AS the curtain comes down on the year 2020, there seems to be no end to Zimbabwe’s multifaceted economic crisis.
Just as we thought tepid growth and currency volatilities had been addressed by the foreign currency auction system, we were hit by rocketing food and basic commodity prices. Only this week, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said the cost of living for a family of six increased to $22 976 in November, from $21 745 in October.
While at 401% in November, the annual inflation rate dropped by wide margins from 471% in October, it remains extremely high.
At that level, it will be difficult for the government to see through current efforts unveiled in the 2021 national budget, and the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS-1), to rebuild the economy.
The year 2020 ends as authorities battle to find a solution to the debt crisis. There are already fears that the debt may continue to spiral if the government continues to borrow on behalf of ailing State firms that have been blacklisted by global lenders.
While the government keeps glossing over the state of affairs in industries, recent data from manufacturing firms indicates that the industrial crisis is far from over.
In 2021, considerable effort will be required to help companies grow and create jobs. The list of shortcomings confronting this economy as we move into 2020 is long. This means the 7,4% growth rate projected by the government may remain a pipedream.
But another slide will not be good for a country that has just lost over one million jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and is struggling to bring order to shortages of crucial supplies like medicine and water. Part of these shortages are largely stemming out of corruption and mismanagement, as seen through developments in the ministry of health. This is why we demand that in 2021, the government must walk the talk.
Gone are the days when authorities could afford to deceive people that the situation is stabilising, when in fact the challenges confronting the economy are worsening by the day.
It has been a bleak Christmas already for the majority of Zimbabweans. They could not afford to travel to their rural homes because their earnings have been eroded by rocking prices, which indicates how bad the crisis has mutated as we end the year.
A resolve to implement NDS-1 to its fullest, with everyone being held accountable for missed opportunities and targets, will be important in 2021. Cabinet had begun implementation of NDS-1 well by tying down permanent secretaries to sign NDS-1 performance contracts.
But signing a paper is one thing; following them up to see if they will not gravitate towards their usual ways will be another.
Those who fail to measure up must be fired, and crooks and thieves must be weeded out. This is where Joram Gumbo’s policy implementation ministry must move and carry out this important duty without fear or favour.
Any sloppiness will lead Zimbabweans further down the abyss, as we are already leaving in dangerous times. There should be no room for piecemeal reforms.