LAST week I attended a meeting organised by Zimcodd (Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development). The topic for discussion was “The Economy in Transition: Which Way For Zimbabwe?”
According to the organisers’ advertisement, the issues to be tackled were: the cash crisis, recent fuel hikes and liberalisation of the fuel sector, the national debt burden, the crippled economy and prospects for recovery, and the land and the economy.
The speakers were David Chapfika, Tendai Biti, Shakespeare Maya and Samuel Udenge.
If I had any illusions that a serious analysis and relevant solutions would be forthcoming, I was soon confronted with reality. The first speaker was David Chapfika, the Zanu PF MP who is apparently the chairman of some parliamentary finance committee.
I can remember little of his contribution other than his mentioning something he saw on CNN that morning, and that the banks were to blame for the cash crisis – something about them all dealing on the black market for foreign currency and there being many thieves operating in the Zimbabwean economy.
Needless to say his admission that he watched CNN and that he knew who the thieves were brought the house down in howls of laughter. Nothing the honourable MP said suggested that any solution to Zimbabwe’s economic crisis would come from Zanu PF or the parliamentary finance committee of which he is chairman.
Next came Tendai Biti, MDC’s shadow Minister of Finance. He, correctly, drew attention to the fundamental political nature of all the various Zimbabwean economic crises.
We were then subjected to the irrelevant Shakespeare Maya – another example of that well-known Zimbabwean phenomenon: the publicity-seeking leader of a political party that exists only in his own head. At least such meetings give him an audience far larger than he would otherwise be able to attract as leader of NAGG.
Finally we were entertained by the ubiquitous Stan Udenge, economic consultant extraordinaire. He waffled on about how many organisations he does consultancy work for, and also found time to restate his opposition to devaluation – suggesting that we need to “throw away the text books”.
Surely even Udenge must be aware that the reality in Zimbabwe is that there has been a de facto devaluation. Does he know anyone who can source foreign currency at the official rate other than the chefs and their buddies?
One wonders if Udenge and other delusional “economic consultants” so beloved of ZTV have ever read the text books that he urges us to “throw away”.
Apart from a few trite and superficial remarks about the cash crisis, nothing of the subject matters supposedly under discussion was dealt with. On the basis of this meeting there is little cause for optimism that any member of government or any of the self-proclaimed economic consultants or delusional leaders of minuscule political parties can offer anything positive towards resolving our ever deepening financial and economic crises.