'Call for economic dialogue'

HARARE - Former Economic Planning minister Tapiwa Mashakada has called for the establishment of an all-stakeholder National Economic Council (Nec) in order to arrest Zimbabwe’s economic collapse.

Mashakada said the council will “sit down and work out modalities of recovering the economy…and reversing the economic decline”, which he alleged, “cannot just be done by Zanu PF alone”.

This comes as the country’s economy is faltering, with 2014 economic growth targets revised downwards to 3,1 percent from government’s initial 6,1 percent projection.

The southern African nation — still suffering a hangover from a decade-long economic recession — faces a widening trade deficit, high unemployment levels, unprecedented company closures, a huge debt overhang, dwindling revenues, deflation, depressed aggregate demand and an acute liquidity crisis, amid concerns of further deterioration. “... the Nec will be a cross cutting body comprised of industry, labour, churches, political parties and members of Parliament,” Mashakada told Parliament last week.

He added that the country urgently needs to tap expertise from the private sector and other sectors of the economy.

“I am calling upon the setting up of this all important stakeholder Nec to resolve the economic quagmire that Zimbabwe is into,” he said.

Early this month, President Robert Mugabe’s administration said it was ready for face-to-face talks with opposition parties and civil society to find solutions to the country’s problems.

The ruling party Zanu PF’s spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said dialogue was possible with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, but insisted the former Prime Minister must first drop claims that Mugabe and his party had rigged last year’s July election.

Gumbo’s remarks followed Tsvangirai’s document dubbed “Personal Reflections” in which he repeated calls for talks to help end the economic slide.

“The economic transformation that we want to achieve requires the voice of everyone, including the opposition and civic society,” said Gumbo.

He, however, said “there is no point in pointing fingers”, but rather work together in order to deal with problems besetting the country.

“What we need to do as a country is to focus on economic issues affecting us. Many Zimbabweans do not understand the problems we are facing. Let us stop fighting for the sake of fighting.”

“Let us eliminate criticism for the sake of criticism. It is a tragedy that Tsvangirai blames the president it is not a blame game. He just cannot open his mouth without uttering something bad. We want to change the landscape in our country,” Gumbo said.

His tone signalled a shift in Zanu PF’s hard stance, after the party initially out-rightly dismissed calls for dialogue with Tsvangirai — who was in an uneasy a four-year coalition government with Mugabe since 2009 — to save the economy.

Tsvangirai, analysts and other economic stakeholders have repeatedly called for a multi-stakeholder dialogue on the economy, amid growing concerns about Zanu PF’s capacity to turn it around.

Comments (9)

Just wondering whether the former minister has been able to consult with the government before calling for the "establishment of the all-stakeholder NEC". This is a very noble suggestion. However, it would seem correct procedures and processes should be put in place before making such announcement in order to avoid being misunderstood. Some of us have been patiently waiting for this opportunity. I would suggest that more people would welcome this initiative provided such problems like corruption are minimized. Minimized if we assume that elimination is practically impossible. Yes we yearn for a prosperous Zimbabwe. Together we can. Yes we can.

taurai - 28 July 2014

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 29 July 2014

The idea is to get other parties involved so that Zanu can later apportion blame. Remember how Biti was the labelled bad guy for not giving the civil servants an increase? And now?

Joe Cool - 29 July 2014

Yes, NEC IS Good, but there are areas that needs to be addressed before people engage themselves in this talk, First the ruling party must talk much about this not vis versa otherwise the ruling party mighty take it as oppositions parties want to be included in this gvt through a backdoor . 2 -intimidation in rural areas must stop and allow people to enjoy true freedom in these areas, there are reports that in some rural areas people are being forced to political meetings every week, eg Sanyati, Murehwa,Masvingo, mash central and some parts of manicaland as a way of preparing for 2018 elections that must stop before people come together to solve economic problems facing us.3-Also the new electronic cards being introduced people are told if you do not have it you will not get fertilise and seeds from gvt and GMB, THAT MUST STOP ALSO. Chucrhs must not be seen coming into an environment which is not clean it tarnishes there image.4- The issue of rule of law must be addressed also. If you join a gvt which is sinking you are mostly likely to sink, let the boat or ship go maintenance process before you join it. 5- Stop of retrenchments in state enterprises and other industries, labour must voice strongly in this area before talks.

pagomo - 29 July 2014

Mashakada , as an economist , must not approach the issue of our economic ills with dirty hands. He knows his party`s support for sanctions .which are hurting our economy. We know he cannot criticise the sanctions in fear of MDCT `s Chief Policy Adviser Eddie CROSS. He is no longer the young economist I knew during his days working with TSVANGIRAI at the ZCTU as a junior economist with interest to preserve the workers jobs! ZANUPF and Govt would prefer to have the sanctions removed first and then judge the govt fairly! By not calling for the removal of sanctions first , the ex Minister is just paying lip service to our economic problems!

Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof) - 29 July 2014

This NEC thing will never work as long as you have people like Muzvina who constantly point to sanctions and forgetting that "we" are our biggest enemy, I say we because we have left the biggest cancer to eat into our economy. We need a total paradigm shift from the blame game that even Gumbo alluded to and be patriotic by serving the country and not parties. It is on record that police from ZACC were sent packing when they went to investigate at the Offices of Kasukuwere, Mpofu etc, it is on record that the President said some ministers asked for bribes as much as $10mil and up to now nothing has happened to those ministers despite the report coming from the "real Statesman Mbeki" as HE calls him, it is on record that HE told us Maisimirembwa received $6mil bribe but again what happened. The Sengwa coal and power project failed to take place in the 80s but there were no sanctions, the executive drives the best Mercs on earth yet we are on sanctions instead of driving in Mahindra locally manufactured; Temba Mliswa already mentioned this. Is it because of sanctions only that civil servants are not getting paid yet we buy E and S class vehicles from the same people who have sanctioned us? We need a total paradigm shift in thinking and start working for the country before our parties Cde Mzvinavhu(Prof) please. Sifuna abantu abanenqondo, amadhodha sibili. Mashakada has come up with a proper suggestion that should be grabbed by all right thinking Zimbabweans who are really proud to be Zimbabwean and not proud to be led Mugabe or Tsvangirayi/Ncube or Biti

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five star - 30 July 2014

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five star - 30 July 2014

This is a noble call & deserves every support. We are not interested in political grandstanding by any party. Pple are suffering, gvt is struggling to pay civil servants on time & companies are shutting down everyday.

seriousness - 30 July 2014

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