Let’s find ways to boost, not boss the economy

For the past two decades Zimbabwe has been going through severe pain inflicted by the illegal economic sanctions imposed by the United States, Britain and their allies — seeking to reverse the gains of the land reform programme — the main reason why Zimbabweans undertook the liberation struggle.

It’s a fact that where there are restrictions in terms of inflows and outflows of foreign capital, the economy of an affected country suffers severe hemorrhage as nearly all sectors of the economy shrink, leading to loss of jobs among a myriad other challenges.

It is against this backdrop that patriotic people, charlatans and sellouts will variably display their true colours as they conduct their businesses in such an economic environment.

We have seen some businesspeople throwing ethics out the window and have become second generation exploitative people, not missing any slightest opportunity to overcharge their customers.

Such people do not have a place in the new economic dispensation that will eventually come when this tide the Government led by President Mnangagwa is fighting comes to an end.

Zimbabwe is in these current economic doldrums partly because of the illegal economic sanctions, but also because the breed of businesspeople that we have are greedy, unethical and opportunists bent on destroying their economy and own people for a bit of profit.

We have challenges with businesspeople who increase the prices of the commodities and services they offer, not because the cost of conducting their business has gone up, but because a section of the economy has received a salary adjustment.

A salary adjustment according to our understanding of issues has nothing to do with someone’s costs build up in his or her business and surely such price hikes are not justifiable.

In the strongest terms, we condemn businesspeople who are engaging in such practices that they belong to the past and the future has no place for them. When the people’s disposable income surges, we expect, per common business practice, that the manufacturers will produce more and make more money through moving huge volumes onto the market.

However, the new breed of industrialists emerging in this country are like robbers who waylay people and rob them because they have been paid. While we expect them to make more money through the sale of more products they sit back, relax and make their profits by just increasing the price of products in their warehouses and shop shelves.

This has seen the economy contracting, industries not expanding, workers in factories not receiving salary increases because production is not expanding. This mentality is counterproductive and will not move the country forward.

This week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe boss Dr John Mangudya, also displayed his displeasure at the manner some captains of industry were conducting themselves instead of focusing on increasing productivity.

While addressing participants at the inaugural state of the economy report by the African Economic Development Studies (AEDS) Dr Mangudya highlighted that the economy is in transition from monetary and fiscal policies put in place by the Government in the last six months (October 2018).

He hinted on the need to create confidence in the economy and to bolster production on all fronts to curb the runaway import bill, thus providing the much needed foreign currency.

“We need to increase production, which is the fundamental thing to do so that there is adequate supply of goods and services, we need to ensure there is production.

“We need to ensure that there is productivity, more bread, more cooking oil, more ethanol anything that we can produce, if we do so combined with confidence the economic fundamentals are sorted out,” said Dr Mangudya.

We salute the central bank chief for highlighting these key fundamentals in our economy because increasing the prices of the few units on the market will not control consumption, but has a negative effective of encouraging people to buy foreign currency on the black market as they search for cheap products in other countries.

The foreign currency that is supposed to be used by local companies to boost production and create more jobs is now being exported to bring in cheap products.

By the end of the day everyone — business, the consumers and Government are losers and we do not need that. If our industries have genuine challenges impeding production, they should sit on a round table with Government and other relevant arms in the economy and find ways to boost production.

The increase in prices will not work because people eventually boycott exorbitantly-priced products, and it is the business that eventually go under and throwing workers onto the streets.

As a country we do not need that.

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