A father can boast of his recent promotions at work, or the expansion of his business entities.
He can even be proud of the increased financial earnings, and profit margins coming into his pocket.
He can go as far as producing neatly-designed spreadsheets beautifully capturing this phenomenal economic growth, and even plotting on graphs his climb up the corporate ladder.
However, if his family, amid all these “success stories”, only sinks deeper into poverty – going to bed hungry, with his children failing to attend school due to unpaid fees, and constantly living in fear of being homeless as a result of the non-payment of rentals – then all this means absolutely nothing to them.
To add insult to injury, only the father appears to be enjoying this “rise in fortunes” – as he splashes himself in lavish living, indulging in opulent wining and dining – but only with his friends, at the exclusion of his own family.
What meaning is there for the family – since these “successes” become nothing more than abstract figures, which do not translate into anything tangible in their daily lives – thereby, regarding their father’s bragging as mere hot air?
That exactly is the situation we find ourselves in Zimbabwe.
We are repeatedly informed of the economy having grown by 7% over the past year (2021) – as well as the forecasted 5.5% for 2022…touted as the fasted growing in the southern African region.
Our national leaders never tire boasting of the government’s “huge” budget surpluses – estimated at ZW$9.8 billion in 2021 – on top of earning US$6 billion from exports.
Nonetheless, what use are these large sounding figures to a people that continue to wallow in abject poverty?
How am I supposed to feel excited over these billions of dollars – when I can not even afford to buy basic necessities for my family?
How is an ordinary Zimbabwean supposed to celebrate a 7% economic growth, when the April 2022 food poverty datum line (FPL) shot up to a staggering ZW$8,366, and total consumption poverty line (TCPL) for one person now standing at a shocking ZW$11,363 – yet, possibly earning a paltry ZW$30,000 a month (a teacher’s basic salary), and needs to cater for an entire family?
Is there anything to be exuberant about in all this?
As a matter of fact, how many Zimbabweans were aware that our country was already categorized as a “lower middle income economy” – since, in 2020 our GNI (gross national income) per capita was US$1,090 according to the World Bank?
How many amongst us can honestly claim that their livelihoods are anywhere near “middle income” – as we suffer unbearable poverty that knows no bounds, on a daily basis?
Furthermore, upper middle income countries have a GNI per capita of US$3,996 to US$12,475 – then, just how realistic is this dream for Zimbabwe, considering the disturbing trajectory in which we are moving as a country?
In fact, as worryingly witnessed with those seemingly “increasing” economic growth figures, so proudly paraded by the Zimbabwe regime – which do not appear to proportionally improve ordinary citizens’ livelihoods on the ground, that actually are on a downward spiral – where does anyone derive the confidence that, even if the country were to reach the “upper middle income economy” status by 2030, this would translate into good living for millions of Zimbabweans?
We have already established that impressive figures in finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s books mean absolute ZERO for the rest of the population!
It is undoubted that Zimbabweans’ livelihoods are frighteningly deteriorating on a daily basis, and no amount of grandstanding with fancy and fanciful numbers will change that fact.
The only figures that hold any weight and sway with ordinary citizens will be a significant decrease in the prices of bread, mealie meal, meat, fuel and transport, school fees, accommodation, electricity, medication, and everything else that makes life liveable.
We are more concerned with real “bread and butter” issues – and, not some pie in the sky – whose relevance is far divorced from the population.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org