Victoria Ruzvidzo Business Focus
The first quarter of the economy is gone and we are two weeks into the second quarter, but an analysis would show that there is more that has gone wrong than that which has come right in our economy.
Indeed, we thank God that our country remains standing and prospects for recovery are exciting but the sentiment in the market place is presently depressing.
Most markets have failed to perform, with the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange emerging scathed as well.
Statistics show that the industrial and mining indices have lost considerably in the first three months of the year, with the industrial index closing March at 156,01 points against 162 while the mining index dropped to 71,71 points.
The stock exchange is a barometer that reflects the performance of any given economy.
Total market capitalisation on the ZSE was at $4,12 billion down from $4,33 billion at the end of December.
Aggregate market turnover slid to $69,7 million compared to $118,7 million in the first quarter of 2014. The dollar has remained elusive for many while others have lost their jobs but we should not despair.
Things are certainly going to come right soon and very soon. The big question though being how soon?
I was under attack yesterday from a colleague of mine who said I always instil hope through my writings and he needed me to tell him exactly when things would turn around.
I found that to be a tall order that only God and His servants would know exactly when. Indeed, that things will get better, there is no doubt. It may well be tomorrow, next month, next year but they will surely come right one day soon. There have been prophecies to that effect and I believe them.
The great famine in Samaria that saw babies and donkey heads being eaten was quite painful and lasted for some time but all this was transformed in one day.
It can happen for Zimbabwe. In 2 Kings 7: 1, the prophet of God Elisha said the country’s economy would make a 360 degree shift for the better and it did happen. There are those who doubted as they considered the severity of the situation but God is not a logical God and He says His ways are not our ways.
Elisha said: “Hear the word of The Lord. Thus says The Lord, tomorrow about this time, a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.”
But as we wait on the Lord, we should also be doing something as a country to make things right. Only a few months ago we were all hopeful that the economy was coming right as we hosted business delegations from France and the United Kingdom, among others.
This month we are expecting a business delegation from Belgium. This has brought hope but challenges in the last few months have robbed the economy of the energy that we had begun to see as people fear the worst.
This has been compounded by the drought being experienced, with more than a million requiring food aid.
The ongoing retrenchments, dwindling income streams and other such have put a further squeeze on families’ resources.
But then again, Zimbabwe is a blessed economy that should transform its natural resources into wealth. The sad reality is that destructive behaviours such as corruption, greediness and self-aggrandisement, ahead of the national well-being have continued to harm the economy in 2015.
Corruption has not ceased but has worsened instead, with the “survival of the fittest” mentality taking an ugly form that sees only a few people benefiting from available resources.
A case in point is the Ministry of Finance scandal in which three accountants defrauded the ministry of $240 000.
Another ministry was reported last week to have lost $800 000 through fraud. These are the cases that have been brought to light, how about those that are still to be unearthed. We have read and heard about other corporate scandals that have threatened the survival of some firms.
All this contributes to the myriad of challenges bedevilling the economy. Others forms of financial or resource leakages account for billions of dollars that the economy has been prejudiced of.
Other such misdemeanours may not be quantifiable but they have been so costly to the economy and have put paid to noble initiatives to restore the economy.
We have said so much about this already but the economy needs to rid itself of such destructive behaviour if we are to reap results from efforts being made to turn things around and in this instance we expect Government to be leading from the front.
I will not delve much into politics. It’s not a very safe purview but we feel that while energy should indeed be directed towards “cleaning up” dirty spots on the political terrain, much more should be expended towards redressing the economic challenges confronting us today.
I have seen our President speaking so passionately about bringing the economy back to its feet. He has denounced corruption a trillion times and it is this same energy and zeal from which Government officials and all stakeholders should take a cue.
Any form of corruption should not be tolerated and any such cases should be brought into the public space and be dealt with decisively.
Entrepreneurs should stop expecting 400 percent profit from their businesses when the market is so dry but should instead put reasonable mark-ups that make their products or services affordable to their target markets.
Furthermore, those in business should adopt a more aggressive way of doing business to lure the customer they target.
I have always seen long queues at a giant wholesale shop in Harare’s central business district but you will be surprised that this firm never stops advertising its products. It buys acres and acres of advertising space.
This is because it understands the importance of visibility and the ramifications of taking the customer for granted.
A lot of adjustments are required in this economy as we anticipate our Elisha moment. Of late I have witnessed families moving to stay in cottages on their own stands instead of paying a thousand-dollar rentals.
They instead use the money to develop their stands or spend it on such necessities as school fees.
Such decisions always pay off as people seek to adjust to the current economic dictates. This is as it should be. Indeed, we hope to see the economy recover, it takes you and me to ensure that that happens.
The Government needs to behave responsibly while the private sector and other stakeholders follow suit.
Time for toyi-toying on the streets for someone to come up with a solution for you is gone. Self-introspection is what will carry the day for Zimbabwe.
In God I trust.
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