NEDPP meets inevitable fate

ZANU PF MPs have presented us with useful disclosure on the state of the National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) which government told us was a quick-fix plan to extricate the economy from it

s current woes.

At its inception, Vice-President Joice Mujuru said NEDPP was a temporary plan aimed at stabilising the economy through strategies that should improve food security, increase foreign currency generation, boost investor confidence, reduce unemployment and reduce both foreign and domestic debt.

At the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Congress in Bulawayo in August, Mujuru said the programme was beginning to bear fruit although she was hard-pressed to demonstrate the gains.

On the foreign investment and foreign currency generation front, central bank governor Gideon Gono has told us that details of the deals are confidential. It takes a huge leap of faith to believe that there is anything behind this official subterfuge.

What is very clear though is that the original plan, designed to raise US$2,5 billion, has failed. Economic Development minister Rugare Gumbo admitted at a pre-budget seminar that the programme was on the ropes.

“The problem with the NEDPP is that it came as an emergency to solve the economic crisis facing the country and I agree that we failed to manage it and therefore it did not bear the desired fruits,” he reportedly said.

“We are human beings and we make mistakes,” Gumbo said.

This was in sharp contrast to the optimism generated in state-media circles at the time of the programme’s launch that it was a panacea which would lead to a complete “turnaround” of the economy.

More pointed attacks on the wonder programme were launched last Thursday, significantly by Zanu PF MPs, at a parliamentary portfolio committee meeting at which they quizzed senior officials in Gumbo’s ministry.

Senator Tsitsi Muzenda wanted to know if the NEDPP “is the best programme because we are good at presenting papers. People out there are crying because the price of fuel is going up and there is no bread in the shops”.

Bikita West MP retired Col Claudius Makova saw no difference between NEDPP and past economic programmes.

“How far have we gone in the achievement of the objectives of the programme?” he asked. “We have moved from programme to programme and are you saying this programme is a better programme from the ones we have embarked on, but haven’t achieved much?”

The observations by the Zanu PF MPs point to the fact that the programme has run into troubled waters. Their views undoubtedly resonate among other senior leaders who have seen through the delusional ruse that the economy could be turned around in six months.

In May, the government said it required three to four months to implement the programme and an extra month or so to tie up the loose ends. We immediately raised the red flag and warned that this was another journey into infantile self-deception because the task at hand was too great to be wished away in three months.

The government’s thought police were quick to label those exercising healthy scepticism as detractors, or saboteurs even. We said at the time there was no prospect of such a programme succeeding so long as the macro-economic fundamentals remained so badly skewed. These included runaway state spending and disruptions on the farms.

We have been vindicated. The anxiety about the failure of the programme is now coming from within Zanu PF itself.

Remarkable also is the fact that the attack on NEDPP is coming at this late hour in the implementation of the programme. This is a time when Gumbo, Makova and Muzenda should have been celebrating the achievements of NEDPP and parading its gains. What happened to the US$2,5 billion target? How much was actually raised?

Meanwhile, as the programme festers under the dead weight of its unreformed bureaucracy, policy inconsistencies and outright recidivism by the state, political hawks in the party have grabbed the initiative to use the plan as a platform for their power play.

The total confusion at the Industry and International Trade ministry over price controls illustrates this. The programme is now in the clutches of powerful politicians who have no interest in putting the economy right, as the assaults on the business community show, but are instead focused on political manoeuvring. To say the programme should be discontinued would be to assume there was a plan in the first place. The inevitable has happened.

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