So my colleagues think that somehow 2008 is back. I couldn’t disagree more for while 2008 was the apex of our demise, the years 1992- 2007 saw our government dragging us up mount Moriah edging us closer to our economic death. We are closer to 2004-6 now than 2008.
I am not saying things anywhere near okay. Things are not okay, they are not going to be unless the government introduces sweeping reforms on the way it works instead of making impossible demands on its peasant population while its ruling members continue with reckless abandon like a bunch of spoiled nobles. Wining an election does not give you the divine right to rule, it means you have a duty to act.
Find a domestic solution to our problems
The biggest problem we have is that besides presenting the world with a begging bowl, our authorities have zero local solutions to our problems. They keep saying Zimbabwe is open for business but frankly that is a prayer, a mantra, not a clear solution.They say we will be a middle economy by the 2030s, at the rate we are going the only place we will be middle of come 2030, is nowhere.
Foreign Direct Investment is not the panacea to our problems. There are a lot other solutions and reforms that we can introduce introduce right now. Like stop claiming the bond and the USD are the same because it’s not true and that alone has been doing more harm than good. Just because you can make a law doesn’t mean you can make up facts.
Sticking to this script has seen the government take on frivolous duties such as forex allocation. Which hasn’t been going well at all. You have to be omniscient to allocate forex in a way that will benefit the economy and no one is ever going to accuse our government of acting based on thorough research, that would be the folly of other governments not ours.
Often as I go about my business for example I have heard people saying: if you don’t export anything you shouldn’t be allocated any Forex. Now that sounds fair as long as you are not thinking too hard about it. It’s no different than saying your smallest child shouldn’t eat because they don’t work. Eventually that fallacy is exposed for what it is as your local vulnerable business of strategic importance begin to wither and die.
There are so many businesses that deserve Forex allocation whether they are exporters or not than the RBZ will ever comprehend. While they have obvious ones like fuel importers covered there are much less obvious ones such as seed producers, pesticides importers, plastic raw material importers and so many others we have never even heard it thought. We think they are not important until the day they run out of Forex and things do not go as smoothly as we hoped.
The thing is if local businesses that do not export are neglected and eventually close we will have to import whatever it is that they were making putting more pressure on forex reserves. It is the reason why we are importing clothes, plastic balls, diapers, razors and needles. Clearly allocating forex to exporters is myopic and flawed.
There is no such thing as an unimportant business – everyone has a role to play. The bond note should be left to the mercy of market forces and the RBZ and government should be frantically foraging for ways to make forex so everyone who needs it has enough instead of wasting its time trying to dam the flood with their hands. If they find enough forex they can actually make it possible for the bond notes to be at par with the USD.
A train wreck
Right now what we are witnessing with our economy is a train wreck in slow motion. Everyday essential parts are coming off as we go off the rails and ever so slowly hurtle towards another cliff. We need immediate and earnest solutions.
Stop saying the bond is at par with the USD besides what I have mentioned above it is harmful in other more subtle ways. Imagine if you insure your car say a Honda Fit for $3 000 and then it gets wrecked. It means you will not be indemnified when you receive the insurance payment because as we know $3 000 bond does not a Honda Fit buy.
Embrace the chaos and be honest about in. We are in dire straits right now and those in government are in competition with officials racing to understate our problems in every way possible. Acknowledging the scale of the problem will perhaps allow our leaders to come up with comprehensive solutions instead of the piecemeal patchwork they are currently employing.
We need a responsible government. Ours is made up of people who think they are kings. The country is burning while MPs are demanding and sulking about cars. Chiefs do not need vehicles in an economy where people are struggling. Besides most rural roads are barely navigable: bicycles and motorbikes would have been cheaper and more practical instead.
There should be more business in government and less government in business. It has been my experience that most government dictates tend to hinder and interfere with business operations rather than help them. This especially true here in Zimbabwe where ill-considered policies are hastily introduced without reflection. The now infamous 2% tax comes to mind.
The government must do it’s fair share instead of just lording over us. They have introduced a tax to tame the government deficit yet they continue to recklessly spend money without a care in the world. Essentially they are robbing us so as to continue in their lavish expensive life styles.
Commercialisation and not privatisation. Privatisation is not the solution to fix under performing parastatals. These entities have been getting away with murder. The princelings who run these entities have been left to their own devices with zero oversight. For example they are supposed to publish audited accounts every year. That is the law yet none of them do and no reason is given. The only reason I can think of is that they are being run by well connected individuals who are above the law. I also fear privatisation will be corruptly carried out and soon we will have our own oligarchs.
Checks and balances are a must. Right now we have a situation where if you see an elite committing a crime you don’t know where to report. Who do you tell if a police officer abuses you. Dear Commisioner Matanga the reason why people have zero respect for your (not our) police is because they’re brazenly corrupt and the people have no avenue recourse. Create an Internal Affairs department to clean house. Your current dismissals are not even scratching the surface.
The government should pull its head from the sand, acknowledge we have a brewing crisis, not challenges or problems, a crisis and then only then can we begin to solve them. Otherwise I shudder to think the horrid times that we are about to endure as our generals herd us into the abyss while they are perched safely on the cliffs of political enablement.