I am not much of an economist, but the manner in which the Zimbabwe government is seemingly unapologetically overburdening its already suffering citizens with ever-increasing tariffs leaves me with a gnawing sense that we are truly led by an uncaring people, who would rather milk us to our very last breath.
Otherwise, how would one adequately explain the weekly wanton increases in fuel prices, worsened by the recent outrageous 300% electricity tariff hike – both of which automatically further exacerbate the unaffordability of basic commodities, that even the poorest soul in this country desperately requires for survival – as well as, its disturbing propensity to always approve raises in mobile phone charges – rendering the God-given right to communicate a luxury that most citizens can no longer exercise?
Of course, as has become customary, the government has it all figured out, and an explanation for everything is always readily available. For starters, we are told that, as a result of the continual decline in the strength of the Zimbabwe dollar against the United States (US) currency, there is the obvious need to adjust all these charges accordingly, so as to remain viable – considering that we import most of our essentials.
Indeed, it is understandable that no economy can seriously be expected to remain afloat and functional when its fundamentals are lopsided and skewed. Okay, fine, we get that!
However, what we do not get – and where the government’s reasoning and psyche come under serious questioning is, “Where do they expect the already impoverished and struggling people of Zimbabwe to get this money? The government itself is always moaning that it does not have money, and can not even afford to increase its own workers’ and pensioners’ remunerations in line with the prevailing interbank exchange rate, yet it expects us to somehow get the money to keep up with its own charges that are clearly pegged to the exchange rate!”
Are those the actions of a government of the people, for the people, by the people? I would think not!
If those in authority expect citizens of this country, especially its own workers and pensioners, to be empathetic towards their dilemma, then surely, we expect the same from them. If a whole government can not afford to secure enough money to pay its own workers and pensioners at the prevailing exchange rate, where on earth are we – the forever impoverished and struggling people – supposed to get the money to keep up with the government’s own tariffs which keep shooting up at the same pace as the exchange rate?
Is that not grossly unfair – if not downright cruel?
What does not help the government’s cause is its apparent partiality to extravagant spending on its own officials’ welfare. How can the people of Zimbabwe be expected to be understanding and patient, whilst we can not even afford our own exorbitant home rentals, yet there are top officials who are accommodated in 5 start hotels for over a year – at state expense – under the pretext that they do not have any house in the capital!
Would it not have been better off finding them decent modest houses to rent in Harare, or better still – as we are all supposedly suffering ‘due to Western-imposed economic sanctions’, and austerity measures – let them pay for their own boarding, and if they can not afford, then find friends and relatives to stay with until they sort out their accommodation issues?
How are we supposed to be tolerant of our own pain and suffering at the hands of government’s increasingly unreachable fuel tariffs, when the state can afford to hire an extremely expensive jet from Dubai to fly the president all around the place – even within his own country?
Each day we watch helplessly and hopelessly – with tears in our eyes – whilst our loved ones wither away and perish due to illnesses because we can not afford the exorbitant prices of medication, as it is not available at public health institutions. Yet, the government seriously expects us to patiently stand by, believing that it is struggling, though top officials are flown to the best overseas hospitals that money can buy.
Then this administration has the audacity to point an accusing finger at doctors who are failing to report for duty, as they are incapacitated due to government’s refusal to peg their salaries to the prevailing exchange rate – citing unavailability of funds.
Where is that much-touted budget surplus that the government has never wasted time in flaunting to the entire world? Why are they not using that? Or, was it achieved not for the benefit of the ordinary person on the street, but to merely please their masters at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)?
What about the vast mineral resources that we have? The country realized over US$3.2 billion last year alone and expects to increase that to US$4.2 billion this year. Not to mention revenue from tourism, and other sources of inflow.
When private businesses increase prices of their goods and services in line with the prevailing exchange rate, the government has always seized the opportunity to accuse them of profiteering and sabotaging the economy. Yet, when they (government) do the same with their own goods and services, such as fuel and electricity – as well as, mobile phone charges that they regulate – we are all supposed to understand the economic fundamentals involved.
If private businesses are profiteers and saboteurs, then the government stands accused of the same.
Citizens of this country have had enough of this callous nonsense, and we demand an immediate serious redressing of this unbearable situation. We can not suffer in unending silence any longer, whilst we clearly see the unfairness of our society that is only comparable to apartheid.
Who are the real ‘vapambi vepfumi’ and the ‘vasveta simba’ in this country? We demand fairness and an equal share of the cake in this our motherland. This selfish government wants to have all the mothers’ milk to itself, whilst the rest of us are left to die. That can never be allowed to go on.
We are all equal citizens of this great nation, and we refuse this Animal Farm ‘but some are more equal than others’ ideology.
Therefore, if the government believes that sound economics entails pegging tariffs of its own products and services at the prevailing exchange rate to the US dollar – and we the impoverished and struggling people are expected to somehow secure the money – then, it goes without saying that it also should be able to secure the resources to pay its workers and pensioners at the prevailing exchange rate. Why should they fail to do so, and yet we are expected to miraculously manage?
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to WhatsApp/call: +263733399640, or +263715667700, or calls only: +263782283975, or email: [email protected] (please note that the email is currently temporarily unavailable)