Find other means to rescue Zim economy

HARARE - I am a die-hard Manchester United fan who looks back at the team’s achievements with a lot of pride and respect for retired former manager Alex Ferguson.

My association with United dates back to 1984 when I was in Grade Five at Shiriyedenga Primary School, Glen Norah, Harare.

I grew up with the late Shacky Tauro and my late father worked for CAPS Private Limited, the flagship of the currently troubled pharmaceutical group — CAPS Holdings.

Naturally, I was a CAPS United supporter — having a father working for a company synonymous with the team and living within metres of the club’s iconic striker.

CAPS United were sometimes called “The Manchester Road Boys” and this swayed me to Manchester United.

So, this is how my support for the “The Red Devils” started.

I followed the team and Ferguson and would often share the anxiety with him, just like any other supporter, when the team had a slender lead and experienced pressure towards the end.

Fergie would not sit in the dug-out. Instead, he would pace up and down the touchline in what became known as squeaky bum time.

In equal measure, I would also share the same urge with him and other fans to have the team pull a winner in added time which became also known as “Fergie Time”.

Today, I share the anguish and anxiety with the people of Zimbabwe, including President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF government who face the unenviable task of turning around the economy.

Zimbabwe is in a very serious economic and financial meltdown that needs urgent measures to avoid disastrous and lethal consequences for everyone concerned.

It has become squeaky bum time for even those that you would ordinarily not hear speak.

“(The economy) is going to decline and it will be similar to the 2007/08 era but this will be worse because we are dollarised so we do not have anything or a policy that will stabilise the economy immediately like what happened in 2009,” Simon Nyarota, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe divisional chief, warned last week.

This is jarring yet that is the reality facing Zimbabwe and its leadership.

There are very few options for government to deal with the current economic challenges which are mounting by the day.

Civil servants’ salaries are the biggest headache to government whose ability to generate more revenue has been severely hit by involuntary company closures and dwindling revenue sources.

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) can’t keep on garnishing accounts of tax defaulting companies because some of them are closing immediately after the orders while others are down to barebones.

The $200 million-plus that is paid to civil servants every month finds its way to the informal sector as the money is spent on non-taxable traders.

It does not come back to the formal sector!

Banks are at the epicentre of the liquidity crunch and have few options of raising cash and are currently scrounging for deposits in the face of company closures and very little business.

Since the government adopted the US dollar as its temporary currency, wouldn’t it be wise to start thinking about coming with a piece of legislation to make it its own currency until Zimbabwe has the capacity to build reserves that would support the Zimbabwe dollar upon its re-monitisation?

Legislating the US dollar as our currency will appeal to foreign investors because this will bring confidence that their investment will be protected.

More importantly, this will remove lingering doubts

that the hard-pressed government will re-introduce the Zimbabwe dollar in the near future.

We can’t keep harping about sovereignty when we actually impeached it by adopting the US dollar as the main currency from the basket of other multi-currencies in use.

But more importantly, government must have a recovery plan that includes international financial backing where these organisations and the donor community finance the plan.

As it is, it’s squeaky bum time!

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