Economic Planning minister Elton Mangoma told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that he was waiting for the submissions from Zanu PF and the two MDC formations and also disclosed that industry and commerce had already seconded representatives.
The setting up of the NEC was one of the outstanding issues of the GPA that was raised at last November’s Sadc Troika meeting in Maputo. Other outstanding issues include the rehiring of central bank governor Gideon Gono, appointment of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and the issue of provincial governors.
President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara agreed in the September 15 2008 power-sharing pact to set up the NEC which would, among other things, assist government in formulating economic policy.
This followed a decade-long economic recession under the charge of Mugabe’s Zanu PF administration.
Mangoma said other business bodies — the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ), Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (COMZ), Zimbabwe National Farmers Union and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (Icaz) — had already submitted their nominations.
Mangoma, however, refused to name the candidates.
He said: “The political parties are still to make appointments. We are hoping to get their nominations by the end of this month. I don’t think it will be proper for me to disclose the nominees (of industry and commerce).”
Sources said Icaz, which at the start of the year had not yet received an invitation from government to nominate would-be members of the council, finally received the invitation and nominated a senior partner with Ernst & Young auditing firm as a representative of public accountants.
The Joint Implementation and Monitoring Committee, a body set up last year to monitor and evaluate the unity government, was last year instructed to invite Icaz and the Zimbabwe National Farmers Union, an organisation representing indigenous farmers.
Icaz, the sources added, was given a portfolio on risk management. Icaz president Emilia Chisango of KPMG Chartered Accountants could not be reached for comment.
COMZ president Victor Gapare confirmed he had been nominated to represent mines on the NEC.
Other business leaders nominated to represent their organizations are reportedly Obert Sibanda of the ZNCC and Kumbirai Katsande of the CZI.
The formation of the NEC gathered momentum late last year after South African President Jacob Zuma’s mediation efforts to finalise outstanding issues of the unity agreement.
The terms of reference of the council will include giving advice to government and such other functions as assigned to the council by government.
Article 3 of the GPA binds Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara to establish a NEC composed of representatives of their political parties and representatives of the manufacturing, agriculture, mining, tourism, commerce, financial, labour, academia and other relevant sectors.
The setting up of the NEC comes at a time when Finance minister Tendai Biti recently painted a gloomy picture of Zimbabwe’s economic outlook. Although economic analysts said it was notable to have such a think-tank in the current economic environment, they were sceptical it would be effective if the country fails to attract direct foreign investment (FDI) and significant lines of credit.
Biti bemoaned lack of FDI.
“In the absence of notable inflows from cooperating partners, most originally planned capital development projects will remain unfunded, compromising prospects for improved service delivery especially on power, water and sanitation as well as other supportive infrastructure such as roads and railways,” Biti said.
“Hence, government is already strictly rationalising and managing expenditures in order to build and ring-fence meaningful savings for capital development projects and programmes.”
Zimbabwe, according to the treasury minister, received a meagre US$2,9 million from the US$800 million that was pledged by donors.
In his foreword to the Government Work Plan that was approved by cabinet last month, Tsvangirai felt let down by international cooperating partners.
“We had certain expectations about the level of support that we were going to receive in 2009 which did not fully materialise, hence the need to be more realistic in resource expectations under the current planning,” the premier said.
The IMF, which earlier this year restored Zimbabwe’s voting rights, said it was ready to open up its purse once the country shows its commitment in clearing arrears dating back to 2001.
The European Union and the United States maintain that they are ready to fully engage with Zimbabwe after full compliance with the GPA.
Chris Muronzi/Bernard Mpofu