NEWS that listed Zimbabwean companies will, henceforth, start presenting their financial statements using the Financial Reporting in Hyperinflationary Economies Standard can only mean one thing: The cookie is crumbling, and it would be foolhardy for the country’s fiscal authorities to state otherwise.
Even in the absence of yearly inflation data, after the monetary authorities curiously suspended its publication in June, companies have increasingly been finding it difficult to craft financial statements, and that the Public Accounts and Auditors Board (PAAB) has finally decided to bite the bullet and let the cat out of the bag, effectively puts Finance minister, Mthuli Ncube and his colleagues on the spot.
Given what Ncube and colleagues have been telling us about the direction in which this economy is moving, the PAAB decision is a monumental embarrassment and an indictment on the much-vaunted so-called austerity for prosperity measures. Adding to the embarrassment is the painful fact that Zimbabwe has been here before, after sliding down the same hyperinflation precipice from 2001 to 2008.
Even more disconcertingly agonising and stressing is the fact that, while our previous experience with hyperinflation was a gradual eight-year ordeal, this time around it has taken us just under a year to hit the bottom.
It does not need a rocket scientist to tell us that our economics have failed, and dismally so. But, as the past has already dictated, those captaining our economic ship will never accept the truth for what it is. Like flies, they would rather be buried with a corpse than accept that it is now lifeless.
When these fiscal captains introduced the bond note in 2016, specifically the Reserve Bank Governor John Mangudya declared: “Give us a chance to do what is right for this economy, to put it back on track. If these policy measures fail, if the bond notes do not work out, I’m willing to resign because I am genuine about getting the economy back on track.” Are we even surprised that the man has not walked away three years down the line, long after the bond note has been mauled by inflation? No, we are not. And this is precisely where our problem as a country lies.
We are slow to accept failure and take comfort in our warped denial while things get ugly each passing day. We will not be surprised to hear that the PAAB has been taken to task, stoned with all manner of abuse and called all sorts of names, while being labelled unpatriotic.
Whether or not our monetary authorities choose to accept the truth as it is, the fact of the matter will continue to stick out like a very sore thumb: The cookie is crumbling folks! Period.