HARARE – Pressure is mounting on President Robert Mugabe and his governing Zanu PF, as new data suggests that Zimbabwe’s economy is teetering on the brink of total collapse — prompting analysts and the opposition to observe that the increasingly frail nonagenarian was failing to “rig the economy”.
In its latest damning report on Zimbabwe, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts that the country’s long-experienced economic difficulties are set to continue and deepen — amid a grinding recession, a worsening cash crisis, mounting company closures and job losses, and a political legitimacy crisis that refuses to go away.
“Unless the country takes bold reforms, the economic difficulties will continue in the medium-term,” the fund said in a statement, after consultations with Zimbabwean officials.
Observers say not much has gone right for Mugabe and Zanu PF since they won the hotly-disputed elections in 2013, with the ruling party ravaged by its seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars.
Overall, the economy has not posted any growth since those contested polls, with most Zimbabweans now fearful that the debilitating socio-economic disaster experienced eight years ago is on the verge of visiting the nation again.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said it was clear that the local economy was “dead and buried” and that Mugabe and Zanu PF were “failing to rig the economy”.
“No rocket science is needed to appreciate that the Zimbabwean economy is no longer not even on life support. It’s actually now dead and in the mortuary.
“With imports far-outstripping our net exports, it’s simply not possible to resuscitate the … economy without fixing the socio-economic and political fundamentals.
“We have a rogue and thoroughly derelict government in the form of the Zanu PF regime. No amount of spin can disguise the glaring fact that 85 percent of our people are living in grinding poverty. We have a debilitating paralysis of governance,” he thundered.
Gutu also warned that the recent introduction of bond notes by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe would not improve the prevailing liquidity and cash crisis, but would further affect confidence levels in the country.
“If anything, Zimbabwe is now jumping from the frying pan into the fire. It’s not possible to rig the economy. Not even all the prophets in the world put together can successfully rig a national economy.
“We have to go back to basics. The illegitimate Zanu PF regime is utterly clueless and it shouldn’t stay in office a day longer if we are to turn around our collapsed economy.
“Mugabe and his entire Cabinet should proceed to do the honourable thing and resign en masse. Anything other than this will not help anyone. Armageddon is beckoning,” he added.
The spokesperson of the People’s Democratic Part (PDP), Jacob Mafume, concurred with Gutu saying the country’s mounting economic hardships were the result of the “stolen” 2013 vote.
“The government is learning the hard way that you cannot rig the economy. No amount of rhetoric from Mugabe’s spin doctors or bum-shaking from Mbare Chimurenga Choir singers will mask the obvious fact that every person and family in Zimbabwe is in trouble because of their voodoo economics.
“The people of Zimbabwe need to rescue the present government from this misery of governing the country and allow Mugabe to rest,” he said.
Meanwhile, economic and political analysts also told the Daily News that a change in leadership was necessary as Mugabe and Zanu PF had failed to steer the economy to calm waters.
Veteran economist John Robertson was among those who said the “only solution” was a change in leadership, adding that any delays in doing so would plunge the country into “unimaginable economic catastrophe”.
“At the moment, the situation has discouraged investors and encouraged people to move money as fast as they can in all these panic withdrawals, and the country is losing a lot of money through this.
“All this is destroying confidence in the country’s banking sector, which as far as I am concerned, was the only remaining functional sector in the economy. Clearly, Nikuv did not show them how to trick the economy,” he said.
“Look, the country needs to change its policies as the present policies are the cause of all these problems the economy is facing so that we boost confidence levels. But the people applying the policies also need to change.
“The selection of a new leadership needs to be very carefully implemented because another ride with this leadership will be nothing short of unfortunate,” Robertson added.
Economist Issis Mwale also said there was need for the current leadership to do the “honourable thing” and step down for the sake of the economy.
“Yes, they allegedly managed to rig the elections and force themselves into power. But, economics is a matter of fundamentals that have to be met.
“If government is really a government of the people, they just need to step down and hand the baton over to a different administration that can fix the economy,” Mwale said, pointing to the country’s unemployment figures and worsening company closures as some of the indications that the government had failed.
“There is nothing new here really; it even happens in private companies. When a CEO fails to deliver, they are fired. In 2013, Zanu PF presented a manifesto, which they have utterly failed to honour.
“So, just like any functioning organisation, the CEO must be taken to task and be fired. It is not rocket science. Failure to deliver or honour your contract, you lose your job,” Mwale added.
Afghanistan-based analyst Maxwell Saungweme said Zanu PF’s economic policies were “shambolic and contradictory”, adding that the party had failed to run the economy and other essential service sectors.
“They have no new economic ideas. There is a difference between having political power and delivering sound economic policies … And, seeing as we are doing that the government is working overtime to erode the very little confidence that is left in the country, the free-fall will continue,” he said.
This comes as the United Nations has said that the average Zimbabwean is now living on less than a dollar a day, with many people going for days without food.