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Reading between the lines: What’s up in the elections?

Opinion & Analysis
Reading between the lines, the election campaign is becoming informative and interesting.

Reading between the lines, the election campaign is becoming informative and interesting.

Painona with with Tapiwa Nyandoro

The idea that a local currency introduction could find support amongst the masses was quickly dismissed.

The reaction to the Highfield speech by the Zanu PF president on the subject and the reaction to the MDC-T president waving a wand of the disgraced bearer cheques of the hyper-inflationary era were enough evidence of the unattractiveness of the suggestion.

Thereafter it was damage control, such as talk of introducing the gold standard before launching “our own, gold-backed” local currency.

Interesting stuff had it not been for the fact that the so-called “gold standard” is already in place and choking the economy. It is called the US dollar. So what exactly was the Reserve Bank governor telling His Excellency on the gold standard? With it, our favourite monetary tool that ran red-hot before 2009, of devalue and inflate or cheat the masses and enrich the few was involuntarily surrendered. It had been much abused.

The second reality dawning on all is the fact that the creation of jobs is the real electoral issue.

The desperate write-up by Mai Jukwa this Monday in the local Press, calling for her countrymen to be enterprising and preserve their surplus tomatoes by drying them, make their own cheese and marmalade besides keeping chickens to produce their own eggs, said it all.

That era, unfortunately has passed. It is time for factory farms. And to the dismay of patriots such as Mai Jukwa, factory farms need huge dollops of funding. Not easily accessible unless the political environment is devoid of rhetoric.

The promise of jobs by the MDC-T has been well received. The re-distributive strategy of indigenisation, somehow, sounds hollow to the urban and rural electorates, as it is not a solution for a crisis, such as the loss of a job by a breadwinner brings to a family.

Such a catastrophe needs urgent attention. Indigenisation and empowerment, with no cash in sight to put food on a family’s table, may, in fact, sound insulting.

Talk about it when unemployment is 20% or lower, as a solution to create or prevent job losses and you will have a receptive and attentive audience. Again, at the moment, it is an idea before its time.

The Press advertisement by the Public Service Commission for all retired civil servants to be re-engaged is another hilarious read-between-the-lines story.

Likewise is the order by the Local Government minister to non-existent urban and rural councils to cancel all debts owed by ratepayers.

Read this with the hasty appointments to fill all vacancies on the newly-bloated bench and it becomes obvious some people are in panic. And Robert Mugabe seems at peace with himself. It is clear now even to his critics, that he wants a peaceful credible election. This has come as a surprise to even some in his party.

And on the subject the Prime Minister concedes he has been taken into the President’s confidence. That is as it should be.

He and us cannot always live in fear. “Fear,” as said in Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country, “impoverishes, whilst sorrow enriches.” Regardless of the outcome of the elections, should they be peaceful, free and fair, he will have left Zimbabwe a lasting legacy of civilian rule.

On August 1 2013, the incoming government will throw away both manifestos and come face to face with reality: yet another Economic Structural Adjustment Programme.

Yes, another Esap. The problem is, there is sparse evidence of the success of these formulae. But there is a galore of excuses. One favourite one is that Esap programmes failed, however well crafted or critical, because they took place in isolation, without parallel political reforms.

The second reason proffered for the failure of the market-based reforms, also known as the Washington Consensus, is said to be one of “omission”.

It is said the old policies sold as Esaps were not necessarily wrong, but insufficient or applied for too short a time.

There could be some truth to this. But it is hard to ignore the critics as well who say the reforms were not country-specific, neglected, if not indeed discouraged interventionist policies, were inefficient and grossly under-funded.

They relied too much on the market, which market was and is still poorly understood, except, it would appear, by the Chinese, who up to now tend to do the opposite of so-called best practice.

Rather embarrassingly, they succeed in meeting their economic and social goals.

The Bretton Woods twins are back in town. And so are new acronyms. There is the “Interim” Strategy Note from the World Bank.

The strategy is aimed at fostering private sector-led growth, strengthening core systems to public sector management, reducing vulnerabilities and strengthening human development.

It sound like Economic Structural Adjustment Programme 2 — Esap-II — doesn’t it? What has changed? The baseline is worse off than before now, except for the half-baked land reform programme.

The challenge to the incoming government is to complete the land reform programme and concurrently grow the economy through structural adjustment programmes inclusive of labour law reform.

That way, wealth may be created and accumulated for re- distribution at a much later stage. But as the Chinese have shown, some innovation is essential.

nyandoro.osbert1@gmail.com or feedback@newsday.co.zw