BY Tendai Ruben Mbofana
I DO not begrudge Zimbabwe’s much-touted “highest economic growth rate in Africa” — why would any right-thinking citizen not wish to live happily and prosperously, in a well-developed country, whereby each and every person enjoys the fruits of the land?
Only someone who is sick in the mind would actually wish his own country harm and derive perverted pleasure from its misfortunes or demise.
Notwithstanding this fact, we all need to celebrate what is genuine — real national development that truly translates into a higher standards of living for the country’s citizenry.
Thus, as those in power boast of Zimbabwe’s economic growth rate “topping the continent” — let us be a bit more realistic in our analysis.
Indeed, based at the 2021 growth rate of 7,4% — the southern African country was at the top of the mountain.
However, what does this exactly mean in layman terms?
Well, let us put it this way — say, we have an entrepreneur, who declared a measly profit of only US$5 yesterday, but today increased this to a paltry US$10.
When this profit increment is looked at from a percentage perspective it translates to an incredible 100% “growth”.
Admittedly, if this businessperson wanted to put a clever spin to this shameful performance, he could easily say his profit margins increased by a staggering 100% — which, would be true.
If maybe his fellow entrepreneurs managed to move their daily profits from, let us say, US$89 yesterday, to US$90 today (which a 1,12% growth), or even moved downwards from US$95 to US$93 (a shrinking of -2,11%).
Based on these figures, the first businessperson, who only made US$10 profit today, could boast of “topping the profit growth rate” 100% — as compared to his competitors, who had a 1,12% and -2,11% growth, respectively in spite of them actually making far much more money.
Therefore, in real terms, he would still be the worst performing entrepreneur of the three — as he only managed to make US$10, while the others were way above him — in spite of their “not too impressive” percentage growth rates.
That is exactly the same scenario our own Zimbabwe finds itself.
Regardless of the much-touted 7,4% economic growth rate in 2021 being one of the highest on the continent — the country performed badly, with a GDP (gross domestic product) of US$22 billion — compared to US$514,05 billion for Nigeria, and US$394,28 billion for Egypt.
At the end of the day, Zimbabwe is still the “laughing stock” of the African continent!
On top of this, we have an annual inflation rate that ballooned to 72,7% — only second to Sudan’s 263,2% as at March 2022 — while, our local currency depreciated to ZW$400 to US$1 on the parallel market, with nearly half the population living in extreme poverty, earning less than US$1,90 a day.
With an average civil servant receiving $30 000 — the April 2022 food poverty line (FPL) standing at an unbelievable $8 366 and total consumption poverty line at $11 363 for only one person — of course, figures that have since skyrocketed after the recent astronomical price increases.
With these depressing truths in mind, I ask why would there be anyone still supporting this ruinous and clueless Zanu PF regime?
As the situation stands today — under a government known more for its impulsive, knee-jerk and thoughtless economic policies (the recent announcement banning banks from lending), as well as a high propensity for corruption and looting — even with those so-called “empowerment programmes” attracting many to Zanu PF, will be difficult pretty soon.
It is high time Zimbabweans realised the folly of blindly supporting a political entity and government, that is running down the economy — to the point of turning the population, including its supporters, into paupers — yet, the ruling elite, and their scandalous business friends are looting the nation’s resources, as they line their pockets.
The reason those in power will never genuinely decisively deal with the exchange rate — especially, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s seriously flawed and fraudulent auction system — is that they are the main beneficiaries from such distortions.
They are the ones getting foreign currency from the RBZ auction system at concessionary rates and quickly channel it to the black market to make handsome profits — which, is then stored away somewhere safe.
As long as Zimbabwe still has citizens who refuse to stand up against this gross plundering of our country’s wealth for the benefit of a few then we have no one else to blame, except ourselves.
Zimbabweans need to wake up — particularly, those still benefiting from the ruling Zanu PF party — and realise that if this abuse of our country’s resources continues unchallenged no one will be spared by the inevitable disaster.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. He can be contacted on email firstname.lastname@example.org.