Zimbabweans lose hope in 2015

HARARE - With just two months into the new year, many struggling Zimbabweans say they have lost all hope in the political and economic course that the country is taking.

The economy, which showed signs of revival during the era of the inclusive government between 2009 and 2013, is collapsing at an alarming rate, with the Zanu PF-led government seemingly clueless about how to arrest the economic crisis.

“After enduring one of the most difficult years of my life in 2014, I was hoping this year will bring good tidings, but I guess I was wrong,” said Tabeth Moyo, 30, a qualified marketer, who has been vending on the streets of Harare for the past six years.

“Honestly, I don’t think we are going to see any economic improvements this year. I have been hesitant to leave Zimbabwe for too long but this year I am more than ready to start life across our borders,” she said ruefully.

Moyo, one of the tens of thousands of vendors fighting for survival in Harare’s congested streets, was this week told by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo to move out of the central business district as they are allegedly causing congestion and the littering problem afflicting the capital city.

“The time for action to ensure that all informal traders and kombi operators adhere to the city by-laws has come. I urge all of you to move to designated vending sites as well as pick and drop points for kombis designated by the city council.

“There should be no vending on road pavements, traffic intersections, road islands, middle of the road and in front of shops and offices,” Chombo said.

However, economic commentators say that the government’s move, while potentially noble, is ill-timed considering that companies were closing en masse and the job market had collapsed since the turn of the millennium.

As a result of massive company closures and a general decline in economic conditions, the country had witnessed a boom in “street entrepreneurship” — as vending was now colloquially referred to as — in major cities and towns in the country.

Informal traders in the city sell a variety of wares such as recharge cards for mobile phones, cigarettes, shoe polish, insecticides, socks, toothpicks, headphones, hair combs, sweets, fruits, vegetables and anything else that can be sold.

But without licenses, the vendors are subject to frequent raids that sometimes cost them virtually their life savings.

Harare City Council spokesperson, Michael Chideme, said city fathers would continue to discourage vendors from doing business on storefront sidewalks.

“We do not want people to be selling on the streets because it poses a lot of dangers in terms of road traffic accidents, in terms of human movement and traffic movement.

“It also inconveniences the other business operators because they cannot do their businesses freely with people in front of their shops.

So we are actually responding to a much wider call for order by residents,” Chideme said.

And as the ugly factional and succession wars continue to take centre stage in the ruling Zanu PF, economic experts also say there is little chance of economic growth this year, or the next.

As a result, they say the former liberation movement should stand down from government and allow a new team to try and fix the country.

“It is now 18 months after the 31 July elections and it is clearly beyond any reasonable doubt that the State is mired in a serious structural crisis reproduced in various forms including economic collapse, acerbic succession battles, weak and debauched institutions, as well as a tired and absent leadership,” one analyst said yesterday.

Another noted that the last 35 years had seen the collapse, demise and destruction of “anything functional” in the country.

“In 2015, no amount of spin will hide the fact that the growth rate under the new failure will be below one percent. The economy is clearly in recession,” he said.

A recent report by economic think-tank Inter Horizon Securities noted that the country’s economy was coming under increasing stress characterised by depressed aggregate demand, high unemployment and pervasive structural problems linked to poor funding and weak commodity prices in Zimbabwe’s key sectors such as mining and agriculture.

“It is now imperative that government implements productive and proactive policy reform to attract the much-needed foreign direct investment (FDI) and restore the country’s external position as a prerequisite for accessing external financing.

“Policy clarity, transparency and key structural reforms must be made in order to enhance the business climate to attract FDI, boost productivity and competitiveness, and build confidence.

“The largest impediment to growth remains ingrained in policy inertia and the lack of a compromise solution to the indigenisation policy,” Inter Horizon Securities said.

The research firm said despite Zanu PF’s reluctance to allow flexibility on economic policies, the government would this year be compelled to take a more moderate approach to indigenisation and continue to take proactive measures to normalise relations with creditors and the foreign community.

“The economy is forecast to grow 3,2 percent in 2015 according to the ministry of Finance, although this forecast is fraught with downside risks emanating from depressed commodity prices, stagnant domestic demand, adverse weather conditions and pervading liquidity shortages.

“In our view, gross domestic product growth in the year will likely be closer to 2 percent. We expect deflation to persist in 2015 on subdued demand, a softening rand and bearish oil prices, and corporates that are highly leveraged will be hardest-hit by the pervading deflationary pressures,” Inter Horizon Securities added.

    Comments (3)

    “The economy is forecast to grow 3,2 percent in 2015 according to the ministry of Finance.....@@ What are the guys at the Ministry of Finance smoking these days?? Growth of which sector of the economy? Sales of raw tobacco to China and exports of chicken to China as suggested by Mandi Chimene maybe? Dream on Chinamhata. Mint more bond coins and invade more farms!!!!

    Garikayi - 16 February 2015

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