Biti should get real

If that’s what politics does to people, therefore wise men should stay very far away from it.

Candid Comment with Itai Masuku

“… for wise men know well enough what monsters ye (politics) make of them,” to quote from Act 3 Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The word politics is an own insertion. Here, we’re of course referring to the hallucinatory statement by the honourable Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, that the unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is a mere 9%.

We have a dichotomy here in that the “honourable” and learned Biti has become a true politician, albeit truth and politics are mutually exclusive.

And likewise so is honour and politics. That the minister should insult the legions of job-seeking Zimbabweans eking a living from activities deemed illegal by the state and local authorities such as vending and hawking, can only be described as appalling. For, employment, or lack of it, is a very straightforward matter.

Simply put, unemployment occurs when a person who is actively searching for a job is unable to find it. This includes those who have given up the search. And there are countless graduates, holders of degrees, diplomas, vocational qualifications and O and A level certificates who simply can’t find jobs in Zimbabwe.

Many end up joining the estimated three million Zimbabweans in the diaspora, who left the country precisely because they couldn’t find jobs here.

This is not a mere thumbsuck; statistics from the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat), which falls under the minister, show the national unemployment rate at more than 80%. In addition, figures from both government and industry agree that industrial capacity utilisation in the country is less than half.

Looked at from the other hand, unemployment is the result of businesses not having enough demand for labour to employ all those who are looking for work. The lack of employer demand comes from a lack of spending and consumption in the overall economy. And as everyone knows, consumption is subdued in Zimbabwe because the economy is not performing and is therefore illiquid.

Biti conveniently forgets he’s the one who slashed the economic growth (recovery, more like) rate by almost half to 4,5%.

Conveniently, too, his statement on the MDC-T website on the MDC-T’s economic blueprint, Juice — Jobs, Upliftment, Investment, Capital and Ecology is now inaccessible. In that statement and in Juice, the MDC-T seeks to create a million jobs because this is a critical problem in Zimbabwe.

Jobs are not only an acute problem in the country today. They have been for the past two decades and a chronic lack of them is the very reason Biti’s MDC-T found political space. Biti and the MDC-T should not delude themselves that their supporters will back them even if they don’t deliver and say absurd things.

Surely, if we have 9% unemployment, then we’re among the best performing economies in the world! Employment is a key economic indicator.

This Bitinomics (remember takakiya-kiya), implies stronger economies like Spain, with a 26% unemployment rate, are way behind us. Or is Biti trying to spruce up the omnishambles he and his colleagues from the MDCs and Zanu PF have presided over for the past five years, now that this farce is about to come to an end?

Biti must not pretend the situation has improved by concocting figures as this does no good. For the people can’t pretend to be paid and pretend to eat. Biti should get real.

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