via A crisis of confidence and expectations – The Zimbabwean 9 July 2015
Nothing we create in Zimbabwe will be sustainable until we begin to build confidence first amongst ourselves, and then with others outside the country whose financial resources we desperately need to get out of this crisis. They must first believe in us, in our capabilities and more importantly in the integrity of our leaders and our society at large.
I think the collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar must be an event which remains the worst nightmare of most Zimbabweans and to this day. It remains etched in our brains so much so that we still do not have any confidence in the Reserve Bank or Zanu (PF).We have failed to record this catastrophic event in our history books, understand how and why it came about and ensure that we never again repeat it.
It is critical that we record the accurate history of our post-independence events so that future generations can learn from them and not repeat the same mistakes. Unfortunately because of political expediency and lies, what we have done is to bury the blunders of the past under a thick carpet of deceit, while hoping the problem will go away. Because of that, we are essentially no better off, seven years after the fact.
The traumatic experience of most Zimbabweans in the period immediately prior to February 2009 when they themselves made a choice to reject the Zimbabwe dollar, still lingers today like a nightmare – especially given that we are most likely to end up with a $1,3billion debt created by the Zanu (PF) predator cabal.
I can even go back to 2000 where thousands of commercial farmers were dispossessed of their properties with no pity or recompense from this government. To this date we still owe them an estimated $10billion
Or should I go back to 2005 when hundreds of thousands of ordinary peace-loving Zimbabweans lost their homes and livelihoods during Murambatsvina? Surely that continues to linger in their minds to this day. Let’s even go back to Gukurahundi because these nightmares still weigh heavily on the minds of our brothers and sisters in Bulawayo. We cannot escape our past by manipulating history or ignoring it.
You see as a society we have a political leadership that wants to force issues on us. They continually want to reframe and cover up our true history. Because of that we have failed to move on and create a developmental state. They want us to believe that theirs have been the purest intentions which have only been thwarted by the West. That is simply not true.
The same guns
What comes to my mind is the way we are battling to address the vendor issue where some amongst us, because they have not learnt from the past, wanted to use the very guns that purportedly liberated us to oppress and suppress ordinary citizens who have become vendors, not out of choice but, out of limited opportunities to make a decent living. In my opinion, the vendor issue is a very simple problem to solve. Let the vendors themselves suggest the best solution and let them take the responsibility for making sure that it happens. Let them identify where and how they can best operate. For some overpaid bureaucrat in some office somewhere to do that for them is disempowering.
I am told that vendors in Angola are very organised and protect their business by regulating themselves and not politicising what essentially is an economic issue. They ensure cleanliness and register everyone and protect their turf; that is economics 101.
But the issue of vendors is just a symptom of an underlying root cause of economic policy failure. Chasing them from the streets is like putting a bandage over a wound and pretending it does not exist. Any doctor will tell you that the wound will fester, become septic and possibly fatal.
Now as the world watches how we treat one another, we can build confidence that we actually think about our social problems, understand their root causes and come up with inclusive, sustainable solutions. Surely that would be attractive to anyone who would want to do business in Zimbabwe.
Unfortunately the way we are dealing with this issue shows a myopic approach to our economic and social problems – just as we did with land reform and indigenisation. All this has destroyed confidence in our economic recovery because we cannot build confidence in others when we mistreat or abuse each other; when we cannot protect private property; when our people refuse to participate in elections because they are not confident that the system has the capability to be transparent and fair.
Regardless of the glossy economic blue prints, endless conferences and awesome resources that we have as a country, we will never be able to fully exploit them to our full benefit until we recognise that perceptions become reality.
The government has a monumental if not impossible task to first build confidence in us the citizens, before it can expect foreign investors to have confidence in our country. Our history and how we tackle our problems will continue to linger in our minds like a nightmare and investors simply won’t come to Zimbabwe.
Until we treat each other as we would like to be treated, we as a society will regress. Until we accept that we are our own worst enemy, we will continue to blame others for the problems we have created and have a crisis of confidence and expectations. – Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org