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So much for a growing economy!

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube is said to have been roasted in Parliament over late payment of farmers who each year are toiling in the countryside to feed the nation.

IN our NewsDay edition yesterday, we carried two seemingly unrelated stories: One on the front page titled We’re starving, govt workers cry and another inside story headlined Minister grilled over late payment of farmers.

In the first story, we hear of civil servants grieving over their miserable wages, which are now causing them serious agony because what they are earning can no longer afford them a decent life, let alone a square meal.

In the second story, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube is said to have been roasted in Parliament over late payment of farmers who each year are toiling in the countryside to feed the nation.

While these stories seem unrelated, they, however, point to one thing that there is definitely something wrong with our economy, but our government, and especially the Finance minister, continues to refuse to accept this glaring reality.

Each time Ncube opens his mouth to speak about Zimbabwe’s economic performance, he boasts of robust growth which, however, has no supporting evidence on the ground as the two mentioned stories clearly tell us.

That government is failing to pay decent wages to its workers as well as the thousands of farmers who are yearly religiously delivering their grain, wheat and cotton to government-run institutions such as the Grain Marketing Board and the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe speaks volumes of the state of our economy.

It is, in our considered opinion, high time government stopped lying to itself and us that everything is well in our economy because, for instance, how can it take almost a year to pay farmers who delivered their grain mid last year.

Most of the unpaid grain farmers started delivering their produce in May last year, and honestly speaking, this is more than unfair that they are yet to be paid and the Finance minister was clearly lying through his teeth when he told parliamentarians this week that government is “trying very hard to pay as quickly as we can before the Zimdollar component loses value. That is our strategy ... we endeavour to pay as quickly as possible before the situation gets worse.”

It is needless to remind Ncube and his colleagues in government that the situation is already more than worse: It is now more than dire for the farmers, government workers and the majority of other Zimbabweans.

Also speaking in Parliament, Ncube said: “We will be making an announcement in this regard where(by) we believe it will be a last blow to increases in prices and generally inflation.”

While we wait for him to wave his magic wand, we are, however, quite doubtful that it will make much difference because we appear to be travelling down a very familiar highway which has in the past led us to a dead end. Prices and inflation have long bolted from the stables.

As we see it, the only effective “last blow” to our miserable economic situation is for government to eat humble pie and admit that it has failed and should accept fresh ideas from people it has been ignoring all along as it chose to blame sanctions for its obvious failures.

Our economy has everything it takes to literally shoot out of the doldrums, but it is failing to do so because government has not been honest with us.

For example, our gold resources alone can create wonders if there is transparency in its extraction and sale, which is completely lacking to the extent that we are always told of leakages draining more of the precious mineral than what is benefiting the nation.

We cannot even start talking of other such minerals as diamonds, because we are not even sure what is happening in that sector as it is shrouded in secrecy.

So much for a growing economy!


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