal activities

Source: Skewed govt policies promote criminal ativities – NewsDay Zimbabwe

THE week’s announcement by Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube that government will pay for grain deliveries to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) in Zimbabwe dollars will likely expose the country to mealie-meal shortages and side-marketing of the cereal crop.

The minister’s strategy has always been to encourage Zimbabweans to transact in the domestic currency.

Unfortunately, his push has not been backed by corresponding policies that will stabilise the free- falling Zimdollar.

It is difficult to imagine that farmers, in their right senses, would accept a policy that pauperises them.

While trade in the domestic currency would be the right thing under normal circumstances, it has many shortcomings for now, which will be immediately felt if the government pressed ahead with its plan.

The biggest problems confronting farmers is that the Zimbabwe dollar is losing traction against major currencies, and planning under such circumstances is a tough call.

This becomes even more complex when one considers that farmers are now procuring most of their requirements in foreign currency.

Hindsight demonstrates that previously, when government forced farmers to accept the local currency, it resulted in the proliferation of side-marketing agents  —  some from within the State-controlled GMB.

It is no secret that most farmers struggled to secure inputs due to the prohibitive costs and ended up queuing for government handouts.

Those who were financially stable, paid for the inputs in foreign currency.  It would defy logic for them to sell the final product in the local unit.

Fertiliser and chemical suppliers have been allowed to sell in foreign currency, which exposes the double standards around this whole scenario.

The elite want everything for themselves, and pay little attention to the plight of millions of peasant farmers who toil under tough conditions to feed the nation.

The food shortages that have affected Zimbabwe have been self-inflicted.

It is something that could easily be avoided if correct payment models are used.

Government may come up with all sorts of statutory instruments to force farmers to deliver their grain to GMB, but they will surely turn to the black market where private buyers pay in foreign currency.

Zimbabwe’s important strategic reserves would be compromised, and in the event of a drought in the coming seasons, government should prepare for food shortages on a wider scale.

The right thing for government would be to come up with a level playing field that benefits farmers individually and the entire country.

This may revolve around scaling up genuine funding initiatives for farmers for now, while it sorts out the mess that politicians have created through unchecked plunder and economic mismanagement.