IT was difficult listening to central bank governor, John Mangudya speaking in Parliament without feeling patronised.
“I pray for Zimbabwe each morning, saying, ‘Oh God, help Zimbabweans understand economics,” the learned governor told legislators on the Parliament’s Budget and Finance Committee.
It leads us to ask: who really needs the prayers, Zimbabweans or him?
His tenure has been a tired litany of promises broken or waiting to be broken, of double speak and missed targets.
This is the man who brought back the discredited Zimbabwe dollar, promising to “preserve value”. He has since delivered inflation of 676,39% in March and 94% devaluation, while cash shortages remain and the parallel market flourishes unchecked.
There was a demon in this country causing economic instability, Mangudya said, and he was trying to exorcise the demon because it was now more of a “Sodom and Gomorrah situation”.
“There is some asymmetric economic warfare which cannot be touched or seen and it is more like the coronavirus warfare of the economy,” Mangudya said. “The rate changes in the minds of people, there is no country that does not have a parallel rate, but the parallel rate in Zimbabwe changes frequently. Why can’t it be stable?”
So many questions from a man superintending over a key institution that helps direct the economy and who offered no solution.
Senior figures at the apex bank have previously sought to distance themselves from the chaos at the institution, telling NewsDay recently: “There is what is called the political economy. You must understand that that is what controls our decisionmaking. They (fiscal and monetary authorities) know what needs to be done, but the powers-that-be are the ones controlling things.”
As a result, consideration is given to the special political interests at the expense of the economy, the country and its people. In Zimbabwe’s political speak, the cartels are large and in charge.
The needs of Zimbabweans are not that extravagant or complicated. They want jobs, a living wage, food and shelter. Things they are currently being denied by a system championed by the learned governor who never seems to run out of excuses for his terrible performance.
After bringing back the Zimdollar last year, unleashing inflation and a cycle of price hikes, Mangudya brought back the US dollar at the start of the coronavirus lockdown.
For us ordinary people, it shows that the authorities have no idea of what they are doing and are just groping in the dark. Policy is being made on the whims of a few, it seems. Or that those in charge of our currency need prayers and a lamp so they can see where they are going.