Struggling with the same old problems

Sinqobile Tessa
UNPOPULAR: Mthuli Ncube

I wrote this week’s column at the eleventh hour, hoping I would find something positive and light to write about, but alas nothing came my way.

I guess I should have known better!

The situation in Zimbabwe always gives a ‘cry my beloved country’ feeling for many, which is quite sad because most of the challenges we face are mainly due to irrational policies and poor governance.

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Depreciation of the local currency, high inflation and the pending worst drought ever continue to dominate the news.

Of course with the drought, we cannot blame the regime. This is a natural disaster as a result of global warning and climate change.

But, as inflation reaches another record high, with the Zim dollar long since rendered a useless currency, there are growing calls for the Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube, to resign as he has failed to address the economic turmoil.

“Welcome to Zimbabwe, home to the world’s highest inflation rate – a stunning 1 379 percent per year. It’s time for Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube, to resign,” wrote American economist, Steve Hanke, on Monday, who is also a professor at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA.

Of course, this is not the first time to reach such levels.

One would have thought the regime learnt from the past but, no, looks like they never learn or are in denial that the Zimbabwe dollar is hopeless.

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The local currency was reintroduced in 2019 to replace a multi-currency system that had somehow stabilised the country’s volatile economy. It has, however, failed to work as the US dollar has become the preferred currency.

Despite its poor performance, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said the Zimbabwe dollar is here to stay.

Ncube, on the other hand, reckons he is the best Finance Minister ever regardless of his policies backfiring and triggering massive price hikes.

The sugar tax, which was introduced last year, has sparked a sour price increase in sugary beverages, notably the popular Mazoe Orange Crush, which is now selling for between US$4 (P61.20) and US$5 (P68) up from US$3 (P40.80).

The tax was introduced during last year’s budget, which was described as anti poor.

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Meanwhile, health workers were set to down tools this Thursday (29th February) citing same old problems that the government has failed to resolve over the years. The strike is expected to end on Saturday, on condition the government responds to their grievances.

Health workers said they were facing severe challenges due to the volatile economic situation which has eroded their salaries and allowances.

They also cited unavailability of essential tools of trade.

In 2019, Zimbabwe’s health workers embarked on a 90-day strike which resulted in hundreds of people dying in public hospitals due to lack of care.

It seems we are stuck in a vicious cycle where the same old problems keep coming back to haunt us!

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