By Professor Sheunesu Mpepereki
IT is imperative for local authorities to educate the people on the full modalities of dollarisation.
Is it feasible?
Is it sustainable?
Who does dollarisation offer relief to?
Will villagers in Muzarabani or Chikombedzi benefit; or is it meant to provide relief to the minority with access to the greenback?
Can we liquidate the economy with US dollars?
What is the game plan?
Where do we get on the train and where do we get off?
So many questions!
And Zimbabwe tried it before as a desperate attempt to escape the debilitating effects of the illegal sanctions imposed on the people of Zimbabwe by the US and Europe for reclaiming their stolen land.
One cannot help feel that calls for dollarisation fit perfectly into the old Shona saying: ‘Kwadzinorohwa matumbu ndiko kwadzinomanyira.’
My best translation is to say dollarisation for Zimbabwe is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
We have been there!
What lessons have learnt?
As misfortune would have it, Zimbabwe is under US sanctions where all American institutions are required by US law to block and prevent any US dollars from flowing to Zimbabwean people or institutions.
Because the US controls the major financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, no loans or debt relief of any kind is to be afforded to Zimbabwe.
How and at what cost will we liquify the economy with the prohibited currency?
Let us tell each other some home truths based on what some of us have experienced.
Hopefully the experts will educate Zimbabweans on the intricacies of what is called foreign exchange.
Some will question whether the authorities are genuinely overwhelmed or whether some of them are also cashing in or allowing others to cash in on the forex chaos.
The latter situation would qualify to be called corruption.
We already have too much of it.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean population continues to warm up to the US dollar.
Several articles published in newspapers late 2018 into 2019 suggested that Zimbabwe is, or must be, moving back to the ‘glorious’ dollarisation days.
The South African rand also became popular but as it weakened against other currencies, the US dollar became the dominant, preferred currency.
By this time, the appetite for US dollars had sharpened significantly.
The black market dominated the majority of transactions involving foreign currency.
Nefarious activities by some financial institutions manipulating exchange rates have led to account-freezing and some penalties but where are the bid moves?
The Western education, the Christian teachings daily poured into the heads of Zimbabweans have succeeded in mentally and even spiritually isolating the people from their roots.
While people from other countries will beat you up if you criticise their countries in derogatory terms, Zimbabweans will lead in rubbishing their own country.
One cannot help think that colonialism was most successful in alienating Zimbabweans from their country, their own people and even their currency.
They have instead turned to worshipping the US dollar.
A harsh judgment perhaps, but how else do we explain a wholesale denial of a people’s own currency characterised by wholesale externalisation of value to other countries?
A US dollar craze indeed!
Perhaps this discussion will not be complete if we look more closely at how the local currency is handled.
The local Zimbabwean currency, in the form of bond and regular notes, has been turned into a commodity.
Whereas, normally, monetary notes represent value, current Zimbabwean notes are meticulously checked for any minute damage.
The slightest tear leads to the rejection of the note, even if all the security details are present and distinct.
The physical paper is now the commodity on sale rather than the value thereof.
Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, Zimbabweans, as the Zim-dollar lost its value, referred to the currency as the ‘Zim-kwacha’ implying that it had lost value to the same extent as to Zambian and Malawian currencies.
Disparaging remarks were also made against other African currencies like the Mozambican meticais and the Tanzania shilling.
And yet, more than 10 years later, the kwachas and shillings are still functional currencies in their countries while Zimbabwe is rapidly rejecting the second version of its dollar.
When people reject their own money for the love of a foreign currency, it reflects lack of patriotism and a deeply colonised mentality.
As Zimbabwe moves forward to consolidate its independence, 40 years after uhuru, the nation will need to invest heavily in educating its citizens to be patriotic and to defend its own institutions.
All citizens need to be constantly reminded that they are in a war situation where Zimbabwe’s erstwhile colonisers will not rest until they have reversed the gains of our independence.
Decolonising the mentality of its citizens is essential so that they value and respect their own country and heritage.