As I watched children going to school on the opening of the first term, I could not help but be troubled by how few they are — perhaps an indication that a huge number of them will not be attending class, due to unaffordable school fees, uniforms and stationery.
There is a danger that a whole generation could be denied an education.
Why is a country that used to pride itself in some of the best education standards and Africa’s highest literacy rate now a pale shadow of its once glorious past?
Zimbabwe is already on an economic downward spiral, especially over the past two months — as shortages of fuel, medication at public hospitals and foreign currency, as well as the trebling of prices of basic commodities, medication at private pharmacies, school fees and uniforms cripple the nation.
It is also reported that a number of companies will not be re-opening this month after the holiday break.
Such is the country we live in ever since Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa took over power, after a military coup d’etat in November 2017.
It is tragic that the economy is today in worse state than it was in the final days of Robert Mugabe’s brutal dictatorship.
What does that say about Mnangagwa?
The question is: why has Mnangagwa failed the nation this way?
Economic problems were worsening even before his first anniversary of coming to power?
The president seemingly was big on talk and mantras, and generally empty on substance.
It is one thing to talk lyrically about “Zimbabwe is open for business”, and “Zimbabwe will be an upper middle-class society by 2030” and something totally different actually getting to the practicalities of implementing policies that will result in the fulfillment of these mantras.
For instance, a supermarket may promote itself as being “Better Than Everyone”, yet not doing anything to ensure that it is actually better for us — probably with rude staff, exorbitant prices, and lacking generally required products.
The same goes for Zimbabwe.
It will not become what the Mnangagwa regime touts it to be, as long as government officials continue sitting on their laurels and doing absolutely nothing to rescue the situation.
A country is not run merely on mantras, but on effective implementation and delivery.
This is, however, not even a new weakness within the Zanu PF regime, as none of its economic recovery programmes have ever came to fruition since Independence in 1980.
No wonder, only 10 years after inheriting a relatively economically prosperous country in 1980, withstanding intensive United Nations (UN) sanctions and a gruesome civil war (Second Chimurenga), the Zanu PF regime was already implementing Bretton Woods’ economic structural adjustment programmes (Esap).
In a nutshell, Zanu PF started destroying the country’s economy the very first day they entered office!
Today, the same ruinous regime wants the people of Zimbabwe to continue having hope that this time they will get it right and recover the economy! Recovery, my foot!
How can a regime that had made a 37-year long career of ruining the economy suddenly get it right?
The facts on the ground prove otherwise.
The accessibility of foreign currency on the streets of all the major cities and towns of Zimbabwe proves that it is available in the country, yet the Zanu PF regime deliberately fails to reign in this malice.
Who does not know where the foreign currency dealers are based?
Even our police service knows where they are to be found, as these dealers operate openly on the streets.
If the regime were serious, all these street foreign currency dealers could be off the streets within a week and all that money reintroduced into the formal system.
The fact that there is so much foreign currency available on the streets of our major cities and towns means that the country has enough to buy fuel, medication, and even provide all those who would want to import necessary raw materials.
This would result in basic commodities reverting to their original prices.
The fact that the Zanu PF regime could go on national television sobbing and mourning that it does not print United States dollars — and could neither pay civil servants in hard currency, or provide adequately to importers — is nothing short of ridiculous.
Just how much foreign currency is the Mnangagwa regime allowing to be traded on the streets, yet the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is dry?
Can we say that the regime is serious when it hires jokers to work for the ministry of finance to “expose” corrupt people in the RBZ, accused of re-directing this much-needed hard currency onto the black market, only to confess to having being paid to “whistleblow” without any concrete evidence.
What manner of shenanigans are these?
Does this regime take us seriously?
Additionally, how can the country be “open for business”, and become “an upper middle class society”, while businesses that could have established operations within the country know that the only way they would acquire hard currency is on the streets of Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare or any other city — at absurd exchange rates?
No serious investor would ever make such a stupid move, it is one thing to take risks in business, and completely another to be downright foolish.
As the nation’s troubles spiral out of control, the Mnangagwa regime is not even doing anything to ensure that those businesses currently operating in the country are paying their workers enough, or even paying them at all.
The regime’s own workers have to resort to half-hearted strikes, and threats of strikes, just so that they are paid a living wage.
Of course, this callous regime will most likely never resolve these workers’ plight, as we have witnessed numerous times before, unless civil servants show a bit more backbone by engaging in more serious industrial action — a huge strike which the rest of Zimbabwe can join in.
All of us in Zimbabwe are suffering under this regime — economic brutality is the worst form of human rights abuse — and we are more than prepared to embark on protracted constitutional action, until our voices are finally heard.
What upper middle class society is the government creating with such anti-people policies?
An upper middle class society is not made up of paupers and beggars, unless Zanu PF regime has found another definition.
Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to call/WhatsApp: +263715667700.