One calamity after another

It’s a true case of muddling through here in Zimbabwe. I am amazed at some of the decisions and policies that Zanu (PF) continues to make. The scary part is they think they are right. It’s like a sane man walking into an asylum and being accused by its occupants of being the one who is mentally disturbed.

Vince Musewe
Vince Musewe

Last week, the state media carried a headline that SADC has agreed on an industrialisation policy for the region. Next to that article was the announcement that Zimbabwe’s cabinet had approved to cancel Telecel’s licence, potentially affecting an estimated two million subscribers and in excess of 1 000 families of employees – who will be thrown out in the streets with no benefits of course.

On the other side, we have a minister of mines who is insisting that diamond mines must all merge into one entity. I just don’t get the economics of that, but I suspect there is, once again, a political motive behind it. I don’t buy the idea that a merged firm will be less corrupt and more transparent because we have state enterprise here that have monopolies and are as corrupt as ever.

Land occupations are continuing, while it has been reported that the maize harvest for 2015 is likely to be a mere 300,000 tonnes. This means we will have to import in excess of one million tonnes this year at a possible cost of $300 million. We don’t know where the maize will come from because the region has no stocks. Remember Zimbabwe insists on non-GMO maize. We also don’t know where the money will come from to buy it.

The WFP will only help us if we declare an emergency and the minister of agriculture is insisting that we have enough food. He dare not admit that he has failed. People in Matabeleland and Manicaland are already asking for food assistance.

I am quite sure there are other ridiculous things going on that we are unaware of and if things continue the way they are, I doubt very much that this government will last for the next few months. So this talk of Mugabe reversing the decision to scrap civil servants bonuses in December is neither here nor there.

There is nothing wrong with making mistakes. But what makes me livid is one mistake after another and the inability of this government to admit that they do not have a solution and need help. That has always been the political game in Zimbabwe – pretend that all is well and don’t deal with the issue head on.

We need solutions and those solutions require a totally different approach. I do not think the current cabinet has the wherewithal to appreciate what has to be done. Even if they do, they are too scared to tell Mugabe the truth. As a result they are all pretending that things are alright and will get better by the grace of God.

We all know that Zimbabwe must do all it can to attract investment. Imagine what negative effect this diamond mining fiasco will do. Then add the Telecel saga on top of that.

I am really hoping to debate these issues with the relevant ministers. Until we have a government that cooperates with the private sector to build confidence and follow the right policies for the sake of the country, we will continue to have a country that is characterised by one calamity after another. It’s a comedy of errors really and it’s not funny.

Telecel is an important asset in Zimbabwe – regardless of the history of how that licence was awarded. In normal democracy where there is free enterprise, the government would actually insist that Telecel shareholders stop the bun fight in the press and resolve issues urgently because it destroys confidence in the country.

They would assist them if required to resolve their differences amicably and quietly for the sake of country. But our cabinet actually pulls the rug from underneath Telecel – unconcerned at the negative ripple effects. The message this and the diamond merger give is that Zimbabwe is not safe place to invest in on the long term.

Despite all this, Zimbabwe will turn around when we get into the driving seat because our country has all it needs – including people who believe in a better future and understand that without good economics there will never be good politics. – Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on [email protected]

Post published in: Analysis

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