MDC unveils economic blueprint

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has unveiled an economic blueprint with measures to create jobs and lure billions in investment if the party wins the forthcoming watershed general election.

The stimulus measures, the latest in a flurry of economic blueprints by the 13-year-old MDC, are aimed at giving one of southern Africa’s largest economies a boost.

The economic blueprint, dubbed JUICE, aims to achieve higher growth rates and focuses widely on foreign direct investment capital, and ambitiously aspire to create a $100 billion economy in Zimbabwe.

The Daily News understands the economic blueprint was handed to the MDC national executive at the party’s national headquarters Harvest House in Harare on Friday.

“The national executive members got the opportunity to look at the party’s economic policy document (JUICE) which addresses issues of jobs, upliftment, investment capital and ecology,” Biti said.

“The executive agreed that the document is the best answer to Zanu PF’s crazy and suicidal policies.”

Combined, the reforms will amount to the biggest economic reform package ever launched by Zimbabwe, a former breadbasket struggling to recover from a decade of economic meltdown.

The steps are also an effort by Tsvangirai, if elected in the forthcoming watershed poll, to modernise Zimbabwe’s economy, which has stalled over the past year following average growth rates of nine percent since formation of a unity government in February of 2009.

By focusing on job creation and mending relationships with Western countries that have had a frosty relationships with President Mugabe’s previous governments, the MDC hopes it can clear troublesome bottlenecks and make the economy more efficient.

Not only would such improved relations inject much-needed FDI, they are needed to accommodate future growth in a country where the government is grappling with 80 percent unemployment and scrambling to speed up investment.

But the investment plans are almost certain to run up against a series of hurdles that could slow their implementation, from Zimbabwe’s mind-boggling bureaucracy which is loyal to Mugabe’s Zanu PF, to lack of finance.

The JUICE document, which will be launched in September, “bears testimony to the people of Zimbabwe that the MDC is the only legitimate alternative to a democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe,” Biti said.

He said the measures would help Zimbabwe become richer, stronger, modern and more competitive.

Senior MDC sources say the economic blueprint will form part of the MDC’s campaign bedrock and promises to provide more jobs to Zimbabweans as a key driver to move the country forward under an exclusive MDC administration.

The MDC blueprint again aims to develop industries for the path towards job creation, which the party has so far failed to deliver as part of its 2008 election promise.

The most immediate worry for Tsvangirai is the latest Freedom House poll, where he took an 18 percent dive in job approval, driven seemingly by economic frustrations.

Economic analysts say his failure to provide real alternatives to Zanu PF’s controversial policies such as empowerment may be the greater long-term concern for his re-election.

The MDC economic blueprint has as its top pick, job creation, governance and anti-corruption efforts, followed by the big-ticket industry development component.

But Zanu PF has sledged the MDC’s economic blueprint and dismissed the party as “puppets.”

Buoyed by a boost in opinion polls that put it in an election-winning position, the party says Zanu PF was the only party with viable policies.

“We have embarked on the land reform programme, we have embarked on indigenisation and economic empowerment, other parties of course are mere puppets of the West and our people have awakened to this fact,” Zanu PF chairperson Simon Khaya-Moyo said.

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