Don’t panic, Govt on top of the situation
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa’s message to Zimbabweans is simple Do not panic as Government is on top of the situation regards the economy. The current challenges are not insurmountable and will soon be overcome. The President is asking Zimbabweans to be patient as the prevailing hardships are temporary and a response to the fiscal and monetary stabilisation measures announced by Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. These will soon come to pass as the economy self-corrects.
The current situation cannot be compared to 2008 and hence there is no need for people to empty their bank balances in frenzied panic or to buy unnecessary goods as a store of value. As it is, some people are hoarding tonnes of basic commodities in their homes unnecessarily while others have litres of hazardous fuel in their backyards posing a danger to their families.
They have wiped clean their savings and traded some of the money on the illegal foreign currency parallel market. Businesses are not helping the situation either by withholding stock and playing a wait-and-see game. Their actions are directly fuelling the price hikes by creating artificial shortages of goods. Thankfully, Government has seen through their shenanigans and suspended Statutory Instrument 122 of 2017 to allow companies and entities with free funds to import certain goods into the country.
In a frank and candid engagement with bankers and captains of industry and commerce in Harare on Monday, President Mnangagwa implored depositors not to panic over the value of their Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) balances and bond notes as there is no change in policy to warrant offloading them.
“While the country is going through difficult times mainly because of lack of foreign currency to meet the growing demand for foreign exchange across all the sectors of the economy, I would like to assure you all that the current multicurrency system is here to stay. All your RTGS balances at banks and bond notes in circulation, are safe and secure. There should be no pressure to exchange or offload these balances as Government policy has not changed to warrant such anxiety,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said the “fear to lose wealth and savings” as happened at the peak of the 2008 economic challenges were “current but unnecessary”. President Mnangagwa said he appreciates and understands the concerns of citizens and Government was working around the clock to stabilise the economy.
He also revealed that the president of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) Professor Benedict Oramah, Senior Advisor Lazard Freres and Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, were in the country last Thursday to provide assurances that the bank would provide Zimbabwe with the much-needed financial support.
In his discussions with businesses, the President was clear that Government was aware of their challenges but also alive to the suffering of the masses who have endured shortages of goods some of which are stacked in warehouses by manufacturers for speculative purposes. Retailers are also charging extortionate prices for their goods a scenario Government finds unacceptable. Government would therefore not acquiescence to their plea to lift the suspension of SI 122 as they claim to have the capacity to produce the goods that are in short supply.
While there was a meeting of minds on certain issues, a chasm still exists and this can be narrowed with further engagements. The President has said he is open to further interactive sessions with businesspeople to ensure the economy moves forward.
“You have requested that we meet, some said twice a year; I need more than twice a year. We, as the current administration, know that your input is crucial in moving forward. The days when Government made decisions without consulting the private sector are now behind us. In the new dispensation, dialogue is a two-way street. The private sector and public sector must traverse this new path hand-in-hand to build the Zimbabwe we want,” said President Mnangagwa.
We welcome the camaraderie and spirit in which the President’s interaction with the business community was held and hope it is the beginning of a collaborative effort to build the country’s economy. The problems confronting Zimbabwe can only be overcome through unity of purpose and the business community is crucial to efforts to turnaround the economy.
President Mnangagwa is a listening leader and we are confident that the concerns raised by captains of industry will be taken on board as Government crafts policy. In the same vein, businesses must play their part by being honest and adopting ethical practices in their craft. Speculative tendencies and massive profiteering belong in the dark era of hyperinflation and we urge them to desist from such practices. As the President said, Zimbabweans should rally together and work for the common good of the country. They have to put national interests ahead of their narrow selfish goals.