Which god does Gideon Gono serve?

By Peter Thompson

WHAT is it about our leaders that they feel that they must make constant reference to the Bible when trying to implement new policies or strategies?

dana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Did we not have Finance minister Herbert Murerwa a few years ago making reference to Jeremiah 29:11 and God’s plans for Zimbabwe? These plans have obviously failed, unless God is of course still working them out.

The Jews spent many years in exile before God answered their prayers and His answers were not those that they expected. In addition, the Jews were expected to turn from their evil ways to enable God to respond. God will not respond while we as sinners do not acknowledge our sinfulness.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono’s references to scripture last week cannot go unchallenged as it seems that our leaders constantly quote scripture in the hope (forlorn I fear) that God will somehow bless the statement and plans.

Even a cursory reading of the Bible will indicate that God may or may not bless His people but in the event that He does, there are usually a set of preconditions for such blessing. These preconditions would include a respect for justice, an abhorrence of evil, a turning to God in humility and the seeking of God’s forgiveness for sins. None of these have our leaders done and therefore in my humble opinion God is not obliged to bless this nation.

Gono compared Zimbabwe to the Israelites fleeing Egypt but wanting to return to Egypt. This begs the question as to his perception of his role in this. Does he see himself as a Moses and if so which god is he responding to? Is it God in heaven or an earthly god? I fear the latter.

Is Gono aware that even when Moses led the people out of Egypt that they still spent 40 years wandering around the desert because the people failed to obey God. This is why they constantly looked back at Egypt and until we as a nation and our leaders in particular acknowledge that we have failed, that we have missed the mark, we will continue to wander in the desert.

The Promised Land will, I fear, remain a dream of what might have been. The jewel is rapidly losing its lustre if it has not already been irredeemably pawned.

Towards the end of Gono’s statement he makes specific reference to a scripture, although he does not quote the reference, because it does not exist. In none of my Bibles could I find the scripture “God helps those who help themselves”. This is not in the Bible and I would be pleased if he can show us the reference!

Gono also makes reference to the special case of Zimbabwe as an excuse to avoid devaluation. He refers to the fact that Zimbabwe is import-dependent and therefore devaluation will not be a cure for all.

My knowledge of economic theory is limited but this does not prevent me from making comparisons with other countries and how they have dealt with economic crises. I would respectfully suggest that the RBZ and government look at the experience of New Zealand, which in the mid-80s underwent a structural adjustment programme that has turned that country around.

With all due respect to the Kiwis, Zimbabwe with its mineral, agricultural, manufacturing and proximity to markets has far greater potential than New Zealand. New Zealand is/was also an import-dependent country and primarily an agricultural country yet they managed to avoid the problems that we are going through. The difference being that they were prepared to adopt sound economic and political policies.

The New Zealanders realised that they needed to compete in a world which does not owe them a living. They were prepared to consider the good of all the people before the financial and political security of just a few.

Gono also stresses the need for this strategy and the resolution of the problems to be handled by Zimbabweans and that we should not rely on outside help.

In the business world consultants and/or advisors are brought in to guide, lead, train, assist and improve the business. This is an accepted business practice and I would hazard a guess that there are all manner of highly respected organisations in the world that are more than willing to provide this assistance to Zimbabwe.

It is however naïve of us to expect that this assistance will be provided without preconditions. Changes need to be made for the advice to be implemented successfully.

What Gono does not readily acknowledge is that all of the problems we now face are a result of mismanagement, greed and insatiable demand for power and control by a few individuals. If this country were a corporate entity I would hope that the shareholders and other stakeholders would have fired the board and management by now! If Zimbabwe were a bank then a curator would have been appointed some time ago.

This brings me to my next comment that the policies and requirements to be implemented place an unnecessary burden on business. I agree that there is need for sound corporate governance and fiscal prudence but this must come from the top down. It cannot be a bottom-up approach.

In other words, Gono is demanding fiscal prudence from corporates who are penalised and or criminalised by Zimra, NECI etc for the slightest irregularity but the same standards are not required for parastatals and more noticeably the government. Do as I say not as I do? A simplified structure of less controls would, all things being equal, achieve a much better response.

*Peter Thompson writes from Harare.