18 May 2017

Zimbabwe: Why Impose Sanctions On Ourselves?

editorial

ECONOMISTS divide factors of production into three categories namely land, labour and capital. The rationale being that mankind must utilise these to produce and survive in this harsh world.

Zimbabwe is lucky to have land in abundance and beneath her rich soils are plentiful mineral resources with potential to turn the country into the jewel of Africa. In terms of labour, Zimbabwe prides herself of having an educated populace, with abundant skills.

Having been blessed with these two important factors of production, Zimbabwe deserved to be counted among the wealthiest of nations, spoilt for choice when it comes to capital. But the irony of the situation is that it is actually among the poorest of nations. Cap in hand, its leaders are known for traversing the length and breadth of the world, begging for aid and yet their country has everything it takes to be successful.

What really, is the problem?

The ruling ZANU-PF is quick to accuse Number 10 Downing Street of masterminding sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, backed by its so-called allies in the West as punishment for redistributing land from the minority whites to landless blacks. That argument has been repeated ad infinitum so much that it now sounds like a broken record.

The truth is, however, that Zimbabwe's economy has been on a tailspin for much longer, going as far back as 1980 when economic rationale was overridden by political considerations that, in the main, are populist. There is no better example to demonstrate the failure of our politics than the current drama unfolding in the fuel industry whereby Zimbabwe is going against the rest of the world. While international prices of diesel and petrol have been dropping to all time lows, the product is retailing at ridiculously high prices, locally, and the authorities are not even bothered.

Two years ago, our politicians introduced the mandatory blending of petrol with ethanol in the hope that it would lower the cost of fuel. The exact opposite has happened due to shortages of sugarcane, used in the production of ethanol, in the Lowveld, including the high duties payable on landing fuel in Zimbabwe.

If our politicians were serious about alleviating poverty, which deprivation has its genesis in de-industrialisation, they should have reversed the mandatory blending of petrol to allow companies to benefit from receding oil prices on the international markets. They should have gone a step further to lower duties on petroleum products to bring down the unit cost of products available to consumers in sympathy with falling international prices of oil, but alas.

There is really no plausible reason why government is not taking the burden off industries' backs other than that some of our political actors are benefiting from this madness. It therefore does not require rocket science to see that it is not sanctions which are hurting our economy. It is the politics stupid!

Our politicians are not bothered by the economic mayhem confronting business and the generality of the population because, behind the scenes, they are making a huge killing from the meltdown. In fact, they are the ones imposing sanctions on their own people.

Zimbabwe

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