Rejoice Ngwenya, Free Market Activist
If I were to carryout an informal market research on how Zimbabweans perceive brands in their country, I bet here are the top 10 worst brand (performers) I would unravel, in no order of ‘worseness’:
- ZUPCO – the countries most dysfunctional public bus system. These guys are the best example of how government messes up business if you allow them to intervene. It’s socialism at its Frankenstein worst!
- GMB – again, the government tries to manage food security and ends up with exactly the opposite – food insecurity. No farmer wants to deliver grain to the grain ‘marketing’ board. Their prices are idiotic, their payment conditions almost satanic and worse still, they deploy soldiers to wrestle the grain from farmers!
- ZRP – the Zimbabwe republic police are considered one of the most lethargic and corrupt in the SADC region. They are famous mostly for arresting opposition party supporters. They report late to crime scenes and they have no clue how to deal with Zimbabwe’s tragedy – drug abuse.
- ZESA – electricity supply in Zimbabwe is a wee better than South Africa, but that is no comfort. Millions of homes and thousands of businesses go through hours on end with unscheduled outages. We are constantly told ‘things will improve’, but nothing doing. As I am writing this ditty, am actually on solar power. ZESA disappeared a few hours ago.
- ECONET – when this tech-com company hit the market in the late 1990s, it was a breadth of fresh air after decades of abuse by the State monopoly PTC. 20 years down the line, ECONET has a love/hate relationship with Zimbabweans. The comms company is accused of predatory pricing masked with clever advertising.
- Makorokoza – Zimbabwe is one of the world’s foremost gold producers, but that has counted for nothing in the country’s development matrix. In a bid to appease a sceptical and unemployed huge body of youths, the State has allowed thousands of desperate youths to dig up anywhere and everywhere they smell gold. The zama zamas are ruthless, violent, noisy and generally criminals. Nobody wants a neighbour for a Makorokoza – and the government has given them a new nice name – artisanal miners!
- Harare City Council – for some reason or other, our capital city administrators and their Councillors rank lowly on Zimbabwe’s scale of appreciation. Political bickering, corruption, government interference and incompetence combined into a deadly concoction that has turned Harare into a Wakanda of Litter. There is never enough piped water, roads are teeming with potholes as some suburbs choke under sewerage bursts. CBD is infested with informal traders on every pavement as street kids molest whoever they want. Half the time no traffic lights work while informal transport providers turn the roads into a dangerous jungle…
- Land Barons – as Harare’s population blossoms, so does demand for housing. There is no authority or property developer who is able to cope with demand for housing – except land barons. These are self-styled land ‘owners’ who either benefit from State land or simply invade private property to allocate housing stands. Nearly one third of Harare’s urban poor live on ‘informal settlements’ allocated them by land barons. The places are crowded with nor hope of service provision, or even long-term tenure.
- Mthuli Ncube – the minister of finance is arguably one of the most hated ‘brands’ in this part of the world. His policies are said to have driven 14 million Zimbabweans into abject poverty. He doesn’t seem to do anything other than please himself, his subordinate John Mangudya or his boss, Emmerson Mnangagwa. The ZimDollar – or whatever name you want to call it – is so valueless that you can’t save anything. Retailers change prices everyday to cope while serious ones don’t want to see it in their tills. Word has it that the RTGS ZimDollar is so disgusting that even Mthuli Ncube himself does not use it!
- ZEC – last but certainly not least, Zimbabwe’s constitutional electoral body is one of the worst brand performers. Unless one is from the ruling establishment, nothing ZEC does seems to draw accolades or compliments. Analysts claim it so State captured that all it’s programs emanate either from the Ministry of Justice or Office of the President. Even now as Zimbabwe prepares for Election 2023, ZEC is already under fire for conspiring with ZimStats to gerrymander electoral boundaries.
Rejoice Ngwenya is the founder of Coalition for Market and Liberal Solutions [COMALISO] Zimbabwe, an organisation whose mission is to have a Zimbabwe that respects, adopts, and implements innovative ideas that strengthen the free market economy, respect for private property rights, and constitutionalism – ultimately entrenching responsible capitalism. He writes this in his capacity.