First, I thought there was something wrong with my glasses.
Sunday Opinion with Pius Wakatama
I took out my hanky, wiped my reading glasses and looked at the newspaper again. Surely, there it was in black and white: Zanu PF MP blasts indigenisation policy.
I never thought I would ever come across something like this in my life-time.
The news item was published in one of the daily newspapers on July 27 2014. It read, “A Zanu PF legislator, has castigated government’s indigenisation policy saying it needs to be revised because it is retarding efforts to revive the economy.
The MP told the National Assembly last week, while debating the motion to revive the economy, that the policy was spooking investors”.
The MP, whose name I have left out just in case he might say he was misquoted, was also reported as saying, “Our policies are anti-investment. As far as foreign direct investment is concerned, we should look at our policies. We are running around looking for investors. We have our indigenisation policy of 51 and 49 percent. We are the ones who came up with that policy, never mind Zanu PF or MDC, but it is Zimbabweans that came up with that policy.
“The investor is bringing in his or her capital in his or her own cash or funding, it is his or her capital that we are interested in. We want $5 million and we now say we want to control 51 percent of the $5 million?”
If he was not misquoted, I thank God because finally we were seeing some patriots, like him, who have decided to speak the truth, for the sake of Zimbabwe, even if it means going against the party or President Robert Mugabe.
The indigenisation policy has been, and will continue to be, the root of our country’s economic problems. It would be funny, if it were not so tragic, that our President does not even see that our country is in a coma and needs to be revived as pointed out by the Zanu PF MP. The President is on record as saying our economy is on the mend and therefore, we have nothing to worry about.
He was joined by Rugare Gumbo, Zanu PF spokesperson, who appears to have no inkling, whatsoever, as to what the word economy means. Gumbo recently told the State media that, “Tight liquidity conditions are because of our inability to service our loans.” He went on to say, “It’s not that there is no money in Zimbabwe.
There is plenty of money. Look at the cars that are there, look at the construction of houses — money is there but people are not in the first place banking. They are hoarding. And if you are keeping money in your ceiling, there can’t be money in the market. So our people have to learn to save, to bank. And the banks have the responsibility to give back what they have saved. But money is there. There is plenty of money in Zimbabwe.”
The man is obviously out of his depth. When Mugabe and his party spokesman talked about the growth of the economy, Finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa had revised downwards the economic growth forecast which he had put forward during the presentation of the national budget last year.
Presently he is desperately crisscrossing the globe in a futile effort to raise the much-needed foreign investment for the country. I wish I lived in their make-believe world, where the number of cheap Japanese cars on the street are a measure of economic growth, instead of this impoverished Zimbabwe which the rest of us live in.
For a long time it was only the enlightened and courageous, non-Zanu PF Zimbabweans, who spoke openly against the disastrous policies of the ruling party. These were immediately painted with the “sell-out” brush by blindly loyal, and even threatening, party members.
Zanu PF members did not dare stray from the party line. It is, therefore, so gratifying to behold a Zanu PF member of parliament who has stood up to be counted on the side of truth. Our prayers should be that many more Zanu PF leaders may be emboldened to stand up against those policies and practices which are destroying our country.
John Robertson, a leading and internationally recognised Zimbabwean economist and journalist, has often spoken out about how our economy has been run down by poor policies and how the country is running out of time to fix it. Robertson, who is often ridiculed by senior Zanu PF officials for criticising Mugabe and Zanu PF’s disastrous policies, has emphatically told the government to bin the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.
Instead of doing just that and asking for help in replacing it from knowledgeable Zimbabweans, the IMF and other international financial institutions, Zanu PF would like to play games as usual. They are sure they can con their way through this mess through window dressing solutions.
Zimbabwe has a total of US$9,9 billion in domestic and external debt. Because of this debt the country is not able to get fresh lines of credit to get the country’s devastated economy going again. In order to get more lines of credit, the government is desperately trying to convince the IMF that they are now on the right track.
They told the IMF that they are going to make sure parastatals are reformed so that they become profitable and thereafter the country will be able to pay its way. In a letter to IMF director Christine Lagarde, jointly signed by Chinamasa and Reserve Bank governor, John Mangudya, Zimbabwe said the amendments would require all public entities to submit their corporate and financial plans to the Finance and Economic Development minister before the beginning of the new fiscal year.
The press then reported that government planned to amend the Public Finance Management Act to give the Ministry of Finance powers to oversee parastatals and local authorities to stop the rot at the entities.
Writing in NewsDay, Chief Business Reporter Ndamu Sandu said, “This comes when corporate governance practices have been alien at parastatals with some having gone for years without producing audited financial results.”
At this same time, Chinamasa is reported as saying government is considering shutting down non-performing state-owned companies because they have become a drag on the country’s economic recovery efforts.
Speaking at a conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Chinamasa said, “We have started tackling problems at state enterprises and parastatals which used to contribute 40% but are now milking the economy as they are not contributing.”
The IMF has previously set standards for Zimbabwe to follow in order to achieve economic recovery. What makes the government think they will now accept this rigmarole in the place of sound and realistic economic policies?
Chinamasa has worked hard and has tried his best as minister of Finance, but until he realises that the only solution to Zimbabwe’s economic problems lies in throwing Zanu PF policies that he knows very well to be useless, into the dust-bin, and asking for assistance to craft new workable policies, he will be a great failure.
He will never achieve the development that many Zimbabweans believe he is after. The economy will eventually crumble to nothing under his watch. He needs to stand up and be counted now, before time runs out for Zimbabwe.
History teaches that economic meltdown is usually closely followed by violence and chaos. He, who has ears to hear, let him hear.
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