Not a strong government

Nobody needs to repeat that we haven’t seen any serious or sincere celebrations of the published election results. We don’t need reminding that Zanu (PF) didn’t act like a natural party of government ready to grasp the reins of power again; look how long it took them to name a cabinet.

It is not uncommon in real democracies, none of which are perfectly free from corruption and self-seeking, for a government to try to bribe voters in the run-up to an election. They might raise the minimum wage or cut taxes, especially tax on popular “luxuries” like alcohol and tobacco. But when a government goes on a giving spree straight after an election, something else is happening.

Zanu (PF) entered their new term by cancelling water and electricity bills. That’s not meant to win votes. In fact, the biggest debtors are government departments, followed by senior Zanu (PF) officials. If a government cancels bills of that sort, they must have some ideas on how the cost of water and electricity is to be paid. We see no evidence they have thought this out. Maybe they really don’t see beyond rewarding themselves. That won’t do them a lot of good when ZESA goes broke.

Then they rush to pay increases to civil servants. I wonder what services they are rewarding? Especially as civil servants got better increases than most people in employment, let alone the unemployed majority, in the recovery years 2009-11, so that a lot more than half of all the revenue government collected goes now to pay their salaries. Since government couldn’t pay the other expenses of them actually doing useful work, we wonder why they rush to give them more, without making any provision for them to work to earn it?

When a newly elected government apparently gives in immediately to demands for wage increases, this suggests they are not as politically strong as the voting figures claimed. Maybe it also shows a lack of the moral strength needed to resist pressure.

Have they asked where they will get the extra money? If it’s true that the quality diamonds are running out already, they might not be able to raise enough revenue there. If some of the stories about how much they paid NIKUV are true, they spent a good slice of their ill-gotten gains on that.

Soon only those with their own boreholes and generators will live above subsistence level. And when those become necessities, the cost of running them will keep increasing. They can’t squeeze that out of the poor for ever. Not even for five years.

Indigenisation doesn’t make money; empowering those already in positions of power only costs money; what does develop mean? And if they haven’t been able to create employment since 1990 (credit Chidzero with doing something in the ‘80s), why should they be able to do it now?

The latest crazy scheme shows they are out of ideas. Now they’ve sold most of the advanced farming equipment and haven’t many factories left to strip, we hear they want to sell the minerals that might lie below our feet. Not refined metals we have dug up and done some work on; not ore that would employ a few miners to dig it, but mining claims, sold before even we know what is there.

They’d do better if they invited the world to buy tickets in our national lottery. In a lottery, you know that the prize money is less than the total ticket sales. In a mineral lottery (and that’s what this is) mining companies don’t get rich by gambling on gold, uranium or whatever might be there, so they won’t be offering high prices. They will make sure they pay low enough prices to ensure that whatever they find will be worth more than they paid.

Is this the ZANU who said in 1972 they would conserve Zimbabwe’s land and natural resources in trust for future generations? – Reply to [email protected]

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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