Zim woes need pragmatic, well-coordinated approach

HARARE - Zimbabwe seems to be a peculiar country.

It is full of drama.

For a long time now, it has gone through endless troubles — lurching from crisis to crisis.

As the dust seemed to settle following the panic buying and hoarding of basic goods a month ago, with spooked long-suffering Zimbabweans besieging shops, buying goods en masse in fear of a repeat of the painful 2006-8 economic crisis, there were shock developments on the political arena.

In the past week, there were astounding events — the army, led by Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantino Chiwenga, taking charge, Zanu PF sacking long-serving President Robert Mugabe and consequently, the 93-year-old leader addressing an eagerly awaiting nation on Sunday evening — that were totally unthinkable, unbelievable and unimaginable. 

Be that as it may, what remains a fact is that Zimbabwe is in dire straits.

It has a long journey ahead of it.

The authorities, whoever, have their work cut out for them.

Zimbabwe — a once prosperous country and breadbasket of the continent — is deep in the woods.

And the recent past and latest developments have had an impact on the economy.

The equities market’s performance speaks to that.

According to a local business weekly, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange took its biggest dive last week — during the dramatic political developments — since October last year.

The bourse’s key industrial index shed 18,59 percent to close the week at 432,72 points, while the resources index lost 2,69 percent to settle at 134,4 points.

On the other hand, market capitalisation — a key performance indicator — nose-dived 18,34 percent to $12,35 billion from $15,12 billion.

This speaks volumes about investors’ confidence, perception and position on Zimbabwe today.

It clearly shows capital flight — investors are spooked.

Regaining that lost investor confidence and trust is among the major problems that the authorities must focus on solving.

As almost everyone would agree, the recently witnessed panic buying on the back of a spiralling black market exchange rate between the United States dollar and the bond notes — a unique currency surrogate and valued at par with the greenback — was a mere symptom and warning sign of an economy about to crash.

Zimbabweans’ reaction — hoarding basic goods and fuel — was not surprising.

Not at all.

The long-suffering masses have walked that path before.

They know perfectly well the pain and anguish of such situations after their horrendous experience during the 2008 economic meltdown.

While the authorities chose to conveniently shift blame, accusing Zimbabweans of being notorious and malicious about the government, developments on the ground pointed to a failed leadership.

And that totally had nothing to do with social media, as some purported. 

Sometime after the 2013 election, there was a common statement which went: “you can rig the election, but not the economy”.

That has since turned out to be true.

The panic buying and sharp rise in goods prices, and all the following events, did not happen in isolation.

They are all connected.

Zimbabwe’s economy is in bad shape.

And what this means and requires, urgently, is a pragmatic, well-coordinated and comprehensive approach in addressing the challenges.

Crucially — like witnessed over the weekend — all Zimbabweans across the race, gender and political divide, rich or poor — must pull in one direction and share the same vision.

All the ordinary masses want is their children back

in class, jobs for their graduate sons and daughters, access to basic health attention and just to put food on the table.

Is that too much to ask?

They are a patient lot, who have braved it all.

Have mercy.

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