HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsHis Excellency, have mercy on us

His Excellency, have mercy on us

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Zimbabwe’s economy is collapsing. The State and its organs, including numerous useless commissions, are too bloated for the embattled fiscus.

Painona with Tapiwa Nyandoro

Unnerving headlines from the Press recently show the gravity of the situation. A few are given below and their significance explained.

1. Mentally ill people register ballooning.

Yes, as explained by the Minister of Health and Child Care, owing to the breakdown of the nation’s social fabric due to the failed economy, the nation is getting increasingly insane.

The ministry is (deliberately?) starved of resources and it may propose to let the mad in its hospitals, whom it can no longer feed and nurse adequately, go free, ostensibly to their homes, but for the majority in fact to roam the streets.

The ministry’s pretext, however, which is an insult to hardworking Ministry of Health employees, themselves not immune to the madness epidemic, is that this will reduce institutional abuse of the sick.
It is unlikely this “convenient” reason is evidence-based. Abuse is more likely to increase outside the psychiatric hospitals owing to the harsh economic and social environment.

The approach, however, in terms of clinical management, if not our tradition, may be in accordance with contemporary best psychiatric practice, though our socio-economic environment may make the practice untenable.

The self-induced primitive, unforgiving environment is most likely the cause of increased mental instability in society.

Were it not for the fact that the inmates may be starving (while the bloated government tries to feed itself and keep itself bloated), the ministry would be best advised to leave the psychiatric patients where they are and improve their diet and upkeep.

An improvement would be “open psychiatric hospitals” modelled on the lines of Justice Paddington Garwe’s open prisons, the choice being left to the inmate to come back for a place to sleep, have a
warm shower and eat.

The only real advantage at the moment for the cash-strapped ministry and for the mentally ill, in making most psychiatric in-patients out-patients, may be that, at least outside the sanatoriums, some may have access, like stray dogs, to rubbish bins for morsels of food.

The underfunded ministry is under pressure not to complain, as this is likely to be deemed unpatriotic.

Complaining loudly and suggesting de-bloating, may result in charges of incompetence and fanning factionalism being preferred on a hapless minister. Instead the ministries are supposed to “think outside the box”. No wonder the ministry too is going mad!

Under sustained, relentless and demeaning financial embarrassment, drowning in useless and insulting advice, such as “think outside the box” and “be entrepreneurial”, we all do.

2. 90% of listed firms in (financial) crisis.

The statistic speaks for itself. There is carnage on the economic landscape. And with job losses on the social one too. This is a result of long-term economic mismanagement.

The hyper-inflation and dollarisation and recent FDI-repellant policies were the final straws, decapitalising literally every company, wiping out clean savings, cash holdings, debtors books and blocking any foreign knight in shining armour who may have wanted to ride to the rescue.

The Blue Ribbon story is confirmation of such self-destructive folly.

Fresh capital is needed like yesterday in all sectors of the economy. In some cases it may be too late and new businesses or firms altogether needed.

The same may apply to the political landscape in particular its mindset. “Old men, with old ideas, living in old house”, may no longer be up to the task.

3. Over 20 listed firms have collapsed since dollarisation in 2009.
Many others are now tottering on the brink of collapse. Those who insist on Integrated Results-Based Management have their work made easy.

The verdict is a “U”, as they say in Ordinary Level results. Some notable personalities once jumped up and down claiming unearned credit for dollarisation. They could be changing their minds rather fast.

The only solution is of course abandoning the ruling party’s high horses and letting go of their toxic and unbankable policies and characters.

Tony Blair did that in his first speech to his Labour Party conference as its leader.

The brave Blair told a stunned audience at the conference that he wanted to remove from the party’s constitution — “Clause four, an archaic but totemic commitment to mass nationalisation” — a clause similar to Zanu PF’s indigenisation policy.

The Economist (July 13, 2013) noted that Blair’s gamble paid off: the Labour Party swallowed it and moved on”. Blair went on to win the next general election, Labour Party having failed to do so for the previous two decades. Zanu PF needs its “clause four” moment, to rid it of FDI-repellant policies.

4. Indigenous sugarcane farmers drowning in debt.

Slowly but surely it has dawned on all that farming is thin fat business. It is not a default occupation for any unemployed person.

Passion, knowledge, technology, mechanisation, cheap money, reliable and competitively priced utilities, cheap reliable preferably rail transport, hard work, proper regulatory framework, economies of scale and above all markets are all required.

The President has vowed he won’t leave office unless insanity overtakes him. And yet leadership is what is lacking in Zimbabwe.

Being on top of the food chain it is unlikely His Excellency will succumb to the madness epidemic. But let him have mercy on his fellow countrymen.

A “clause four” moment could bring a new shine to his now tarnished legacy.

Otherwise belated happy birthday to Chirambakusakara, Katswerekuenda Mukuwasha weZuva!

Tapiwa Nyandoro can be contacted on nyandoro.osbert1@gmail.com or feedback@newsday.co.zw

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