Editor’s memo: It’s time up Mr President

PRESIDENT Mugabe is digging in his heels. He wants to keep his job so badly that he is threatening the very existence of the state that he wants to rule in the event that he wins the presidential election and his party the parliamentary and local polls.

As his campaign reached its zenith last weekend Mugabe increasingly displayed retrogressive tendencies that have brought this country to where it is today – political intolerance and poor economic policy formulation.
Mugabe was this week displaying renewed menace as if that was the virtuosity that the nation has been looking for. He was lashing out at business, threatening to take over British-owned companies if targeted sanctions are not lifted.
He was also brandishing the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act as a weapon to punish companies accused of raising prices of basket goods. He has made threatening noises against the mining industry which he feels must be indigenised.
Investors have turned their backs on Zimbabwe largely because of Mugabe’s swashbuckling tactics in which policies are made on the hoof and announced at rallies.
Another policy aberration inherent in our dear leader is his belief in retribution against perceived opponents. The government told us last year that the Indigenisation Bill and the Mines and Minerals Bill were necessary to redistribute the economy and to achieve equity in the control of the means of production. But of late Mugabe has wielded the two proposed laws as weapons with which to threaten and punish businessmen and opponents.
The two empowerment laws today – as they are being employed by Zanu PF — are neither vehicles of economic developmement nor instruments of social progress. They are synonymous with dispossession, retribution and insecurity. The laws have become lethal weapons which will put paid to any hopes of economic recovery as long as they are implemented by this government. These are laws against business.
This same approach to policy formulation and implementation drove the promulgation of land laws and directed the execution of the ill-fated fast-track land reform programme. Today we hear Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono saying the full impact of the land plan will not be felt until 2010. This is asinine governance. The process of taking over farms was done at lightning speed as a solution to land redistribution but there is no concomitant alacrity to achieve results. There is all the evidence that the government is limbering up for the same tactic with industry in the post-election period – if Mugabe wins the polls.
But threatening industry is threatening people’s livelihoods and this will not win Mugabe votes. The electorate today no longer buys into the cheap political announcements threatening price controls or company takeovers.
In June last year the nation witnessed the damaging effects of price controls on the economy. Manufacturers and retailers have not recovered from the blitz as is evidenced by empty shelves in OK and TM supermarkets. Capacity utilisation in industry dropped from just over 20% to the current levels of less than 10%. Price controls exemplify the poor policies that our rulers pursue blindly.
At rallies, President Mugabe was insisting that retailers should not raise prices even though government has raised the salaries of civil servants by up to 1 000%. The private sector has followed suit. The president should be aware that with the vast amounts of cash floating in the economy the shops will soon be empty again because there is minuscule production taking place.
From his pronouncements in the past two weeks Mugabe has simply set the scene for further economic decline if he wins the election. This economy desperately needs stability which stems from confidence and trust in government’s ability to deliver. There is no hope in mending it on the back of threats and uncertainty. This country does not deserve a government which makes it its business to fight its own people. Mugabe is preparing to open another front after the election. What for? Mugabe’s answer: “We have a job to do and that is to protect our heritage. The MDC will not rule this country. It will never, ever happen. Asisoze sivume (We will not yield).” 
Compare this with Ian Smith’s “No majority rule in my lifetime. The white man is master of Rhodesia. He has built it, and he intends to keep it.”
What heritage is Mugabe safeguarding when businesses go to the wall and unemployment heads for 90%?