Mnangagwa's austerity call noble, but ...

 Mnangagwa's austerity call noble, but ...
Published: 14 August 2019 (109 Views)
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa's call - during a Heroes Day address on Monday - for more patience as Zimbabwe hurtles down the painful austerity path is surprising given what the suffering people are going through. While citizens would want to support Mnangagwa in this, there is nothing to show for it that this austerity is shared because the measures introduced by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube largely hurt ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe.

We have witnessed prices of basic goods and services sky-rocketing over the past months while shortages of fuel, bread and other commodities are the order of the day.  What is disheartening is that despite promises that things will get better soon, the situation on the ground is telling a different story altogether with galloping inflation, which is currently just below 200 percent.

Government introduced the inter-bank trade in foreign currency, hoping to arrest the flourishing parallel market, which has been inadvertently pushing up prices of goods and services. The inter-bank facility has not achieved the desired results as foreign currency has remained scarce with the black market continuing to thrive.

Meanwhile, the scarcity of the RTGS dollar, the legal currency following the ban in trade in foreign currency has continued to haunt ordinary citizens who have failed to access cash from the banks.

The value of salaries of those in employment has continued to be eroded as shops and other service providers have continued to peg their prices in equivalents of United States dollar values.

They have inevitably turned to mobile money booths to access cash for bus fares and other purposes where they are charged punitive rates that are inching close to 50 percent. In reality, for every $100 a person has, they will only get at most $55, with the rest going to the booth owner.

As a result, when the president calls for patience, he should also remember the pain that people are going through. He must quickly sit down with those that he picked to sort out the country's mess so that solutions are found sooner rather than later.

There is no way that people can support austerity, a policy that is clearly selective and punishing. It hurts an already battered population that has endured a lot since independence in 1980.

One would want to ask where the cash that we see with money-changers is coming from if the banks are not giving cash.

Mnangagwa has to act quickly in order to sort out the current mess.

- Dailynews

Tags: Mnangagwa,
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