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Private business biggest beneficiary of GPA

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Ever since the dollarisation of our national economy it has become common public opinion that “things have improved” with the national economy.

This improvement is directly related to the fact that goods are now available on the supermarket shelves and elsewhere.

What is however not questioned is whether these now available goods or services are accessible or affordable to the majority of Zimbabwe’s low- income earners.

Instead, what is now apparent is that both government and businesses are functioning on the basis of the dictum “take it or leave it, so long as it’s better than what was there before dollarisation”.

For many economists and other business- related professionals there would be nothing fundamentally wrong with the above-cited dictum. In fact, it fully serves to augment the purpose for which business exists, which is to make profit no matter the circumstance.

And this is why since the introduction of a multi-currency national economy, business has been milking the meagre incomes of the majority mercilessly.

Some readers might argue that to define the operations of corporate business as merciless might be misleading but the fact is the examples are now too glaring to ignore.

To begin with, the reinvigorated expansion of our telecommunications network via the licensed mobile telephone service providers must be welcomed and viewed with the greatest of caution.

Because one of the most sought-after electronic gadgets in the country is the cellphone, the marketing around this has become preposterous if not downright dishonest.

In the chase for the dollar of the Zimbabwean consumer, mobile telephone companies are bordering on being ruthless. Take for example, a company which is now offering life insurance via the topping up of airtime in collaboration with a life insurance company.

The exact contractual arrangements of this life insurance are glossed over and are motivated by trying as far as is possible to ensure maximum exploitation of the consumer on an issue which normally would be much more serious than a text message to a subscriber.

The extent and nature of the coverage or how relatives of subscribers to the same will benefit are unclear until you have paid a part of the requisite payment via topping up of your phone’s airtime.

Another example is that of our now ever- mushrooming supermarkets that are doing service to inducing an exaggerated consumer culture in the country.

The fact that they are selling South African goods and by so doing not assisting our own local industries means that they are operating purely on the basis of an unsustainable profit.

Or a profit that relies totally on the ability of the South African manufacturing industry to supply us with finished goods and products in a manner that makes Zimbabwe similar to Swaziland and Lesotho.

But because their primary purpose is unmitigated profit, they will not see the linkage, hence the arrival of Pick ’n Pay amongst others onto the scene without any clear plan of how they will boost local production of goods and increase employment.

A third example is that of our health services sector. This sector has become a multi-million-dollar spinning enterprise minus any clear public benefit.

With the complicity of health-related non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the health industry has taken advantage of issues relating to fear of mortality to make a super-profit.

The very basic maxim of the health services is that if one does not have money, one does not get treated.
Even if a medical doctor wants to assess a patient for free, the equipment, drugs and other related goods are beyond the reach of many.

The NGOs weigh in by arguing about private-public partnerships which to all intents and purposes are a euphemism for profit-making at the expense of public access to reliable health services.

Even anti-retroviral distribution is big business with better versions of the latter being the preserve of the rich with the attendant medical supervision.

That is perhaps why the funeral services are making a huge profit burying our fellow citizens as though it were normal for death to be a roaring enterprise.

A fourth and final example is that of our education services sector.

The outsourcing of education to private colleges or commercial school development associations has led to exorbitant tuition fees being levied on parents who barely make more than $150 a month.

Universities and other tertiary learning institutions are taking advantage of parents’ basic intention to get their children the best education possible by charging fees that lead to a profit which no one is clear where it ends up.

Occasionally, a school/college bus will be bought as a demonstration of where the money is going but to all intents and purposes, this is largely a cover-up for profiteering intended to milk the parent/guardian to the last cent.

So as we all begin a new year, some with a bonus, others without, we must be conscious of the dishonest manner in which private and commercialised state enterprises are functioning.

It is now their primary purpose to fleece every dollar that a Zimbabwean citizen has to the last cent. Their tactics include emotional blackmail in the case of a relative, friend or child falling ill or needing an education befitting best practices.

They will also function by utilising every other opportunity that emerges to make a super-profit regardless of how unsustainable it is for the national economy or the betterment of the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe.

As far as can be discerned, it is private business that has benefited the most from the Global Political Agreement and its inclusive government. And at this rate, it shall continue to be the same.

Takura Zhangazha can be contacted on kuurayiwa@gmail.com

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