We are our own worst enemies

We are our own worst enemies
Published: 05 November 2018 (1389 Views)
I have a question that needs an honest answer. Do we, as Zimbabweans, want our country to succeed?

Having been unable to get cooking oil in supermarkets, I decided to pay downtown Harare a visit. After all, this is where most of us used to get basic commodities before the advent of Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 of 2016 (a good policy which Government had no choice but to lift owing to malpractices by business). And as expected the place did not disappoint. Shops were brimful with all basic goods one could need.

There was, however, one significant difference from all those years before – most of the goods were locally made. It seemed as though the supply chain had been diverted from big supermarkets to the small downtown shops where the two tier pricing system (strictly cash in either Bond note or United States dollar) is based on parallel market rates.

I also noticed that the few scarce basic commodities that are trickling in supermarkets were also finding their way to street corners were they are being sold at prices equivalent to those charged by the downtown shops. Those with time to queue or have inside information as to where and when the scarce commodities will be delivered are actually making a killing as a result of the artificial shortages – of cause without giving a second thought to what this means for the country and our future as a people.

The disturbing thing about all this is that locally manufactured basic goods that are in short supply on the formal market are plenty on the parallel market. This is of cause with hindsight of the utterances by industry that they have not scaled down on production. Where then are basic goods they are manufacturing going to? Where are the commodities on the parallel markets  coming from? Is it the manufacturers, wholesalers or retailers that are diverting these products? Could they be the same basic goods that were held for speculative purposes and are now being disposed in exchange for cash so as to evade a new law being drafted to deal with unexplained wealth and deposits?
The long and short of it is that, as Zimbabweans we are causing our own suffering. If all those goods on the parallel market are channeled to the formal market, shortages will be a thing of the past.

However, contrary to President Mnangagwa's call for Zimbabweans to unite in building the country's economy, we seem to have united in achieving the opposite - from manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers who are supplying the parallel market, parallel market shop owners charging exorbitant prices, to consumers hoarding commodities for resale, further exacerbating the shortages and eroding people's disposable income.

This honeymoon will, however, not last forever; the wheels will soon come off. As the effects of the temporary lifting of IS 122 start to be felt, local manufacturers will feel the heat from cheap imports to the extent that some will fold, in the process retrenching the very workers who were ironically responsible for diverting goods to the parallel market. As manufacturing dip, so will exports, the foreign currency we get, the amount of life saving drugs we can procure – the list of what will go wrong as a result of our predatory behavior is endless. The Government can only do so much, but with our help, much can be achieved.

This is the time to sink or swim, to speak with one voice against our detractors and to shed off corruption and economic malpractices that have made our situation dire. Even though our Government is able and our President sincere about reviving the country's economy, what matters now is what each Zimbabwean is willing to do for our country and future generations.

- Mapozho Saruchera


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