Austerity must start at the top

HARARE - When President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over the reigns in both Zanu PF and government following a soft coup in November 2017, he started preaching the gospel of economic revival whose foundation he said would lie on the adoption of austerity measures in the country.

The message appeared very encouraging, especially in an environment that had shown unbridled greed and appetite for luxury during former president Robert Mugabe’s reign. 

However, for this austerity to work, there is need for policymakers to not only preach it but live it as well. 

Hypocrisy will not get Zimbabwe anywhere in terms of economic turnaround. 

Just last week, Mnangagwa pampered his Cabinet with top-of-the-range vehicles worth $2,14 million. 

Although government, through Information deputy minister Energy Mutodi, said these were not acquired after the July 30 polls and had not been allocated to anyone suggesting they were excess stock in the last Cabinet, no one can trust this explanation.

Mnangagwa’s government should have led by example; perhaps by adopting a deliberate policy to issue Cabinet ministers with not very expensive vehicles to show that at least their claim to austerity measures were genuine. 

Recently, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube had to shelve the purchase of vehicles for Members of Parliament elected in the July 30 polls, arguing that government had an emergency that needed its attention, referring to the cholera epidemic that claimed the lives of over 50 people in Harare two months ago.

While the purchase of cars for legislators was shelved then, the issuing of new luxury vehicles to ministers seems to show that when government preaches austerity, it is perhaps meant for ordinary people who have had to endure shortages of basic commodities, fuel and medicines among others while prices of goods have virtually shot through the ceiling. 

Those who are subjected to these shortages are the very people whose salaries and wages have been eroded by inflation over the years, a situation that has been worsened by the introduction of the 2 percent transactional tax by the new Finance minister.  If Mnangagwa is genuine about austerity, it should start with his Cabinet and MPs. If it then cascades down, it would show the policy was sincere.

Once that happens, people will know it will affect everyone and as such had to be supported, leading to it benefitting the national economy in the long run.

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Comments (2)

Mr Editor, Sir! I feel it the duty of the print media, like all info media, to inform the nation as to how our govt chooses to spend our hard-earned taxes. Can this paper please enumerate the kind of luxury perks that our rulers and their kind enjoy at our expense, so we know how responsible or irresponsible ZANU PF can be or is? It is a national duty and we hope this paper can take it up and do the nation a great favour and service.

Tinzweiwo Tirivanhutose - 10 December 2018

May this question please be posed to the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe? What sin have the ordinary citizens committed by trying to buy simple preowned vehicles to take their children to school, ferry their sick relatives to hospitals and travel to their rural homes in relative convenience that they have to be burdened with a hefty US Dollars duty? And what special achievement have our Ministers attained that they are to be rewarded with duty free top of the range vehicles? Why do we tax the poor to death and leave those at the top to reap where they did not sow? Is ED truly a listening President? Whose voice did he listen to when he allowed Mthuli Ncube to disregard public sentiment in the announcement of citizen unfriendly duty on importation of preowned vehicles? Kutotenga dzakamboshandiswa means we cannot afford the new ones, despite their apparent cheaper prices in comparisons to those assembled locally. Why must we be the ones to tighten bels when the leadership are sitting pretty? This is not fair.

WELAS MUZA - 10 December 2018

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