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Projections ... Finance minister Mthuli Ncube wore a face shield while making mid-term budget statement in Parliament on Thursday

Editorials

Zim economy is totally captured

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FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube is scheduled to present the 2021 mid-term budget and economic review on 29 July, but most Zimbabweans will not be holding their breath.

Inequality has worsened, with the gap between the haves and the have-nots widening to dangerous levels. As former Finance minister Tendai Biti has correctly observed, the cartelisation of the economy is now posing an existential threat to the very survival of the republic.

The World Bank says 7.9 million citizens are living in extreme poverty, surviving on less than US$1.90 per day. This tragic state of affairs is happening in a country where corruption-induced economic hardships have spiralled out of control, creating filthy-rich oligarchs and cartels.

Only a few politically connected individuals and their privileged cronies are enjoying the fat of the land while the overwhelming majority is wallowing in deprivation. It stinks to high heaven.

You do not have to be a forensic auditor to realise that political elites and their surrogates have captured the Zimbabwean state. As a direct consequence, the economy is serving the narrow interests of those who exploit their proximity to power to the exclusion of the masses.

It is scandalous that Zimbabwe, 41 years after Independence, is now a fully fledged authoritarian kleptocracy.

Instead of building an inclusive economy that gives every citizen a fair opportunity at attaining prosperity, Zanu PF has presided over an extractive mafia-like polity that serves the interests of political elites and their cronies.

The ordinary citizen’s existence has become a never-ending struggle against the man-made calamities directly caused by bad governance.

What is urgently needed is a public-focused socio-economic order anchored on constitutional democracy. Rebuilding public trust in politics will take a herculean effort. People are not only seeing the rot every day but also suffering the consequences.

The threat posed by systematic corruption and state capture goes beyond President Emmerson Mnangagwa as a politician.

Although it has been amplified by his glaring leadership deficiencies, it is also the logical outcome of Zanu PF’s decline as a serious political organisation.

The party of Herbert Wiltshire Pfumaindini Chitepo and Eddison Jonasi Mudadirwa Zvobgo has regressed from a glorious liberation movement to a refuge of latter-day scoundrels defined by corruption, economic failure and national vandalism.

Today, there is no big defining idea at the heart of a party that has been reduced to an empty shell which only survives on account of brute force, intimidation and fear.

The end result is a country that is now sharply divided between the impoverished majority and the self-serving elites.

A clueless Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF minions have squandered an opportunity to address corruption-induced poverty. The Finance minister’s mid-term budget and economic review next week is not expected to depart from that script.

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