President Robert Mugabe is one man who neither understands the intricacy of the scheme of things in Zimbabwe nor how the economy must and should function. There is not a single thing which he has done right. Maybe the only thing he understands and does well is to speak English, a foreign language belonging to a people he loves and admires, but pretends to passionately hate. After leaving the Commonwealth in 2003, the way he cursed and denigrated the grouping, anyone would have thought that the president would never use the language of the Queen again. Alas, how he loves to speak it.
BY ZANDA SHUMBA
Former Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono misled Mugabe into believing that we were in an extraordinary situation and needed extraordinary solutions. The president then took this notion as a maxim to apply to every instance indiscriminately. When one’s only tool is a hammer, then every problem resembles a nail, hit it hard. Not even a pinch of shrewdness in handling the economy has been exhibited during Mugabe’s tenure of leadership.
Mugabe has snubbed all the principles of sound economics, fair elections and good governance for his political survival. There is nothing else that matters to Mugabe, except to be in charge until he dies. Up to this point Mugabe has shown that he does not value honesty, loyalty or justice.
In foregone elections Mugabe has openly thwarted the will of the people to choose whoever they want to lead them. His government has adopted reckless economic policies that has seen decline in aggregate demand which in turn has led to the shrinking of total production. The first shock the economy suffered was when money handouts were given to war veterans and this action was the genesis of our inflation. As if this was not enough, agricultural production was abruptly reduced to zero when ongoing farming operations were disturbed by Mugabe’s confused and anarchic land reform programme. Compounding to an already deteriorating situation,unemployment was on the rise too as every industry with a link to agriculture downsized or shut down. Many workers were laid off then. I am surprised that government is now working overtime to protect workers from being laid off when the largest number of workers lost their jobs as a result of an unplanned land reform programme. The persistent shrinking of the economy is a long term result of the government’s earlier actions. Whenever demand/production decreases, companies are forced to downsize, and undesirable laying off of workers always results. Retrenchments have a snowball effect on the performance of the economy. As workers are laid off, demand for goods and services decreases as they no longer have buying power.
A firm may continue to operate at zero profit when it is breaking even, but will naturally be forced to scale down if it operates at a loss. Therefore government cannot force companies, by whatever legislation, to retain workers against a background of a very poor economy. That action cannot improve the economy, but will only set a conflict between employers and employees. Mugabe is trying to convert profit-making companies into charities which continue to pay unproductive workers. Mugabe’s underperforming government can afford to pay unproductive workers because it collects taxes. At the present moment Mugabe’s government is collecting taxes only to pay workers; very little fiscal work is being done. On the other hand, companies need to pay workers from revenue collected from productive work. If production decreases, then companies are unable to keep a large number of workers because they simply cannot pay them. In actual fact, these companies have to downsize, sell equipment and lay off some of the workers.
This should be simple economics for Mugabe to understand. The best way for him to please fired workers and therefore stay in power would be to give them unemployment benefits.
The government should not force companies to cushion itself from the effects of its irresponsible, selfish policies only crafted to prolong and preserve Mugabe’s rule. Zimbabweans cannot afford to keep Mugabe and his government in office any day longer given the state of the economy. Are Zimbabweans going to wait until every one of them is in the streets for them to demand his resignation? The people are the boss of the government and when government is unable to perform to their expectation, then it should go home, and people should hire a competent one. Our government no longer knows the reason for which it’s in place. Mugabe has postponed the firing of his government by the people for a very long time. He has done this not through achieving an economic turnaround, but by deceitfully getting around corners. He survived rejection by ordering farm invasions, survived severe inflation by cutting zeros, survived rejection by manipulating elections and now he wants to survive total economic collapse/riots through altering labour laws. Zimbabweans should not continue to let Mugabe ride on their back when he is doing nothing to improve their well-being. Mugabe has precipitated all this mayhem by his wanton lust for power. Now government is contemplating not paying school teachers when schools are closed, just how does government expect them to pay rentals, feed families and pay bills during the months they will not be paid? This is failure. Zanu PF government should admit failure and resign.
Change is needed yesterday. Mugabe has ruined every aspect of the Zimbabwean people’s lives but he still continues to gather courage and address people at the national Heroes Acre to report false figures about economic performance and the state of the nation. While Mugabe and his government continues to patch the symptoms, ameliorating only signs of economic collapse, Zimbabweans should pray that total economy collapse does not coincide with his demise, given his age and health. Then, Zimbabweans would have to struggle on two fronts, succession fights and street riots. Whichever the result, Mugabe would have got what he wanted — life presidency, regardless of implications to the economy. Let it be crystal clear to Zimbabweans, Mugabe and Zanu PF will never be able to turn around the economy, given their lack of sincerity and the extreme levels of corruption within Zanu PF.