AFTER a very tough 2016, Zimbabweans are bracing themselves for what could be a catastrophic 2017.
Zimbabwe Independent Comment
With fiscal demands expected to grow ahead of the 2018 general elections against the ever-shrinking revenue collections; the uncertainty caused by the introduction of bond notes; the shortage of foreign currency due to low production in the manufacturing sector and other productive sectors of the economy as well as depressed mineral prices which are likely to continue this year; it could indeed be gloom and doom for many Zimbabweans. President Robert Mugabe’s government therefore has to move mountains and craft policies which will cushion the majority while spurring growth a task which the clueless administration has dismally failed to fulfil over the years.
As a starting point, Zimbabweans are hoping government officials will for once expend their energies on trying to salvage what is left of the economy and putting in place policies that encourage investment and production, thereby creating much-needed jobs, rather than fixing their attention on Mugabe’s succession.
The government should swiftly finalise and implement reforms aimed at improving the ease of doing business to attract investors and inspire confidence. The policies and investment procedures should be easily accessible online to enable investors to make decisions or apply for permits without necessarily setting foot in the country.
In the same breath, the authorities should ensure there is cohesion and policy consistency so as not to send mixed messages to the business community and potential investors. The Zimbabwean government is well known for its policy inconsistency as shown by the different interpretations of the indigenisation policy which have often degenerated into public spates involving senior government officials.
The government should thus clarify the indigenisation policy once and for all so that there is a single and uncontested interpretation. The policy has been an elephant in the living room, militating against investment at a time the economy is shrinking.
But these measures will come to nought if the government does not weed out corruption, a cancer which has spread roots across all levels of society. Sadly, the highest office in the land, the Office of the President and Cabinet, has been associated with brazen corruption while the First Family is known to associate with convicted fraudsters such as Wicknell Chivayo. The OPC, for example, is overseeing the brazenly corrupt three-year US$498 million Dema Emergency Power Plant.
Mugabe’s in-law, Derrick Chikore, brother to Simba who is married to the president’s daughter Bona, has an interest in the dodgy deal in which a clique of people, including a top military commander, business dealers and the government’s political cronies are lingering behind the scenes to grab a piece of the pie.
Chikore partnered Kuda Tagwirei of Sakunda Holdings in the murky and unnecessary project. The project initially went through the normal tendering process and was awarded to APR Energy Holdings, but the company was later side-lined in favour of Sakunda following intervention by the President’s Office. It could be wishful thinking but Zimbabweans are hoping that the government will this year, for once, focus on the right things.