Zimbabwe govt obsession with budget surplus, in the midst of lowering of standards and poverty, shows an uncaring and cruel leadership

I am not much of an economist - and, quite frankly, had a strong disdain of commercial subjects at school - but, there are some things in life that clearly do not need one to be a financial boffin to figure out, such as, when a government is being irresponsible and cruel in its mismanagement of our money.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

 

Oh yes, it is OUR money – since, any government’s major source of income is through the taxing of citizens – whether by means of PAYE (pay as you earn) on our salaries, or VAT (value added tax) on the goods and services we purchase, or corporate tax on our businesses, or any array of other taxes, such as excise and duty on the products we import, and even those fines we pay.

So, before our grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters start dancing “kongonya”, whilst singing and ululating ecstatically, after receiving food handouts, or “free” agricultural inputs, and praising and glorifying the “good and able leadership of His Excellence” – please, kindly remind them that WE, the people of Zimbabwe (yes, including the recipients themselves), actually paid for all those things.

Actually, the very fact that there are people who need to queue up, so as to be given food handouts and “free” agricultural inputs, brings me back to my opening statement.

In fact, as I am writing this article I am simultaneously cooking breakfast for my family (yes, I do the cooking in my household) – since, I pen all my writings using my smartphone (and, many will be shocked to learn that I do not even own a laptop) – I am wondering what type of a father and husband would I be, if my obsession had been on saving as much as I could from the meager income that I had, yet unwilling to buy adequate food for my family, or pay school fees for my son.

Would I be considered a “normal”, sane, or responsible father or husband, if all I boasted about was how much “surplus” I had managed to make – yet, not even meeting the most basic financial needs of my family?

However, that is exactly what Zimbabwean authorities have been doing – most particularly, after this so-called “Second Republic” came to power, after the November 2017 military coup d’etat, just under four years ago – as the obsession with realizing a budget surplus, in the midst of lowering of standards and unspeakable poverty in the country, is increasingly and disturbingly sounding psychopathic and clearly cruel.

Here we are, with a population that largely survives on handouts – as a result of retirees (who have immensely contributed decades of their lives to this country), yet their pensions are so paltry that can not even meet their basic food requirements for a month, not to mention paying for rates, electricity, essential medications (which are more needed at such ages), and so much more.

Surely, where does a government get the audacity to brag about a $9.8 billion budget surplus, over the first three months of this year (2021) – hailing this as proof of the “success of stabilization reforms” – whilst, most civil servant and NSSA (National Social Security Authority) pensioners receive less than US$30 per month?

What gives these people in power the guts (hopefully, not inspired by Dutch courage) to loudly proclaim their “successes” in holding on to billions of dollars, yet arrogantly and adamantly refusing to provide their employees a living wage, in line with what they were earning just after this military junta usurped power – as teachers currently get around US$220, when in 2018 it was US$540?

Please, may those in the ruling elite help me understand this. What is there to be so cheery and self-congratulatory about?

If, I, as a father and husband, had been doing exactly what this government was doing, my wife would haul me before the Maintenance Court before I can even finish saying, “ZANU PF has failed”!

Do I take it that this administration would rather prefer watching the people of Zimbabwe wallow in abject poverty and suffering, so that they could come riding in as some “knights in shining armor”, blowing their own trumpets, and beating their own chests, as they dish out food handouts, and “free”  agricultural inputs – which, the same impoverished people bought through their own taxes, and would have been perfectly capable of procuring on their own, with their dignity fully in tact, had there been a responsible leadership?

That is just how disturbed the people who lead us are!

They seem not even to care that the World Bank (obviously, one of those international lenders they are busily trying to please, with their irresponsible and cruel monetary policies), in their Zimbabwe Higher and Tertiary Education Sector Analysis Report, has also expressed dismay at the significant decline in education spending by the government in the last two years – that is a serious threat to, and severely hampers, any accelerated economic recovery, as well as in reducing societal disparities.

The government of Zimbabwe, in its obsession to amass as much budget surplus as possible – as if some miserly hoarder – has reduced spending on its own citizenry’s education, both as a percentage of total expenditure, and as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) – amidst a significant skills deficit in science and technology (according to the World Bank’s Digital Economic Diagnostic for Zimbabwe).

Therefore, with all these facts in place, can the citizens of Zimbabwe not conclude that they are being governed by one of the most insensitive, uncaring, and cruel ruling elite that this planet has ever come across? As, I am sure, even the Third Reich Nazis in Germany knew how to take care of their own, and develop their country into a global powerhouse!

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and political commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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