Zimbabwe not going through ‘labour pains’, but ‘death throes’

The past few months have witnessed a painful downward spiral of Zimbabwe's economy - the worst in the past decade - characterised by shortages of fuel, tripling of prices of basic commodities, essentials medication, school fees, uniforms, and stationery.

The shortages of cash and foreign currency, which had been a perennial problem in the country, worsened as the local Bond Note – which had been touted by the regime to be at par with the United States dollar – lost its street value to as much as USD1 to $6, although of late, the Bond Note has gone to $3 to the greenback.

This has been the main reason why most commodities have tripled in prices, as importers have cited the unavailability of the hard currency at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), and as such, have resorted to buying it on the black market.

To add insult to injury, the Zimbabwe regime decided to impose 2 per cent tax on every dollar transacted via mobile or electronic banking.

However, what makes this whole scenario more alarming is the manner in which the Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa led administration has tried to portray what the country is going through as mere ‘labour pains’, that will soon be over, and the nation will be rejoicing as the economy would have improved.

They are doing their utmost in painting this as a well-planned economic reform program, that will be painful at first, but will shortly bear fruit for everyone in this country.

We are daily being told to ‘tighten our belts’ as the country goes through this tough period, which will last only for a short period.

However, is the Zimbabwe regime being truthful and honest in its proclamations?

Is the country truly going through mere ‘labour pains’, and soon it will all be over, and we will be celebrating the ‘birth’ of our new beaming bubbly economy?

Certainly, not!

What the Zimbabwe regime wants to portray as ‘labour pains’ did not start last month, or the month before – but, foreign currency shortages had been a problem in this country for some time.

We all know that the coveted US dollar had mostly been available on the streets of Zimbabwe, rather than the central bank for a while now.

Thus, when the problem reached its pinnacle round October and November 2018 – resulting in the shortages of fuel, and the tripling of prices of basic commodities – it even took the authorities by surprise.

Additionally, statements by the country’s financial authorities that, indeed, the local Bond Note and RTGS were not at par with the United States dollar, only served to worsen the already terrible situation.

Thus, the subsequent shortges were not – by any stretch of the imagination – a well-planned and well-calculated economic revival plan, that the regime put in place.

The pain and suffering that the people of Zimbabwe are going through today are solely a result of poor governance and corruption by the Mnangagwa regime.

The fact that the regime never prepared and warned us of the pain to come, cleary shows that even they were not expecting these dire circumstances to befall the nation.

If the pain and suffering we are experiencing right now is a ‘normal’ process towards a good and bright future, then – just as a pregnant woman – we would have been readied some time back of what to expect as a nation as we go through the ‘labour pains’.

However, the lack of any prior national preparation proves that what we are going through are ‘death throes’, that the government was ill prepared for.

A quick look at the ongoing junior doctors’ strike adds weight to this conclusion – as they are demanding, among others, adequate essential medication, equipment, and protective clothing in our public hospitals.

These shortages were never a result of some ‘belt-tightening’, ‘labour pains’ that the regime is implementing for the medium to long-term prosperity of the nation.

Similarly, the demand by the same junior doctors and teachers to be paid their salaries in United States dollars, is a direct result of the price increases and weakening of the local currency – both of which we have already established were not part of any economic recovery program, but mismanagement by the ZANU PF regime.

Typical of ZANU PF factional politics – which, at times, acts as the silver lining on the proverbial cloud – opposing groups have been busy accusing and exposing each other of widespread corruption in the distribution of foreign currency by the central bank – and the channelling of the money to the black market, instead of procuring fuel, and other essentials products, for which it was intended.

This corruption, again – I am sure – is not some strategic plan to revive the economy!

Therefore, what can we say about the state of our economy, and the pain and suffering that the majority of Zimbabweans are enduring?

These are definitely not ‘labour pains’, but can be best described as ‘death throes’.

Our nation is on the verge of another economic catastrophe – unless if the people of Zimbabwe step in and unequivocally stop this rot.

What the nation of Zimbabwe faces right now has the potential to be worse than the disaster witnessed between 2006 and 2009 – whereby, there were widespread shortages, and a local currency that lost its value on an hourly basis, such that a loaf of bread would cost millions, if not billions, of dollars!

As such, the people of Zimbabwe should be wise this time around, and not just stand by and watch as their lives are destroyed.

There is no ‘baby’ to be born in this economy!

It is a sure case of death, not only of the economy, but literally of our lives, as we are faced with unaffordable medication, and public hospitals that do not have all the essentials.

Yet, we have a regime that has not shown any semblance of fixing the situation – all the critical aspects of the problems facing the nation have been assigned to former military generals, who possess not even an iota of negotiating skills, but merely rely on bullying tactics and threats.

How can a government that wants to be taken seriously as solving the problems bedevilling the country designate a soldier to negotiate anything?

This ZANU PF regime caused the problems we are in at the moment – and is showing no interest whatsoever in resolving anything.

It is the same government that instituted bizzare and schizophrenic economic policies that resulted in the destruction of a once vibrant industry, that earned the country the much needed foreign currency.

In spite of the eloquent talk and promises, both internationally and locally, that ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’, the facts on the ground – shown by the government’s own conduct – have proven contrary.

The people of Zimbabwe now need to put aside their understandable fear – as we are faced with a callous, heartless and brutal regime (1 August 2018 shootings, 2008 post-election killings, and 1980s Gukurahundi genocide, swiftly come to mind).

However, the country – and our very lives – are already in peril, as a result of the regime’s destruction of the economy – as such, we can no longer afford to entertain any fear.

We are dying anyway -one way or another – and we would rather be shot in the streets, whilst we exercise our constitutional right to peacefully demonstrate and petition.

No one is calling for any violence – or, the unconstitutional removal of the government – but, peacefully demanding that our voices be heard, and our rights be respected.

One day demonstrations have proven to be useless – and what is needed are prolonged peaceful protests, that will last until our voices are heeded.

It could be on a daily basis, or every weekend, or every second or third day – but, the people’s voice has to he made clear without faltering.

Our children will soon not be going to school, we will soon not afford to buy basic foodstuff, or to pay rent.

Is that not death in itself?

Can we then afford the luxury of fearing brutality on the streets?

No, we can not!

Let us remenber, this is no longer 2007, whereby we could simply run away and cross the borders, or board an aeroplane to the diaspora.

The world is changing, and so too is global politics – with the rise of populist nationalist politicians – immigrants are not welcome anymore.

We are left with only one option – Zimbabwe…and it is up to us, the people, to finally take charge of our destiny, gird our loins, bite our upper lips, and fearlessly, unwaveringly, and unequivocally stand up for our lives.

Our children and families are looking up to us to put them first and stand up for their brighter future – and we will be failing them if we are to allow fear to have a grip on us.

…or else, what will our children say about us when they grow up without an education, or our loved ones die as there is no medication – that ‘my dad and mom where too afraid to stand up for me?’

° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is the Programmes Director with the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice). Please feel free to call/WhatsApp: +263715667700, or calls ONLY: +263782283975, or email: [email protected] Please also ‘Like’ the ‘ZimJustice’ page on Facebook.

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