Thursday, July 12, 2007

(HERALD) Zimbabwe will not collapse!

Zimbabwe will not collapse!

My apologies for the absence of this column last week. I was on a tour of duty far away from the newsroom and technology failed me as I tried to send my copy. But it’s great to be back! One of the weekend South African newspapers had a screaming headline "Zimbabwe collapses" and other international news wires and agencies were also talking about the Zimbabwe dollar being pegged to the rand and a host of other negative stories pertaining to the developments in this country, particularly in the last week or two where we have witnessed price slashes in one form or another.

What particularly caught my attention was that screaming headline about Zimbabwe’s collapse. Was there an omission of a word or two in that headline by the sub-editor of that newspaper? Could it be they meant to say this country could collapse or was on the verge of collapsing or some such because to me that headline meant there was no Zimbabwe to talk about anymore.

It’s a headline that sounded so final, painting a picture that the situation here was now irretrievable. That is where I choose to differ completely with the views (or wishes) of those who think Zimbabwe has already collapsed. Of course, no amount of make-up or any form of camouflage can hide the challenges that this country is facing.

There are there for all to see. Inflation is galloping, foreign currency is scarce, some goods have vanished from the shops and there is growing mistrust between Government and business — among other factors.

And they seem to be compounding by the day, but to say that there is no hope any more is to stretch it a bit too far. I am one patriot who takes great exception when my country is being rubbished left right and centre, particularly when the state of affairs is exaggerated, creating a completely different picture in the end.

Indeed, we are going through a very rough patch but there is hope that the situation will come right sooner rather than later. Same old song from this lady — some maybe saying — but the words will hold true one of these fine days. Over the past two weeks I have attended at least four seminars from where I have emerged with a feeling that we are almost there.

The latest one was the Harare Chamber of Commerce and Business Network International (BNI) held in the capital yesterday under the theme "We will survive together".

I found the theme highly developmental. The discussions were not about fingerpointing but that the current state of the economy was a result of collective actions by all of us and therein lies the solution — collective effort.

It is not about the Government blaming business and business in turn blaming labour or the other way round. Economists, industrialists and Government officials present at the meeting were all in agreement that the ongoing pricing war was not healthy for anyone and that solutions need to be found now.

The HCC president Ozwel Binha summed it very well in his opening remarks: "It’s critical for all of us to realise that we are Zimbabweans first and businessmen second." Implying that it was not about one social partner seeking to fix the other but that at the end of the day national welfare was at stake and the earlier everybody realised this the better.

The breakfast meeting was fruitful and I came out feeling optimistic that we were now headed in the right direction. If only the discussions by the close to 100 participants would cascade to the rest of the populace.

On Tuesday I also had the privilege to attend a meeting between Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono and chiefs, during which the chiefs made a commitment to turn around the agricultural sector and turn Zimbabwe into the breadbasket that it is supposed to be.

They drew their inspiration and motivation from the farm mechanisation programme being spearheaded by the central bank. The distribution of tractors and other implements, the availability of funds under the Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility and other measures to increase production in the sector would surely see a massive transformation in agriculture, they pledged.

Last week I also attended a National Cattle Herd Rebuilding workshop in Bulawayo organised by RBZ’s Fiscorp and the Cold Storage Company.

Challenges in the livestock sector were discussed at length but at the end of it all the conclusion was that Zimbabwe had the requisite expertise and resources to increase the national herd in terms of numbers and quality.

The dairy sector symposium was another progressive meeting held in Harare to find solutions that would see an increase in milk production. Numbers in this sector have gone down drastically in the last five years but discussions and the commitment to implement could mark the turning point in that sector.

Of course, as a journalist I have attended hundreds of meetings, workshops, seminars, symposiums, conferences, etc, but these ones were different in terms of deliverables.

They were not just talk shops but it was evident that people really meant business this time around.

As proposed at yesterday’s breakfast meeting, there is need for more dialogue and team effort to pluck the economy out of the current challenges. Of course, Zimbabwe will not collapse but there is urgent need to mend things and ensure that its gets back on a sound footing.

The economic wheels have not exactly come off but they need re-oiling to start functioning well again. I must apologise in advance to the doomsayers that they will not see total collapse of this country but instead they will be invited to witness a re-birth of a country that is strategic to the welfare, not just of its people but of the region and the world at large.

In God I trust!

My email:victoria.ruzvidzo _

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