'ZimAsset, pie in the sky'

HARARE - Zimbabwe's economy is collapsing as a direct result of a leadership crisis, and the economic blueprint touted as a panacea to economic problems  was a pie in the sky, analysts have said.

They point out the need for an immediate renewal of the country’s leadership as part of solutions to revive and stimulate confidence in the ailing economy.

This comes amid a deep-rooted economic meltdown, characterised by unbridled corruption, unfulfilled election promises, spiralling unemployment and deflation.

Academic and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza told a Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition meeting on Tuesday that there was a crisis of leadership.

“We need a new leadership in this country and if those of us who are older have failed, you need to tell us we have failed," Mandaza said.

“In doing so, tell us what needs to be done among yourselves. Why do you keep looking and keep singing the same thing?

What are you doing about rectifying the leadership problems in the country.

“Yesterday you were ‘kwati kwati’ with political parties who have collapsed in front of you. What are you doing about transcending the leadership crisis? This is the challenge.”

He said the much-touted economic blueprint, Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) was largely a political statement.

“We have over the last 30 years used policy statements to try and cover up our problems and indeed, this is the nature of the crisis of the state that we are in,” Mandaza said.

The meeting’s theme was anchored on 'Transcending politics: The state of the economy and international re-engagement. European Union (EU) head of delegation to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell’Ariccia said the country did not face a leadership crisis.

“We don’t have a leadership crisis in this country because with the centrifugal forces that you have within the party in government, if you had a leadership crisis it would have been chaos,” he said.

“We still have a leadership and we still have a leader that manages to keep at bay and under control these forces that are very much contradictory.”

Dell’Ariccia said he got the impression that stakeholders were keen on bashing ZimAsset yet it was still work in progress.

“You are ridiculing ZimAsset as a people’s development policy or poverty reduction strategy. ZimAsset is just a blueprint, its work in progress. I think that the government, particularly the Finance minister knows very well that the work is not complete.

“They (government) are calling on the AfDB in particular, to provide technical assistance that would permit to go from the blueprint to the development and strategic document.”

He said civil society had a role to play and that they should stop living in the past.

“I have an impression that you are living anchored to the past where instead of seeing NGOs one perceives charity organisations. If you start catching the flare of the time or trend there is an opening,” he said.

Godfrey Kanyenze of Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (Ledriz) told the same forum that experience suggests that government had been long on planning and short on implementation.

“Government has made regular changes to economic programmes showing policy incoherence and inconsistency, and even reversals,” he said.

Kanyenze noted that with the adoption of ZimAsset after the July 2013 harmonised elections, the Medium Term Plan (MTP) had effectively been unilaterally abandoned in midstream.

“The rationale is that after the landslide victory by the Zanu PF party in last year’s elections, the party was given the mandate to govern the country for a five year term, hence this is a party and not a national consultative position,” he said.

Kanyenze said in the absence of policy reforms, fiscal revenue growth will stagnate, while expenditure will be heavily tilted towards employment costs.

This comes as the southern African nation is struggling to secure $27 billion to fund ambitious projects outlined in the five-year economic blueprint.

The blueprint, which borrows from the ruling Zanu PF’s election manifesto and previous national development programmes, identifies four major clusters, namely food security and nutrition, social services and poverty reduction, infrastructure and utilities and value addition and beneficiation.

It comes on the back of a cocktail of economic policies that have dismally failed to breathe life into the country’s economy.

These range from the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) to Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation (Zimprest) to the abandoned Medium Term Plan that was supposed to run until next year, among others.

Under ZimAsset, Zimbabwe targets to create 2,2 million jobs, unlock $1,8 trillion in idle mineral reserves and grow the economy by an average seven percent annually.

With the local economy only generating approximately $3,6 billion in annual revenue, ZimAsset was anchored on the mobilisation of $27 billion mostly from the emerging markets, mainly Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa.

However, Brazil has said it will not financially support Zimbabwe’s ZimAsset project as the southern African nation is “too rich to beg for financial assistance.”

“As a rule, Brazil does not give any support to sovereign nations and we don’t give out hand-outs either,” its envoy to Zimbabwe, Marcia Maro da Silva said.

“Usually, we find synergies and business opportunities where we can work with people on various projects. Zimbabwe is a rich country and does not need donations but investments. ZimAsset offers opportunities for Brazil to come and invest in infrastructure and other sectors but there is need for clarity on the country’s economic policies.”

Comments (4)

Singing for his supper

peter mayor - 19 June 2014

Whether we like it or not,Zimbabwe is now a Chinese colony. The 'ZIMBABWE WILL NEVER BE A COLONY AGAIN'slogan is senseless. We are sick&tired of political platitudes.We deserve something much better. Gvt has to destroy corruption & put into law pragmatic economic policies. Empty slogans won't help us.

BANGARA - 20 June 2014

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