Guest Contribution: Economics falters on the altar of politics


Editorial Note: This article is a guest contribution which looks at the interplay between politics and economics. The contributor, who for professional reasons has asked to remain anonymous, looks at the origins of the currency crisis and how the government’s takeover of the central bank’s debts contributed to the current mess. A long but interesting take on the current challenges. Enjoy!

We would rather be ruined than changed W.H Auden

By all measures, 2019 promises to be annus horribilis. I learnt the term in 1996 when Chris Rees, an asset manager and financial columnist was describing what to expect in Zimbabwe in 1997.

By end of 1996, a worrying trend had emerged. In addition to abandoning the then Finance Minister, Ariston Chambati’s economic reforms, our foreign currency reserves were precariously low, covering less than six months, down from a more secure twelve months cover.

A decade later, observing from my seat in the City of London, 2008 would also be described as annus horribilis of the world, as the financial crisis led to a global depression.

Living through both crises as an economist provided a wealth of data and commentary on business cycles and economic booms and busts beyond the common man’s parlance.

While the politician is wont to blame all and sundry, and society eager to find scapegoats, economics is very clear:

Whatever the underlying reasons, the burgeoning central bank assets led to a speculative binge as investment managers tried to preserve capital. Subprime lending, that is lending to people who have consistently defaulted but whom the government guaranteed nonetheless led to the debasement of money. In other words, it eroded money’s worth.

As the subprime borrowers predictably defaulted and government guarantees were called up, central bank assets increased. Lending to an asset class worse than junk became even more profitable since government would pay up on default – until of course the day government could not. This left the bank and the entire system exposed.

Politics and economic cycles

Our study of business cycles is aided significantly by the works of Joseph Schumpeter. In the 1940s, he wrote the seminal work on the history of economic cycles. While later he became a celebrated prophet and Harvard economist, his own history was less than stellar. During Austria’s hyperinflation in the 1920s he had failed dismally. The bank he led went bankrupt and he was fired as the technocrat finance minister trying to stop hyperinflation against the wills of the political class.

Yet, in his epic book, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, which he published some twenty years later far from Vienna, he gained global accolades as he helped us understand the dynamics between economics and politics. It was an indictment of socialism through a detailed understanding of how it works (or rather, does not work) compared to an entrepreneurial led, free market society.

His contemporary Friedrich Von Hayek, went on to win the Nobel in Economics for his work, “The Road to Serfdom”, again from knowledge gained from Austria’s hyperinflation episode. A salient warning is f how the road to totalitarian state is laden with good intentions. The central planner must get it right all the time, adopting his model to millions of decisions. One wrong decision is fatal to the whole system.

The interplay of politics and economics is such that socialist paternalism leads to the leaders gaining and growing their control over society. Peter Drucker, an economist turned management guru also lived through the darkest period in Austrian hyperinflation. This informed his decentralised management treatise. Making a distinction between leading and managing. Leaders require far different skills set and personality from managers.

Through Schumpeter at Harvard, Drucker in Japan, Hayek at London school of Economics and another luminary Ludwig Mises at New York University the world came to understand how political decisions affect economics. Having lived through the horrors of hyperinflation driven by totalitarian state theirs helped save the world. Or at least juxapositioned western democracy to Russian socialism.

The philosopher Karl Popper, another citizen of Vienna who escaped Hitler’s hideous surge provides the clearest understanding of enemies to democracy and free society “So if even in the West we have to fight for the rule of law, in Russia that should be the first and only task of the government.” He argued society can never be free while taking barking orders from above.

These men were the best of Vienna. Banished by the rise of socialist populism and hyperinflation, they found fertile ground in western societies that could listen and embrace their wisdom.

My intention in detailing these great works is to make Zimbabwean technocrats aware of the ready body of works that have reached the conclusions of ineffectiveness of economics in moribund politics. No matter how laudable the economics, everything falters at the altar of politics.

Mnangagwa, ZANU PF and Ideology?

When asked about his economic ideology, Emmerson Mnangagwa retorted “ideology is leisure”. Magaisa in his BSR speculates Mnangagwa meant luxury instead of leisure. All seems to affirm Professor Moyo’s assertion that Mnangagwa is not a man of letters.

We may not know what Mnangagwa really meant, but surely his experience as a Zanu PF apparatchik of over fifty years can lead us to understand the man and his ideology. His is governed totally by Zanu PF ideology. Zanu PF is a socialist party. This is at the core of its foundations and crux of its operations. We can start with its own constitution. Zanu PF’s constitution in its ideological foundations makes a bold declaration;

“To establish and sustain a socialist society firmly based on our historical, cultural and social experience and to create conditions for economic independence, prosperity and equitable distribution of the wealth of the nation in a system of economic organisation and management in which elements of free enterprise and market economy, planned economy and public ownership are combined.”

Life is both historical and contemporary. Our very existence is a mixture of both the present and the past. Zanu PF’s purported socialism is a product of its ties to China and Russia during Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. The political philosophy of China and Russia became the bedrock on which the guerrilla war was won. The support was both material as it was political philosophical indoctrination. It succeeded in the culmination of independence in 1980, but then set the stage for a one party state and collectivisation of the economy. This was achieved in the year 2000 with the collectivisation of land in Zimbabwe. Erstwhile land, which was in private hands changed tenure to state property.

Already Government, by its socialist dogma, controls and directly owns the economy. Lending to Government dwarfs private sector by three to one. The Minister of Finance knows this, hence recent undertakings to reduce the use of Treasury Bills. Besides, the threat of nationalization of private assets is ever-present.

Nationalist, socialist, paternalist dogma engulf the nation state of Zimbabwe. The recent Zanu PF annual conference bares the hallmark of socialism. A cadre, we are told, must be disciplined and trained in the ways of the party through national youth service, free primary education, extension of the free presidential farming scheme, command agriculture and reorientation of the state, making cabinet answerable to the party.

The internal contradictions in Zanu PF are between the systems and structures versus the beliefs its leaders have. They have been accused of being “champagne socialists”, crony petty capitalists and outright thieves. This dates back to the war itself, whereas the masses were indoctrinated from whence the leaders took advantage. There is evidence of this double speak occurring in the economy. They socialise the health system yet fly out and get health care in western capitalist nations – in some of the most expensive private healthcare institutions! Socialism is good for the masses but not good enough for themselves.

Hence when Mnangagwa traverses the world with the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra, the reality is that Zimbabwe is closed to ideas and stuck in a time warp. With the one-centre of power ethos, the minute details of statecraft now belong to a monopoly. This monopoly then becomes corrupt and driven by primitive accumulation.  This stuck difference is exemplified by the Lenin-Trotsky socialist idealism versus the brutal Stalinist order. Socialism driven by idealism versus socialism driven by corrupt, primitive accumulation. Zanu PF has taken the latter!

This background is useful in understanding the economic decisions made in Zimbabwe. I will pick a few and detail how politics trumps economics.

Paying for the rich

Exactly two years after winning the 2013 elections the government of Zimbabwe passed the RBZ Debt Assumption Bill on the 7th of August 2015. The then Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa sponsored the bill. The bill was passed to take over RBZ liabilities and make them government liabilities through the issuances of Treasury Bills. The total liability was for $1.4bn.

Chinamasa on the 6th of August 2013, inherited a fiscus that could not have looked any better. Just $200m in debt and on course to be paid off by the end of the year, based on former Finance Minister Tendai Biti’s thrust of “eating what we kill”. Biti had produced a budget surplus the previous year based on this fiscal prudent mantra.

However, with only a little over four months to the end of year 2013, Chinamasa managed to turn a projected surplus into an actual deficit of $400m. In that little time, Government had overspent.

The RBZ Debt Assumption Bill seems innocuous enough. Government was taking over its responsibilities after the disastrous quasi fiscal activities by the previous Central `Bank governor Gideon Gono. Government had raided FCA accounts and borrowed from creditors to fund Government’s farm mechanization program and basic commodity subsidies.

Yet the truth is further from the official position. If indeed, Government was concerned with its creditors it would have instituted a wholesale creditors’ review and not just focused on RBZ creditors. At the time, government had not serviced its $9bn foreign creditors in 15 years. Much the same other parastatal debts and domestic creditors. What was so special about Central Bank debt?

The truth was that Government was making way for the introduction of a Zimbabwean local currency. Dollarisation was forced on it by circumstances and sustained by the GNU mostly because of Biti’s financial discipline. The Zanu PF part of the government never wanted nor liked it. It put an unnecessary straightjacket to their socialist program. Hence on 7th of August 2015, the introduction of a local currency was put in motion. Liberating the Central Bank of its creditors cleaned up its balance sheet and with it the ability to start printing and bring back a local unit.

This is necessitated by the idea of currency sovereignty. According to Zanu PF the argument was simple enough. A country asserts its sovereignty through its currency. The lack of a currency was an embarrassment to the self-proclaimed revolutionary party. No economic argument, the least of which, the country’s lack of foreign currency reserve could change their mind.

Therefore, politics won the day.

The economic effect of the Debt Assumption Bill was twofold. First, it injected into the system new money not backed by the dollar through Treasury Bills (TB’s). Thus the holders of the TB’s quickly discounted them, some for as much as 30% of face value. (Sort of like selling the promise of a $100 bill for actual $70 cash today). Creditors did not believe the paper value of the TB’s they were given by Government. Banks and Pension Funds bought these TB’s. Given the discounts, they yielded higher returns than normal lending. By accepting this “new money”, banks abrogated their fiduciary duty in informing their customers fully the asset they now held in their vaults.

The sector effect was that upon receiving their “cash” after selling the TB’s, the creditors raided the financial system of real dollars and walked away. Instead of holding onto a 5 year TB, a foreign creditor simply discounted the paper and received the money offshore. This resulted in a massive outflow of forex in the system. The second of its kind after the $800m flight of August 2013 as foreigners panicked after Zanu PF controversially won that election.

Most economists advised Government against this move. The manager types at banks were easily hoodwinked into buying a worthless paper. Pension fund managers did not inform policy holders of the debasement to their savings. In fact, the financial system and its auditors refuse to recognize their fiduciary responsibility in correctly accounting of their balance sheet and funds. We saw S&P in New York taking seriously this fiduciary duty. By omission, the financial system aid and abet the chimera of the 1:1 exchange rate.

For Zanu PF, it is purely about currency sovereignty which somehow magically translates to country sovereignty.

But here is how the catastrophe unfolded.

Shortly after the RBZ Debt Assumption Bill, with a clean balance sheet the RBZ lock-jammed the RTGS system by owing banks close to $600m. The RBZ is in charge of the local electronic money clearing system. When government paid civil servants it used the RBZ to credit banks’ RTGS accounts with electronic dollars since tax dollars were not enough.

Through the banks’ benevolence, they paid hard cash to civil servants. This went on for a while, until their vaults ran out. The banks then asked the RBZ to back their electronic transfers with part real cash! With no foreign currency reserves, the RBZ struggled to meet its end of the bargain. The respite was during the tobacco selling season, which brought substantial forex.

The RBZ debt to banks soon grew to $1.2bn, but by this time, banks were without cash. The accounts merely reflected electronic balances. This led to bank queues as they struggled to dispense cash. Customers believed their cash was in the bank, but the banks had no cash and the RBZ also did not have the cash. Bank queues became longer. RBZ converted RTGS balance, popularly known as RBZ overdraft, to more TBs.

But why was Zanu PF possessed incredulously with wanting its own currency as a form of sovereignty? The answer you will find in how Mugabe continually berated and touted the West African nations for still paying a colonial tax to France. This is the political chatter that goes on in Zanu PF corridors. That this claim is outlandishly embarrassing is not the problem. That it is actually believed, without at least Zanu PF indunas going to France and West Africa to investigate and give a formal report to the party is a travesty. For this chimera, would have been burst and the audience better informed.

The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries should have taken time too to understand why a strong currency has not affected the exports of West Africa in 70 years. They too are afflicted with this disease of making statements whose validity has not been scientifically tested.

The West and Central Africa Franc is linked and pegged to the Euro (previously the French Franc). It has helped stabilize currency and monetary policy in these parts. The individual countries still require to save, produce and innovate to succeed but this is done in a stable and patently progressive monetary policy. It takes away currency volatility with its devastating consequences.

Hyperinflation is purely a monetary cancer that eats and kills away all production cells in a body economy. Once this cancer has entered the body, serious measures are required to kill the cancerous cells. Currency boards, dollarisation and regional monetary unions are the cure. However, having fought off cancer does not make one suddenly the healthiest in the world. To be healthy is a differenttask with concomitant measures. The West African of the French variety are proud Africans, with proud dress and culinary. I immersed myself with this culture when I was in graduate school in Paris. They had no problem with defining sovereignty based on the currency in use. In fact, they saw it in the same light as any African wearing a formal business suit – necessary regalia in serious business affairs. What has sovereignty got to do with it?

Lessons from the past

Has Zimbabwe not learnt from its ancestors a century ago? At least Mzilikazi and Sekhome can be pardoned for believing in witchcraft, black magic, superstition  and ritual gamesmanship in statecraft. This was 1840. Yet Khama the great grandfather, by 1862 chastised his father from such foolery when Sheshong was attacked by Mzilikazi, I reproduce the account as written by H.M Hole.

“He ( Sekhome) held a review and inspection of his fighting men, and, as an ordinary measure of precaution , assembled his witchdoctors to propitiate the spirits and ensure victory. This part of the proceedings gave great annoyance to Khama”.

Khama at only 25 years of age had moved with the times and his regiment with horses and guns managed to stop the Matebele warriors who only had long shields and assegai. Zanu PF, is still fighting with long shield and assegais’ in the 21st century. Notwithstanding the same belief system as Sekhome and Mzilikazi. While Napoleon had his superstitions, his war machinery and statecraft was modern.

In 21st century Zimbabwe, our ZANU PF leaders believed in Rotina Mavhunga the, witchdoctor who declared that she could produce diesel from a rock. Some people believe in three day miracle babies, and that the greenback could multiply in one’s account (remember Gono and Angel?). Some people believed so-called prophecies that gold nuggets would rain in parts of the country. An MP, Temba Mliswa’s rant at Mutumwa Mawere alleging he received a government guarantee for the biggest deal ever is instructive. Twenty years after the deal was done, no guarantee with the details has ever been produced. The seller has not produced the guarantee. Yet Mliswa is only expressing the political chattering class and what they believe.

Remember the sorcery and occult tales the former First Lady spread since 2014? Incredulous stuff. Prophet Wimbo was abducted and his sorcery used as basis of succession planning. All this lends us into understanding what it requires to be a leader of Zanu PF. If it’s not socialism, it’s sorcery, if not that, it’s corruption, and if not that, it is political expediency. Professor Moyo has recently confirmed that most ZANU PF leaders are deeply wedded to the idea of witchraft and ritualism. Economics is an after-thought.

Gwanda Solar Project

The corrupt nexus between business and socialist leadership is best exemplified by the Gwanda solar project. For years the government went on about rural electrification, and set about destroying the energy sector. They laid down expensive infrastructure in the rural areas. The expensive part of hydro-energy is not in the generation but in carrying it from source to house and industrial units. This, in a lot of ways, informs city planning.

Yet Zanu PF in its lofty ideals spent billions laying out this infrastructure to a population that sparsely required electricity nor had effective demand for it. Yet the politician scored cheap points and dare I say, votes for giving the rural folk what they clearly could not afford. The bane of central planning.

Yet the technological revolution would come up with something cheaper and suitable for sparsely populated households. Solar energy is proving to be a rural electrification revolution and something the rural folk can afford. Not only did Government miss the import of its rural electrification misstep, besides the billions lost. It went on to bungle its solar policy.

Now the central planning policy was to award a potentially billion dollar worth contract to a single solar farm contractor. Indeed. Government would pay someone to build a solar farm. Billion dollar worth. Elsewhere in the world Governments have opened up the sector and private capital risks its own capital to build these and feed into the grid. The sector is anchored in incentives.

A bankrupt Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) gives a self-proclaimed rich man a $600m tender to construct a solar farm in Gwanda. It only takes a disbursement of $5m before hell breaks loose and the nation is engulfed in such tomfoolery made worse by total disregard to the tax payer! While on the opposite side is the richest Zimbabwean Nick Roditi that no one knows, quietly actually delivering solar farms using his own money. These are dotted around the country in rural communities. Why did ZPC issue a tender? Why did Wicknell Chivhayo need Chinese partners? Why did they not use their own money? How come Roditi has been delivering?

Have we not learnt of the great advice Queen Victoria gave to the two Lobhengula indunas who had been sent to plead the King’s case in London:

“A King gives a stranger an ox, not his whole herd of cattle, otherwise what would other strangers arriving have to eat?”

Reminds us also of German philosopher Friedrich Hegel:

“The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”

This story is imbued with lessons. Firstly, why indeed society should be suspicious of business men in the name of patriotism blatantly supporting a socialist government. This goes against their very interest as a market participant unless there is something to be gained directly by the said business man. These businessmen take pride in having directly “spoken” to the ruler and thus either believe his sincerity or as the best leader Zimbabwe has ever had. In their posturing they directly contradict the ethos of the market system. Since many other market participants do not have this access and purely rely on rule of law and free market to start and grow a business. They also perpetuate the myth that other participants must also meet the President, especially potential foreign investors.

Business must judge the President based on the reality on the ground. Not what they feel or hope will happen in the future. The market indicators are all they need to speak out publicly. Posturing with the President only heightens our view of business as another Wicknell. If anything, Wicknell postures to great effect. It is not to say business must not meet the President. But in a socialist state that drove out its best entrepreneurs, closed black banks, set aside company laws and has divine powers to stop or promote a business, these meetings heighten suspicions of an unholy alliance between big business and the socialist party.

I would write about the country’s draconian corporate reconstruction laws, which are essentially a mandate for expropriation of private property but that’s a story for another day.

Economics is a study as old as humans. Hesiod, a contemporary of Homer wrote ardently on scarcity and markets. Since then, a lot of thought from Aristotle to St Thomas has been written and validated. The golden age of Economics started with the French in the 16th century before the Austrians added the most lasting contributions to the study.

The theory is unhinged. Though at every stage, mercantilism theory has dominated discourse. Marx entered. Keynes entered. All with theories that explain socialism and government intervention respectively. All failed and discarded. Except in Zimbabwe and a few other socialist outposts.

So nothing unique about Zimbabwe and what is taking place. Nothing. Reading about Argentina sounds incredibly like Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation is no different from Rome’s hyperinflation more than a thousand years ago. Not from Hungary and Germany less than 100 years ago. We all studied the Weimar Republic. Why then would we consider Zimbabwe to be unique?

The answer to our problem is as simple now as it has always been. It is the same answer for Venezuela and Argentina in the present.

If we depreciate officially the bond and RTGS we go with the failed Keynesians. It is a dog chasing its own tail. Our terms of trade are so precarious, the rate will only go one way. With commodity prices coming off, the dollar strengthening and emerging market turbulence, it is the road to perdition.

Argentina, with an economy once the same size as America just before World War 1, has had a 100 year crisis. They seem not to learn. So does Venezuela. Maduro reckons his is a special situation but history proves that it is not.

So in Zimbabwe we propagate myths and witchcraft in our state institutions and government. Hence 1:1 exchange rate lies. Even if everyone knows it to be a lie, the President, central bank and Ministry of Finance maintain, like Sekhome, that this is the truth. How different is it from the end of times gospel purveyors that lead their congregations to sure death?

Way out?

Peter Drucker provides the understanding of the way out for Zimbabwe. In his essay, the Sickness of Government (1969), he is erudite in explaining;

“The purpose of government is to focus the political energies of society. It is to dramatize issues. It is to present fundamental choices. The purpose of government, in other words, is to govern. This, as we have learned in other institutions, is incompatible with “doing.” Any attempt to combine government with “doing” on a large scale paralyzes the decision-making capacity.

There is reason today why soldiers, civil servants, and hospital administrators look to business management for concepts, principles, and practices. For business, during the last thirty years, has had to face, on a much smaller scale, the problem that government now faces: the incompatibility between “governing” and “doing.”

Business management learned that the two have to be separated, and that the top organ, the decision-maker, has to be detached from “doing.” Otherwise he does not make decisions, and the “doing” does not get done either.

The thesis is to decentralise government and politics. Instead of a monolithic structure that does everything similar to the music organs of 200 years ago, the modern orchestra has many  individual instruments, each playing one sound under the direction of a conductor.

“The conductor himself does not play an instrument. He need not even know how to play an instrument. His job is to know the capacity of each instrument and to evoke optimal performance from each. Instead of “performing,” he “conducts.” Instead of “doing,” he leads.”

The missionaries who have tried to facilitate modernism in Zanu PF have not succeeded. They have been spewed out like common dogs, just like the old chiefs mistrusted new missionaries that brought the gospel. Missionary Mthuli should take heed of this. Missionary Moyo provides ample evidence of the folly that comes with gusto without political force. Zanu PF is stuck in a time warp and does not understand the times they live in. Missionary Mthuli at Esigodoni, cast a lone figure. He requires political force to institute any reforms. But he is not a politician. He must buy the card and stand in the queue.

The way out of our quagmire is two-fold, drawing on the decentralisation thesis advanced by Peter Drucker. As economists and analysts we must be humble enough to understand that ours is nothing without political force. It is like inviting Gordan Ramsey to be an onion cutter at a dinner party. No matter Ramsey’s presence, the gastronomy will not be Michelin standards. The most celebrated economists in the 20th century failed because the politics of the day was wrong. Given the right political environment and standing next to the right politicians, they flourished. Today, Drucker, Schumpeter, Hayek, Popper, Mises, Friedman, Kaizer are celebrated.  Professor Mthuli cannot change a foolish ruler. Nor an omnipotent socialist structure.

So the answer lies in our body politic as a nation. With the all-important question of whether or not we are a republic. In form and deeds!

Mnangagwa must think seriously about ideology. A coup in party and state meant the systems remained intact. Giving us a glimpse of why the coup took place, nothing outside self aggrandisement. Coups led by the high command tend to be bloodless and if anything just a change in guard. The 1971, Turkey coup to overthrow Demirel is a good example. The Turkey crisis continued and what just changed was the leadership now in charge of the feeding trough. It takes, a Sankara type of coup to totally overhaul the system. Problem is, coups led by the rank and file tend to be bloody.

Yet, it is foolhardy of anyone to believe the rank and file in the army are not under immense economic pressure. In 2007, they raided Gono’s chickens and farms around the barracks out of starvation. Coups, beget coups. Our President must seriously think about that implication. One year in Mnangagwa’s government the domestic debt doubled. $5bn was spent. Did the common soldier or man enjoy any of this conspicuous consumption? Instead, the common man is taxed to pay for the gap created. It took almost nine years to accumulate $5bn in debt. It took the Mnangangwa government just a year!

If the president is sincere about change, then it is the politics that must change. Economics will take care of itself. His benevolence is in him wilting down his own powers and decentralising decision making, in both party and state. He is incapable of making history unless he democratises party and state and allows the next leader after him to have full legitimacy.

Zanu PF as a party cannot rid itself of Mugabe and still maintain the one centre of power model. However, outsiders cannot help Zanu PF, it must do so by itself, by reformers with political force, amongst its own trusted sons and daughters. They must not only rewrite the party constitution but do away with all the Zanu PF witchcraft and superstitions. They must do away with the one centre of power nonsense and nuisance and liberalise the party. The party must be open to ideas and its leaders open to challenge. Unfettered democracy in Zanu PF, will make it easier for the best ideas to flourish in party and state.

Equally, MDC politicians must not become like Zanu PF. There is ample evidence to show that the party has learnt bad behaviour from its predecessor and it is this bad behaviour that is toxic to the nation’s politics. The power of politics is in organisation and organisational structure, building institutional memory and culture. Mutambara offers useful advice, building on the work of political scientists Miles-Tendi and Brian Raftoupolus on government of national unity. It merely serves to postpone conflict rather than stop it. Any “talks” must critically situate the Zimbabwean problem.

The second idea has to do with all the stakeholders that make the Zimbabwean state. We must demand our rights and cleanse the body politic. There is no economic solution without destroying the one centre of power. The international community must understand this. Zimbabwe is no Rwanda. It does not require a strong man. We have had enough of those and they failed the nation. Ian Smith, Robert Mugabe and now Emmerson Mnangagwa. Our precolonial history clearly shows that Lobhengula failed to reform the state. While Khama, successfully navigated the scramble.

As intimated in this essay, there is enough history and literature to show that ours is not unique. Politicians draw their power from the citizens. Power is either with the citizens or with the leaders. Not just every five years, but every day. Just like customers have power, customer sovereignty is the key. Without which, cartels and crony capitalism grow and strengthen. This explains the uncanny coalition between big business and the regime. If Government is the largest business in town and politicians ration political favours, big business simply become Pavlov dogs.

So what can citizens practically do?

They must organise themselves and speak directly to power. The Doctors in my opinion have successfully done this. But they must not be myopic to see their fight as that only of trinkets. They must call for total overhaul of the health system. They must have their own nation-wide symposium that creates a blue print that they negotiate directly with politicians. They have the power. The same goes for teachers and every other facet of society. Even the unemployed must organise themselves and speak to power directly. New farmers for example must demand title deeds. Even if they should pay for them, it’s their freedom they are paying for. In every aspect of our society, the power must be with the citizens.

Failure of which, like Argentina, Zimbabwe will have its own 100 year perpetual crisis. Already the 1989, 1998, 2008, 2019 ten year cycles provide a bad historical analysis of our economic cycles.