“WE need appropriate fiscal policies, and so far government has done well and has squeezed money supply because there was too much government expenditure and it means that things are going to be tighter to a maximum of three years, and by then we should have done all painful activities and then go to a stage when things are going to normalise,” Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo has told the nation, as a matter of fact.
Our take from his tone is that this is someone speaking from some very comfortable perch where they are not even aware of how tough life has become for most Zimbabweans.
Our other take from the “coup poster boy” Moyo’s informed view is that he is probably unaware that industry is fast grinding to a halt because of escalating costs emanating from the fact that it no longer makes business sense to run operations on diesel and petrol generators.
We would have thought that from where Moyo and his colleagues stand, they should be having a better helicopter view of the state of Zimbabwe’s economy for them to come up with short to mid-term fixes to our economic challenges because three years is a very, very long time under present circumstances for the nation to contain much more suffering.
Fundamentally, this economy’s problems are hardly fiscal as Moyo seems to be alluding. Zimbabwe’s problems are profoundly to do with productivity which is not being helped at all by the fiscal policies that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime is administering at the moment.
Only yesterday the country’s largest telecommunications provider, Econet told us that “with the ongoing aggressive Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority load shedding, our requirements are at more than six times the diesel we are currently using in order to provide uninterrupted service … the related costs are not sustainable”.
And the biggest tangible investor yet that Mnangagwa’s administration has so far managed to bring into the troubled country, Sunny YI Feng Tiles of Norton is also despairingly telling us: “Power cuts are affecting our production … Our machines are automatic, which makes the process even more difficult because power cuts mean everything stops. Our machines need about 15 days to heat up to 1 200 degrees, so once they stop for some time, we need another 15 days to get back to the high temperatures. For the ceramic business, machines can’t just stop. Now we have so many defective products that we have to sell at half the price, losing over US$1,2 million.”
Add to all these woes, water shortages and a hungry nation that failed to grow enough to feed itself owing to a weather-induced drought, you are sure to conjure up disaster of monumental proportion.
Is Moyo and his colleagues aware of all these hardships being faced by the very people, including labour, who they want help from to reboot this economy? From where they are comfortably perched, do they think that businesses, workers and farmers — barely managing to keep their heads above the water, will survive six months, let alone three years of these painful austerity measures?
Three years is a very long time, Minister Moyo.