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Austerity does not bring prosperity - ED, stop destroying our lives, please!

09 Jan 2019 at 14:33hrs | Views
Ever since the current economic crisis bedeviling Zimbabwe started, sometime around October, the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa regime has been at pains trying to reassure the nation that they were on top of the situation and these challenges were just a passing phase that we had to endure on our way to a better life.

The Mnangagwa regime has tried, but to no avail, to convince the Zimbabwean nation that these economic problems would disappear soon, as they implement austerity measures that would ensure that government reduces its budget deficit - as, we start to live within our means.

In fact, as part of that austerity campaign - which was largely believed to be the brainchild of new finance minister Mthuli Ncube - the regime has made similarities between our current situation to that of Greece, which also implemented austerity measures 10 years ago.

The ZANU PF regime has sought to portray Greece's cost cutting measures as a resounding success - thereby, urging Zimbabweans to be patient as we 'tightened our belts' in the meantime.

As much as I am not totally against the government cutting down its prodigal and extravagant expenditure - yet, in the most, this has never benefitted the people of this country, but those big sharks in their high offices.

They have enjoyed luxurious lifestyles that can only be comparable to the wealthiest countries - coupled by unlimited and unnecessary globetrotting, health care at foreign hospitals, and so much more.

Yet, no meaningful development was ever witnessed in any part of the country - with delapidated hospitals (which, do not even have the most basic of essential medication), schools that no longer have textbooks, roads that are full of potholes, amongst other challenges.

The only parts of the country that would have witnessed some sort of development would be the big sharks' own rural homes, as they seek to travel there in relative comfort - which of them would want their posh vehicles damaged by potholes, whilst visiting their home?

However, let us not lie to each other...these austerity measures will never benefit us, but are meant to please the international lending institutions, whom they owe a lot of money in unpaid loans.

This was the same scenario with Greece!

As Greece has been touted by the Mnangagwa regime as an excellent example of this 'austerity for prosperity', let us take a closer look at what exactly has happened to that country over the past 10 years.

Greece has had to endure repeatedly increasing high taxes, including value added tax, and worker contributions, which have resulted in the ordinary people finding living costs more and more unaffordable.

In Zimbabwe, we have already experienced the first signs of things to come, with the introduction of the 2% tax on every 1 dollar transacted.

As with Greece, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as more taxes will surely be coming for Zimbabweans - and goods will become even more unaffordable.

Additionally, austerity measures - as experienced in Greece over the past 10 years - there has been repeated slashing of salaries and pensions.

Thus, all of us complaining and crying out today that our salaries can no longer cope with the ever increasing prices of basic commodities - more turmoil is approaching, as those already paltry salaries and pensions will most likely be further cut...not increased.

The issues do not end there, as Greece has suffered a peak in its unemployment rate - around 27.5%, and 58% for those younger than 25 years of age - as companies restructure, and some shutdown.

What then can we expect for Zimbabwe, which already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, at an estimated 95%?

This will inevitably result in more suffering for the people of Zimbabwe, who already have endured 38 years of ZANU PF induced poverty.

As early as 2018, the economy of Greece had become 25% smaller than when austerity began 10 years earlier.

As we speak now, one third of the population of Greece lives below the poverty line.

Is that the 'success story' that the Mnangagwa regime wants for the people of Zimbabwe?

10 years from now will be 2029 - a year before the promised 'upper middle class economy' - yet, facts on the ground pertaining to austerity clearly show that by 2030, Zimbabweans will be poorer than today, and our economy will be smaller.

There will be no 'upper middle class society' by 2030 in Zimbabwe - but, a 'pauper society' by 2030.

As much as the ZANU PF regime might manage to cut the budget deficit, and even pay off the arrears of their gigantic loans - facts on the ground in other countries show that the people will have paid an unnecessarily heavy price for it, and most likely, the international lenders will still refuse to give the country any more lines of credit.

Let us also not forget that Zimbabwe went through similar austerity measures in the 1990s, which were called the Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP).

Who can forget the suffering of those years?

Even years later, the ZANU PF regime admitted that this program was a monumental failure, and tried to pin the blame on international lenders.

Yet, today, the same government wants to implement the same program, and tells us that we will be prosperous.

It all sounds very similar to those 1990s ESAP tragic days, as the ZANU PF regime tried its utmost to convince the people that we should endure pain just for a little while, whilst we 'tightened our belts', as the situation would soon improve.

Lest we forget the then minister of finance the late Bernard Chidzero appearing on such ZBC TV programs as 'The Road to ESAP', with all manner of promises of the glorious days ahead.

In spite of concerted effort by the then Morgan Tsvangirai led Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) and University of Zimbabwe student protests against ESAP - who were vilified as sellouts and unpatriotic - the government still went ahead.

What do we have to show for those austerity measures and 'tightening of belts' that were promised to result in a land of 'milk and honey'?

Who can forget the massive job losss, the deterioration of the economy and our lives?

Yet, again today, the ZANU PF regime ignores the people's resistance - still vilified as sellouts and unpatriotic - and forcefully implementing another wave of austerity, insisting this will be for our own good!

In a recent survey of Greeks - after enduring 10 years - three quarters of them unequivocally said that austerity had harmed the country.

We could also say the same for ESAP -  and we believe this new wave of austerity will bring the same harm to our country.

Indeed, Greece is a good example for the people of Zimbabwe to learn from - yet, not that 'austerity for prosperity', but that 'austerity for poverty', as surely that is where we are headed as a nation.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is the Programmes Director with the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice). Please feel free to call/WhatsApp: +263715667700, or calls ONLY: +263782283975, or email: zimjustice@gmail.com. We also invite all this wishing to join the ZimJustice WhatsApp group to follow this link: https://chat.whatsapp.com/DbhOcKog7xh9pnOw6WXMu2


Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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