Candid Comment: Action plan urgently needed to rescue economy

THE Ministry of Finance this week hosted what they termed a “high-level economic forum” in the resort town of Victoria Falls which sought to deliver a concrete and progressive action plan to rescue an economy which has had its growth forecast recently revised down. Report by Happiness Zengeni
The forum, sponsored by the World Bank and other international institutions, was meant to be a meeting of policymakers and stakeholders. Delegates were informed that SME’s employ 60% of Zimbabwe’s workforce; mergers and acquisitions are going to be inevitable for the banking sector; the country needs US$33 billion between 2012 and 2030 for infrastructure development, and that Zimbabwe cannot participate in the HIPC programme as cabinet could not agree on the issue.
This is not the first meeting held to try and map a way forward on how to grow the economy. There have been many such “high-level” indabas, most of which proved to be talk-shops with no meaningful outputs and implementing programmes thereafter.  The last point, which has been listed under what came out of the meeting, unfortunately highlights the characteristics of this inclusive government and why it is falling short in implementing its economic policies.
With political consensus proving elusive, gradually the polarisation choking this  government is beginning to manifest itself aggressively and to poison the environment, particularly over the adoption of economic policies. This polarisation will make it difficult for government to address the economic problems besetting the nation. Never mind the raft of statistics that came out of the forum about how the country is faring well when compared to others, nor the blame on who is worsening the already serious liquidity crisis in the economy.
It doesn’t help to say we are mapping a way forward in the economy when all stakeholders are not involved. And this is not the first such meetings which do not have consensus among the members of the inclusive government. The Euromoney conference held earlier in the year was an MDC-T event. Industry and Trade minister Welshman Ncube has also launched his own industrialisation policy.
Although it was to be officially launched by President Robert Mugabe, it was poorly-supported with almost no MDC-T ministers participating except Tapiwa Mashakada, joining Joseph Made and Francis Nhema. The long and short of it is that polarisation has paralysed this government and this has a ripple effect on the performance of the private sector.
Already, companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange are reporting falling or flat corporate earnings, which in turn impact on the income levels of the workers. This is partly because of poor economic policies and bad politics.
The government needs a coherent and sustainable policy framework to deal with agriculture, transport, infrastructure and mining. Indigenisation must also be sorted out.
Just check, Zimplow, for instance, reported a loss in the June interim period because of the stand-off with regards to the cotton marketing season and most of retailers warned of slow sales. This has something do with  agricultural policy. As reported elsewhere in this paper, Seedco reported a weak performance in its winter cereal mainly because the government did not avail the promised US$20 million funding to the farmers. An action plan is urgently needed to rescue the economy.