OPPOSITION political activists and their mouthpieces in the private media are in overdrive portraying a picture of economic meltdown in Zimbabwe. The unholy alliance is riding on the prevailing economic challenges to parrot a false narrative that the newly-inaugurated Government of President Mnangagwa is at sixes and sevens on how to tackle the decades old economic challenges it inherited from the previous Government of former president Robert Mugabe.
Those outside of Zimbabwe who rely on these media outlets for information on Zimbabwe, one is likely to have an impression of a broken down country where people are starving, corruption is rampant, Government officials are looting public resources while roads, hospitals and other public infrastructure are irretrievably broken down.
However, to those in the know and those staying in Zimbabwe, this is a carefully contrived portrayal of the country calculated to achieve political ends. It is on record that the MDC-Alliance has not conceded defeat. The MDC-Alliance lost the elections partly because of its total alienation from the aspirations of the majority of Zimbabweans through its advocacy for policies that don’t benefit the people.
The MDC-Alliance, being the largest opposition in the country, generally identifies with neo-liberal policies that seek to empower international companies and capitalists at the expense of Zimbabweans. In a cyclical pursuit of and a result of this philosophy, the party has cultivated extensive relations with pro-capital Western countries, the United States and lobby groups which has given it some leverage in influencing those countries’ policies on Zimbabwe.
A culmination and demonstration of this relationship is the appearance before the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations of MDC-Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa, the Alliance’s Deputy National Chairperson, Tendai Biti, and anti-Government activists Dhewa Mavhinga and Peter Godwin in December 2017.
The quartet openly called for continuation of US and Western sanctions on Zimbabwe, despite that dramatic and peaceful change of Government that had taken place the previous month. They literally grovelled that they would only advise the respective Western and US governments on when to remove the sanctions after the holding of harmonised elections, then scheduled for July 30, 2018. During campaigns for the polls, Chamisa bragged that he held keys for the country’s economic resuscitation and that a Zanu-PF victory would lead to economic disaster.
As predicted by many organisations prior to the elections, the Alliance lost the polls, albeit with a strong showing in urban areas where it won 63 constituencies and other 25 Proportional Representation seats in Parliament. Chamisa lost the Presidential election to President Mnangagwa.
Predictably, Chamisa has refused to accept his loss, presposterously claiming that he won. He has threatened to inaugurate himself as “the people’s president” in a typical monkey see monkey do of Kenyan presidential elections perennial loser, Raila Odinga.
It therefore becomes clear that the portrayal of Zimbabwe as on the verge of an economic meltdown is calculated to sustain that narrative that Zanu-PF is incapable of sound national economic stewardship.
The sudden and dramatic increase in prices of basic goods is supposed to demonstrate that the market has no confidence in Zanu-PF and President Mnangagwa’s leadership. In this contrived equation, Zanu-PF is portrayed as the enemy of economic resuscitation through alleged poor economic understanding and management.
The “worsening” economic conditions are being directly attributed to alleged Zanu-PF ineptitude. What is behind this development is that this “worsening” is directly in the political interests of the MDC which has confirmed this through its “tongai tione” mantra.
Under this mantra, opposition activists are daring Zanu-PF to exercise its mandate from the electoral victory through leading the country, which mandate they are surreptitiously undermining by calling for continuation of the Western sanctions.
To the opposition, economic meltdown would dovetail with their political interest of portraying Zanu-PF as failures, hence the exhortation to hostile Western and US governments to continue the ruinous sanctions.
Chamisa and his opposition acolytes are hoping that the prevailing economic hardships will force Zimbabweans to dump Zanu-PF in their favour.
This approach is a continuation of the approach that was pioneered and popularised by the late Morgan Tsvangirai, who holds the infamous title of first openly calling on South Africa and other countries to cut trade ties with Zimbabwe in pursuit of his political interests.
It is this doctrine of Tsvangiraism, subjecting your fellow countrymen to economic difficulties in the hope that they would vote for you as an alternative, that Chamisa continues to pursue.
How would one explain the call by Biti et al for continuation of the US sanctions?
The expected suffering of fellow Zimbabweans is hoped to induce them to dump Zanu-PF leadership in favour of the MDC opportunists.
What Tsvangiraism fails to realise is that the people of Zimbabwe have been through the crucible of the revolution which taught them that there is no gain without pain.
Events of the past few years demonstrate that, while economic challenges are there, people have realised that Zanu-PF stands for their interests, immediate and long term, such that they are prepared to endure the difficulties in pursuit of the greater good of economic emancipation.
Zimbabweans have become politically conscious that they know that US sanctions are meant to break their spirits in a bid to force them to surrender their fight for their human, economic and political dignity.
Against the background of the emerging manipulated economic situation, Government has adopted various painful, but necessary corrective measures to address the various economic ills.
It is an open secret that all Governments require funding for sustainable programmes to end poverty and rehabilitate public infrastructure.
It is against this background that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has roped in the significant informal sector to contribute towards Government revenues through the 2c per dollar tax on electronic money transfers.
Similarly, the creation of designated Foreign Currency Accounts (FCAs) is intended to ring-fence foreign currency so that it is moved from the informal markets into the formal banking system.
This will assist in building confidence in the banking system, while mobilising all foreign currency for national development priorities.
The RBZ also directed that jewellers are now required to buy gold from Fidelity Printers and Refiners in foreign currency. They are now also allowed to retain all their foreign currency earnings.
This is among various other interventions aimed at stimulating economic production.
Government is also proceeding with rehabilitating public infrastructure, the most notable being roads.
The public is expressing satisfaction at the rate at which roads are being repaired.
In the meantime, negotiations for the rehabilitation of the busy Harare-Beitbridge Highway are on-going, with financial closure expected soon with potential financiers.
President Mnangagwa has demonstrated, in the short period he has been in office, that he has the capacity to steer the country’s fortunes towards prosperity.