How Covid-19 Has Further Exposed Zimbabwe’s Financial Sovereignty Crisis

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By Mxolisi Ncube

After fighting off the first wave of covid for the last year, and coming out fairly unscathed, a glimmer of hope seemed to rise in the hearts of Zimbabweans that the worst was behind us.

These hopes were shattered with the emergence of the second wave, comprised of Covid variants that are now wreaking havoc in Zimbabwe, claiming her people long before their time, decimating public optimism.

À question I keep asking myself, and those around me is; how did Zimbabwe get to where she is now, begging for foreign aid, and burying our heads in the sand, hoping Covid will just go away?

Today, the crisis in Zim is not so much an economic one: it is a financial sovereignty crisis.

Don’t get me wrong, there sure is a financial crisis in Zimbabwe, that is clear for all to see, but this stems from a financial sovereignty crisis that is much deeper, and harder to see, let alone point at.

Sovereignty. This is a favourite “leave us alone” catch phrase that is pandered about in the hallowed halls of the UN or political circles, and brings shivers down the spines of foreign powers because any breach of sovereignty by one to another is considered an act of war.

To be truly Sovereign, a country needs to be self sufficient in service provision to its interests and people. How many of us can truly say that Zimbabwe is Sovereign today, considering that we are relying on goodwill by foreign powers that we outwardly despise, for donations of medical equipment and covid vaccines, because we ourselves are, for want of a better word, insolvent, or broke?

Many of you will be asking where I am going with this, because I haven’t touched on the economic side yet, but bear with me, all will become clear.

In 1980, Zimbabwe burst onto the world stage, financially sound, à robust economic and fiscal policy addressing balanced deficit and debt. In other words, we were financially Sovereign.

Little by little, over the years that followed, this robust economic and financial policy was put under increasing pressure, through the slow and highly contagious condition of political corruption and self interest that was left unchecked for the past 40 years and has resulted in Zimbabwe and her people being subjected to multiple economic crashes, decisive and definitive bankruptcy of her people and institutions.

Today, Zimbabwe cannot protect her people, Covid is a clear, sad and devastating reminder of this fact, and this is just one example that affects every single arm of government’s service provision.

Through years of robbing Peter to pay Paul, mismanagement of nation fiscus, wanton unbalanced expenditure and exploding debt, Zimbabwe and her people are now at the mercy of foreign institutions.

As an example, the Minister of Finance has asked the IMF, world Bank, etc.. Multiple times for bail out, only to be told, “stop the plunder, rein-in expenditure, balance your books, and we will think about it.”. This doesn’t sound like Zimbabwe is anywhere near being financially Sovereign.

And its true, complete disregard for macroeconomic policies has resulted in massive brain, financial, skill and education flight to greener pastures. This can be seen in international newspapers, where Zimbabweans are achieving great things… outside of Zimbabwe. McLaren F1, Google, banking etc.. To name a few.

So with our brightest, educated, talented and wealthy all outside of the country, our macroeconomics has little hope of recovery, as those that are mentioned above are tomorrow’s inventors, investors, and business owners. This all creates an employment vacuum, reduces or capacity to produce, reduces our capacity to generate wealth and capital and leaves Zimbabwe and her people reliant on foreign governments to foot the bill.

Nearly all of Zimbabwe’s government service provision is outsourced to international companies: helped along by the outstretched hands of corrupt government officials.

When a government can no longer guarantee the safety and security of her people financially, that country can no longer be considered to be financially Sovereign, and by default Sovereign in any sense, because other foreign powers and companies own our debt: we are beholden to them, and it is now they that call the shots. We as Zimbabweans no longer play a part in our country’s destiny.

The only way we as a people can adjust this, is to think long and hard on where we want to be in 10, 20 years time. To achieve this, a radical change is needed, and only we the people – as one can implement this change.

Until next time, remember to stay safe, wear your mask, wash your hands, and look after one another.

Mxolisi Ncube is a journalist and secretary for information in the opposition The Patriotic Front