HomeOpinion & AnalysisEric Bloch: Endless pursuit of economic destruction

Eric Bloch: Endless pursuit of economic destruction

CHARITY provokes a wish to believe that government’s endless and relentless pursuit of policies which assure intensifying destruction of the Zimbabwean economy is naught but ill-conceived, dogmatic ideologies and concepts which are grossly oblivious to realities.

However, as government embarks upon one devastating economic policy after another, ignoring the informed and well-founded cautions and advices of the private sector, the international community and others, ultimately one must ponder whether government is not bent upon the total annihilation of the economy.

 

How else can one explain that government continuously legislates measures which can only result in the further, accelerated decimation of that which could be one of Africa’s most virile economies?

In the 1980s it did so by the wasteful misuse of the considerable funding from numerous international well-wishers.

Instead of substantively using the funds for capital development and infrastructural enhancement, the funding to such economy-enhancing purposes being relatively minimal (save for commendable expenditure on education and health), most of the funding was targeted at governmental aggrandisement, corrupt misappropriation and abuse.

Expenditures on flashy motor vehicles, housing for the governmental elite, international travel and upon the incomprehensibly large armed forces were prioritised over construction of dams, procurement of adequate energy-generation resources, viable capitalisation of parastatals and similar economic enhancement.

Then, in interaction with the International Monetary Fund and other Bretton Woods institutions, the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) was formulated, strongly supported with international funding.

However, much of Esap was abhorrent to government (such as the containment of corruption), and government perceived that the programme would markedly diminish governmental control over the economy.

Therefore, only selective elements of the programme were implemented and, isolated from the other facets of the programme, those pursued were mainly ineffective, or counterproductive to a significant extent.

As a result, not only were the projected benefits of Esap not forthcoming, but also in many respects the economy worsened.  Of course government denied culpability, blaming all the economic ills and woes upon Esap (and claiming that Esap was a diabolically-connived strategy of the international community to dominate Zimbabwe and its economy).

In making such denials, government expertly used its vast propaganda machine, convincing most Zimbabweans that Esap and its international promoters were the catalysts of the economic hardships and associated suffering.

Belatedly, in 1994, driven by economic desperation, government implemented most of Esap, resulting in a significant upturn over the ensuing three years.

Obviously, such upturn was against the governmental “grain”, so with devious skill the upturn was peremptorily halted in late 1997.

Government agreed a compensation and pension package for war veterans (real and pseudo) which, irrespective of justification or otherwise, was far beyond the state’s financial means.

The consequential imminent, intensified bankruptcy of the state triggered an immediate, monolithic devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar, which in turn fuelled severe inflation. The inflation impacted negatively upon the viability of commerce and industry, and the economy as a whole.

Fearful of the growing bitterness of most Zimbabweans subjected to ever-increasing economic stresses and concomitant hardships, government embarked upon its land acquisition and resettlement programme.

There was an incontrovertible need for land reform, enabling all who would meritoriously and productively use the land to have opportunities to do so.

But the programme was implemented in a manner devoid of justice and equity, in blatant disregard for Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (Bippas), and with equal disregard for the thousands of Certificates of No Interest previously issued by government when land was being sold.

Land reform was progressed by the displacement of thousands of productive farmers, in the main being replaced by those without capital, or without the expertise to generate productivity commensurate with that previously attained by the displaced farmers.

From being the region’s “bread-basket”, Zimbabwe was reduced to mass importations of basic foods.  Concurrently, hundreds of thousands of farm workers became unemployed.

They and their dependants, aggregating more than two million souls, joined the ranks of the poverty-stricken, undernourished population.

And government compounded the ills it had created, and continues to compound them, by gross maladministration of the land reform programme and of the procurement and distribution of essential inputs (such as seeds and fertilisers).

However, convinced of its absolute omnipotence, government has steadfastly convinced itself that the collapse of Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector cannot in any manner be attributable to its policies and administration.

Such collapse is, in the psychotic perception of government, due primarily to evil, Machiavellian and self-centred machinations of the international community in general, and the former colonial powers in particular, exacerbated by adverse climatic conditions.

There are none so blind as those who will not see, and the Zimbabwean government is first and foremost in its determination not to recognise any facts which do not align to its preconceptions.

Despite effecting one onslaught after another upon the economy, elements of the economy continued to survive, albeit with ever-greater difficulty.

To a government which appears to be determined upon achieving total eradication of the economy (save for any ill-gotten gains that some in, or associated with, government have accumulated within and outside Zimbabwe), the continuing survival of some economic activity must be anathema in the extreme!

Clearly, yet a further strategy was necessary!  And hence the promulgation of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, on March 7 2008, followed by enactment of that Act’s underlying regulations, gazetted by Statutory Instrument on February 12 2010.  In one fell swoop, government (probably gleefully) frightened away from Zimbabwe billions of dollars of grievously needed, employment-creating and foreign investment.  Concurrently, such limited residual business confidence and morale that still existed in Zimbabwe was totally destroyed.

Presumably fearing that even this will not have achieved the final and total destruction of the economy, last week government sought to reinforce its strategies by an announcement by Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu that the entirety of mining operations in Zimbabwe must be owned and conducted by Zimbabweans, foreign investment being barred from engagement in mining.  Yet another nail in the economy’s coffin!

It stretches imagination too far to believe that these endlessly pursued policies of economic destruction are conceived and implemented with good and positive intents. Surely no government can be so bigoted, or so stupid (or both) as to fail to recognise the recurrent and never-ending harm it has occasioned, and continues to cause. Not unless either it is imbued with absolute beliefs of its omnipotence, compounded by pronounced paranoia, or is wholly determined upon achieving a total economic Armageddon, for whatsoever inconceivable reason.

 

Eric Bloch

 

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