HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s claim that Zimbabwe was undergoing robust economic growth was yesterday questioned by economic and political analysts.
Mugabe told delegates at the President’s Medal Shoot prize-giving ceremony at Cleveland Rifle Range in Harare on Sunday that the economy was on a recovery path.
He claimed government was going to employ several measures to further resuscitate the economy.
But some economists and political analysts dispute that finding and Mugabe’s forecast was roundly rejected by most analysts.
The economic stagnation that is becoming a recession is an exception from what is normally a strong rebound, analysts said.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said Mugabe’s statement was divorced from reality and an indictment on his advisors, suggesting he was getting flawed information about the true state of the economy.
“It might suit certain people, but that claim is very odd and strange,” Masunungure told the Daily News.
“It is not founded on what is happening on the ground. I do not know where the president is getting that data from. The reality is not what he is claiming.
“It is a mystery that he said that about Zimbabwe and it brings into question what type of advisors he has. Where are they taking those statistics from? It is incredulous.”
Almost one year after the July 31, 2013 poll, the economy is stagnating and the unemployment rate has remained persistently high despite a pre-poll promise to deliver two million jobs.
The administration, mindful that Mugabe’s popularity has slipped over economic concerns, has emphasised an agenda focused on jobs and growth.
Rugare Gumbo, Zanu PF’s spokesperson, insisted that Mugabe’s assessment was spot-on.
“Yes, the economy is recovering. The president is correct,” Gumbo told the Daily News.
“The RBZ (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) governor (John Mangudya) said the economy is recovering so how can we challenge that? As far as we are concerned, the economy is improving. Yes, there are challenges that we must confront.”
Mangudya was unreachable to clarify the Zanu PF claims.
Gumbo claimed the improvement was underpinned by a booming mining sector and an improved agricultural output.
Renowned Bulawayo-based economist Eric Bloch said although the country had witnessed a marginal economic increase of at least one percent in 17 years, it was still nothing since it was anchored on a poor-performing economy, characterised by company closures, a liquidity crunch and unemployment.
“Although we have had a marginal increase in the economy, particularly because of improvement in agriculture and mining, it is a one percent of what was already very little,” Bloch said.
“It is just slight and not meaningful. It has not improved the flow of funds into the Treasury, so we cannot be excited about that.”
Pedzisayi Ruhanya, director of political think tank Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said Mugabe was living on cloud cuckoo-land.
“There is no empirical evidence to back what the president is saying,” Ruhanya told the Daily News.
“Maybe he is living in 1980. We may associate that with old age. The life we are experiencing and statistical data is parallel to what the president is saying.”
Mugabe claimed the recovery would be anchored on the economic blueprint ZimAsset.
The controversial ZimAsset, premised on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation, promised to stimulate economic development by “creating value of $7,3 billion from indigenisation of 1 138 companies across 14 key sectors and more than $18,4 billion created from the idle value of empowerment assets unlocked from parastatals, local authorities, mineral rights and claims.”
The bloated 26-member Cabinet comprising mostly what critics have branded “out-of-sorts ministers” has failed to save the economy from a biting liquidity crunch.
A flurry of company closures spawning loss of employment contrasts sharply with ZimAsset.