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Mthuli Ncube's budget is usual voodoo economics to cause pain but no gain and 'spike' in avoidable sufferings and deaths

24 Nov 2018 at 18:48hrs | Views
On Wednesday 21 November 2018, Professor Mthuli Ncube, Zimbabwe's minister of Finance, presented his maiden national budget. There are many things one can say about the budget, I will just say five things:

1) "The spike in prices of goods and services appears to have receded, confirming that the main price hikes were a spontaneous response to uncertainty and confidence issues," he said.  

What he should have gone on to say he had created most if not all the uncertainty with his ill-advised and downright foolish statements. He said Zimbabwe was going to phase out the Bond Notes only to contradict that a few days later.

He then said "market forces" will determine the value of the Bond Notes relative to the US$ and other foreign currencies only to say the opposite a day or so afterwards. This caused serious panic in the economic and financial markets with the Bond Notes : US$ exchange jumping from the official 1:1 to as much as 10:1!

If Zimbabwe had been a healthy and functional democracy Minister Ncube would have been forced to resign; Zimbabwe is Banana Republic and so he stayed. If anyone thought the above admission showed the Minister had learned his lesson the next statement shows he had not!

2) "The 2 917 Youth Officers who still remain on the payroll, are being retired and the posts removed from the establishment, by end of December 2018," he said.

"At its 38th Meeting of 5 December 2017, Cabinet re-affirmed its decision to terminate employment contracts of 3 188 Youth Officers as previously resolved."

President Mnangagwa had made a big song and dance about ending corruption, mismanagement, etc. that had become endemic under Mugabe's reign. Now the nation learns that it was all hot-air the few Zanu-PF youths laid off were those belonging to the rivalry G40 faction.

Even if the regime finally act and laid off these Zanu-PF youths, commonly known as the green bomber in reference to their traditional green uniforms and are nothing more than green flies laying life nuggets on the wounds of the sick nation; nothing much will change.

The nation is painfully aware that President Mnangagwa has "redeployed" most of his former cabinet members, permanent secretaries, etc. on their last salary, perks everything. Only those considered to be G40 members have been laid off. In other words the nation is shedding off one set of blood sucking ticks only to inherit another! This is just a revolving door!

On the other big corruption issues such as the wholesale looting of diamond in Marange and Chiadzwa costing a staggering $15 billion, according to Robert Mugabe's own admission; the regime has done nothing and the Minister said nothing.

Talk of restoring certainty and confidence this Zanu-PF regime has done precious little to win back the trust and confidence of investors and lenders, they saw the Minister's blundering, the regime's refusal to deal with the big issues of corruptions but worst of all the country's failure to hold free, fair and credible elections.

Every report that has come out on Zimbabwe's 30 July 2018 elections have all condemned them as flawed and illegal. President Mnangagwa and his junta rigged the election and thus confirmed Zimbabwe is a pariah state; no one wants to do business in a pariah state.

3) "In order to redirect scarce foreign currency to the productive sectors of the economy, the budget proposes that customs duty and all other taxes on imported motor vehicles be levied in foreign currency acceptable as legal tender, with effect from 23 November 2018," said Professor Ncube.

Is government going to pay all its workers in foreign currency then?

Does this mean the Chemist, Shop owner, etc. have the green light to insist in being paid in foreign currency? After all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander!

What is happening here is that those with the political and economic clout will be paid in US$ whilst the downtrodden are forced to accept Bond Notes. The economic burden of Zimbabwe's economic meltdown is not being shared by all, the poorest of the poor are carrying it all and they are paying dearly for it - with their very lives!

4) "Initially, the economy had been projected to grow by 6,3 percent in 2018 spurred by anticipated good performance in key sectors helping drive the country to an upper middle income economy by 2030," said the Minister.

"There was, however, a slowdown in economic growth in the last half of the year on foreign currency supply and allocation challenges, exchange rate misalignments and inflationary pressures that affected mining, manufacturing and services.

"As a result, Government reviewed downwards the growth projections to 4 percent for 2018. Notwithstanding, the economy currently remains resilient, with performance exceeding expectations."

Zimbabwe's spectacular fall from the middle income nation in 1980 to the poorest nation in Africa was accomplished in 25 years. In 1980 the country had a very robust strong industrial infrastructure, second to only to SA in subSahara Africa; they have all long shut down and Zimbabwe now imports 70% of nation's needs.

Our agricultural sector made the country the breadbasket of the region; that is all a very distant memory. For the last decade the nation has relied on imported food aid. We are starving in what is, for all intent and purposes, the Garden of Eden. A damning testimonial to the sheer incompetence of the men and women who have governed the country since 1980!

"Government policy initiatives will see solid growth of 4 percent in 2018, that way sustaining revenue and exports performance above targets," said Minister Ncube.

How is that possible when you have done nothing to stop the criminal waste of human and material resources through gross mismanagement, rampant corruptions and whilst the country remains a lawless pariah state?

5) There is no doubt that Minister Ncube's budget is a catalog of one economic hardship after another, especially for the 75% of the country's population now living on US$1.00 or less a day. Many Zimbabweans will suffer and many will die of poverty related hunger, diseases, etc.

What makes the situation totally intolerable is that none of the economic recovery the regime is promising will ever materialise because none of the basic requirement for such recovery are there. There will never be any meaningful economic recovery whilst corruption, vote rigging and all the other hallmarks of a pariah state remain firmly in place.

This is a austerity budget guaranteed to bring wailing, gnashing of teeth and death especially to the country's poorest of the poor, the 75% already living on US$1.00 or less a day.  The suffering and deaths will all be in vain, there will be no meaningful economic recovery because nothing has been done to address the root cause of the economic meltdown - misrule.

It is shocking that for one who professes to be knowledgeable in economics you should be presiding over the country's continued pursuit of these failed voodoo-economic policies of the last 38 years. It seems, there is nothing some people will not do for the honour of being called Minister!

This is a budget to tax the poor to death. It is not just the "spike in the prices of goods and services" you will be getting with your budget, Minister Ncube, but a "spike" in the numbers of avoidable suffering and deaths due to hunger, disease, lack of medicine, etc. - many will die with worthless Bond Notes in their pockets and accounts! Have you no shame!

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