HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsExpect no miracle from Chinamasa

Expect no miracle from Chinamasa

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Former Finance minister Tendai Biti’s views about the state of the Zimbabwean economy are as worrying as they cannot be dismissed as wishful thinking or a case of sour grapes by a losing politician – as may have occurred in some minds.

NewsDay Editorial

Biti is speaking from an informed position having presided over this economy for at least four years within which he saw first-hand the goings-on in the factors that affect this economy. He has in those four years presented some of the most difficult budgets in the history of this country and we are inclined to believe him when he says incumbent minister Patrick Chinamasa has an even less enviable task today.

“We can see the logic of Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa refusing to present the budget because it is hot air–it is mascara,” Biti said. “You can put lipstick on an ugly person like me, but I can never change to a Madonna. We are going to spend four hours in a hot room (Parliament) where hot air is going to come out because there are no resources.”

That Chinamasa’s budget today will be all but figures with no value is of little doubt. It is clear as day that Zimbabwe is in very serious economic difficulty. Evidence abounds that the government is all, but broke – without money to satisfy is most basic obligations, like paying salaries to teachers, nurses, soldiers, the police and thousands more people that work in government offices.

In Biti’s words, Government is “in de-facto shutdown”. Coming from a person that knows what government vaults look like, this grim picture cannot be dismissed as coming from a doomsayer. And, as he correctly observes, this is the reason why Chinamasa had to be put under immense pressure to do what he has to do today – to present “hot air” – a budget that has no revenue to back it up.

But nonetheless, Zimbabweans remain hopeful Chinamasa is going to spring surprises, telling the nation that there is, after all, money that had been stashed somewhere and which is now out to relieve the nation from its bankruptcy.

The ordinary person expects an end to the prevailing cash shortages at the banks, the reopening of closed companies and factories providing jobs and income and a bright 2014.

The people are expecting today’s budget to allay the fears of the coming of another 2008-9 nightmare. But it does not appear like there will be any such relief. ZimAsset is still just a document on which virtually nothing has been done other than being adopted by Zanu PF.

A workshop held on Tuesday to discuss Zimbabwe’s Trajectory Beyond the 2013 Elections: Problems, Opportunities and Prospects: heard that “ZimAsset would suffer a stillbirth because the philosophy of Zanu PF has not changed” and that “the problems of the country will never be resolved by the people who created them”.

But then, let us give them the benefit of the doubt and hope that Chinamasa will spring some pleasant surprises for us all today!

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