The first thing I want to point out is the last descriptive phrase that the governor uttered/wrote in his official statement. He says the Zimbabwean economy is on the mend. If he had led with that one I was not going to read the rest of the thing.
The fact that his statement talks about the RBZ increasing foreign currency (he calls it foreign exchange) being allocated to the importation of basic commodities makes the assertion that this economy is on the mend nothing but a tasteless joke. Here is why:
1. Imports are increasing for consumptive purposes
The biggest problem in Zimbabwe since just before our involvement in the DRC war is the unhealthy balance of trade. We spend more than we receive. If VaMangudya had said we are decreasing our spend on the importation of basic commodities then I would have believed him in saying that the Zimbabwean economy is recovering.
Increasing what we spend on everyday goods means our local industries are producing less let alone generating exports. Right now muno hamuna kana mazai (there is a shortage of eggs) and that’s supposed to be a sign of the good times down the bend? Yes, Irvine’s was affected by avian flu twice but if one company gets through some rough patch means our breakfast county wide is instantly impacted it means hapana zvatiri kuita (we are still just joking).
2. The RBZ is allocating foreign currency
Dr Mangudya calls it Foreign Exchange, but yes the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is busy doing our daily grocery shopping list. The involvement of the central bank at this level does not give us confidence in your claim that all is well Mr Governor. Drawing up of priority lists and all the rest only emphasises to us that there are shortages of the said foreign exchange.
Well, actually we didn’t need the emphasis thank you. We definitely know there is a shortage of foreign currency unless of course we want to buy rolls royces or go to New York on joy rides. As we stand in line at the bank daily to access $15 in coins of bondage aka bond coins we are aware there is a shortage. You may then quip that why are we withdrawing cash, how dumb are we… We are queuing up for the BOND15 ($15 in Bond) because we are charged an extra 15% or is it 20% if we pay using non cash methods or we are simply told by the Petrol Attendant that swipe machine yakafa as well as muchina we Ecocash (the swipe machine is not working and so is the ‘Ecocash’).
We do not blame these people, we know that if the swipe machine doesn’t ‘die’ they will not be able to import the fuel because the person in charge of the master budget at the RBZ is still prioritising and ‘allocating’ the foreign exchange. We know that if our local vendor does not charge the 20% for Ecocash transactions they will not be able to stock up because they are not important enough to even make it to the master grocery list at the RBZ.
3. The worst: the RBZ or at least it’s governor doesn’t have a clue
This is not surprising given that VaMangudya’s boss said he knows nothing. By nothing I mean he said he doesn’t know about the real Zim economy, the one that occurs on the streets not in the tall building along Samora Machel Avenue. If the powers that be are clueless then ladies and gentlemen we are in serious problems.
4. When a person in Mangudya’s seat starts addressing the nation, it spells trouble
From before I was born up to the time I was in Grade 2, the governor of the Reserve Bank was Dr Kombo Moyana and then it was Dr Leonard Tsumba until 2003. I knew these two men’s signatures but I have no clue what they looked like, what they did for a living really. Then there was Dr Gono, a lot of children who were doing Grade 2 in Dr Gono’s era knew who he was, his voice, his famous quote (failure is not an option). Now it’s VaMangudya’s turn and we all know him well.
These two gentleman have presided over the monetary system of this nation in the most tough and rough economic collapse to hit Zimbabwe to date. To be fair, they did not create this chaos and I doubt they have much say in how to deal with it. However, because of where we are in history, the person who sits on the governor chair, stool or throne has to continuously speak!
When the economy is functional, the governor is silent. The Zimbabwe economy is far from functional and the governor is speaking, a lot! If you have to defend the position that the economy is on the mend then it definitely is not. When the economy is mending we all see it: we spend less time jumping from queue to queue. When we see that happening, we know things are changing. We saw it in the period 2009-2013 during the inclusive government.
I could go on and on but I have to give Dr Governor less work when responding to me. I know this time he won’t because of this very statement. I hope, he won’t respond to some random tweet or the other ever again because when he does, it leaves us more worried than before. Telling us not to express ourselves on social media is not the best use of his time right now. Rather than sensor social media he may have to tend to the all important grocery list for the Zimbabwean nation seeing as it is that him and his bosses have allocated more foreign exchange to this list.
John Panonetsa Mangudya is an economist and the current Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor. Mangudya, who sits on many local and international boards .He was made RBZ governor after the expiry of Gideon Gono's term in 2014. He had been CBZ Holdings Ltd Chief Executive... Read More About John Mangudya
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is the central bank of Zimbabwe. Its offices are located at number 80 Samora Machel Avenue in Harare. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe operates under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act, Chapter 22: 15 of 1964. The Act provides... Read More About RBZ
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is the central bank of Zimbabwe. Its offices are located at number 80 Samora Machel Avenue in Harare. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe operates under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act, Chapter 22: 15 of 1964. The Act provides... Read More About Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe