HARARE - Exactly a year after the 2013 harmonised elections which were controversially won by Zanu PF, Zimbabweans are now worse off than they were before the polls.
Analysts say the much-touted economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), has failed to deliver and remains “academic” and a “pie in the sky”.
Random surveys have also revealed that most Zimbabweans, including some Zanu PF Members of Parliament and Senate do not even know what ZimAsset is about, let alone how it will help the suffering millions of Zimbabweans.
Stitched up by the Zanu PF-led government after last year’s plebiscite that extended President Robert Mugabe’s rule, ZimAsset was poised to deliver more than 2,2 million new jobs which the liberation movement promised during the election campaign as well as fire recovery and growth of the country’s economy.
Other promises in the economic blueprint include 250 000 low income housing units, 310 public schools and 300 clinics, but struggling ordinary Zimbabweans have seen little, if any, of the promised million new jobs with company closures continuing — pushing the unemployment rate to over 85 percent.
Actually, the opposite is happening. An estimated 40 000 graduates from universities and other tertiary institutions are resorting to vending to make ends meet while access to health care has become a dream. In the meantime, Zanu PF officials are busy engaging in a vicious power struggle as different factions fight to replace the 90-year-old Mugabe.
The economy, which Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa predicted would grow by 6,1 percent this year, has hit a bad patch with the government being forced to reverse its economic growth forecast for 2014 to a measly 3,1 percent.
Substantive economic recovery witnessed during the days of the unity government when Mugabe shared power with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has vanished.
Economic recovery also remains elusive although government says it is too early to expect positive results.
Recent revelations by Industry minister Mike Bimha that more than 624 companies across the country have retrenched over the past four years and a significant number have closed shop, rendering hundreds of thousands people jobless, are quite chilling.
“Most companies that had shown signs of recovery since the hyperinflationary era, have either closed or are significantly downsizing, shedding many jobs in the process,” he said adding that more and more companies were being liquidated, while others are being placed under the care of judicial managers as low economic activity persists.
“In 2010, about 141 companies retrenched while the number increased in 2011 to 171 companies which retrenched. However, statistics in 2012 show that about 147 companies retrenched but in 2013 there was an increase of
18 percent to 165 companies which retrenched,” said Bimha.
This comes as a report from the National Social Security Authority revealed that at least 10 firms have been closing every month since the beginning of this year. This translates to 60 companies having closed shop so far and the figures could get to 120 companies by the end of the year if the situation remains as it is.
A liquidity crunch in the economy has seen domestic companies failing to recapitalise to deal with competition from cheap imports.
According to the Master of the High Court’s roll, scores of companies are each month applying for judicial management, liquidation and voluntary closure as provided for by the Companies Act. The act provides that a company may be placed under judicial management if it is unable to clear its debts or when it is likely to collapse.
The Master of the High Court’s roll shows that some of the affected companies from across all economic sectors include Zimbao Mining Ventures, Infinity Asset Management, Rusape Service Station, Central African Shipping Agencies and United Methodist Publications and Stationers Foundations.
Others are ambulance service provider Mars Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd, Road Construction company Gulliver Consolidated, multi-industrial concern Phoenix Consolidated Industries, KM Financial Holdings and several holding firms such as Apex holdings and Shaefur investments.
Big companies that have retrenched staff include Zimplats, Unki, Bindura Nickel, Mimosa, Spar Supermarkets, Dairibord, Cairns Foods, Olivine Industries and PG Industries.
Economic and political experts say the five-year economic blueprint, ZimAsset, which was extracted from Zanu PF’s election manifesto and modelled along China’s development programme, was very flawed and thus difficult to implement.
Tsvangirai, in his personal reflections memo last month, said the southern African country was desperately in need of political dialogue to salvage the economy from total collapse.
“The government simply has run out of ideas, even in the wake of shrinking revenue collections as a result of a diminishing tax base. The purported economic blueprint, ZimAsset, needs funding to the tune of $27 billion, and this at time when we have failed to fund an annual budget that needed around $4 billion,” he said.
“The ZimAsset programme, supposedly the panacea to our economic success, has failed to attract any funding whatsoever,” added Tsvangirai.
The Welshman Ncube-led MDC says it is irked by the manner in which the Zanu PF government has failed to deliver on its election promises, a year after winning a two thirds majority, whittling down the opposition’s parliamentary presence to nothing more than a footnote.
National spokesperson of the Ncube-led group Nhlanhla Dube said the party’s national standing committee which met in Bulawayo recently, deliberated on a raft of economic and political issues that are currently handcuffing national progress.
“It was sadly noted, that a year has lapsed after the national harmonised elections and that Zanu PF has not in this period fulfilled a single promise it made to the electorate prior to elections,” Dube said.
He said Zanu PF has proved unequivocally inept with regard to governmental responsibility in the critical areas of jobs, health, anti-corruption, education, public transport and real economic empowerment.
Economic commentator Tawanda Zviroto noted that by choosing to point at sanctions as the core cause of Zimbabwe’s economic ills, in ZimAsset the government produced a policy document that does not address the problem.
“Failure to diagnose the cause of one’s illness will result in the prescription of wrong medication. Zimbabwe’s biggest problems for decades have been and remain over-expenditure by central government and corruption in both public and private sector.
“Any proposal to revive Zimbabwe’s economy which fails to recognise these two areas cannot be taken serious,” he said.