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Eric Bloch Column

Regime change needed for recovery

YET again RES Cook has seen it fit to attack me (Zimbabwe Independent of October 1, 2004). He has every right to despise me and the views that I express.

One of the principal motivations to my writin

g of this weekly column is to provoke and promote dialogue for, as none can know it all, exchange of opinions can usually only be beneficial.

However, I have found over the years that the differences of opinion between Cook and myself are so great that they are irreconcilable and even when — on rare occasions — we are of like opinion, he will allow his contempt for me and that which I write to blind him on any issues upon which we agree for, to do so, would deprive him of the opportunity to launch yet another diatribe against me.

My experiences in that direction have been such that I eventually recognised the pointlessness of responding to his missives of castigation and denigration that he so often launches against me.

He is welcome to do so, but over the years I learned that no matter what responses I may give him, he will reject them, for naught will satisfy him but that I agree with him and that I advocate a regime change in Zimbabwe.

However his letter to the editor showed such total disregard for the many times that I have said that economic wellbeing cannot be attained unless there is a change of government, or change in government, that a failure by me to respond would be interpreted as an admission, by default, of his accusations being well-founded and correct.

Therefore, exceptionally on this occasion I do respond, although I have little doubt that Cook’s rigid, fixed pre-conceptions against me will, to a major extent, render my response meaningless.

In the first instance, I should deal with his comment that I remind “ad nauseum of all that is wrong with the economy including the regime’s role in all that has gone wrong”. Yes, Cook, that is the substance of my columns, for my mandate from the Independent ever since its very first issue, has been that I should write about economic and financial matters.

If something is well about the economy, I say so, but regrettably the opportunities to do so are few and far apart. If something economic is, in my considered opinion, done correctly by the government, I say so, and I very deeply regret that it is very rare that I am enabled to do so.

Likewise, when there is something wrong, which unfortunately is generally the case, I say so and, as criticism in isolation is not constructive, I seek to identify the causes of that “something wrong”, its perpetrators (usually the government) and how I believe rectification should be achieved.

If that is “ad nauseum”, which is defined by the Concise Oxford Dictionary as being “to a disgusting extent, nasty, loathsome and offensive”, then perhaps Cook should release himself from that suffering by ceasing to read my column. I am sure that even if he does not read my column, he will still be able to find grounds to attack others and me.

Secondly, his principal quarrel with me, if his last letter is the indicator, is that I fail “to address the issue of whether there will be an economic recovery without regime change”. However, I have done so on many occasions.

Only two months ago I wrote that Zimbabwe has a critical need for governmental change. I have consistently stated that I have no political axe to grind, my interest in politics being centred only upon the interaction of politics with the economy and upon the economy on politics. I have therefore openly stated in this column, not once but on many occasions, that governmental change is a prerequisite of economic recovery.

However, I have also stated that that change could either be a change of government or, in the alternative, a radical change in government. A change in government, as distinct from a change of government, would necessitate that the government discontinues its endless destructive policies and actions and embarks upon those as necessitated by the distraught circumstances of the economy.

However, I readily acknowledge the great unlikelihood of that occurring, and that in the improbable event that it did happen, that it would be sustained.

However, very evidently Cook has been, and is, oblivious to my many statements to that end, and it appears that he cannot be satisfied unless I emphasised the need for change in each and every article that write. That I will not do.

Cook apparently also takes exception to my commending Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono from time to time, caustically alleging that Gono is my “financial hero”. Yet again this reflects Cook’s profound ability to misconstrue my writings when they do not accord with his perceptions.

I have unhesitatingly commended Gono when he takes actions which I consider to be desirable, positive and constructive. But, in like vein, I have unhesitatingly voiced my disagreement with Gono when I think that any of his statements or actions are misdirected.

Having said that, I believe that he has some very impressive traits for which he is deserving of admiration, and he nevertheless must, on occasion, be challenged for some of his statements and actions. Very few, if any, can credibly doubt the immense depth of his motivation to restore Zimbabwe’s economic wellbeing.

I, for one, admire him for the intensity of that motivation and dedication, which drives him to work untiringly, very often for more than 18 hours a day. He has been sufficiently driven by his anxiety to bring about an economic metamorphosis that he has been prepared to adopt policies and to take actions which are unpalatable to the government, irrespective of any negative consequences upon himself.

I believe his attributes far outweigh his negatives, and Cook does him a great — and undeserved — discredit when he suggests that advocating a regime change would upset Gono. Irrespective of whether or not he would consider such a change to be necessary, he would respect my right to have such an opinion, and my right to express that opinion.

Gono may not be my “financial hero”, but that does not detract from my admiring him for much that he says and does, and does not dissuade me from telling him, when I consider necessary, that I disagree with him.

The bottom line is that I do believe that a regime change is needed for economic recovery, either by a democratically effected change of the regime, or by an unlikely change within the regime, and despite Cook’s allegations to the contrary, I have said so. I will continue to do so whensoever I consider necessary, but will not do so to the exclusion of all else.

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