IT is what it is.
Controversial it may be, but President Mnangagwa remains the country’s head of state for the next five years.
In his inauguration speech, he stressed his commitment to fight inflation and poverty, emphasising that the Zimbabwe dollar is here to stay.
But time is running out, society can no longer go on this way. On the fight against inflation, economists around the globe recommend a low rate of inflation coupled with steady growth in personal disposable incomes.
The rationale is that there should be enough purchasing power for the majority
in society to consume, increase the industry revenue, create more jobs and thus complete an economic growth cycle. The other scenario, that of the ongoing stagflation, goes against the prospects of growth. In that scenario, inflation continues to rise, while the decreasing purchasing power has a cascading impact upon the entire growth cycle. The results are: fewer jobs, greater frustration and an increase in poverty as well as social unrest.
Poverty is globally acknowledged as a curse because of its destructive potential for societies. It has been rightly said that islands of affluence cannot exist in oceans of poverty. It implies that if in a society the wealth is concentrated in a few hands and the rest of the people do not even have the means to ensure reasonable living, or if a system of governance is decidedly tuned to serve the interests of the elite at the expense of the poor masses, then the chances of that society surviving for a long time are very slim.
Poverty provides fertile ground for social disorders and revolutions which are usually marked by violence and rebellion against the elite classes by the poor.
According to the World Bank, half of Zimbabwe’s people live below the food poverty line. Roughly 74% of the population lives on less than US$5.50 a day and the average monthly wage is US$253.
The latest World Bank report indicates that 40% of Zimbabweans are living on less than US$1.90 a day. Is it not a shame that after more than 40 years of Independence a big chunk of society is living in abject poverty? The situation is undoubtedly a sequel to the ruling elites building their own fortunes taking advantage of the inbuilt avenues of corruption in the system of governance.
As they say, there is a limit to everything. The poor may decide that they will no longer take it lying down and one can smell the coming of a revolution if the things are not set in the right direction. The people that seem harmless as they go about their business in the streets throughout Zimbabwe are surely a premonition for terrifying things to follow if the economic conditions do not improve. Their lives have become miserable due to the hydra-headed inflation.
The situation confronting the country at the moment is a cumulative outcome of the anti-people policies pursued by successive governments and no one government can be singled out for being responsible in regards to the prevailing tragic situation.
The reality is that all the governments the country has experienced so far have remained scandalously insensitive to the problems of the poor masses and have been making false claims about development. The fact at hand is that the masses are struggling whilst the elite have become demigods.
What we lack is a clear shared vision from the onset. It is a fact that the vision of Zimbabwe’s founding fathers is not a simple or straightforward topic. There are different perspectives and interpretations of who the founding fathers were and what they wanted for the country.
Countries such as India, Pakistan, Malaysia that have grown fast over the years had a clear vision from their founding fathers. The celebrated Muhammad Ali Jinnah of Pakistan had a clear vision. He was a visionary leader and knew that peace and progress depended on ameliorating the lot of the poor masses.
While addressing the constituent assembly on 11 August 1947 he said: “Now if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in cooperation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.”
Identifying other ills afflicting the polity, he observed: “The first duty of the State is to maintain law and order so that the life, property and the beliefs of the subjects are fully protected. Bribery and corruption are really a poison and need to be put down with an iron hand. Black-marketing, nepotism and jobbery are other ills afflicting the society which have to be eliminated.”
This is the kind of vision Zimbabwe needs to adopt. It is regrettable to note that as a nation we have failed as our leaders in both the public and private sectors have worked to perpetuate the archaic colonial system of governance.
Their machinations have promoted an elitist culture in the country, leaving the masses in abject poverty. This has not only hindered socio-economic development of the country but has also led to the emergence of a host of social faultlines, marring national integration and unity. Our survival as a respectable and vibrant nation surely hinges on path-correction on priority basis by going back to the drawing board to rediscover our national ethos and the values we were supposed to follow in regards to consolidation of gains of Independence and economic prosperity.
Our salvation and progress lie in changing the system of governance and formulation of a charter for economic transformation through the collective wisdom of all stakeholders, which besides ensuring economic progress, also guarantees fair distribution of the produced wealth.
The phenomenal progress achieved by our friend China undoubtedly owes itself to the elimination of poverty. We can at least take a leaf from its history. The time will soon run out for those who have been wielding power and enjoying privileges unchallenged.
About the writer; Kaduwo is a researcher and economist. Contact: [email protected] call/Whatsapp +263773376128