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Mnangagwa govt's dangerous paranoia will keep hurting economy

17 Jun 2020 at 07:05hrs | Views
IT is not a secret that Zimbabwe's economy is under severe strain from various factors: effects of the coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown, power cuts, currency crunch, high inflation, exchange rate misalignment, toxic politics, policy missteps and sanctions imposed over alleged human rights abuses by government on its citizens.

To that list we can add paranoia by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ruling Zanu-PF elite. And as usual, their fingers pointed in random directions, at everyone and everything in sight except themselves.

The President last Wednesday alleged that Zimbabwe's currency was under attack from businesses that were raising prices willy-nilly and that somehow this was part of a wider political plot against his government.

"We are witnessing a relentless attack on our currency and the economy in general through exorbitant pricing models by the private sector," Mnangagwa told Zanu-PF's politburo.

"We are fully cognisant that this is a battle being fuelled by our political detractors, elite opportunists and malcontents who are bent on pushing a nefarious agenda they will never win."

The International Monetary Fund in March warned that the country was facing a lethal cocktail of macroeconomic instability, climate shocks and policy missteps.

Yesterday, Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) announced that inflation had risen to 785,55% year-on-year in May, from 765,57% the previous month. There is no way inflation will abate within the target set by Treasury and the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe of 50% by yearend without drastic measures, such as ditching the Zimdollar and bringing back the United States dollar as sole legal tender.

Zimbabweans were later treated to the spectacle of Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe, with security chiefs in tow, pointing fingers at more detractors, this time including diplomats, church leaders, opposition figures and government's own senior employees.

"Some foreign diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe have quite often not shied from engaging in anti-government activism, which renders it difficult to differentiate them from card-carrying members of the opposition," Kazembe said.

By Friday, Mnangagwa was trying to re-enter the realm of the sober: "The liberalisation of our economy must continue in earnest. This includes the privatisation of bloated State industries which must now be expedited. Investment commitments must now be turned into tangible jobs. Our creative people must be allowed to grow and prosper," he said in a televised speech to announce further relaxation of the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

"Reforms, stuck in the wheels of bureaucracy, must be unleashed, catalysed and implemented. The time for action is now."

The last part, is indeed the crux of the matter. Too many promises, policies are stuck in the wheels of bureaucracy and you have not been able to untangle them. Mnangagwa's inability to confront his weaknesses or to provide solutions to a crisis is nothing new, it is borrowed from a classic late former President Robert Mugabe political playbook.

Mr President, that is not enough to save you from your own shame. Your paranoia against "detractors" and "enemies", real and imagined means the economy will continue to suffer. It is preventing you from taking the correct action to right the wrongs. You can write your own playbook, one that ensures a happy ending, but you need to make the effort.

Source - newsday
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