echoes CONWAY TUTANI
No good deed goes unpunished.
Normally, the doer of a good deed expects just a “thank you”, but usually someone is adversely affected by the good deed. For example, saving someone’s life from a criminal is a good deed, but the criminal now has reason to punish you for the act.
That’s exactly what’s happening in Zimbabwe with some people siding with criminals who have been tormenting them, by expressing anger and hostility against Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s de-dollarisation of the economy, which, as seen in the past week, is actually working in their favour. While the intense and rabid hostility coming from speculative economic saboteurs against Ncube’s de-dollarisation of the economy is expected because they have been making a killing from it, it is the support for these criminals from a section of ordinary Zimbabweans who have been the main victims of these criminals that is most irrational. De-dollarisation has released ordinary Zimbabweans from the vice-like grip of these speculators, but, weirdly, some of the victims are siding with those bloodsuckers and threatening to hold a massive demonstration for redollarisation of the economy.
We saw this warped mentality this past week when some Zimbabweans rushed to laugh and mock after South African power utility Eskom initially said it had not, as earlier announced by the Zimbabwean government, received the US$10 million payment to partially offset the US$33 outstanding power import bill. But then, these same people are crying foul that they are being subjected to darkness for 18 hours a day because of the very same unsettled power import bill. Choose what you want because you can’t have it both ways.
Trenchantly observed fellow Zimbabwean Lawrence Hoba: “We are becoming ridiculous and stupid as well. The very person who doesn’t want things to work is the one who is most affected.” Ncube observed this week: “I know of one specific company that was now borrowing domestic RTGS dollars and using the borrowings to take positions on foreign currency. (They would) make some US dollars, put the US dollars in their foreign currency account, and then start all over again. Why? Because we (had) a negative real interest rate (regime) . . . So, we said let’s close the gap and deal with speculation.” Yes, elementary, but decisive.
Of course, Ncube is not the daft fool they make him out to be, so he pulled a fast one on these smart Alecs by de-dollarising when they least expected it. He outsmarted, outwitted, out-thought them, but outmanoeuvring someone is not a crime. And when you intend to outmanouevre someone, you don’t tell them that that’s what you intend to do.
That’s why businessman and Presidential Advisory Council member Shingi Munyeza this week said that informing speculators in advance about de-dollarisation would have been akin to police revealing plans to entrap criminals.
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Said Ncube: “When dealing with a currency, you do not call for a referendum especially in the face of a speculative attack which was going on. You move swiftly with decisiveness. This is how a sensitive issue has to be managed. But you have to give signals that it will happen at some point and we tried to do this.” Yes, more than enough signals were given, but Ncube’s critics were not listening because, like a mutual admiration society — a group of people with superior airs who routinely express consideration esteem and support for one another to the point of exaggeration and pretense while viewing those outsiders their circles as beyond stupid — they were busy ridiculing him among themselves until it hit them like a bolt from the blue last week.
So far these smart Alecs have been proved wrong as observed by economist Persistence Gwanya, who does not belong to a mutual admiration society: “On the other extreme, there are those who were greatly opposed to the Zimdollar introduction and predicted its implosion from the very beginning. These have been proved wrong as the local currency has actually strengthened. Barely three days after its introduction, the Zimdollar sharply appreciated to an average of 1:8 from as low as 1:13, which saw rate convergence at some banks.” Of course, the economy has many moving parts, but this is a hopeful beginning.
Thus it does not need rocket science to that the much-hyped current court case filed by a Harare lawyer against de-dollarisation is another exercise in futility because more and more people are embracing the local currency, making it a fait accompli, it has already happened, leaving people with no option but to accept it.
After all, MDC Alliance Vice-President Tendai Biti’s case against the 2% electronic transaction tax came to nothing, and that much-maligned tax has played a big role in ensuring fiscal surplus, which fundamental has helped in ensuring a strong Zimdollar replaces the US dollar regime which, as trenchantly observed by economist Eddie Cross, “had become a Ponzi scheme built on ever-increasing prices”.
Also one of the lines of reasoning being used to attack Ncube is infantile and silly. The attack goes: “You banish the Zimdollar for the multi-currency system in order to stabilise the economy. How then do you abandon the same multi-currency system to stabilise the economy?” That’s their repeatable two-liner you hear on the streets, commuter omnibuses and many public spaces which give an outlet to buffoonery, hot air and misinformation, but, on scrutiny, it amounts to nothing. This is, of course, a crude oversimplification, and the reason is obvious: to make Ncube look most stupid in the eyes of the gullible and the ignorant among us — and they are many.
Oversimplification is a statement or argument that leaves out relevant considerations about an issue — such as unintended long-term consequences and changed circumstances necessitating changing direction. Every solution creates its own problems. The point? Leaders looking for solutions that won’t at some point bring more problems to be overcome – are deluding themselves. Thus, oversimplification leaves out so many details, such as that, as observed by Ncube: “If you go back to 2008, it is the exact opposite. We had no fiscal discipline, we had no monetary sector discipline . . . We are (now) in a far better position than we were back then . . . We are re-engaging with the rest of the world.”
It’s plain to see that, one, the circumstances have changed from 2009, with the International Monetary Fund now involved with its Staff-Monitored Programme to ensure adherence to fiscal and monetary best practices. And, two, that dollarisation has come with its own unintended consequences, as outlined by Biti, ironically one of Ncube sternest critics, who observed:
“The US dollar is not sustainable for a number of reasons. It is overpriced so it makes our exports so expensive and it also makes the core structure of our economy so expensive.”
Biti said the US dollar has revalued in the last two years which makes it so unbearable for the Zimbabwean economy.
“In the last two years alone the US dollar has revalued by 19%. It is uncompetitive for a small economy like ours.”
The US dollar is not only uncompetititive, but also enslaving. So, as Zimbabwean commentator Takura Zhangazha has piercingly observed, we must stop treating the US dollar as a deity, as some god, as something divine. Last week, Russia and China agreed to ditch the US dollar in favour of trade in the Russian ruble and Chinese yuan. This long-overdue bold move against
American imperialism, where the US imposes sanctions on any country at any time, will make the world a more equal and just political and socio-economic place. This shows Zimbabwe is not crazy to outlaw the US dollar in domestic transactions.
So instead of being made to demonstrate for strangulating redollarisation, as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and its sidekicks are senselessly calling for, people should be shouting: “Free! Free at last!”