17 Jul 2007
Comrade Robert Mugabe, Africa’s darling revolutionary and nationalist of the seventies seems to have fallen in love with committing grave economic and political errors. He has not allowed the politico-economic wounds caused by a poorly managed land reform to heal before plunging his country and regime again into another suicidal imbroglio.
Faced with runaway inflation of 5000%, shortages of commodities, high unemployment and a hungry and restive population, Mugabe on June 26th ordered all retailers and service providers to cut prices by 50%!
This type of order was normally going to be resisted because it meant that many businesses were going to sell commodities below their cost prices and face bankruptcy. Either Mugabe did not know or he did not care. In less than three weeks, Mugabe’s agents arrested about 3000 retailers and business executives that defied the order. Hundreds of commercial vehicles were impounded for charging high fares.
It has emerged that Zimbawe’s head of the Central bank warned the government against taking such a strange decision. Gideon Gono was quoted as saying that the government should “avoid the trap of temporary victory and instant gratification that backfires with consuming return-fire from both business and consumers alike”.
As to be expected, the few Zimbabweans that had cash on them invaded those supermarkets that were forced to slash prices so as to avail themselves of the discounted commodities while they last. As a consequence, many shop shelves are empty and the goods that were bought at give away prices are reportedly appearing on the black market with even higher price tags. Fewer vehicles are in circulation as many are trapped in long lines that snake endlessly from the few subsidized fuel stations. Some businesses are winding up and throwing more Zimbabweans into an already overflowing pool of the unemployed.
Many observers think that by this action, Mugabe seems to be shooting himself in the foot and further exacerbating his country’s economic woes. Mugabe, it seems has run out of ideas as to how he can run his country. He seems to concentrate his efforts at trying to placate ‘indigenous Zimbabweans’ with weird economic policies that can buy him some more staying time at the helm of the nation. It does not really matter if the decisions will impact long-term dislocation on the economy of Zimbabwe.
Writing in the Zimbabwe Independent, Tabani Moyo (a human rights activist) said of Mugabe’s latest moves and its implication;
“These churlish manoeuvres by the ruling Zanu PF Party are an indication that the Mugabe regime has failed to run the country through conventional monetary and fiscal methodologies as a way of salvaging the comatose economy. Pundits will also posit that the country has passed that stage when the economic toolbox can be applied to clean up the mess”.
Mugabe is obsessed with the notion that ‘imperialists’ are responsible for all of Zimbabwe’s woes. If that is the case, I think he should accept (considering the dire situation of his people) that he has lost the battle with the ‘imperialists’ and at least cede the mantle of his party to another comrade. Mugabe may not easily recognize that he has lost the battle because, unlike most of his compatriots, his living standards have not changed. Mugabe’s continued stay in power is discrediting African revolutionaries and nationalists. The suffering of Zimbabweans is becoming an embarrassment to the continent.
We recognize the fact that comrade Mugabe spent ten years in jail because he was fighting for the freedom of his people. Mandela also spent 27 years in prison for similar reasons. Mugabe became leader of his country 14years before Mandela became the president of South Africa. Let Mugabe look at Mandela and South Africa today and ask himself what is wrong with Mugabe and Zimbabwe? Zimbabweans do not need to live in misery for twenty years for Mugabe’s sake just because Mugabe spent ten years in jail on their behalf. I certainly think that is not what Mugabe expects history to say of him.
Njei Moses Timah