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Mr. President, you can't make the nation suffer simply because of your ego!

17 Jun 2023 at 07:23hrs | Views
Pride comes before a fall!

When I had the inspiration for this article, a certain scenario played out in my mind.

I imagined an egoistical father - who was adamant that every 'respectable' family had to have a car of their own.

In so doing, he stubbornly refused for his wife and children to travel by public transport, but insisted on driving them everywhere.

Nothing particularly wrong with that, one might be tempted to say, right?

Well, as a matter of fact, there was a huge problem.

The car that he boasted of possessing, on which he forced his family to travel, was an old unroadworthy clunker - which, in Zimbabwe, is popularly known as a 'skorokoro' or 'tshova mubaiwa'.

In actual fact, the car was a death trap and grave danger to the man's family.

It could either burst into flames at any time, due to the suspicious electrical wiring - or experience brake failure, thereby veering off the road and crashing.

As much as the man's pride compelled him to push his family onto the car - this was, nonetheless, most reckless and irresponsible.

The best and much safer alternative would have been for them to use public transport, in the meantime - as much as that may hurt his fragile ego - until he acquired a roadworthy reliable motor vehicle.

This is the situation that we witness playing out in Zimbabwe today.

I liken the arrogant stubborn man in the illustration to President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa - who has repeatedly insisted on the continued usage of the useless fast-depreciating Zimbabwe dollar.

The basis of his logic (or, lack of) is that 'there is no country on earth without its own currency'.

To begin with, that assertion could not be further from the truth.

There are numerous countries that do not have their own currencies.

We can easily cite Ecuador, El Salvador, East Timor, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, and so many others.

I can even go as far as saying that all the 20 countries in the Eurozone - EU members states that use the Euro - effectively do not have their own currencies.

Indeed, just as owning one's own car - it is always more preferable for a country to have its own money.

This can enable it to exercise monetary control over its own currency - especially money supply and interest rates - thereby, better able to determine economic trajectory.

Furthermore, in a country like Zimbabwe, using a much stronger US dollar renders its own locally-manufactured commodities more expensive and uncompetitive against those from weaker currencies, as South Africa, Zambia, and others.

Therefore, using the US dollar, as opposed to our own currency, does have its own disadvantages, more so to local industries.

Be that as it may, the million dollar question is, "What if your local currency is a 'skorokoro' or 'tshova mubaiwa', which has actually become a danger to both the country's economy and its people"?

Today, as I write this article, the US dollar is trading at an incredible ZW$5,978 on the official RBZ market - whilst on the parallel market, it is going for an alarming ZW$8,500.

Those seeking to use mobile money, as EcoCash, are charged an unbelievable ZW$15,000 to the greenback in most shops.

Under such untenable conditions, what do you do?

Is there any sense or logic in a president insisting on Zimbabwe having its own currency - even when most industries, formal supermarkets, and the ordinary citizenry are finding the going tough, and may not survive?

It is common knowledge that even those manufacturers - who benefited from the lower production costs associated with using the local currency - are now struggling to continue operations, due to its (Zim dollar's) freefall and the subsequent effects of hyperinflation.

The same applies to major retail supermarkets, which are now on the brink of collapse - due to viability challenges caused by very low customer numbers, on account of unaffordable prices - resulting in low sales and losses.

The fact that businesses are also suffering - and most, particularly in the formal sector, potentially folding - throws into the dustbin, with the contempt it deserves, Mnangagwa's wild claims that corporates, in cahoots with the opposition, are conspiring to oust him from power.

As much as Mnangagwa may allege to be punishing all those businesses hiking prices - facts on the ground disprove this, since, deep down, he is fully aware of the real reasons for this madness.

In fact, through my discussions with those within the system, who reached out to me - the most recent shocking depreciation of the local currency is authored by the Mnangagwa administration itself.

Allegedly, the central bank is recklessly printing unsustainably large sums of Zimbabwe dollars - which are being channeled directly to known RBZ 'runners' operating on the 'black market' - in order to buy as much hard currency as possible.

This is aimed at securing funding for so-called 'development projects', which are being used to campaign for the ruling ZANU PF party, as the country heads towards crucial 23rd August harmonized elections.

In so doing, the over-supply of the local currency, chasing after fewer US dollars, automatically leads to the Zimbabwe dollar losing its value at a spectacular pace.

In addition, cartels aligned to the ruling elite are making a huge killing - as they buy cheaper US dollars on the RBZ system - after which, reselling them on the black market at a massive profit.

We then move on to the ordinary citizenry.

Most earn in the useless local currency - which Mnangagwa is adamant is not going anywhere - such that, most salaries are no longer enough to buy even a few loaves of bread, let alone a bag of mealie meal.

It is even worse for elderly pensioners - with most, as my own mother, receiving a paltry ZW$40,000 a month from NSSA (National Social Security Authority) - which is around US$5.

Surely how are such people expected to survive on US$5?

In all this irresponsible tough talk by Mnangagwa over the continued use of the Zimbabwe dollar - he has even intimated (in an interview with the state-controlled broadcaster) that his regime may actually ban the US dollar.

Well, I have one question to that ridiculous outburst.

Would he himself be prepared to get paid in Zimbabwe dollars?

Furthermore, as over 90 percent of the Zimbabwean economy, especially the retail sector, is in the hands of informal traders - how exactly does he hope to enforce his preposterous proclamations?

Has he not already tried this in 2019 - after the ill-conceived reintroduction of the Zimbabwe dollar, after a ten year absence due to the same hyperinflationary reasons?

How did that pan out for the country?

In spite of the ban, did we not see most transactions still conducted in US dollars?

Only formal retailers and ordinary Zimbabweans - who were forced to use the weak local currency - suffered the brunt of this tragically unwise decision.

Needless to say, he was forced to eat humble pie, and reverse this foolhardy policy in 2020 - under the face-saving pretext of some COVID-19 lockdown reprieve.

In all this, I seriously doubt if Mnangagwa and his colleagues ever received their salaries in Zimbabwe dollars.

Please, Mr. President, let us not play silly games!

The lives of ordinary Zimbabweans are not a chess game - whose suffering the ruling elite derive some depraved pleasure.

The Mnangagwa government knows exactly what they need to do in order to rein in the rabid exchange rate.
Stop printing useless Zimbabwe dollars and flooding the 'black market'.

Better still, as with the example of the 'tshova mubaiwa' mentioned earlier - do away with this 'skorokoro currency', until a time we are able to manage it.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:, or visit website:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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