by Tendai Ruben Mbofana
So, finance minister Mthuli Ncube actually believes Zimbabwe’s economy is ‘doing very well’!
Talk about delusional thinking!
Or, perhaps it is just someone who is deliberately seeking to deceive in such obvious and unashamed ways.
When I heard the excitable Ncube speaking in a news report this morning on 3kTV, I could not believe the audacity of the man!
What economy was he referring to?
As he was talking about the local economy, I wondered in which Zimbabwe he resided.
Maybe he spent most of his time in Switzerland – where I understand his family is domiciled – and is far removed from the realities of the ordinary citizenry in the country he is finance minister.
As I was following Ncube’s wild claims, an image began forming in my mind.
I visualized a patient suffering from a debilitating illness – which had rendered him immobile, unable to speak or even eat, and always in excruciating pain – such that was admitted in the ICU (intensive care unit).
And then, when relatives come to visit him – thereby inquiring of his condition from the medical practitioner attending him – they are told that the patient is ‘doing very well’!
What utter nonsense would that be?
I honestly do not know what Ncube was trying to say – but is there any other meaning to these shocking allegations?
Maybe there are those who look at this from a different angle – nonetheless, as far as I am concerned, there is no ambiguity in such a statement.
It is as clear as day – Professor Mthuli Ncube said Zimbabwe’s economy was ‘doing very well’.
In all this, the country’s inflation rate, especially that of food, is still one of the highest in the world – up there with Venezuela, Lebanon, Argentina, and Suriname.
Our local currency has been one of the most unstable on the planet – at present, hovering around ZW$7,000 to the greenback.
Yet, the vast majority of workers earn in this useless money – with 77 percent of all transactions in Zimbabwe being in US dollars – since most retailers in this highly informal economy refuse the local currency.
As that was not bad enough, these Zimbabwe dollar salaries are not pegged to any real US dollar figure – as such, the vast majority of workers are earning less than US$100 per month in real terms.
The situation is even worse for pensioners, most of whom are receiving less than US$30 a month.
This leaves 49 percent of the population living in extreme poverty, whilst two-thirds of the workforce earning below the poverty datum line.
Furthermore, during the 2022/23 season, more than 3.8 million people in rural areas faced food insecurity at peak – such that they required some form of aid.
As a matter of fact, hunger has hit urban areas with a vengeance, with up to 2.2 million people in our towns and cities regarded as food insecure.
Whereas for children in Zimbabwe, it is reported that one in three suffers from malnutrition.
It has actually become a luxury for some families to have more than one meal a day!
Do these horrifying statistics point to an economy that is ‘doing very well’?
Please, Prof Ncube, stop insulting and spitting upon the suffering people of Zimbabwe – whose unimaginable poverty has been authored by the government he serves.
Indeed, no one can deny the encouraging figures coming out of his office.
Our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) stood at US$20,68 billion for 2022, with a growth rate of 3.4 percent.
This year, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) projects economic growth of 4.8 percent.
In the mining sector, the country is posed to attain the US$12 billion target.
Indeed, the country boasts of the largest reserves of lithium in Africa, the second platinum deposits in the world, the seventh largest producer of diamonds, and the second largest gold reserves per square kilometer.
Is this what Ncube regards as the economy ‘doing very well’?
Nevertheless, as long as the ordinary citizenry is still languishing in such deplorable poverty, all these numbers count for nothing!
What use is it to a starving child – who has not had a decent meal in days – that Zimbabwe is the seventh largest producer of diamonds?
What is the point in possessing the world’s largest gold reserves per square kilometer, when this is only benefiting the ruling elite – who are busy smuggling this precious mineral, as well as others, for their own self-aggrandizement?
As a matter of fact, is it not a great tragedy that communities residing in areas with all this mineral wealth are actually some of the poorest people in the country?
Each year, Zimbabwe is prejudiced over US$3 billion through mineral smuggling, money laundering, corrupt activities, and other illicit financial transactions.
As long as ordinary Zimbabweans are not enjoying the fruits of these impressive figures, then there is nothing ‘very well’ about our economy!
From our point of view, the country is still in the ICU and potentially on its death bed.
What matters the most in determining the state of a country’s economy are not the numbers from treasury – but the living standards of the majority of its citizens.
If Mthuli Ncube and even his boss, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, could come before the nation informing us of a significant reduction in poverty in Zimbabwe, that would make more sense.
Let them tell us how many people are now earning above the poverty datum line, and then we can start talking.
Let them give us figures of those now able to afford enough to eat.
As long as their version of ‘the economy doing very well’ is confined to statistics that are meaningless to the general population, then all this talk is a lie.
● Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700| +263782283975, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit website: http://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/