The Sunday Mail
In this perverted life, good behaviour is generally viewed as uninspiringly drab, while bad habits are considered to be titillatingly infectious, contagious, addictive and fashionable.
This is why societies valorise bad boys and deify slay queens.
It is no different in Zimbabwe, where those all too known crooks, who are famous for staining night-life in most of our cities around the country through ostentatiously displaying ill-gotten riches, are euphemistically called socialites.
Well, socialites my foot!
They should be called exactly what they are: shameless criminals!!!
Some people are drawn to this abomination probably because human beings — as claimed by Thomas Hobbes, a 16th century British thinker — are innately inclined to chaos.
You should forgive Bishop Lazi for sometimes disproportionately quoting this philosopher because, as a man of the cloth, he has intensely and intently studied his works for some of its controversial views on religion.
You see, Hobbes’ thought process and world-view was a product of experiences borne out of a traumatising series of social, political and economic upheavals.
In particular, the British civil wars of 1642-46 and 1648-51 left an indelible impression on the Englishman, who had to temporarily flee to France to escape the rigmarole of bloody revolution.
He unsurprisingly concluded that the “natural condition of mankind” is a state of violence, insecurity and constant threat.
When interpreted differently, it means when human beings are left to their own designs, they generally gravitate towards disorder and evil.
And then there is the biblical “creation story” of Adam and Eve in Genesis.
Well, it is a story of what could possibly happen to human beings even when put in the most pristine and utopian of environments.
We are told that after their creation, Adam and Eve were given a bountiful garden — Eden — which was replete with all imaginable comforts.
However, there was one caveat: God forbade them from eating the fruit that was at the centre of the garden.
But the devil reportedly came in the form of a serpent and talked the couple into breaking the only rule — only one rule — they been given by their Creator.
It makes you think, if human beings can disregard a simple commandment from a Supreme Being that can give and take life, how can they possibly abide by rules and laws created by man?
Some theologians, however, argue that the story of Adam and Eve is a “creation myth” contrived by both Christians and Jews.
For Bishop Lazi, the lesson that mankind, just like Adam and Eve, are inherently attracted to bad habits came in the form of his nephew.
In school, the lad was hopelessly dull and beyond salvation, and he conceded as much.
He pursued music instead and wanted to be a big-time artiste.
In his case, the devil did not come as a serpent but as seemingly well-intentioned peers who advised him his career could soar to the stratosphere if he could unlock doors to the creative world.
This, he was told, could only be done if he smoked mbanje (cannabis), which they said had the potential to sweat his creative juices.
Instead of opening the door to creativity, he gradually opened the door to the psychotic world of lunacy.
Trying to wean him from the hallucinogenic drug was incredibly difficult.
It actually took tonnes of medicine, heavy doses of prayer and nth man-hours of counselling.
This is when the Bishop realised that addiction is a monster that takes persistence and determination to slay.
Presently, in Zimbabwe, we are all addicts.
After more than a decade of sustained and coordinated attacks through sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union, the Zimbabwe dollar caved in by alarmingly losing its value, which prompted the switch to the multi-currency system in February 2009.
What many do not realise is that for the Zimdollar, obviously the troublesome provision was, and still is, S.2779 of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act (ZDERA) of 2018, which amended the ZDERA of 2001 and restricts the United States from voting in support of new assistance to Zimbabwe from international financial institutions.
It is not a secret that the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, which practically underwrite the global financial system, are controlled by Uncle Sam.
Since Zimbabwe was cut off from international finance, it progressively depleted its foreign reserves, which are ordinarily used to defend the value of its currency.
Where countries are facing foreign currency shortages and cannot access affordable finance to meet their international payment obligations, they get balance of payment support from the IMF, but this has not been the case for our teapot-shaped republic.
But something happened after the policy shift in 2009.
We began bingeing on the US dollar.
Actually, we became hooked on it like an addictive drug.
We used it to buy kapenta, vegetables, mopani worms and other odds and ends.
Unfortunately, what Bishop Lazi and most people like him did not know was that as non-exporters, the US dollars that he was effortlessly drawing from banks and crapulously feeding on were being generated by exporters.
And it was not surprising when the banks and ATMs finally ran dry, causing massive cash shortages.
So, like mbanje, the US dollar was hallucinogenic to us; it made us think that everything was alright, but our challenges actually remained.
Not only did the cash crisis show the underlying economic problems plaguing the economy — which had decidedly become a retail economy — but it also showed the folly of operating without a monetary policy.
Well, the lessons we learnt from the multi-currency era were quite clear: the economy could not generate enough foreign currency to meet local demand, which meant cash shortages; selling rather than manufacturing became lucrative, which meant de-industrialisation and dwindling job prospects for locals; and relatedly, local products could not compete on the international market.
The reason to introduce the Zimdollar — to de-dollarise — was taken with a long-term view to reverse the above trend.
The Bishop was quite amused by the debate last week, most of it hare-brained of course, of whether the economy was re-dollarising or de-dollarising.
While Government thinks we are de-dollarising, there is a phalanx of furious analysts who believe that this is not the case.
My take: both are correct. Kikikiki.
Experientially, it might seem we are re-dollarising, but technically we are de-dollarising.
Numbers do not lie.
Last year 189 million transactions worth $459 billion were processed through our systems, which is not surprising.
The bulk of our goods, especially basic commodities, are predominantly purchased in local currency.
Bills are similarly being settled this way.
The fact that there is now a population explosion of forex dealers connotes that increasingly more people are changing the forex into the local currency in order to meet their day-to-day convenience.
Show me a consumer who is buying his/her bread or vegetables in forex, a commuter who is using hard currency to travel and I would gladly concede that the economy is indeed re-dollarising.
In any case, the volume, value and velocity of US-dollar transactions are markedly lower than electronic transactions.
That some do not have confidence in it is another question altogether.
What might seem to be policy inconsistency, where Government tries to harness free funds to lessen the burden on the fiscus, is actually an exercise in pragmatism.
Remember, there is more than US$1,2 billion in international remittances — US$635 million from Diaspora remittances and US$521 million from non-governmental organisations — that is floating around in the economy.
There is no textbook formula for peculiar economic circumstances such as those which Zimbabwe found itself in.
Deng Xiaoping — the father of China’s modern miracle — once said, “You cross the river by feeling the stones”, which essentially emphasises the importance of pragmatism.
All these nuances need to be considered.
As more cash is imported and injected into the system, its use is bound to further increase.
It is a process — in fact, a five-year process — not an event.
Headwinds against the local currency will continue as Government faces a plethora of competing needs, most of which need foreign currency to be met.
Thank God for the rains, they are going to provide the much-needed lift in the medium term. Hallelujah!
However, if Government continues to be disciplined, which is the current anchor of the local currency, with time all things will fall into place.
But in a polarised, politically toxic environment, facts and reason become a convenient casualty of runaway prejudice and biases.
Not for Bishop Lazi.
I would rather be a dog and bark at the moon than be such a Zimbabwean.