We Will Intensify Begging - Zimbabwe Finance Minister
From this, when banks held the power of life and death over sick people, we now have a situation where banks in Zimbabwe are like Ghost Towns...not a soul stirring, keeping their savings (US Dollars mostly) in their homes and business safes.
Tendai Biti told parliament today in his Mid-Term Policy Review Statement that the government has no strategy for reducing its external debts and that the strategy going forward will be the "intensification" of begging.
Blackmail is going to be involved apparently, with the convening of a "Friends of Zimbabwe" Conference to beg for more money to pay salaries for the inclusive government.
In terms of expenditure, fully sixty percent went towards the payment of allowances to civil servants. Zimbabwe has a civil service of 230 000, which is absolutely mad, especially since it is possible to run this country with less than 75 000 civil servants.
Instead of shrinking this abomination, the Inclusive Government is actually expanding the civil service as more room is made at the feeding trough for new MDC "civil servants". Six months into the year and five months after the government started work, feet are still being dragged over the "rationalisation" of the civil service.
There are no measures introduced today that will lead to the recovery of the economy. None at all.
It was all a juggling act to try and increase the feed in the trough, on which this inclusive government is gorging itself.
And gorging themselves they are.
Biti revealed that US$11 million was spent by government on foreign travel. Even Biti himself says most of this travel has nothing whatsoever to do with economic growth, which should be the priority.
Keep in mind that this US$11 million was being spent even as government told the Grain Marketing Board that they would not get the US$10 million they need to buy grain from farmers.
Harare Hospital, which requires only US$3.6 million to be become full functional and efficient, was there is no money for any of that nonsense and given only US$1 million.
Yet Mugabe and Tsvangirai spent US$11 million on foreign travel for their ministers and officials.
The same Inclusive Misgovernment spent more than US$5 million hiring cars from their own company, CMED.
It is a reflection on both Mugabe and Tsvangirai that our economy remains moribund, unemployment high and everything up in the air as it is now.
First, as Finance Minister Biti bemoaned today in his Mid-Term Fiscal Policy Review, savings in Zimbabwe are non-existent. This has had a ripple effect with viable businesses unable to borrow to expand or establish themselves. The banks simply to do not have the money.
The lack of savings continues now still. Even as the Inclusive Misgovernment crows about its "achievements", the country is lying bleeding in the dirt.
Here's our problem:
The hyperinflation of the previous decade have instilled in Zimbabweans the opposite of a savings culture. Under hyperinflation, you spent your money the day you got it because it would be worthless the next day.
But now we have a stable currency, so why still experience the same?
It boils down to this: the people of this country do not trust this Inclusive Thing one bit. They wish it would succeed, yes, but they are not hopeful.
Now, if there had been an indication that Tsvangirai is at least winning or getting the upper hand over Mugabe, then perhaps they would be more inclined to trust the government of Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
But all they see is Tsvangirai defeated at every turn, outwitted everyday.
They know just what sort of idiocy Mugabe is capable of. And they are not about to make their hard-earned money a sitting duck in Mugabe and Tsvangirai's banks, despite the Finance Minister's assurances yesterday.
There is, by most accounts, nearly a billion US dollars circulating in Zimbabwe OUTSIDE the banking system. It will be a cold day in hell before either Tsvangirai or Mugabe see this money.
This government has no ideas, as the Finance Minister himself said, apart from intensifying their begging. Perhaps, just perhaps, someone will feel sorry for them soon.