There was bemusement, shock and derision when Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, John Mangudya, revealed that Zimbabweans were paying $200 million annually to South Africa’s Multichoice for DStv, but that is the price you pay for bad policies.
Comment: NewsDay Editor
Zimbabweans are willing to spend anything just not to watch Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), because the programming, the partisan nature of the news and the bland content is enough to drive anyone away.
Zimbabwe is paying the price because the government refused to reform ZBC and its content and opted to keep the broadcaster poorly resourced and operating as a party organ rather than for public good.
If the government had foresight, they would have long reformed ZBC and the media environment and allowed private players to come in and this would have seen most of the $200 million that Mangudya mentioned being kept within the country’s borders.
But the government is obstinate and wants to keep the media, particularly broadcast media, under a tight leash and Zimbabweans are responding by moving to where they think they will get value for money.
The same is true for many sectors of the economy.
Had the government carried out an orderly land reform exercise, then there was not going to be any need for the country to import maize — at a massive cost to Treasury — during lean years.
Now the government boasts that it has taken the land, yet its people are starving, something that could have been avoided if the country had chosen to be orderly and not taken a vindictive approach to land reform.
It will be interesting if Mangudya could tell the country how much Zimbabweans are spending on South African Airways and other foreign airlines, as this is also symptomatic of the asphyxiated Air Zimbabwe, which is failing to carry out its mandate, but the government holds on to it at much cost to the fiscus.
Now Zimbabweans are forced to buy ex-Japanese cars because the government managed to run down companies like Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries through corruption, nepotism and impunity.
The very fact that we are using the US dollar instead of our own currency is another example of bad policies and poor decision-making.
Instead of lamenting how much is being spent on DStv, Mangudya should address the real problem; and that is a lack of leadership and direction.
The money spent on DStv and other foreign products is a microcosm of government failure rather than ordinary citizens’ love for trinkets.
Mangudya should stop trying to treat the symptoms and blaming the victims of government failures, but should confront the real problem — a clueless and out-of-depth government.