guest column:Learnmore Zuze
Zimbabweans in particular and the world in general clearly can’t find confidence in the Zanu PF governance system. The enduring crisis in Zimbabwe presents a conundrum to many people.
To the generality of Zimbabweans whose only desire is simply the pursuit of a dignified existence, the debilitating liquidity crunch, foreign currency shortages, rising inflation, spiralling basic commodity prices, erosion of disposable incomes, power outages and low productivity are a weight unbearable to carry. Retrospectively, inclusive of the Robert Mugabe era, it would be enormously accurate to say that Zimbabwe has shifted from one crisis to another for nearly two decades now. Twenty years of skills flight and economic instability are a long time of suffering.
It is for this reason that Zimbabweans seem to have resigned to fate to the extent of shunning the stayaways that always result in loss of lives and property. Zimbabweans passionately loathe the situation in their country but clearly do not have the wherewithal to alter it.
They are or rather have always existed in a survival mode; they are going with the tide of a catastrophe they cannot decipher. Zimbabweans born around 1999 are moving into adulthood having grown under the cloud of economic uncertainty; the Zimbabwean political and economic tragedy has become a definition of Zimbabwean life.
While it is easier to understand the Zimbabwean crisis in terms of how it presents itself through the economy, it is profoundly critical to realise that the Zimbabwean tragedy is squarely traceable to the politics of the day. This self-evident truth was reflective of the Mugabe (Zanu PF) and Morgan Tsvangirayi (MDC) political feud which culminated in the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2009. In any set up, no economic progress can occur in the presence of a political crisis.
Today Zimbabwe finds herself caught up in the exact situation where the economic crisis is nothing but a silhouette of the terrible political problems bedevilling the nation. The current government has gone around the world on an offensive to win international confidence. The Bretton Woods institution, among many other monetary institutions with the potential to assist have been engaged towards extinguishing a colossal US$18,6 million debt and accessing new lines of credit from other financial institutions.
As things stand, a raft of measures including direct threats to businesses operating in the country and the austerity measures have been topical in an attempt to contain the revolting economy with little success. Banning of the use of the United States dollar has not stopped the public from using it. Liberalising of fuel imports has not tamed the ever-growing fuel queues in the country. It appears the more efforts are made to control the damage, the more the damage occurs.
This simply points to one thing: Zimbabwean problems indicate something deeply wrong with politics. Without pulling punches, the real key to unlocking the situation in Zimbabwe is to start by fixing the politics of the country. As long as nothing happens in the way of both political and economic reforms, then the country still has miles to go.
It is a given that one of the worst things to happen to the present administration is failure to win confidence of the Zimbabweans in particular and the world in general. For example, it is an open secret that Zimbabweans have plenty of foreign currency stashed in different places in their homes as they mistrust taking it to banks. History has contributed to this apprehension. People remain sceptical of taking their hard currency to banks in order to get the bond notes.
It is simply a question of lack of confidence in the government by Zimbabweans. The forex reserves held by people probably run into millions but an apparent lack of confidence in the system is feeding the crisis.
Coming to how confidence of the international community has been harmed, there really is no secret. America was honest enough to tell the Zimbabwean government that it needed to fulfil some tough conditions including political and electoral reforms, accountability for past atrocities and compensation for white farmers who lost their land under Mugabe’s land reform programme, among others.
The US even went further clearly highlighting that it was urgent that the soldiers who killed protesters in the August 1, 2018 post-election demonstrations be made to account. We may debate theories, postulate and pontificate about the economic malaise in Zimbabwe but the untainted truth is that massive changes have to occur within the broader politics of the country.
It must be clearly mastered that a simplistic view in mending the economy is self-defeating. Fixing the Zimbabwean crisis is not as easy as picking an alternative currency like the rand or pula.
In the absence of production, where almost everything has to be imported coupled with an archaic industrial infrastructure, then no economy can be revamped. It sounds rather trite yet it is the truth about the Zimbabwean crisis. Only when the essential political problems are adequately addressed can the international confidence return.
Zimbabwe is a country of massive potential, but remains trapped in an economic paralysis whose major panacea is simply the return of confidence in the presiding government.