RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono says he will continue revamping the country’s financial services sector to boost the economy, even if it means ruffling some
feathers in the process.
“We cannot just watch the economy and do nothing about it,” Gono told businessdigest after his monetary policy review presentation on Tuesday.
“During my travels in the diaspora, I discovered that there is a lot of goodwill still remaining out there. There are individuals who are prepared to help us.”
Zimbabwe is facing a serious foreign currency crisis that has resulted in commerce and industry almost grinding to a halt. As of December 2003, total external arrears were estimated at US$2 billion, up from $1,3 billion at the end of December 2002.
Exports have continued to fall as industry shuts down, further worsening unemployment which now stands at 80%.
Industry bosses say Gono cannot achieve the economic revival stunt on his own.
“We need a strong fiscal policy which works hand in hand with the monetary policy,” Industrial Development Corporation of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Mike Ndudzo said.
“Industry is still operating without clear guidelines on some things. The governor needs help in this regard.”
Last month Gono went on a three-nation crusade to the United States (Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York and Washington), the United Kingdom (London, Birmingham and Oxford) and Johannesburg, South Africa, in a bid to sell his “Homelink” programme to Zimbabweans living abroad.
He urged locals in the diaspora to send money home using official channels instead of the parallel market to which they had become accustomed.
On Tuesday five Zimbabweans from the South Africa Chapter of the RBZ’s diaspora team attended Gono’s presentation and pledged to support the governor as long as policies were “clear”.
They later held a meeting with Gono and the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa, where they pledged to come up with a project proposal about how Zimbabwe could tap into diaspora funds, especially from those citizens who were not interested in the country’s “politics”.
Some Zimbabweans in the diaspora have pointed out to Gono that they will not repatriate money to Zimbabwe before there is a regime change in the country.
They have also questioned why they should invest in a nation where they are not allowed to vote and which the majority of them left because of political persecution and death threats.
“Not all Zimbabweans in the diaspora are rabble rousers and traitors,” said Munyukwi Kahari, spokesperson of the South African-based business executives, who is a banker by profession. “It is like saying that when one moves from their rural area into the city they have become traitors. No, it is all about a better standard of living.”
Parirenyatwa said he was pleased the Zimbabweans had decided to invest back home.
“The health sector needs your support,” he said. “We can come up with many schemes where you can come in.”
Zimbabwe recently had its request for US$218 million support for its HIV and Aids programme thrown out by the international donor community amid reports that the country is losing more than 3 000 individuals weekly through the HIV and Aids scourge.
Gono said individuals who labelled him a “sellout” did not disturb him because he was trying to shore up the economy, which continues to contract.
In his presentation on Tuesday, Gono said there were those “self-proclaimed experts” in some segments of society bent on “derailing the momentum of the economic recovery programme through a proliferation of thumb-sucked and overly pessimistic trajectories on the country’s economic performance in the future”.
“Upon themselves, these experts have bestowed monopoly of accurate forecasts, monopoly of wisdom, which wisdom only sees and prescribes that the Zimbabwean economy can only go down one path: that of deterioration with no capacity or prospects of recovery,” Gono said.
“They will believe anything negative but will refuse to accept reality even if such reality is staring them in the face. They are happy to feed our external partners with falsehoods which see no good at all and your central bank has spent frustratingly incredible amounts of time, energy and resources explaining away fiction from facts, instead of concentrating on the job at hand – that of guiding the economy towards prosperity.”
However, analysts point out that the Zimbabwean economy has been underperforming because of corruption and the abuse of facilities caused by lack of supervision.
Parastatals continue to reap where they do not sow.
“To these experts who are making a living out of this practice this is what we, as monetary authorities, have for them: Zimbabwe’s economy is destined towards only one direction, and this is the full economic recovery route, with or without their flawed analyses,” Gono said.