Bye-bye to painful 2014

HARARE - As the curtain comes down on 2014, Zimbabweans have described the year as yet another “annus horribilis” (horrible year) in which President Robert Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF seemingly spent more time fighting ugly factional and succession party wars rather than concentrating on service delivery to the people.

At the same time, analysts and leading political figures told the Daily News yesterday that 2015 promises to be worse than 2014 all round, with Zimbabweans urged to brace for even tougher times.

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC secretary for policy and research, said 2014 had been an “ugly year for Zimbabwe which has been presided over by an ugly government, leading to an ugly life for long-suffering citizens, punctuated by ugly service delivery”.

Chamisa, who is also Kuwadzana East MP, said the dire economic situation in the country, a result of poor political stewardship, had seen the closure of more than 4 500 companies — which saw youth unemployment soaring to an “untenable and unprecedented 90 plus percent”.

As a result, the former Cabinet minister in the government of national unity called on the country’s leaders to shift their focus from “mindless factionalism” to service delivery, warning them of mass upheavals should the situation remain as dire as it currently was in 2015.

Chamisa expressed hope that those in charge of the country would soon realise that “peace is a national asset never to be taken for granted” and that citizens’ “patience and tolerance was not foolishness and stupidity”.

“Leaders in 2015 must know that if leadership is not provided, the head will become the tail and the tail will become the head.

“Where the tail wags the dog, that situation is not desirable and profitable for national development and prosperity,” he said, adding that the people were desperately waiting for answers to their problems, not “weird and wild explanations, excuses and conspiracies”.

Official statistics indicate that at least 4 500 companies have closed shop since 2011, sending more than 55 443 employees into the streets.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has also been forced to lower the country’s 2014 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth projections from an initial 6,1 percent to 3,1 percent — which latter figure economic analysts say is still too optimistic.

Chinamasa has also predicted a 3,2 percent GDP growth for 2015, indicating that the limping economy will at best be largely stagnant in the new year.

Revealingly, between 2009 and 2012 — during the era of the coalition government between Zanu PF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC — Zimbabwe’s GDP growth averaged 10 percent a year.

Human Rights Watch staffer, Dewa Mavhinga, especially condemned the government’s failure to protect the rights of Tokwe Mukorsi flood victims at Chingwizi.

He also raised concern about the way senior politicians had continued to propagate hate speech in the country in 2014, much against the hoped-for spirit of peace and national reconciliation that Zimbabweans yearned for following years of political polarisation.

He singled out controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe’s foul-mouthed frontal attacks on former Vice President Joice

Mujuru, whom she not only described as inept, daft and corrupt, but also bizarrely accused her of plotting to assassinate her 90-year-old husband, notwithstanding the complete absence of facts to substantiate the claims.

“Non-governmental organisation, ZimRights, also made this year ugly by giving a human rights defender award to a known human rights violator and Zanu PF member Joseph Chinotimba,” Mavhinga said, urging citizens to brace for a long economic winter next year “based on the return of the Zimbabwe dollar bond coins”.

On his part, Jacob Mafume, the spokesperson of the MDC renewal team, said while 2014 was horrible, it was also one in which Zimbabweans came to realise that Zanu PF “stole” the 2013 elections, and that the ruling party remained clueless about what to do with their “victory”.

“It has been proved that Zanu PF cannot operate in an environment where they are not fighting something or someone, hence they have reached high levels of cannibalism, the biggest fraternal fight since Cain and Abel.

“This was all at the expense of the economy and well-being of the nation, yet they continue to believe that with the senile Mugabe, he can still be at the helm of the country by proxy through his wife, creating a situation of despondency and despair,” Mafume said.

Several economic analysts also predicted yesterday that 2015 would be the “most difficult year thus far” as the country’s economic prospects were likely to continue waning in the new year.

“We have heard news that government plans to revise the indigenisation policy, a very welcome move, as most investors have been shunning the country because of this piece of legislation.

“However, this is not a guarantee that our fortunes will change because issues around governance are still pending,” said Issis Mwale, an independent analyst based in Harare.

Well-known academic and economist, Tony Hawkins, said in a commentary that given the current deteriorating economic situation, “it was naive to believe that the country can borrow itself out of trouble or that foreign investors will suddenly ride to the country’s rescue”.

“The longer term problems of excessive consumption, inadequate savings and investment, huge reliance on foreign borrowing, unsustainable balance-of-payments and foreign debt situations, not to mention growing unemployment and poverty are being left to fester and worsen in the hope that somehow conditions will improve in 2015,” he said.

Hawkins added that with the global economic situation generally deteriorating, commodity prices, on which Zimbabwe was massively dependent, were forecast to stagnate and risk aversion towards investment in emerging markets was growing.

He noted that in a slowing economy, there was very little fiscal space to raise additional revenue on a continuing basis, though Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) was currently raising additional funds through collections of arrears and penalties despite them being one-off measures that could not be repeated.

Another respected economist, John Robertson, said for Zimbabwe to realise meaningful economic growth, investment was needed and this called for investor confidence first.

“Before confidence can be restored, the security issues must be addressed, and these concern civil rights, property rights, the rule of law and the adoption by politicians of policies designed to assist and encourage investors, rather than to regulate and control them,” he said.

As it is, the government is currently running on a cash budget after failing to secure external support, but tax income is dwindling on the back of waning economic activity.

According to tax collector Zimra’s latest statistics, net revenue collections in the third quarter to September 2014 amounted to $884,5 million, missing a $972,3 million target by nine percent.

As at August 31, 2014, the government suffered a budget deficit of about $20 million, as revenue collections were 6,3 percent below target.

Chinamasa has conceded that the economy is in a bad shape, and has called for various reforms aimed at stimulating production in various economic sectors.

“The major challenge is that the revenue base remains limited and hence, the need to expand it.

“The economy needs substantial investment, both domestic and foreign direct investment, as well as other support, also targeting infrastructure and production for the export markets.

“The economy continues to be dragged down by liquidity shortages, antiquated plant and machinery, cheap imports and high cost of production — a situation that has led to company closures,” he said.

Comments (9)

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Rodney - 31 December 2014

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Rodney - 31 December 2014

one day vanhu ivava vanomboti they were not ready to govern vototenda kuti vaive vachidzidziswa muGNU. the next day voti this government is clueless. if you were beibg taught by a ckueless lot we can the conclude that you are also clueless. the question is; which is which machinja? are you now ready? what makes you think that this time around you can go it solo? what where your weaknesses and how have you managed to overcome them?

taurai - 31 December 2014

taurai - chi mu CIO chekuma hosteri. saka iwe urikuona kunge Zanupf irikukwanisa basa chizvo? uno rwara. unoda kuti vanhu vanyarare iwe wotaura ndiwe unofunga kuti uniziva zvese? benzi.

Der - 31 December 2014

It has been one poignant year for the majority of hardworking Zimbabweans. I am an employer and it pains me not pay wages on time and retrench employees. It has been one of the most difficult years in my entire business career. It reminds me of the 2008 hyperinflationary era. We really do not know what 2015 holds for our nation. Ngwenya(The Acting President) seems to have taken a positive stance regarding FDI Vs Indigenization. He has however come under attack from self serving politicians who have presidential ambitions.

Tawa - 31 December 2014

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Batsi Chidzodzo - 1 January 2015

@der, just answer those simple questions. why scold me needlessly. what has changed around this time that we can trust mdc t with the running of this country? let us know pls.

taurai - 1 January 2015

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