By Hopewell Chin’ono
I can imagine how Tendai Biti is feeling right now. Everything that he predicted about the Bond Note in 2016 is happening today.
However, to expect any meaningful economic change in 2 months (or 10 months time if you add the post military days and months before the election) will be pure fantasy especially if you consider that the country has gone through 21 years of economic rot and destruction under Robert Mugabe’s stewardship.
It will take Zimbabwe at the very least ten years to turn the corner regardless of whoever is in charge.
We always used to warn the ZANUPF folks in the beginning of the century that undoing things is much easier than building them.
Let us get this message out first, this Economy was destroyed by ZANUPF under Robert Mugabe. Acceptance is a key element and main ingredient that can allow the hurt to forgive.
Zimbabweans love their country in different ways but they do have a special kind of love for their Zimbabwe.
The other reality is that ZANUPF will be in power for the next five years.
It is also important for the opposition to understand and accept that unchangeable reality.
Now to the more substantive stuff, anyone who tells you that the economic damage of the past 20 years can be fixed quickly is delusional and lying to you!
It will take at the very least ten years to get back to the pre-2000 economic state of affairs because economically we are on the floor at the moment.
There is NO history of immediate successes in any country that has gone through Mugabe’s destruction.
There is NO country that has done it in any other way other than taking some pain in order to build a better future.
Tendai Biti was right in 2016 when he predicted this economic apocalypse caused by the Bond Notes amongst many other things.
Sober and non-partisan people like Dr Shingi Munyeza predicted this mess and advised against the Bond Note.
Mugabe, Chinamasa and Mangudya went against such sober advice regardless and that was the beginning of 2008 part too.
I remember a certain professor calling it an act of genius and his sidekick declaring that it was absurd to reject the Bond Note whilst using Zim-Switch.
Today those two men are talking as if they too gave Tendai Biti’s prophetic words.
Now you need to understand how this Bond Note was used or rather misused.
Government financed itself using Treasury Bills that are popularly known as TBs.
If the police needed $4million for police uniforms, ultimately an invoice of $10million would be raised and some of the money shared by the crooked officials and their surrogates and runners.
This would be financed by the TBs that would be sold back on the market at a bargain before they had matured for a quick buck.
The sellers would get Bond Notes, which they would then use to buy US Dollars on the black market.
That is what pushed the rates to go up because these folks would sell at any rate because they never worked for that money anyway.
This is the money that was used for conspicuous consumption by people buying Bentleys, Rolls Royces, Range Rovers, Mercs etc.
The remainder of the local Bond Note money after the US dollars had been shipped offshore is what would build mansions.
Pabetei ipapo, these cars and mansions were not being bought or built or with a hard day’s work.
Mugabe’s G40 squad had managed to subside the then Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Lacoste team.
Fast forward to today after November 11, the country had NO economic scope, it had a shrinking tax base because there was NO meaningful economic activities and as a result, everyone was in the informal sector selling chicken legs, eggs, tomatoes and so on.
These people didn’t pay taxes at all for their income regardless of its size that is why Mthuli Ncube came up with the 2 percent tax, which we are currently resisting.
My view is that it will be reviewed when the budget is presented to manage the pain and disillusionment.
However, there is a need to mop up the money in the market, there is too much RTGS liquidity caused by all these criminal economic activities by the political elites.
I live in an area with white dollar multi millionaires, they drive ten year old cars and some of them even drive Hyundais.
When a black man steals money, they will go to London to buy a Range Rover, Bentley or Bugatti depending on the seniority of their criminality.
So what do we do now? Let us accept that ZANUPF is the governing party of the day, it has some bad people in it but more importantly, it also has some good people in it.
We have to work with them to seek and implement solutions in order to initial stop the tidal wave and then turn the corner slowly.
You can’t make any influence if you are not on the table, zviya zvekuti haivhiyiwe is populist rhetoric.
Inovhiyiwa but not in the way we would like and not in a way that is good for this country.
It is important for all of us to work with the progressives in government to help them effect change from the old BAD Mugabe ways to a better place, alternatively you can take the Kudira Jecha approach.
Now that last approach will not work, the hawks will take over and start directing the ship (Zimbabwe) and President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be forced to take a hard-line stance because the hardliners will argue that the reform route has failed.
Mugabe did it and we said that it will collapse in 2000 and yet he ruled the country for 17 years and was only removed when the lives of his subordinates were threatened, they had NO other choice but to save their lives and it meant removing him.
17 years is a generation lost because we didn’t allow the progressives inside ZANUPF to be empowered and to push for change.
Nature does not like a vacuum, when the people with ideas pull back, the bad guys will take over and invariably it is the small men and woman in the townships and villages that suffers.
The hawks will not fail to get money, they will mortgage the country to the Chinese and buccaneer business people who will give them credit lines at extortionate interest rates.
It is your future and mine that will be lost if the progressives fail.
The political elites will continue to live in luxury.
Tsvangirai, Mugabe, Mnangagwa, Chamisa, Chiwenga and Chamisa made more money through many means including professional and otherwise between 2000 and today than ever.
Their lives were never put on hold economically, so it is important to be rational when dealing with a crisis before you.
There are people today who are praying for a persistent economic crisis simply because they were kicked out of ZANUPF just as they are people today who are praying for the demise of the MDCA because they too were kicked out of that party by circumstances that are personal and not national.
It is tragic for any sane person to be swayed by their toxic anger and allow yourself to be an accessory of their bitterness.
Today we have people like billionaire business man Strive Masiyiwa assisting in helping to halt the spread of cholera, more people would have died if he had take the “kudira jecha” (destruction) approach.
I have been pilloried here for taking a sober approach but I make NO apologies for trying to assist make things work by not saying toxic stuff that will make my voice irrelevant.
I have been in a meeting with the President and his Vice President and I have told them the truth about what people are saying and also offer solutions.
You can’t criticize without offering solutions, doing so will result in the door being shut in your face.
Having met the two most powerful people in this country, I am convinced that those with ideas will be listed to and that these two men are willing to test them.
Given that understanding, I would rather we help in building a better Zimbabwe brick by brick than spending time making unhelpful insults.
The choice is yours, what I know is that like the British and the Europeans, I see NO value in continued dis-corded noise that nobody is listening to.
I would rather assist the likes of Eddie Cross and many other Zimbabwean luminaries who prefer to stay in the back ground for now working hard to influence change than praying for an untenable economic catastrophe in order to get power.
If Nelson Chamisa was president today I would still use my media training to help in that area and reform institutions like ZBC.
I would still give him the same advice that I would give the current President if he asked for it.
That is why I talk to Nelson Chamisa and the ZANUPF leadership.
I am Zimbabwean first before anything else, I don’t even have a party card and have NEVER taken any money from a politician or government official.
One day, we will have time to ask ourselves what we did for our country and how we helped bring about change.
Emmerson Mnangagwa is 76 years of age, he will NEVER do a Mugabe even if he wanted to, we are seeing the beginning of the end for the liberation generation.
If we could endure 37 years of Mugabe, I am ready to try my best and if it fails, I won’t wonder whether it might have worked if I had tried.
When your political motives and heart are pure, you will have NO problem in putting country first before parties.
There is so much happening on the background at the instigation of many good men and women both white and black to help this country get out of the economic mud.
I prefer to be with that lot than join the serial bashers who insult and offer NO solutions.
The President must reciprocate the people’s pain by serious cost cutting in government spending.
They need to stop buying expensive cars for ministers and arrest known thieves to announce their seriousness in dealing with corruption.
Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean international Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker. He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a CNN African Journalist of the year.
He is also a Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Africa leadership Institute. Hopewell has a new documentary film coming out which is looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind.
State of Mind has been nominated for a top award in Kenya. You can watch the documentary trailer below. Hopewell can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @daddyhope