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Where is the rebound, Mr President?

Opinion & Analysis
It is not far back when President Robert Mugabe declared that the economy is on the rebound.

It is not far back when President Robert Mugabe declared that the economy is on the rebound. Of course, we were rather amused by this delusion and it must be evident to all now that indeed it was a hopeless wish.


The conditions for an economic recovery are not yet in place. Actually things are not getting any better at all as everyone struggles to make ends meet. These days one can see the increasing number of vendors in towns who are getting rather creative with loudspeakers that repeatedly blurt out a pre-recorded message urging people to buy rat poison (mushonga we makonzo).

It’s a spectacle of entrepreneurial creativity fuelled by sheer desperation — it is the worst of times. Things will only change direction when we start to, at the least, get consistent and constructive messages from Cabinet ministers who must speak with one voice and avoid contradictions.

One minute, Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora announces that it’s okay to do contract farming and joint ventures with white farmers, the next day Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa announces that government will increase efforts to drive off all remaining white farmers and then next, some buffoon urges a diamond mining company to employ only Zanu PF members. The next day it’s reported how some Zanu PF members are ripping off small-scale farmers and also how foreign investors have been duped. This is a ridiculous comedy of errors that reflects a lack of leadership.

It is quite obvious that there is no grand plan for serious attention to things economic within the ruling Zanu PF. However, I think Cabinet ministers and senior government officials should be gagged because they are doing so much damage to the Zimbabwe brand.

The Chinese “mega deals” announced are reported to be stalling while Russia is in trouble and is unlikely to come up with the promised $4 billion investment. The rebound announced by Mugabe is definitely not coming any time soon.

On the one hand, I am happy that China is insisting that State enterprises be reconfigured first, before they advance any funds.

Our State enterprises are not geared for development, but for maintaining a patronage culture with pervasive corruption, non-accountability and lack of delivery.

So, in my opinion, it is very important that anyone who invests insist on better management and project implementation standards. My fear is that, although this is important, are we not entrenching the Chinese into our public system?

Yes, the Chinese can certainly help us get things right, but at what cost?

If the truth be told, the Zimbabwe economy carries too much baggage from the past that must be first addressed and that will only happen when Mugabe is no longer in charge. Mugabe is bad news for the Zimbabwe brand.

This is the painful truth that even those within Zanu PF agree on in private, but dare not say it in public given the recent purges that Zimbabwe has witnessed in recent months.

In my opinion, the only person who truly believes that Mugabe should stay and even be the Zanu PF presidential candidate in 2018 is Mugabe himself.

Your typical ordinary Zanu PF member is blindly supporting the “supreme leader” out of pure naivety and lack of ambition. After all, they are simple people who really can’t see much beyond a little piece of land they do not own and free farming inputs. Of course, this excludes le petit bourgeoisie, le comprador, the “Cashberts”, praise singers and prostitute writers who are sucking the system dry while they pretend to be loyal to their supreme leader.

It’s a true concoction of lies, stupidity, treachery, intrigue and interminable greed.

The tragedy remains that your typical educated and enlightened middle class Zimbabwean has become rather apathetic and self-centred over the years that he or she sees no meaningful role to play in politics and in building a better future.

We have abdicated our responsibility to the masses, whose anticipations remain debased to say the least.

They certainly do not represent the aspirations of your educated middle class Zimbabwean at all. We got problems.

It is classic that Mugabe has taken full advantage of this over the years, hence his comments that Zanu PF members are simple-minded and those around him are anaemic stupid fools with limited mental capacity (eg fired Vice-President Joice Mujuru, ex-party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa et al).

I see that First Lady Grace Mugabe is also taking the same approach because it certainly works to dominate Zanu PF members who have chosen to be Mugabe’s underlings for life; you simply rent a crowd of unemployed youths and set them loose onto your perceived opponents who will soon cower and shut up.

From my experiences last year, in a debate on property rights with some Zanu PF women, I certainly agree with the President that indeed he has nurtured simple-minded people around him. This makes it very urgent that we despatch all of them from government and public office at the earliest opportunity.

Zimbabweans are indeed talented, educated, smart people, but our problem is that most of them are not in Zanu PF.

I, therefore, remain steadfast in my opinion that we will never see a Zimbabwe operating at its full potential until we have new leaders in government, better State institutions that are run by professionals and we attract a totally different breed of Zimbabweans into politics. We cannot leave things as they are and expect change.

These are the challenges we face and as long as our country continues with the Mugabe narrative, we are destined for failure.

There certainly is no economic rebound coming our way soon.

Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on [email protected]