The beast has returned in new robes

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Change money hold huge sums of bond notes in Epworthy on Tuesday in Epworthy

THE rate at which the economy is shrinking, shutting down industry and further squeezing the already impoverished populace is cause for concern.

Given that Zimbabweans have walked this path before and ended up with world record inflation figures in 2008, they should be excused for being edgy.

Leaders in government, politics and business can only ignore the flickering red lights at their own peril.

But clearly, the tell-tale signs of another 2008 are now very visible.

It is only selfish leaders who will ignore assessing the national outcry that has increased in the past few months as roads crumble, salaries are eroded, teachers down tools and now, the mooing crisis staring the health delivery system.

Discontentment is also reverberating across the construction, banking, agriculture and mining sectors as well as other labour unions.

These are no longer normal times, extra-ordinary measures ought to be activated to save the country from sliding back to the dreaded hyperinflationary era.

This was the situation that obtained a few months before hyperinflation triggered the closure of key institutions like the stock exchange in 2008, along with frightening de-industrialisation and bank failures.

Some might argue that inflation is under control, but poverty levels, for now, have reached the same levels as in 2008.

It appears the beast has returned in new robes.

Focus usually shifts to the public sector because these are the people who drive critical services like health and education, but the truth is that the hardships have permeated all sectors of the population.

Some employers seem to have connived with government to continue paying salaries in a currency they know doesn’t store value while pocketing US dollars from proceeds of their business.

In government, as much as in the public sector, the bulk of services are now paid for in foreign currency, and there is no reason why workers must receive their salaries in a currency that does to store value.

But to demonstrate that Zimbabwe is headed for doom, some firms have responded to the crisis by dabbling in transactions that place them in cross hairs with authorities.

That is why this week, the Financial Intelligence Unit froze the accounts of four firms to probe them for alleged delinquency.

The truth is some transactions that authorities now see as sabotaging the economy are the results of actions being taken by management to hedge their firms against runaway inflation.

The time for procrastination while Rome is on fire, as it were, is over.

Viable solutions to end the crisis, which could involve a total incapacitation of workers and economic implosion, ought to be put in place as a matter of urgency.

Everyone agrees that returning to the 2008 era should be avoided at all costs, but this lies in the ability of everyone in leadership positions to put all hands on the deck and steer the ship clear of the murky waters.