SAPS and riots….


Susan George, a leading pro-Third World economist argues that, when the two Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Bank and the IMF, call for economic reform, they almost take over everything except policing.

“Whenever SAPs (Structural Adjustment Programmes) fail to produce the desired results –all too often the case– the bank and the fund conveniently stress the role of the government, which is invariably accused of incompetence or insufficient motivation. Successes on the other hand, are entirely due to the wisdom and recommendations of the BWI. In many countries, these institutions have left only one government function fully in the hands of the locals: the maintenance of law and order and the criminal justice system. Since ‘IMF riots’ have occurred in some thirty countries, with deaths , injuries and arrests totalling in the thousands, one can readily understand that these institutions do not wish to be seen as involved in policing.”

She asks, is foreign control over financially dominated countries (FDCs) an irreversible fact of life? “It’s hard to discern for the moment a force strong enough to oppose it. The people’s will, the people’s anger? They exist of course, but the means to express them have been weakened along with the social fabric that has been worn away by SAPs. Riots have tended towards the spontaneous, the fed up…. People are also just plain tired and often sick and hungry. They usually have to work at several jobs to make ends meet and jobs are insecure, because so many people will accept any offer, however poor the wages or awful the conditions.”

Quite some statement. The question is: How true is this of Zimbabwe in view of the recent events? With pressure from the IMF and World Bank to raise revenue through taxes what will Zimbabwe do? Can the government afford to ignore the people’s plight?


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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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