Central bank governor Gideon Gono says Zimbabweans are their own worst enemies. Three-quarters of their current problems are of their own making.
Presenting his monetary policy interim review statement in Bulawayo last week, Gono said the solution to the country’s current problems was within reach provided Zimbabweans had the will-power to implement boldly and simultaneously, mutually reinforcing policies.
“This task cannot be subcontracted to third parties,” he said. “Whilst it is a necessary impetus for economic stabilisation and growth, external assistance should not be overburdened into becoming the entire substitute for essentially what should be internally driven and absolutely necessary macroeconomic and structural policy reforms which we should not shy away from embracing, implementing and following up.”
Gono said one of the major problems was the insatiable appetite of Zimbabweans for everything external, from economic and technical advice, to wine, food, cigarettes and even bottled water.
Zimbabweans also preferred to listen to external economic advisors rather than their own sons and daughters who had exposure and personal distinctions in that area.
Some Zimbabweans had sold their souls in pursuit of foreign currency and did not care what this did to the local currency.
He said Zimbabweans must therefore think and act positively, and avoid scheming the downfall of the economy for political or other gains.
It was essential for Zimbabweans to change their mindsets and to implement policies that nurtured and protected private property rights, celebrated entrepreneurship, encouraged excellence, innovation competition and good profit with the principle of Zimbabwe First in whatever they did.
It was also necessary to create an environment where viability concerns of milk producers, tobacco, groundnuts, maize and cotton farmers, miners, tourism players and manufacturers were a principal guide to policy formulation. At the same time the business sector had to shun from profiteering.
Gono introduced a number of incentives for various sectors in what most observers felt was a move aimed at mobilising foreign currency into the central bank coffers as the country prepares for next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
Gono had a little something for everyone: manufacturers, exporters, tourism operators, miners and the peasants.
He said the government had imported 439 tractors and 19 combine harvesters to boost agricultural production. The central bank had also bought 365 tractor drawn ploughs, 361 tractor drawn harrows, 175 boom sprayers, 101 fertiliser spreaders and 57 planters.
The Zimbabwe Farmers Development Company in partnership with a Chinese company had brought in an additional 357 tractors, 65 dumper trucks, 50 truck horses, 50 trailers, eight bulldozers and 86 water pumps.
A further 250 smaller tractors would be dedicated to communal areas. Chiefs would oversee their use. In additional 100 000, each, ox-drawn ploughs, planters, harrows, cultivators, scotch carts and portable fumigation tanks were already on order for deployment into the communal areas. The manufacture of scotch carts would be subcontracted to small and medium enterprises at various growth points.
Gono reviewed the gold support price from $16 000 to $350 000 a gramme. He also reviewed the exchange rate for exporters and those who earned foreign currency from $250 to $15 000 provided they bought special instruments that ensured the money went to the central bank. He, however, insisted that the currency had not been devalued.
The central bank chief also reviewed the support price for tobacco to $40 000 a kg for top quality tobacco that fetched a price of US$1.50 a kg and above. Farmers were also awarded back pay of $85 a kg for tobacco sold last year.
Though it is too early to assess the impact of the new measures, as Gono said, Zimbabweans are likely to be their own worst enemies as some believe nothing good can ever come from the present administration.