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Budget: one lie begets another

By Rejoice Ngwenya

ZIMBABWE is once again tottering on the brink of budget-induced cardiac arrest, thus it befits the occasion to make reference to the late Daily News headline of, November 15 2002 that scre

amed: “Murerwa pleads with God”.

The then migratory Minister of Finance and Economic (under) Development was not pleading for spiritual redemption and forgiveness, but the success of what MDC shadow minister for finance Tapiwa Mashakada termed “a hollow and hopeless budget . . . that has prompted government to seek divine intervention”.

In the course of proposing a $200 billion deficit budget for 2003, Murerwa quoted Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” His foray into the uncharted realm of spiritual uprightness was a reference to Prophet Jeremiah’s prediction of God’s plan to rescue the children of Israel from 70 years of Babylonian captivity.

Without being accused of ascending the pedestal of judging that which God only has right to (“. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23), let us consider the litany of fiscal and political plagues that Murerwa and his government have inflicted upon innocent citizens since his infamous plea for divine intervention. To prophet Elijah, God says about Ahab king of Israel: “… Have you not murdered a man and seized his property? … This is what the Lord says: ‘In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood — yes, yours!’”

Although Murerwa claimed that Zimbabwe recognises property rights, between 2003 and now, Joseph Made’s under-capitalised and emotionally over-charged “agrarian revolution” has resulted in most, if not all commercial farmers, losing their land. My emphasis on their is not an inert desire to stress a historical fact — for this would be incorrect. Moreover, historically speaking, Aneas Chigwedere can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the vaSarwa have more claims to Zimbabwe than the Gushungos and the Khumalos.

Therefore in true liberal democratic tradition, I have said their in the context of proven title to ownership — as in title deeds.

So any self-respecting, rational, western educated doctor like Murerwa and Made would know that to allege that Zimbabwe upholds property rights amid this orgy of murderous expropriation is a glaring opportunity for them to urgently go back and re-write their ‘O’ levels.

More importantly, a 60% decline in agricultural output has not only endangered our foreign currency earning capacity, but also placed the lives of five million rural Zimbabweans at risk. Exodus 20: 17 says: “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house . . . Or anything that belongs to your neighbour.” Murerwa’s government did it in the name of the evasive and utopic collective good — to reverse the so-called “evil” that was committed in 1896 by colonialists.

There is no amount of good that can evolve from a process that destroys human beings, deprives citizens of their rights and poisons the very oasis of their libertarian survival. Murerwa then “re-capitalised” the army “to defend our sovereignty” with a $76 billion budgetary provision. We then see the gravity of transgression being exacerbated by coercive militarisation of state apparatus. Patriotism is a voluntary phenomenon — you cannot wring out commitment to national values through compulsion. The backlash is inevitably widespread feeling of resentment of authority, and ultimately, civil uprising. Isaiah warns us in chapter 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.”

One lie begets another. First, Murerwa’s tenure saw the banning of bureaux de change as a measure against peddling in foreign currency. Then Simba Makoni proposed a policy meant to enhance exports — something that Murerwa completely ignored. How is he rewarded — labelled a traitor, saboteur and summarily dismissed. Murerwa’s government then completely runs out of foreign currency, fails to pay its foreign debt and gets snuffed out of the Bretton Woods club of gentlemen. Blame it on the bureaux de change — a soft target. Genesis 20: 16: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.”

While he claimed that he would be able to contain government expenditure for a targeted single-digit inflation by 2004 (“despite it being self-perpetuating and generating a perilous momentum of its own”) it exploded to 700% by year-end 2003 and his master’s guns turned onto the poor local indigenous banks. Scapegoat politics. In Genesis 3: 12 Adam says of eating the forbidden fruit: “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Yeah, right! Good try, Adamsky!

More promises, more lies: disposable incomes, Murerwa bellowed, would be enhanced by increasing the tax threshold from $90 000 to $180 000. In 2004, a family of six now gobbles about $2 million of food a month. It is almost unthinkable to discuss minimum wages now without endangering the very existence of organisations.

The litany of evil that befell citizens of this country since the Daily News’ apocalyptic headline is well documented, some of it too ghastly to mention. In the same publication, Kingdom Mlambo appeals for a “dedicated Moses to stand up against the enemy and lead the people to the Promised Land of democratic nectar and ambrosia”.

This passionate cry for help was even before the promulgation of the vicious twins — Aippa and Posa — that witnessed, if not chaperoned, the demise of the Daily News itself. Scores of MDC MPs and activists have since been incarcerated, some to death, others like Fletcher Dulini Ncube, to permanent illness. Why these political doctors cannot just concede that under the current political environment they have no hope in hell of turning around the situation beats me.

On November 25 Murerwa will again be thrown in the unenviable position to steer Zimbabwe through another fiscal mirage of a highway to self-destruction. The question is, will God be on his side of the road?

*Rejoice Ngwenya is a Harare-based marketer.

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