The constitution must guide us accordingly


Editorial Comment

THAT the economy is burning and under enormous inflationary pressures is a foregone conclusion.

The carnage that is the economy, or what is left of it, is available for all and sundry to see.

Formal unemployment is at unbelievable levels of over 90%, companies are operating below capacity with some ceasing operations due to acute foreign currency shortages. Inflation has virtually gone hyper, crippling foreign currency shortages reminiscent of a bygone era are the order of the day, and the country’s balance of payments position is negative.

Inflation has eroded incomes. More worryingly, incomes of many have remained static and this is inflicting untold suffering on families.

Yet despite this overwhelming evidence of the various challenges besetting the economy, little to no solutions have been proffered.

Zimbabwe’s polls, which were marred by post-poll violence, were seen ending some of the problems by positioning Zimbabwe as a democratic republic in the wake of the military coup that toppled long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe in November 2017.

In the aftermath of the polls held in July last year, the country was filled with hope that the challenges facing the economy would soon be a thing of the past. The appointment of Professor Mthuli Ncube as Finance minister and the launch of a Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) generated more hope that perhaps the Zanu PF government was capable of reform.

In his policy document launched in October 2018, Ncube had identified some of the problems that need to be addressed in the economy. He had, among other issues, pushed for better governance and respect for the rule of law, re-orientation of the country towards democracy, upholding freedoms of expression and association, peace and national unity, respect for human and property rights, attainment of responsive public institutions, broad-based citizenry participation in national and socio-economic development programmes, political and economic re-engagement with the global community, creation of a competitive and friendly business environment, enhanced domestic and foreign investment and an aggressive fight against all forms of corruption.

Today, three months later, everything that could go wrong with the TSP has all but gone wrong. Complaints over miscarriage of justice are getting more pronounced and this week we witnessed a protest march by disgruntled lawyers who have refused to remain silent in the face of an undeclared state of emergency. The lawyers said magistrates all over the country were denying bail to protest suspects and trials were being fast-tracked. In a constitutional democracy, due process of law is upheld and not subverted.

Days ago, 12 unarmed citizens were shot dead by rampaging soldiers and police. Internet connectivity and access to social media were cut off illegally.
Make no mistake, we do not condone violence and looting. There is no rational person who can applaud lawlessness. The point to be emphasised is that everyone must abide by the constitution — be they individuals, organised groups or the government itself — nobody is above the law.