ZHRC STATEMENT ON THE PREVAILING ECONOMIC CRISIS IN ZIMBABWE
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC/Commission) is concerned about the fast deteriorating economic situation triggered by the recent monetary and fiscal policy pronouncements. Whilst austerity measures meant to transform the performance of the economy may be inevitable, due care and diligence must be exercised to protect the rights and well-being of especially the vulnerable members of society.
In particular, it is important to develop pro-poor policies including the setting up of effective social safety nets to ensure access to basic goods and services by all. Section 13 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe implores the state and all institutions of government to ensure equitable development. Further, section 13 (2) requires government to involve the people in the formulation and implementation of development plans and programmes that affect them.
It is disturbing to note the following unfortunate developments with regards to the economic situation in Zimbabwe:
- Discord and contradictions from the statements made by those in positions of authority. One government official states that the bond notes and the United States dollars are at par in terms of value while another official disputes this position thereby sending conflicting signals in the market. Similarly, one communication says bond notes will be phased out soon and another says bond notes are here to stay. Policy inconsistencies have therefore led to uncertainties and the consequent speculative behaviour;
- Encouraging the transacting public to embrace electronic payment platforms due to the cash crisis and then proceeding to levy a 2% tax.
- Erosion of hard-earned incomes, savings, and pensions due to currency distortions and general uncertainties within the money market. This has caused untold suffering to fixed income earners like workers and pensioners;
- Skewed priorities with regards to the allocation of scarce national resources. For example, basic essentials like health supplies are underfunded while government uses foreign currency to fund some privileged few who learn at foreign universities pursuing degree programmes offered at local universities;
- Token and selective prosecution of perpetrators of economic crimes and corruption that are bleeding the economy and leading to untold suffering among ordinary citizens.
The above issues have led to violation of several rights manifesting through:
- Rising inflation that has negatively affected productivity and eroded real incomes;
- Shortages of most goods and services in the country, in particular, the shortage of essential medicines which has a direct impact on the right to life;
- Emergence of the “black market” selling products at extortionate prices;
- Shutting down of some businesses leading to loss of employment;
- Outbreak of medieval diseases such as typhoid and cholera.
Zimbabwe, as a member State, has made commitments to work towards the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals whose key targets include; ending poverty in all its forms everywhere; promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all; and reducing inequality within and among countries. Sustainable development must, therefore, aim to reduce inequality and suffering among all members of the Zimbabwean society.
The ZHRC urges the national leadership to take urgent steps to rescue the situation as well as protect the value of savings, incomes and pensions. Leaders must also be exemplary and reduce their own extravagance and not make the poor in society bear the bigger brunt and consequences of their policies and decisions.
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