Zimbabwe: November and Its Endless Intrigues

opinion

In Zimbabwean lore, November is a month of mystery, enigma and intrigue.If you have been in this country long enough, you would have learnt by now to expect the unexpected. But nothing could have prepared us for the astonishing spectacle now unfolding before our weary eyes.

It has been a rollercoaster of emotions. A clueless government fares dismally on economic management; extreme poverty takes root; the public health system collapses; international re-engagement is torn to shreds; inflation-ravaged civil servants declare a strike; every non-Zanu PF protest is banned; Zimbabwe in 2015? No. Zimbabwe in 2019.

There is a big storm on the horizon. Whether President Emmerson Mnangagwa sees what the rest of us are seeing is anybody's guess. The question is: what is he doing about it?

Take a look at the situation on the ground. Two prominent companies released their performance figures this week and the picture emerging from those numbers is frightening -- and I am being very conservative in my diction.

The performance numbers from beverage maker Delta and cement producer PPC portray an economy on its last legs.Delta says its beer sales fell 40% in the second quarter and were down 48% for the six months compared to last year. PPC, Southern Africa's leading supplier of cement, yesterday reported that its headline earnings per share for the six months ending September would fall as much as 85%, and cited Zimbabwe's runaway inflation as a contributory factor.

Something profoundly unsettling is happening to this economy.Sluggish corporate performance will erode export receipts and decimate the gross domestic product, with grave implications for social stability. The government has to join hands with the corporate sector to come up with lasting solutions to the relentless destruction of companies.

The economic suffering emanating from the failure to reform a corrupt, incompetent, lethargic and oppressive polity has reached catastrophic proportions and is now posing a clear and present threat not only to Mnangagwa as a political leader, but also to the very survival of the nation.

I have written in these pages that the President must now take decisive action by: showing leadership on the economy; bringing to justice the soldiers who murdered civilians on August 1 last year and in January 2019; opening genuine talks with opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa; dismantling corrupt cartels; atoning for the Gukurahundi genocide and the 2008 atrocities; firing his inept ministers and appointing a new team.

There is a governance crisis in this country. By firing the 77 striking medical doctors, the government has not solved the problems in the health delivery system.

A caring and responsive government would have displayed Solomonic wisdom by avoiding cutting the "baby" in half.When the government can afford to splurge US$16 million on luxury cars in the middle of a so-called austerity programme, surely it can pay doctors a decent wage.

The entire gamut of turmoil ranging from the corporate sector, to the health delivery system and to issues of political legitimacy is a stark reminder that the multifaceted crisis now demands decisive leadership.

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