Zimbabwe the poorest country? Only fools can buy this

Zimbabwe the poorest country? Only fools can buy this
Published: 21 July 2015 (1199 Views)
The Global Finance Magazine, a US based publication with offices in London, has ranked Zimbabwe the second poorest country in its spurious survey of 184 countries. Can you believe?

The survey is indeed laughable and cannot go unchallenged. The magazine purportedly used data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to come out with its findings, the findings of which are based on information it got between 2009 and 2013. The status of Zimbabwe then is not the same today. It is a ridiculous lie to say that people earned an average of US$589.25 per annum in Zimbabwe. This figure translates to a mere monthly earning of US$49.

This writer lives in Zimbabwe and was in Zimbabwe as a worker during the period under survey. He was actually in the bracket of the most poorly paid workers. However, the salary was not as meagre as the Global Magazine claims.

With the poor salary, yours truly could afford to pay a maid well above US$49 and still remain with a surplus to meet other household obligations. Its apparent that an institution whose staff never set foot in Zimbabwe did this survey. How do you expect people to take this survey seriously? Let us give the magazine a benefit of doubt and suppose that the ridiculous amount was indeed the average earning in Zimbabwe. Does the magazine believe the salaries have been stagnant since 2009?

For the benefit of those who have not been in Zimbabwe, people earn an average of US$400 a month and the majority in this category are government workers. Most civil servants are getting close to the amount that the magazine claims is the average annual earning.

Even domestic workers are earning more than US$100 per month. The magazine should not have used stale information for its survey. It risks losing credibility, more so with its circulation that is believed to be around 50 050. The survey is manifestly flawed and this explains why the local private media, known for their penchant to peddle anything anti-Zimbabwe, did not carry it. They assessed the survey and concluded that they would be a butt of all the jokes if they reproduced it for Zimbabweans who are earning far more than the US$589.25 per year.

By mere looking at the ranking, one would see that the magazine ranked the countries based on political preferences. Being a US based magazine, they obviously toe the line of the US administration. Zimbabwe is hated by the West for its stance to control its own economic destination. The Zanu-PF government has empowered the generality of Zimbabweans through the land reform. The West's fear is that the tide of resource nationalism that Zimbabwe adopted, can be replicated in other African countries. If the tide sweeps across the continent, the West's capitalist interests will be threatened.

How then can one say Zimbabwe is the second poorest country when an ordinary person owns several hectares of land, a scenario that cannot be seen in many other countries? The drought that hit the country can never be a pointer that the programme has failed. After all, there is not a single person that ever died of hunger or poverty in general in Zimbabwe. We have read of people dying of hunger in other countries but surprisingly, those countries are said to be richer than Zimbabwe. How does the magazine expect to be taken serious with the mineral resources that Zimbabwe is endowed with?

The magazine deliberately omitted to tell its readers that the poverty in Zimbabwe is rooted in the illegal sanctions that its principals imposed on the same. While it's a fact that sanctions have adversely affected the economy, the level of poverty is unreasonably exaggerated. The magazine must send over one of its staffers and see for itself how people are living. They will be surprised to see airtime vendor driving. They will be shocked by the number of cars in our streets, mansions being built and the general standard of living that might be a pipeline dream for some of its journalists.

The magazine just attempted to be mischievous. They know that the instrument they used to compare the economies of different countries does not work. It used the GDP and per capita GDP. One of its staffer, Valentina Pasquali says: “GDP and per capita GDP are less useful when comparing economies across national boundaries which one must do to determine the poorest countries in the world because GDP is expressed in a country's local currency.” Its surprising that it used the same instruments which they had condemned here.

Most economists use GDP at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) which is useful in comparing differences in living standards between countries. According to economists, PPP takes into consideration the relative cost of living and inflation rates of countries. For instance, US$200 can be enough to pay rentals and buy groceries for a family of six in country X while that same amount can hardly pay rent let alone groceries in country Y. In this case, you cannot use their earnings as a measure of their living standard. A worker in country X earning US$300 has a better living standard his counterpart in country Y who earns US$500. Thus, earnings cannot be used to determine the living standard of people in different economies.

Whatever that skewed survey came up with, Zimbabwe will not be swayed from rebuilding the economy that the sanctions destroyed.

John Sigauke can be contacted at johnsigau@gmail.com 

- John Sigauke


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