Mnangagwa on the cost to Zimbabwe of negative opposition and journalism


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There is more to this negativism than just opposition politics and sceptical journalism.

Here is how.

Far from always being scientific, the notion of country risks is largely worked out on intuition and attitudes.

Our politics and our media are key in shaping intuitions and attitudes, both here and abroad.

And herein lies the dollar cost to our economy arising from toxic politics and unbalanced negative reporting.

Both ills come back to bite the economy, and therefore all of us, when the country goes abroad to engage and re-engage, and to negotiate for credit lines.

In these negotiations, bad talk and writing confront us as fears and apprehensions that discourage and turn away would-be investors; or as country risks which we pay for dearly through high interest on credit facilities.

It is a well-known fact that capital is a coward. Or both ills became false and unwarranted questions we have to answer out there, protractedly; false benchmarks by which we get judged and even condemned.

The bad talk turns into a premium the country has to pay to compensate for falsely invented country risks.

And when we haplessly protest against exaggerated country risk claims, our would-be benefactors draw our attention to “reports from Zimbabwe”, from “home”.

They will refer us to negative media reports and uninformed opinions which, even though penned in ignorance or playfulness, suddenly assume a seriousness out there which decides our fate as an economy and as a nation.

As a consequence we get rated down, and thus forfeit deserved opportunities.

Such is the dollar cost of the negativity we churn out here, often if not always in the face of clear positives we strangely seem unwilling to write home about.

This is a terrible complex we have bred in our politics and our journalism: that of proclaiming home is worst.

It is as if we do not know that perceptions do matter, and often develop stronger wings and faster feet than hard facts.

That is why perception indices nowadays matter more in global investor estimates than numerical ones. Indeed why the fate of a country can easily be decided around nebulous and non-scientific notions of political and social risks, many of which are mere constructs.

Often, these arbitrary or unilateral notions of country risks have become respectable excuses for privileging prejudices and dissenting views above hard facts.

Indeed they have become defensible foreign policy tools and avenues for exerting political pressure and exacting undue concessions from vulnerable states while those doing so all the time appear business-like and driven by blind norms of the market.

When you add the fact of continued sanctions, and also our bad history of debt servicing and defaulting, which we are now tackling, it just gets you to wonder why we compound our already negative country risk.

 

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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