Erich Bloch – 20 Mar

IT has long been apparent that government has a dogmatic conviction that the only manner of operating an economy is by absolute and total control of every facet of that economy.

It cannot contemplate, let alone acknowledge, that rigid and excessive economic controls are counterproductive in the extreme, prevent economic development and growth and, instead, debilitate and destroy the economy to an even greater extent.
 And, therefore, it rigidly resists any and all representations to modify and relax its policies of economic management, and instead constantly intensifies existing controls, and introduces new ones, in oblivion of its pronounced culpability for the economic ills which are the motivants of its introduction and implementation of yet further controls.
The examples of government’s obdurate pursuits of destructive economic policies are innumerable. In the early days of Independence it radically modified labour legislation. Correctly recognising a need for equitable and just labour practices to protect workers, government went grossly overboard, vesting intensively excessive powers and authority in itself, with especial regard to any employer intents to terminate employment.
As a result, employers have been intensely reticent to increase numbers employed, save when they felt that they had absolutely no alternative but to do so, recognising the magnitude of difficulties and the costs that they would face if they ever needed to reduce numbers employed, other than by natural attrition.
Although each one of the nine Economic Development Policy programmes that government has launched since Independence has included intents to reduce the state’s direct involvement in the day-to-day operations of the economy by privatising parastatals, the reality is that only a very few parastatals have ever been even partially privatised, for government has been determined to maintain its absolute controls. The resultant has been ever deteriorating infrastructure, and accelerating economic collapse. But government maniacally believes it must retain total control, and vehemently denies to itself, and to others, that it is that control which is the primary contributor to the lack of adequate service delivery, and to the infrastructural deterioration.
In similar blind indifference and economic restlessness, government enacted the Land Acquisition Act in 1991, and over most of the last decade gave effect to it in pursuing its catastrophic Land Reform Programme. In its addiction to consummate control, it has reduced the very foundation of Zimbabwe’s economy, being agriculture, to the precipice of near total destruction.
Such destruction has been occasioned by many to facets of the programme, including the displacement of thousands of skilled, highly productive farmers and the replacement of them with many lacking in skills and resources, but a key factor of the destruction has been government’s control mania, which evidenced itself by vesting ownership of all land in the state. In doing so, it deprived farmers of the inspiration and drive to success which is conveyed by ownership.
Of the overwhelming number of grievously misplaced controls pursued by government, one of the most catastrophic was the imposition, in June 2007, of gargantuan price controls, followed by the creation of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC).
The almost immediate results were massive exacerbation of the then already immense scarcity of almost all commodities, including all basic  essentials, fuelling an even more vigorous, almost hyperactive  black market than had previously prevailed, and converting  the appalling inflation that government  wanted to address into world-shattering hyperinflation.
Government’s infatuation with control fuelled the poverty-intensifying escalation of the cost of living for all Zimbabweans.
All these, and many, many more governmental controls have all been the major catalysts of the destruction of the economy to a greater extent than ever experienced since that of the crash of the German Weimar Republic in 1922 to 1924.
Government is unquaveringly convinced of its unlimited omnipotence, and is equally paranoically certain that all Zimbabwe’s economic ills are attributable to evil machinations of its perceived enemies.
Therefore, it cannot even momentarily contemplate that it, and its unending, foolhardy and diabolically destructive, policies and controls could be even remotely responsible for the derelict state of the economy and for its continuing and intensifying failure.  Therefore it persists with controls unceasingly.
Amongst the most recent, and indisputably one of the most stupid, of such controls, has been the enactment in the last month of Statutory Instrument 21 of 2008, issued pursuant to the Bank Use, Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Act.
The key provisions of that Statutory Instrument include that no person may, at any time, have more than $500 million dollars in their possession, save that traders may hold greater amounts for not more than 24 hours after the last trading hour in which the monies were received. A further provision prohibits individuals and companies from effecting any cash transactions exceeding $250 million.
This is ridiculous in the extreme. One visit
to the supermarket to purchase essential household needs can readily necessitate a payment at the cash till well in excess of that amount.
The purchase of 10kg, of mealie meal (if one can find it), bread, cooking oil, some vegetables, salt and bread, aggregates to more than $250 million, let alone the simultaneous purchase of many other normally required basics.
And not every consumer can afford to operate a banking account and have the facility of a debit card, and therefore must operate in cash. In like manner, virtually all businesses require to effect cash transactions aggregating to more than $500 million.
Factories operating staff canteens for large labour forces often have no alternative but to pay cash for meat, poultry, mealie meal and other inputs.
Those same factories have many workers who cannot practically or affordably operate banking accounts, and must therefore be paid in cash, with the weekly cash payout frequently amounting to billions of dollars.
Thus, government is not containing money laundering, but is further curbing business operations, hindering the populace from conduct of essential daily living requirements, and demolishing the economy to an ever greater extent.
Government’s never-ending introduction
of new controls, all of which sabotage
all prospects of economic recovery, demonstrate that it has become a fanatical control freak which places its craving for control above all else.