The inevitable is happening and the centre cannot hold any longer, as Zimbabwe is now paying the ultimate price for Zanu PF’s profligacy and populism.
Source: Mugabe, heading Zim to shutdown – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 10, 2016
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s mid-term fiscal policy statement was an elaborate and long dirge, but all he was telling the nation was that the centre cannot hold and the end is nigh.
Never mind the posturing and the back patting that followed the announcement, President Robert Mugabe’s government is on its financial knees and will not last much longer without some form of bailout.
For starters, revelations that 96,8% of revenue goes to salaries is as shocking, as it is damning of Mugabe’s policies.
What this means is that for every dollar the government makes, 97 cents goes to paying salaries, meaning there is little for anything else and this means in the short-term the government will fail to operate and there could be a total shutdown.
This is not a doomsday theory, but rather, Chinamasa admitted that Treasury may fail to pay public workers soon if the situation remains the same.
To keep government operational, Chinamasa said they should reduce its workforce, rationalise travel for bureaucrats, cut bonuses and salaries for top civil servants.
To the uninitiated, this might seem like a masterstroke, but for years now there have been calls for the government to do just that, which have fallen on deaf ears.
Over the past few years, the government has hired thousands of women and youth officers, whose job descriptions are quite opaque and who only do Zanu PF’s bidding.
For the sake of patronage, Zanu PF was pleasing its supporters, but this has had a detrimental effect on the economy and we are paying the price now.
Mugabe last year rebuked Chinamasa for suspending bonus payments, in the short-term, the President got praises from his most ardent supporters, but nobody cared to even think of the economy.
While Chinamasa’s interventions may have been noble, the sad reality is that the horses long bolted and closing the barn now is too little too late.
The country has been here before, but it seems Zanu PF and the government do not learn from past mistakes and that is why we are here again.
There was the collapse of the late 1990s, the virtual shutdown of the country in 2007 and 2008 and now Zimbabwe is staring down the barrel of a gun once again.
Chinamasa put on a brave face on Thursday, but the storm clouds had long gathered for Zimbabwe and its moribund economy.