IT’S futile for government to bury its head in the sand and pretend all is well in light of the ever-increasing prices of basic needs coupled with shortages of money in the banking system. It’s undeniable that the economy is on a nosedive and the sooner corrective measures are taken, the better.
Two days ago, we ran a story about the sharp increase in prices of basic commodities since the July 30 elections, and elsewhere in this edition, we carry an article on fuel and wheat shortages, a sign that all is not well with the economy.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which is supposed to issue foreign currency to critical sectors of the economy which need hard currency to import enabling materials, is grappling with the huge demand for forex, and has not managed to clear the backlog for payments to some sectors like the milling industry, whose monthly import demands stand at $12,4 million.
Given this grim backdrop, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime cannot afford to bury its head in the sand like an ostrich, but must move in swiftly to avert an obviously impending crisis.
It must dawn on the authorities that politicking will not solve this crisis and they must engage the opposition to resolve the legitimacy crisis and rebuild public confidence.
As we speak, some milling industry players have since suspended operations, while others are operating at low capacity, which any serious administration must deal with as an emergency.
This is also an early warning that Mnangagwa cannot afford to play politics when he selects his new Cabinet, but must bring in people that are tested and proven, with a capacity to pull the country out of its current crisis.
There is no doubt fuel is a key commodity as it feeds virtually into all the sectors of the economy and shortages can result in the country grinding to a halt.
In that sense, whatever measures government should take, priority should be the boosting of forex reserves. While it is welcome that Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo said government was focusing on the forex issues, it appears there is little on the ground to support that, given that the source of forex should be from exports and government has not shown much goodwill to support local industries to increase their capacity to produce at lower costs.
The recent dishing out of 90 top-of-the-range Isuzu vehicles to chiefs by Mnangagwa has already sent the wrong signal and we cannot afford to continue walking down that dark road. Zimbabwe needs to be rescued from the current economic quagmire through pragmatic, well-tested and proven policies.
This economy cannot afford blowing over $5,4 million on traditional leaders’ luxury vehicles in view of the critical shortage of forex. This situation, if not arrested in time, can degenerate into an unmanageable crisis and Mnangagwa is duty-bound to arrest this madness if he is to leave a legacy.
In the long-term, government should, among other things, also genuinely embark on cutting down on its expenditure and increasing local production of goods, because Zimbabwe, which was once an exporter of wheat, cannot continue to be importing the commodity when there is enough land, water and other resources to locally produce surplus.
There is need to sincerely engage other political players and bring them to the table for a cross-pollination of ideas that may help this country going forward.
Adopting a we-know-it-all approach, which was the cause of the fall of his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, can only take this nation backwards. It all lies squarely in the hands of Mnangagwa to make or break.