There have been times in post-Independent Zimbabwe when our political leaders have been gripped by a certain dementia which has seen them making monumental mistakes which have not only changed the course of history, but have made us poorer as a nation.
Chief among these mistakes are the Gukurahundi massacres which President Robert Mugabe admitted were acts of “madness”.
The execution of the land reform and with it the subjugation of the judiciary and the rule of law can be found on the gallery of State-sponsored missteps.
The printing of money too and the resultant stratospheric inflation was modern day folly which two months ago central bank Governor Gideon Gono was publicly regretting and imploring the world never to replicate such a damaging economic model.
Our rulers are not far from executing another epic blunder. This time they have threatened to close international banks unless they comply with the dictates of the indigenisation legislation in this country.
Youth Empowerment and Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere was last week making threatening noises at Standard Chartered and Barclays banks.
The minister, who on Friday announced his intentions to revoke Caledonia Blanket Mine’s operating licence because of failure to comply with the empowerment laws, has now also set his sights on the banking sector and multinational companies which include Nestle, Zimplats, British American Tobacco and Murowa Diamonds.
No one other than perhaps the minister, is celebrating this manoeuvre. Zimbabweans know the impact of making threats of this nature on large corporates.
It can only make them poorer, hence scathing responses the announcements have attracted on the social media.
Terms like “stupid” and “idiotic stone policy” have been thrown in to demean the ministerial threats.
More fundamentally, Gono has come out to censure Kasukuwere. “Tendencies towards firing harmful economic gunpowder must be minimised by all stakeholders in the interest of the economy,” said Gono.
He warned those “playing with economic gunpowder to leave the game to those well-trained in its use and safe custody”. Gono is indeed right here. We have a classic case of children playing with matches.
Kasukuwere is playing with gunpowder and when the keg explodes, the collateral damage would be huge.
This economy has made a slow and painful recovery. We are not out of the woods yet. We are recovering from a spectacular collapse that has its roots in bonehead State policies which have failed elsewhere.
We cannot afford another faux pas. Threatening to close banks and revoking operating licences of large multinationals is the surest way to spark another collapse.
Kasukuwere’s mode of indigenisation is not good for this economy. Following the law is one thing and using a bad law to strike at the heart of industry and commerce is another.
There is a universally acceptable way of doing this. The Mid-Term Plan, a Cabinet of Zimbabwe document, has a whole section on how the government intends to put its best foot forward with regards to indigenisation.
The policy talks of social services investment credits as a mode of achieving wealth redistribution.
This is what the government said it would do. Kasukuwere has another plan which he also says is a government one.
There is no better advertisement of the dysfunctional state of this government. Is there a deliberate plan to make us poor?