The full import of Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe is open for business mantra is now being painfully realized by the working class of Zimbabwe. Salaries of the workers have been eroded, the majority of our population is unemployed yet our State is saving to compensate white farmers and clear arrears of odious debts accrued from International Financiers.
Zimbabwe’s ruling elite post-Independence slid into the constrained circle of formerly exclusively white owned capital. The elites primitively accumulated until they exhausted all that was available. The accumulation included but was not limited to grabbing prime farming land, seizing former state/white owned companies and stripping parastatals of all their assets. One thing the elites never bothered to do was production and as was expected they depleted the cake. In short our leaders were trapped in a parasitic bourgeoisie’s mode.
The incumbent leadership is hurriedly trying realign itself to assume a comprador bourgeoise mode by trying to strike deals with international capital so that the looting trough can be refilled. A comprador bourgeoise makes deals with foreign capital at the expense of the masses. When our President visits countries like Kazakhstan, United Arab Emirates among others he is selling our natural resources to the highest bidder to fund the “looting contract.” The looting contract is the agreement between the business cartels, military and the civilian leadership imposters. This is the contract which planned and executed the coup.
In short Zimbabwe is open for business denotes to the desperate attempt of the ruling elites to refill their looting trough from global capital. Unfortunately the people have to be sacrificed for this agenda to see the light of day. Indeed the people are paying the price.
On 10 April the International Monetary Fund announced in a statement that they have entered in an agreement with the Zimbabwean government for a Staff Monitoring Program. They agreed on macroeconomic policies and structural reforms for Zimbabwe. This is not new to Zimbabwe and we are still enduring the effects of Economic Structural Adjustment Program of early 90s.
Contrary to what our Finance minister told us, this does not mean that we are going to automatically get fresh loans. The IMF spokesperson Gerry Rice in 2018 once raised a critical issue that Zimbabwe will only be eligible for fresh loans if it clears its arrears with the African Development Bank, AFDB and the World Bank. Such arrears amount to $US 1.980 billion. Our Finance Minister have told the world that he will clear the arrears by year end. One wonders why we are prioritizing clearing arrears of these loans ahead of investing in industrialization and paying salaries for our civil servants.
This is not the first time we have been attempting to clear our arrears since defaulting in 1999. In 2005 Governor Gono and team paid US$200 million to the bullying IMF in arrears. Hyperinflation succeeded the blunder and an economic collapse ensued. In 2016 the Mugabe regime cleared the IMF arrears and our economy has never recovered.
In the event that our government successfully secure a reform package and clear its arrears there is still the sticking issue of sanctions from the United States of America. Under ZIDERA the American government will veto against any decision of extending loans through IMF and World Bank to Zimbabwe. The government has never bothered to explain how they will deal with this hurdle.
The Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, ZIMCODD and other civil society organisations have been on the forefront demanding a debt audit for Zimbabwe. The bulk of the debt we are battling with is odious and as long as we don’t have mechanisms for accountability and transparency future lines of credit can still be abused.
Lastly do we really need these International Financiers? What is the success story of the IMF programs globally? In Zimbabwe the ESAP era was a complete disaster by the IMF’s own admission. Argentina became worse off after its first loan in 1958.
Generally economic meltdown is born out of poor policy making and corruption. Securing more credit lines will not grow our economy.
In conclusion what we need now is investing in, social human development, industrialization, creating democratic space to enhance accountability and respecting human rights and in particular labour rights. These ideals are not going to be delivered on the wheels of inevitability but we have to unite and push our government to do the right thing.
The ruling elites who grabbed prime farming land from the former White farmers are now relegating the task of paying for developments to the ordinary tax payer. Some of us believe that whatever developments were made on the farms they were made through the unpaid labour of the working class. If we are to think of compensating we should begin with those workers who worked for very long hours receiving paltry salaries but were latter evicted by a new black owner. The new black owner can compensate both the former farm owner and the former workers because they grabbed these farms for their personal use.
The land question should now be discussed outside the context of race and focus more on how we can enhance production and equitable access to this means of production.
It is sad to realise that some resettled farmers are now being evicted before the conclusion of the land audit. Such evictions are clearly driven by contempt of the poor and greed.
The fate of the Working Class
The working across all the spectrum, (the currently employed, the still to be employed and those retired on a pittance) and peasants have been relegated to extreme poverty as government pursues its cruel Zimbabwe is open for business agenda. Prices of basic goods and services have quadrupled since January but salaries and income levels have remained stagnant.
The militarized government has adopted a shoot to kill strategy to crush any form of protest by the citizens. The citizens are divided on how to confront the challenges facing them.
We call upon the International community to stand in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe during these trying times. International bodies such as SADC, AU and UN should reign on the Zimbabwean government to respect the SADC protocol on Human Rights, African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, United Nations Declaration on Human Rights among other treaties.
We kindly ask progressive citizens and movements globally to stand in solidarity with our people as we demand bread and butter under a highly repressive environment.
To the people of Zimbabwe there is no other way. We have to fight and fight as Unit. We cannot defer our lives to the day of elections. We have to eat now, get medication now, access education now and enjoy a dignified life.
Together we can crush austerity.
Let’s begin by joining the #PricesMustFall campaign. The campaign is pushing for increased income levels for all citizens to meet the obtaining cost of living.
Source: Obert Masaraure
*Obert Masaraure is the National President of Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ. His primary vocation is fighting for labour justice and accessible quality education in rural schools. He writes here in his personal capacity.