ALARMED by the continuous economic implosion, fuelled by a paralysing liquidity crunch and low capacity utilisation, as well as company closures and massive retrenchments, the Zanu PF politburo now has the economy as a standing agenda item at its monthly meetings.
The politburo, which is Zanu PF’s de facto decision-making body outside congress even if the central committe legally is, meets once a month, but can be called to meet whenever there is an emergency or crisis.
For years, politburo meetings have mostly focused on internal issues and problems despite the economic implosion, but party bigwigs say the rate of economic decline has jolted them into action to battle with the crisis.
A senior Zanu PF politbro member said this week:
“It’s no longer business as usual in the politbro.The economy has taken centre stage and so every month we get an update from the Minister of Finance and debate how to get out of the current situation.”
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said at an economic prospects for Zimbabwe and the re-engagement process roundtable discussion in Harare recently that the economy had become a standing agenda item of the politburo.
“I have taken the opportunity to put permanently on the agenda of the politburo of which I am a member, a discussion of our economy,” he said.
“We discussed the economy and the debates are as polarised as they can be in a political formation. I welcome them because at the end of the day I know there is no view which has not been put on the table and taken into account in arriving at the final path that we have to travel.”
Chinamasa said there was need for the country’s leaders to fully focus on the country’s economic challenges, which he felt had been neglected for some time.
“We should always craft strategies that will eventually overcome or minimise negative impact on our economy. Now, the first reality that I defined is the debt overhang,” he said.
“That reality means over the past 15-20 years, we have not been playing our rightful part in the global economy; we are not fully integrated in the global economy, but we have to and time is not on our side. We have already lost time.”
Chinamasa said he was happy that other than attention in the politburo, government was increasingly engaging business to find solutions to the economic crisis.
He said the development was positive given the scale of economic problems Zimbabwe is facing.
“We have now built bridges and speak with a collective voice and that is how it should be. We can mess up business big time if we are not correctly advised or made aware of its concerns,” said Chinamasa.
In recent weeks, the politburo has discussed several issues, including retrenchments and amendments to the Labour Act and the need to reduce government expenditure, particularly reducing the wage bill which is gobbling 80% of government revenue.
The politburo and the government, however, seem to have no clue on how to rescue the economy despite both of them taking time to discuss economic matters every month and weekly respectively.