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Mugabe failing to rig the economy

By Wilbert Mukori

Zimbabwe’s economic melt-down is here and even the normally secretive Zanu PF government is openly acknowledging it and the extremes people are now going through to escape the economic hardships it has brought. 

Wilbert Mukori
Wilbert Mukori

“There is a high demand for passports in Zimbabwe as people are leaving to escape the economic crisis the country is facing,” admitted Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede to a parliamentary committee last week.

Zimbabweans are going mainly to SA and Botswana, the only countries where they can go now. Years ago they went further afield, UK, USA, Australia, Canada, etc. but the doors to most of these other destinations have since been slammed shut to Zimbabweans.

Zimbabwe’s industries are all but dead and so almost all the manufactured goods now imported from SA or Botswana.

These two countries have benefited greatly from all this trade and a number of border towns have mushroomed and boomed, selling to Zimbabweans. Zimbabweans have also flocked to these countries to shop but also in search of work given the country’s 80% plus unemployment rate.

It is hard to distinguish cross border traders from those seeking employment.

Both SA and Botswana have been deporting Zimbabweans who overstayed or were working without permits. This new flood of Zimbabweans into SA and Botswana are bound to cause some economic and social problems sooner or later. And there will be another flood after this!

Zimbabwe’s economic crisis is set to get worse, a lot worse because none of the causes fuelling it are being addressed. None!

The immediate causes of the economic crisis are the three decades of gross mismanagement and rampant corruption by this Mugabe regime. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa admitted there is “rampant corruption” when he announced the $6 000 per month cap on pay packages of CEO in government owned / controlled institutions like the Public Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), ZBC, City Councils, etc.

Before the cap, the CEO of PSMAS, Cuthbert Dube, took home $ 500 000 per month. The Minister had a list of 180 similar institutions including Plumtree Council whose CEO was paid a princely sum of $ 17 027.00 a month – his salary was a modest $1 173.00 boosted by generous allowances of $15 854.00.

These salaries were even more scandalous when one looks at the performance of the institutions these individuals were leading. PSMAS members were being denied any medical service because the society was not paying the service providers. The same was true with the Councils; the rate payers were not getting even the most basic services and the lowly paid Council workers were going for months without being paid.

Years of gross mismanagement and rampant corruption have left all of these government owned / controlled institutions in desperate need of large financial injections (same is true for the rest of the other sectors of the economy). The Minister should not have stopped at capping the salaries of these fat cats but instituted action to recover as much as possible the wealth they have looted over the years. Every little helps!

As for the additional large cash injection these institution would have looked to government and more specifically to its $27 billion ZimAsset, sadly no outsiders have offered to bankroll ZimAsset and so the scheme is dead in the water. Mugabe was sure the Chinese would help but they have since said they are not going to contribute even a penny.

The other important point about the CEO salary cap is that it does not apply to the big chefs within government itself. It is no secret that all the top brass in the Army, Police, CIO, Judiciary, and other senior civil servants are paid obscene salaries and allowances whilst the lower ranks get very poor wages.

How can anyone believe the regime is finally stamping out corruption when Mugabe spends $1 m on a birthday bash one week, $ 10 m on a daughter’s wedding the next and a further $ 5 m on statues of himself when 100 children are dying every day of preventable diseases across the country?

After Mugabe blatantly rigged the July 2013 elections it was clear the West was not going to provide any financial assistance to the Mugabe regime.

By rigging the elections Mugabe was saying the mismanagement, corruption and brutal political repression which had been the hallmarks of his rule in the past were going to continue.

It was going to be business as usual after the restraints imposed on him during the GNU. The West’s reply was clear enough – they did not much care to do business with him!

Zimbabwe’s economic crisis was brought on by the decades of mismanagement and corruption and without financial help the country is clearly not going getting out of this hole.

Mugabe rigged the 2013 elections, with the help of the MDC who failed to implement not even one democratic reform, to stay in power. But now that he is back in State House Mugabe is now realizing that bamboozling Tsvangirai and rigging the elections were easy, “rigging” economic recovery is impossible.

The only way out of this political and economic quagmire, is for Mugabe to go so that the nation can hold free and fair elections to produce a government with the mandate to rule and international legitimacy.

It is the duty of all Zimbabweans to ensure that Mugabe goes or else the economic crisis the nation is facing today will only get worse.

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