Lack Of Political Will Fuels Economic Stress

LACK of political will to help Zimbabwe’s economy onto the recovery path on the part of politicians is likely to see the nation suffering from economic stress for the next 10 years, economists have noted.

 

The economists say there was need for all stakeholders to ensure the economy regains its strength to pre-1996 levels where inflation was in single digits.

With inflation at 9 000 000%, unemployment estimated at 80%, industry utilisation at less than 10%, and the Zimbabwe dollar trading at $38 billion to the United States dollar on Tuesday, the country’s long and uninterrupted period of economic decline will require more resources to get the economy on a growth path again.

The next government is thus faced with the daunting task of coming up with an economic blueprint that is developed beyond any party or political lines.

They noted that reversing the legacy of destruction largely blamed on the Zanu PF government will need a complete restructuring of state apparatus and replacing institutions to ensure better forms of governance and economic policies.

Economic analysts said the economic vision blueprint to be adopted by the new government should act as guideline to mobilise financial, human and other resources necessary to get Zimbabwe’s economy to work at full throttle to create jobs and produce basic commodities currently in short supply.

Lance Mambondiani, an investment executive at Coronation Financial Services, said there was need for a climb-down from the prescriptive “we-know it all” policies, the command monetary and fiscal policies and the megaphone conspiracy theories of yesterday, to embracing the contribution of various economic agents in a “functionally symbiotic nexus of contracts” if the next blueprint is to bear any fruits.

He said tension rising from economic frustration had the capacity to foment intolerable dissent which cannot be redressed by a mere election.

Zanu PF’s economic manifesto encourages government to concentrate on an effective and systematic coordination of polices and programmes for sustainable economic growth.

A government official told the Independent this week that haphazard implementation of economic policies had slowed down the pace of economic recovery in the past, hence the need for a roadmap which is drawn up outside political lines.

“The next government should lay down a national policy and identify key national programmes and projects across all sectors of the economy for implementation,” he said.

The official said apart from political decision prevailing ahead of technical facts, previously government had been hamstrung by inadequate monitoring and accountability mechanisms — a situation that has created a huge gap between policy decisions and their implementation.

“This year, the economy is forecast to decline further due to inconsistent economic polices. It is now critical that government exercises extreme fiscal discipline and ensure policy initiatives are instituted as reflected by the blueprint that government plans to adopt,” the official said.

The government has so far adopted nine economic plans over the past 10 years — a situation that some analysts said had worsened the situation because of inconsistency and confusion at implementation stage.

The government touted the blueprints as ultimate solutions to the economic crisis.

Critics say government has never seriously sought to implement any of the economic plans.

Some of the previous blueprints include the Zimbabwe Economic Development Strategy (ZEDS), Zimbabwe Economic Stabilisation and Transformation (Zimprest), the Millennium Economic Recovery Plan (Merp), the 10-Point economic plan, the National Economic Recovery Plan (Nerp), Vision 2020, Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) and the National Economic Development Priority Plan (NEDPP) in reverse order.

The economy has over the past 10 years been riddled with distortions and encumbrances, which provide a fertile breeding ground for corruption. Ultimately all these inauspicious developments have conspired to make Zimbabwe an uncompetitive investment destination to many foreign investors.

Labour Economic and Development Research Institute director Godfrey Kanyenze said the improvement of the economy regardless of the blueprint to be adopted will depend on the country’s political environment.

“The economic prospects remain fragile and the sustainability of current efforts is dependent on the extent to which the political environment improves,” he said.

Commenting on the inconsistency of economic policies adopted by Zimbabwe in a paper entitled: The Zimbabwean economy in 10 years of regression, economist Peter Robinson said recovery would not be achievable by government’s unwillingness and incapability to formulate policies and programmes that address the issue of boosting production and building confidence in the people.

“Our current position is like falling into the bottom of a well and trying to get out with little prospects of success because we keep falling back…Politics and governance are our major problems not technical economics,” said Robinson. With the shrinking of the formal economy, it is the informal economy that has taken over as the mainstream economy. Jobs in the formal economy are insecure, unrepresented, unregistered and generally suffer from decent work deficits as companies can simply close down without any relief for the worker.

Gilbert Muponda, an entrepreneur, last week said: “There was need to involve more stakeholders in developing a national economic vision which will have their support since it will be a result of wider consultation.”

He said whilst land was important, there was need to look beyond it (the land) and exploit other advantages that the country has including the well-developed education sector and communications infrastructure.

“A national economic vision will then act as the leading vehicle to mobilise international resources not only in donor form but investment commitments from various sources including Sovereign Wealth Funds which are currently awash with funds seeking suitable investment destinations,” Muponda said.

By Paul Nyakazeya

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