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Opinion / Columnist

'Zimbabwe return to normalcy'

01 Jul 2019 at 09:17hrs | Views
'Nation embraces Zim dollar . . . Country has returned to normalcy, President says'. This was a headline in the Chronicle. Sadly there is an element of truth in this. What we face is indeed 'normalcy' under Zanu PF.

MDC Vice President Tendai Biti was finance minister during the four years of the abnormal Government of National Unity when the economy was turned around. He says: 'Zimbabwe is in crisis. But to expect the ruling ZANU PF government to resolve this is improbable at best. It is, more likely, impossible.

'Today nearly four out of every five Zimbabweans just about survives in absolute poverty. On average, Zimbabweans are poorer now than they were at independence in 1980. Informal employment is at 95%, which is why the civil service has more than doubled over the last ten years to 600,000 employees – this is the only place the government can create jobs.

'Whole communities today live on less than 35 cents per person per day. In practice, this pays for a small dollop of maize, four leaves of vegetables, and a cap of cooking fat. We have a term for this, Tsaona, which means living by "accident". But the crisis Zimbabwe faces is no accident. This is a man-made calamity. Over the last 39 years of independence, ZANU PF has presided over the disintegration of the productive sector of the economy. Driven by sheer incompetence, greed, and the need for regime survival, the party has completely destroyed a once thriving economy.'

Biti said industries closed and infrastructure was not maintained. 'Thirdly, the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy was ripped out when the farming sector was politically redistributed through ill-planned and badly-executed land reform exercises, aimed not at the empowerment of citizens but the enrichment of elites. Fourthly, to paper over these deep problems and continue to make profits for the elites, monetary policy became a tool for further enrichment, resulting in Zimbabwe's inflation reaching 500 billion percent.

'In today's Zimbabwe, the elites prosper, in spite of the misery, and because of mal-governance. They use their preferential access to dollars to arbitrage against other local, artificial digital currencies. Furthermore, they have created cartels that are able to entirely control the import and distribution of fuel coming into the country. Meanwhile, the military and other favoured clients are offered mining concessions that are then parcelled out opaquely to friends, local and foreign. Finally, the government's agricultural scheme, appropriately named "command agriculture", amounts to a $4 billion private piggy bank used to finance everything from private vehicles to dowries. ZANU PF cannot realistically be expected to reform a system that it not only profits from but on which its rule depends.'

Biti said the MDC is ready to play a part in Zimbabwe's recovery and those interested in the plight of the Zimbabwean people should urge the government to the negotiating table. He said: 'A failure to do so will be measured in a loss of hope and a grave humanitarian crisis which can only be met by increased state repression.'

Source - Zimbabwe Vigil Diary
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