CONFUSION surrounds govern-ment’s economic recovery policy amid revelations that Finance minister Herbert Murerwa differs with his cabinet colleagues on the role of the National Economic
Consultative Forum (NECF).
The NECF meeting held last week in Harare exposed the deep divisions within government over economic policy including how to extricate the country from its current multi-faceted crisis.
President Robert Mugabe, who is patron of the NECF, the country’s smart partnership flagship embracing government and the business community, did not attend the meeting despite claims by the NECF secretariat that he had convened it. A statement by the Department of Information in the President’s Office, headed by Jonathan Moyo, rubbished the forum as being of “doubtful import and objectives”. In a statement broadcast on national television and also published in Saturday’s edition of the Herald, the Information department said Mugabe had not called the meeting, which it described as “hastily convened”.
However, this paper established this week that Murerwa had worked with the NECF in convening the meeting meant to find solutions to the country’s crisis.
Executive secretary for the NECF Nicholas Kitikiti told the Zimbabwe Independent that the forum was convened with the full support of President Mugabe’s office. Kitikiti said the NECF secretariat was in constant contact with Murerwa.
“On Professor Moyo’s comments, we cannot say anything,” said Kitikiti. “We were in contact with the president through the Finance minister. We don’t understand why a meeting attended by so many ministers could be of ‘little importance’. The President’s Office was also aware that the president had convened the meeting,” said Kitikiti.
“I cannot organise such a big event on my own” he added. “Minister (John) Nkomo addressed the meeting. You know very well that some of your highest ministers were at the meeting.”
He said chief secretary to the president and cabinet Misheck Sibanda co-chaired the NECF meeting last week, representing the government.
Contacted for comment this week, George Charamba, permanent secretary in the Department of Information and Publicity, said the matter had since been resolved.
“My friend don’t bother me,” said Charamba. “We issued a statement on that matter and as far as we know that matter has been closed. The president did not convene that meeting. What value will you add to that story?”
At the controversial meeting, Murerwa and Nkomo agreed that Zimbabwe needed the support of Western donors to resuscitate the economy. Business stakeholders called for commitment from government. Moyo downplayed the resolutions later, saying that government would move ahead with the implementation of its economic recovery plan drawing input from players whom he described as “genuine, well-meaning and patriotic”.
Analysts said Moyo’s comments indicated the gulf between Mugabe and his adherents on the one hand and those committed to workable solutions on the other.