THE presidential speech at the opening of parliament on Tuesday was a rare breath of real fresh air: not much of the predictable and rather stale rhetoric on the West and the opposition MDC he repeats like a broken record.
Zimbabwe Independent Editorial
In fact, there was none of the vitriol that we have come to expect from President Robert Mugabe.
Instead, he dwelt on the more pressing and pragmatic that the nation faces and set the right tone for the new MPs.
Very few can fault the legislative agenda Mugabe set for the two houses of parliament, encapsulated in the following quote: “The pursuit of sustained economic recovery and growth is uppermost on the government priority list.
In this regard, government will prioritise the implementation of sustainable pro-poor economic development initiatives, hinged on the consolidation of macro-economic stability, and effect the revival of key sectors of agriculture, mining, tourism and manufacturing.”
In the words of Portia in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, these were “Good sentences and well pronounced”.
Such remarks should re-energise the financial sector, the oil of the economic engine.
Some measures coming will include the amendments to legislation dealing with the insurance and pensions sectors, which are critical to mobilising long-term funds for investment.
More sentences that waxed lyrical in many a business ear were the public-private partnership Bill, particularly critical to mobilising funds for infrastructure.
The Mines and Minerals (Amendment) Bill, an item carried over from the agenda of the last parliament and aimed at harmonising laws to smoothen operations in the country’s mining sector, was yet another melody.
The same applies to the declaration of intent to resuscitate agriculture, including the setting up of the long overdue commodities exchange which will provide efficient price mechanism for agricultural products.
One only has to look at the deadlock between cotton farmers and ginners to appreciate the importance of this. Small-scale maize producers will also like this development.
The Land Commission is equally important and one of the things it should deal with is how land can be collateralised through 99-year leases or something similar.
However, agenda-setting is one thing and execution quite another. If you put the cart before the horse, despite having horses stronger than George Orwell’s Boxer in Animal Farm, you simply won’t get anywhere.
While the president enunciated all the major things that need to be sorted out before the economy can get back on track, he did not, however, give an indication on the order of priority and times lines.
Naturally, we expect that when cabinet gets to meet, this is what they should do: shortlist what are the first things that need to be done first. One of the top priorities must be power generation. The three key pillars of Zimbabwe’s economy, mining, agriculture and manufacturing, are huge power consumers.
Therefore, if indeed Zanu PF’s Chinese friends have committed themselves to the Batoka, Kariba and Hwange power projects, they should be spurred on into executing these as a matter of urgency.
As for the Land Commission, a mechanism must be set up as to how land can be collateralised. In reality, the good sentences we have heard from Mugabe can only be useful through execution.