Slashing zeroes proves failure

By a Correspondent
HARARE - Seeking as ever to divert attention from the country's worsening economic crisis, the state-run media went into celebratory overdrive about the Reserve Bank chopping three zeroes off the near-worthless Zimbabwe currency - a move widely regarded as doing nothing t

o solve the fundamentals.
But the fundamentals – scarcities, lack of jobs, hyperinflation, business confidence dead and the rest – are strictly off limits for the regime’s mouthpieces. So, it seems, is the word devaluation. Never mind the 150 percent devaluation in the official rate of the local currency against the US dollar. It was, in the evasive words of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono (now Giden Gn), the new “exchange rate management system.”
“They muffled them (real economic problems) in their commendation of the new currency, seen as a genesis of an economic turnaround rather than a symptom of a failed economy,” the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) said of the state media’s coverage in its report covering July 31 – Aug. 4.
The private media, with the usual exception of the state-supporting Mirror stable, generally dismissed Gono’s so-called reforms as of no consequence, saying they did not address the economic fundamentals that led to the proliferation of zeroes on the old currency in the first place.
The Financial Gazette described the zero-slashing as a quick fix aimed at forestalling a “looming politically embarrassing situation in which Zimbabweans would need wheel barrows to wheel huge bundles of cash.” The Zimbabwe Independent quoted economist Blessing Sakupwanya as saying the removal of the zeroes was “a mechanical process that we will have to do again if inflation remains at current levels.”
Naturally, the state media ignored the implications for human rights of the searches by police and youths and the taking of people’s money.
Instead, The Herald and other state-run newspapers passively carried advertisements with what MMPZ described as “childish and misleading slogans.” These included “zero to hero” and “we are fighting for you to get more bang for your buck,” as if removing zeroes from the old currency translated into more buying power.
The absurd and fawning coverage of Gono was epitomised in The Herald which likened him to Jesus, describing him as “The Second Coming.” “The paper also carried cartoons portraying Gono as a warrior defending the people by shooting down the ‘offending’ zeroes as if they had somehow manifested themselves without the government’s knowledge,” said MMPZ.

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