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Political reform prerequisite to economic turnaround
Zimbabwe Liberators Platform (ZLP)
February 16, 2007

Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono’s recent Monetary Policy Statement made some bold observations about the economic and social crisis facing the nation. It is gratifying to note that he was forced to eat humble pie and candidly admit the failure of his fire fighting economic policies.

His statement was unique because he acknowledged the reality on the ground and identified some prescriptions for the economic woes bedeviling the country.

However, it is abundantly clear that the root cause of the problem is political. As he correctly observed, the panacea to the achievement of an economic turnaround lies in the resolution of the political problems afflicting this country. The chickens have now come home to roost.

Interestingly, civic organizations, labour, churches, opposition parties and the private media have been voicing grave concern over the country’s political, economic and social crisis. Government responded by branding its critics as unpatriotic, British puppets or outright sell-outs. Is the establishment now facing the truth?

The socio-economic conditions under which the ordinary Zimbabwean survives today are very harsh, inhuman and unbearable. On the political front, the people face blatant violations of human rights and freedoms, repression and brutality, politicization of food, selective application of the law, and so on.

We, the Zimbabwe Liberators Platform (ZLP), reiterate the position enunciated in our previous statements that the problems facing Zimbabwe are purely governance related. The economic meltdown is not occasioned by the so-called "illegal sanctions" imposed by the West as government wants the nation to believe. It has nothing to do with the European Union, the United States and Britain. We are made to understand that these countries are merely advocating for the change of government’s disastrous policies. Whether this will result in "regime change", will be decided by the Zimbabwean electorate.

The Governor also urged government to live within its means by avoiding the usual budget overruns. A few days afterwards, a cabinet reshuffle created a new ministry of agricultural engineering and mechanisation and increased the number of deputy ministers, thus ignoring the call for fiscal discipline. Therefore his statement is a voice in the wilderness.

But he did observe that political will and commitment are required to tackle the challenges facing the country.

"In a number of cases and situations which required decisive action over the last couple of years, it has been observed that we allowed political expediency to override economic considerations and common sense, resulting in temporary gratifications at the expense of sustainable long-term imperatives," he said. 

Unplanned, violent and chaotic land reform, electoral irregularities, unilateral withdrawal from the Commonwealth, among others, have cost the country dearly: international isolation, loss of grants and lines of credit, lack of food security, loss of foreign revenue from tourism and investment and so on.

The Central Bank’s monetary policies have been inconsistent. For instance, the Reserve Bank has gone back and forth over money sent from the diaspora. It began by allowing the recipients to collect their money in foreign currency. After changing goal posts, it has now gone full circle. Its foreign exchange and interest/lending rates policies have been disastrous. There is instability on the money and stock markets.

The statement’s "social contract" proposal will not yield much unless government is sincere in engaging social partners. The recent arrest of some business executives for "illegal price increases" does not engender a conducive environment for the successful implementation of the social contract involving business, labour, civil society and government. The high-handedness in dealing with a planned demonstration by some labour union leaders and the current arrest of WOZA peaceful demonstrators, worsen the bad situation.

The important first step in resolving the crisis is the leadership’s concession that there is a governance crisis. Below are the nature and extent of the crisis:

  • Constitutional - more than 17 amendments to the current constitution in 26 years. Many repressive laws like POSA and AIPPA were enacted. Electoral laws are also flawed.
  • Land question – despite all the propaganda, the land issue is still not settled as only the powerful, their relatives and cronies have the land, some with more than one farm. Food security is threatened as land is either fallow or underutilized, irrigation capacity is minimal.
  • Political and diplomatic isolation – irresponsible statements worsen the bad situation.
  • Repression – violation of human rights, denying citizens the freedom to demonstrate, curtailing freedom of association, speech, press and judiciary.
  • Corruption – it is pervasive and institutional, has spun out of control.

ZLP believes that the political crisis can and will be resolved if:

  • There is a new democratic constitution which will level the political arena and repeal all repressive laws;
  • An all-stakeholders’ conference is held to discuss and resolve the crisis;
  • Genuine efforts are made to build bridges so that political and diplomatic isolation can end and Zimbabwe can join the community of nations with all the benefits that follow;
  • Government stops all political repression including the arrest of civil society activists.
  • Government stops the militarisation of state institutions and disbands youth militias.

It is our well considered view that once these fundamental issues are addressed, the vision that we had for Zimbabwe as former liberation war fighters will be realized. We take this opportunity to remind ZANU PF of the values and ideals of the liberation struggle which government has totally discarded. Our position is supported by all genuine war veterans, including some who are in government and other state institutions.

It is incumbent upon government to create the enabling environment for the Central Bank’s noble prescriptive measures to work and achieve the desired results.  

We therefore earnestly call on government to embrace the recommendations made by the Governor. Political reform and dialogue are the way forward. Confrontation with the opposition, labour, civil society and the international community is futile and counter-productive.

Issued by the National Council

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