Only change in politics can save economy – Makoni

Godfrey Marawanyika

FORMER Finance minister Simba Makoni has said unless there is a change in the political environment, the country should not expect an end to the economic crisis. Makoni has also raised co

ncerns about a series of economic programmes which he said are not being fully implemented.


Since 1991, Zimbabwe has come up with five economic blue-prints which include the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, the Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation, the National Economic Revival Programme, the Millennium Recovery Programme, and Towards Sustained Economic Growth – Macro-Economic Framework 2004-2006 which was launched last year.


However, the blueprints were never implemented due to lack of political will.


In an interview published in the Mail and Guardian of South Africa, Makoni, who fell out with Mugabe in 2003 over devaluation of the dollar, said for the country to recover from the current economic mess, it has to implement some of the things he could not do.


“You need a stable macroeconomic environment with stability in policies you implement. You need to support the productive sector, and you need to relate normally to the rest of the world,” he said.


When asked if any of that was possible without a change in the political environment, Makoni replied “No”, insisting that economics and “politics are two-sides of the same coin”.


Although Makoni has never publicly commented on his dismissal from cabinet, speculation is rife that he clashed with government over devaluation of the currency which Mugabe called an act of economic sabotage.


Makoni said some economic policies, if implemented fully, could result in a change of fortunes.


Zimbabwe, once a vibrant and diversified economy, had been a hope for the continent’s future, but today it is in deep crisis and signs of collapse are everywhere.


The economy has contracted in real terms in the past five years, inflation is in triple digits, the currency has lost 99% of its value since December, and almost half of the country faces starvation.


Makoni said there was a basis for making the country work normally, but said that basis is not the same as action.


“We are not doing everything that needs to be done, or not doing it simultaneously,” he said.


“Action on interest rates, the currency and support for the productive sector is being taken piecemeal. What you need is a comprehensive programme for all three to be enacted simultaneously.”


Asked if he was interested in leading the recovery process for Zimbabwe, he said: “I don’t seek specific roles, but I will remain engaged.”


Commenting on the role of South Africa, and in particular the R6,5 billion which is currently being negotiated, he said Pretoria had a right to find a way to help Harare.


“There are well intended things that we have done the wrong way, and people need to take time to understand the drivers of that,” he said.


“Glib condemnation doesn’t help. As much as we need Mugabe to understand why the world takes the view it does of Zimbabwe, we need the world to understand why we are doing what we are doing.”


On constitutional reform, Makoni said Zanu PF’s defeat in 2000 was unfortunate.


He said people campaigned against the constitutional reform on the basis of two or three problematic clauses but said Zimbabwe would have been better off now if the constitution had been approved.


“We would have had time to focus on the offending clauses in a more inclusive way than is possible now,” he said.


“I think the party and government will continue to amend and make better the constitution, but there is not going to be a constitutional commission held by this government in the next two, three or five years.”