HomeAnalysisCandid Comment: Straw that’ll break the camel’s back

Candid Comment: Straw that’ll break the camel’s back

Nevanji Madanhire
WHEN the achievements of the Second Republic are eventually tabulated, top of the list will be infrastructure development and mining.  All round the country something is being erected or developed.

One can easily name 35 projects that are set to change the face of the republic in the near-to-medium future but the big ones that easily come to mind are road development especially the Chirundu-Beitbrige Road which is the artery of all trade and commerce, not only in Zimbabwe but also in the whole region. The building of dams has progressed at great pace and the potential to turn the whole country green is obvious. The Lake Gwayi-Shangani project is the highlight of this development. For the first time the country begins to see hope that the century-old wish to solve Matabeleland water problems is finally within reach. The mining sector is poised for phenomenal growth and will be touted as one of the greatest success stories of our time; but that will depend on the energy sector also growing in tandem with it. The power deficit will be the millstone around the sector’s neck.

The Chivhu-Mvuma-Manhize steel project is mind-blowing. This steel behemoth when complete could catapult Zimbabwe into an industrial giant that will overshadow Africa’s most developed economies.

Give the devil his due: the new administration has done more to develop the country in its short five-year lifespan than the previous regime was able to do in nearly 40 years. But when voters troop to the polling booths next year all these developments could pale into insignificance; voters are driven by their immediate needs rather than long-term projects. Voters place their money where their mouths are. What will determine how they vote is what they can put on their tables.

The new dispensation has failed dismally in this regard mainly due to the way it handled the economy which has continued on a steep downward spiral. Inflation will be the straw that will break the camel’s back.

Already cruising towards hyperinflation it reached 256,9% in July, from 191,6% recorded in June, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency. The country has gone through this before and Zimbabweans’ greatest fear is a repeat of what happened in 2008 when it reached 500 billion percent according to IMF estimates. During that hyperinflationary period Zimbabweans were thrown into the worst period of their lives where they couldn’t afford to feed their children and send them to school.

With the Grain Marketing Board increasing the price of wheat by 30% this week the dominoes will begin to fall. Bread has a psychological effect; it is considered a staple in Zimbabwe although maize should sit in that place. Revolutions, history has shown, begin around the price of bread.

People’s disposable incomes have been eroded by inflation, so the continuing rise in the price of basics will continue to irk the voting public. The new dispensation has to act to ensure that inflation is tamed, and quickly too.

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