SW Radio Africa (London)

22 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Chinamasa Regrets Adopting the U.S. Dollar

Photo: Flickr
South African twenty rand note.

Under-pressure ZANU PF Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has said the adoption of the US dollar in 2009 was a mistake.

Speaking to legislators in Harare on Monday, the minister said the decision to abandon the worthless Zimdollar in favour of the US$, SA Rand and Botswana Pula has harmed the Zim economy. The move was taken amid record inflation in the country.

"It pitched our cost structure too high. It's like we devalued the US$, where in America a dollar can buy four Cokes, in our case it can only purchase two or one.

"So, in that sense it means that the cost structure is not sustainable, it basically kills aggregate demand which is very necessary for any economy to function."

Chinamasa said the high private sector salaries that were introduced when the new multicurrency regime came into force also betrayed a lack of appreciation of the real value of the US$.

UK-based Zim economist Bekithemba Mhlanga said while he agreed with Chinamasa that Zimbabweans do not seem to attach much value to the US$, the ruling party should take full responsibility for its failure to stimulate the economy.

"When you adopt currencies that are not yours you deprive yourself of one strong element of stimulating economic activities, through monetary policies for example.

"Right now the central bank is incapacitated in terms of what it can or can't do to increase or decrease money supply. But the fault is the minister's for not thinking it out clearly when they introduced the multi-currency regime," Mhlanga said.

Mhlanga said what the ruling party should have known was that adopting the US$ was never going to solve Zimbabwe's problems, which are rooted in poor governance and corruption.

"It is irresponsible for them to blame everyone else except themselves for the predicament that they find themselves in. The fact is there is an absence of an economic environment that is attractive to foreign investors.

"Zimbabwe has a serious confidence crisis in terms of the respect and observation of the rule of law as it applies to corporates and individuals. These are issues that Zimbabwe can redress in its efforts to revive the economy but ZANU PF has not shown enough appetite to do so," Mhlanga said.

Mhlanga said if Zimbabwe wants to regain access to international finance the ruling party should take responsibility for its mistakes and address policy concerns that are scaring away investors.

"In addition there are issues such as infrastructure and energy that the country needs to address and this is possible through investment, which at the moment can't be found locally.

"ZANU PF is capable of diagnosing and understanding these things but what is lacking is the willingness to accept responsibility and to do the right thing by the economy and Zimbabweans," Mhlanga added.

In the past ZANU PF has blamed targeted sanctions, the whites, and the opposition for the economic collapse. With whites chased out of the country, the opposition in disarray and the easing of the targeted sanction, the ruling party is running out of scapegoats for its failure to deliver.

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