HARARE – With Zimbabwe's political and economic decline accelerating by the day, and President Robert Mugabe’s broke government continuing to battle to meet its obligations — including salaries for civil servants — economists say only the departure of the “financially illiterate” Zanu PF government from power can save the country from imploding completely.
In saying so, economists have now also joined growing calls for Mugabe and his party to step down from power in the interest of the country, following recent such pleas by opposition political parties, church leaders and ordinary Zimbabweans.
Veteran economist John Robertson was among those who told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that there was now only one “sure-fire solution” left for the country to come right again, and this was “a new political administration” in power.
“Clearly, they (Zanu PF) have absolutely no idea what they are doing. They now need to step down, as not much can be done or achieved in this country as long as they are in power.
“Even children will tell you that once an organisation fails to pay workers and its overhead expenses, it goes under. But as a country, we cannot afford to go under, so they need to go,” he said.
“We all know that this government is corrupt and broke. This is why the minister of Finance has been raiding Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe accounts because Mugabe has no financial discipline, which is why he made promises regarding bonuses that now can’t be kept,” another prominent economist Vincent Musewe said.
He said if the country had been a company, Mugabe would have long been booted out both for poor management and corporate governance.
“They have manufactured this crisis and must now resign, including Mugabe who must take full responsibility as the CEO of a broke Zimbabwe.
“Our government cannot honour any of its financial obligations,” Musewe said, adding that “the only solution to the country’s plight was immediate resignation on the part of government”.
Among the latest litany of embarrassments to befall Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government are irregular pay dates for civil servants.
In addition, one of the most crucial branches of the State, the National Prosecuting Authority, is facing eviction from its offices over outstanding rentals to the tune of $434 000.
Over and above this, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa announced last week that outstanding bonus payments to some civil servants had been moved again, from June 3 to June 10 — with employees not receiving their 13th cheque at the close of business on Friday.
Chinamasa almost lost his job last year after he announced that the government was planning to suspend bonus disbursements until 2017 — utterances that saw a raging Mugabe humiliating his minister in public.
However, economic experts warn that Zimbabwe’s woes are set to worsen for the rest of this year, as more companies that pay badly-needed taxes to the government continue to close.
“I do not even see why we have to keep talking about this. They (Zanu PF) have failed. Because of their poor policies the banks are not giving people money and everyone is uneasy.
“We have more vendors on the streets than we have enough streets to accommodate all of them. Over 50 percent of companies have closed since 2013 and the few that are operational are operating on the brink of closure, so really, they need to go,” analyst Issis Mwale said.
According to the United Nations, the average Zimbabwean is living on about half a dollar a day — well below the poverty datum line — with many people in some cases going for days without food.
Zimbabwe has also been experiencing cash shortages in the past few months — reminiscent of the 2008 economic and political crisis — with depositors queuing for days at banks to get their little hard-earned money.
Church leaders have also recently added their voices to calls for Mugabe and Zanu PF to step down, to give the country an opportunity to revive its fortunes.
In unexpected statements that marked a radical ?departure from their quiet diplomacy towards local politics, the county’s churches also said Zimbabwe deserved leaders who had the interests of the people at heart.
Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHCD) said leadership renewal was crucial for the future of the country.
“We recommend that there be a leadership renewal across the board and for increased political accountability, as well as for the executive to adhere to the rule of law for the removal of political patronage and factionalism.
“The current political landscape in Zimbabwe is characterised by polarisation, intolerance to opposing political views and ideologies, intra and inter-party fighting and succession issues, further weakening the political discourse.
“Immediate steps need to be taken by the Executive to improve the economy, reduce poverty, improve international relations, reduce, repay and restructure debt, increase the capacity to borrow, support the informal sector and create genuine wealth,” ZHCD said.