Erich Bloch: Economic Coffin Nailed Again

GOVERNMENT’S determination to bring about the total destruction of the Zimbabwean economy is clearly without limit.

 

With blatantly never-ending resolve, government steadfastly hammers one nail after another into the economy’s coffin. So many nails have been thrust into that coffin that it boggles the mind to contemplate that any more could conceivably be rammed into it, but with endless intent government persists in doing so.

It has not sufficed for government to reduce the foundation of the economy, being agriculture to near absolute non-existence, with concomitant mass unemployment, starvation, insufficiency of critically-needed foreign exchange, emaciation of downstream industries and other economic enterprises, alienation of most of the international community, and much, much else. Government had also to spend (mainly unproductively) excessively beyond its means. It created an environment of restlessness and oppression such as markedly discouraged critically important tourism. It considerably undermined the financial sector of the economy by insidious subversion of the independence of the central bank.

It resorted to endless, oppressive, excessive regulation of the ever-declining economy, thereby escalating that decline. And it arrogantly has alienated desperately needed foreign and domestic investment, thereby depriving the wilting economy of employment, export revenues and other foreign exchange inflows, technology transfer, much needed revenues for the fiscus, and innumerable other investment benefits. And these are but a few of the countless, economically-destructive acts of commission and omission that have characterized Government’s abuse of the economy over the last eleven years.

So many are these acts that it imbues one with bewilderment even to imagine that government would do anything else to further collapse the shrivelled economy (other than, of course, vigorously to deny all culpability, and unhesitatingly — even if falsely — to attribute to all blame to others.) But government’s tendancies towards pulverisation of the economy has become so endemic in its ranks, from the presidency downwards, that it can do naught else.

And that psychotic drive towards the annihilation of the economy is compounded by its unfettered resolve to govern for all time, no matter how its retention of power is to be achieved. A prerequisite for the viability and growth of any economy is political stability and freedom. Save on occasion transitionally, no economy has ever survived and grown under an authoritarian, non-democratic, regime. Wheresoever such regime existed, any economic growth was temporary in nature, always reversed and progressively decline has set in, resulting in intensifying poverty and misery, starvation and other hardships, for all the populations other than the authoritarian controllers of the countries. Ultimately, the result was the overthrow of the authoritarians but, until that occurred, distress and suffering was the order of the day for the populace.

This was so in the Roman Empire in the 3rd century, under the dictatorial rule of Emperor Galatius, it was so in the 20th century in the former Soviet Union, so demonically ruled by such as Stalin, in Germany under Hitler, in China under Mao-Tse Tung, in Mozambique under Samora Machel, in Zambia under Kaunda, in the DRC under Mobutu, and in many, many other countries throughout history.

Without political stability and freedom, economies cannot attract investment, be it from abroad, or at home, for none will invest where they perceive the security of the investments to be at high risk, and where the prospects of a just and fair return on investment are minimal. Zimbabwe’s ability to attract investments was already severely impaired by the distraught state of the economy, by the excessive controls draconically applied by Government, by the pronouncedly confrontational stance pursued by Government against the Bretton Woods’ institutions (the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in particular), against the European Union in general, and the United Kingdom in particular, against the United States of America, against many Commonwealth countries, and numerous others.

But the collapsing economy, and the vituperative vitriol spewed forth by government against its ill-perceived enemies, did not suffice to halt entirely investment, albeit that investment levels have fallen sharply in recent years. However, now government is blatantly undermining any remaining vestiges of political stability, and thereby alienating what little national and international investment support is still exists. The Zimbabwean Constitution prescribes that Zimbabwe be a democratically ruled country, rulership being determined wholly and solely by the free will exercised by the electorate. For a long time the Zimbabwean government has pretended that it not only subscribes to that constitutional dictate, but that it strives to ensure unhindered compliance with democratic dictates, including the conduct of truly free and fair elections.

However, realities will always ultimately surface, and despite government’s vehement protestations of unlimited adherence to all precepts of democracy, the truth will out, and potential investors are not oblivious to the facts.

When the state-controlled media gives nauseatingly endless eulogies of praise to the ruling party and, in particular, to the President, and has naught but castigatory diatribes against the political opposition, democracy becomes a mockery, compounded by that media publishing tomes of advertising for the ruling party’s candidate, but suppresses opposition advertising. When genocidal violence is pursued in rural areas by avowed party-supporting war veterans, and by the ruling party’s youth league, without containment by the “guardians” of law and order, reinforced by ruling party cadres threatening villagers, mineworkers and others if the wards in which they reside do no vote according to prescribed dictates, democracy does not exist. When the opposition candidate, and hierarchy of his party, are repeatedly arrested, precluded from addressing rallies, and subjected to endless constraints from peaceful pursuit of the electorate, democracy does not exist.

And all these incontestable signs that democracy in Zimbabwe has died is incontrovertibly confirmed when the First Lady, electioneering for her husband, says that his opponent will never be allowed to rule and to occupy the presidential office, followed by the president stating that he will go to war to prevent his party ceasing to govern Zimbabwe. How can that possibly be democratic?

All this is witnessed by those who, under other circumstances, would invest in Zimbabwe, would aid its economic recovery, and stimulate economic growth. But all that they can see is that the Zimbabwean economic collapse will continue, at an accelerated pace, and that any investment will be lost. Zimbabwe’s economic coffin is being firmly nailed down, and there can be no economic resurrection, no domestic or foreign investment, no lines of credit, and no balance of payments support, until democracy is restored.