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AN economy cannot be managed through propaganda. Back in high school, the term “propaganda”used to tickle us as students of history.
The famed Oxford Dictionary defines propaganda as information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.
The dissemination of propaganda from political parties, media and essentially the government in this country, is scaling dizzy heights. The truth has become some kind of scarce
commodity; in Zimbabwe, one has to dig through many tomes in order to appreciate the truth of a simple matter.
It might be a simple story or just the quest to unfold reality regarding the shortages of fuel. There is just an avalanche of propaganda; propaganda so overwhelming that one would wonder if they are living in the country being reported on.
Perhaps, of all the propaganda being spewed by the governing party, the propaganda that continues to be churned out on the state of the economy is simply amazing. They may neither be
economists nor fundis, but Zimbabweans are very much alive to the fact of sugar-coated falsehoods.
It would appear former President Robert Mugabe’s era awakened Zimbabweans to the reality of propaganda; Zimbabweans can tell between what is true and falsehoods. At a time when the economy was crumbling at an alarming rate, with shop shelves empty and inflation hitting four-digit levels, just a minute of listening to the propaganda-laden bulletin at the ZBC in 2008 would leave one wondering if Zimbabwe was in a crisis at all.
A similar script is playing out under the “new dispensation”. I suppose it is much better to be truthful about the topsy-turvy state of the economy and make concerted efforts at rebuilding rather than act stoically when the house is burning. The Mugabe era was marked by stoic behaviour, which fundamentally denied a self-evident crisis.
I conceive that it is dishonest and unacceptable hypocrisy for a person in the position of a minister managing the energy portfolio to “confidently” and with a straight face tell the nation that they did not understand the reason for winding fuel queues.
A minister cannot try to shift blame in such a manner; the buck stops with him. From the responsible minister, the matter comes to the media, The Herald in particular, which has led the bid to make the citizenry believe that all is well. More often than not, one ends up appearing inane – or is it frivolous – by denying what is plain to the eye. Honestly, one is at a loss to realise that some of the leading titles in State media are meant for Zimbabweans, the very people who live with the horrors of skyrocketing prices.
Headings like Fuel crisis now under control, and More Zupco buses unveiled are an insult to the Zimbabwean who has to endure hours on end for the few Zupco buses whose administration is marred by chaos. It is even more nauseating to businesses that have to lose a lot of productive hours while queuing for fuel. Why can’t the media be truthful? We are all Zimbabweans and live with the truth daily.
Now, for a long time, the nation has had to put up with the sickening propaganda that the surrogate currency, the bond note, was equal in value to the United States dollar. However, as
I have asserted before, propaganda has its limits; there are some things that propaganda cannot do. The day of reckoning will come.
With the passage of time, it became increasingly apparent that grown-up men were fooling themselves and the nation at large, effectively realising that the bond notes did not have the same value as the US dollar. In fact, for all the things that propaganda can do, there is one thing that quite exposes it than any other. A government may propagate a political or economic belief, having control of the necessary effective media tools, but very little, if anything, can be done about the exchange rate. It is, to the discerning eye, the grand indicator of an ill-performing economy or thriving economy.
One simply needs to take a glance at the exchange rate of the bond note to appreciate the trouble that this country is in. The exchange rate is the best indicator against bad
governance. As things stand, the US dollar is estimated at close to 1:9 (one US dollar equals RTGS $9) What is worse is that the US dollar, for the ordinary citizen, is only obtainable from the street. The economy is certainly experiencing its worst ever period since 2008. This is a fact that must be admitted if the country has to embark on a recovery path.
Another source of propaganda that Zimbabweans are now really sick of pertains to the incessant mega deals, particularly from the East. Since the days of Mugabe, Zimbabweans have heard of mega deals being signed; deals supposedly meant to “boost the economy and create thousands of jobs”. What matters to the impoverished Zimbabwean is food on the table.
You can only talk to a hungry man in terms of bread and butter issues. This is advice sorely needed by the Zimbabwean government. The propaganda being conveyed daily through its media channels doesn’t do any good for, indeed, an economy cannot be managed through propaganda.