EU slams CSOs' silence on Zim's imploding economy

HARARE - The European Union (EU) has slammed civil society organisations (CSOs) for turning a blind eye on Zimbabwe’s imploding economy that is causing untold suffering of the masses.

The union’s envoy to Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme, pictured, said the CSOs were all buttoning their lips as they watch the country face a number of headwinds including a lack of investment flows, crippling cash shortages, a collapsing health sector and grinding poverty.

This comes at a time masses are increasingly getting hard-pressed and social problems are more acute than ever, with many getting poorer and more beleaguered.

Yet civil society’s outrage is muted.

“The voice of civil society organisations is weak,” Van Damme told civil society and the media at a discussion forum convened by Misa-Zimbabwe last weekend.

“Of course, people speak out notably on human rights issues, but on developmental issues, and on policy issues, your voice is hardly heard,” he said.

“I do not see much of the debate in the media on policy issues, but I see a lot of debate on factionalism and speculative politics. But on developmental issues such as how to address health issues and the sustainable development goals, I hardly see people putting substantial contributions.”

This comes after Zimbabwe’s projection of a higher economic growth of 3,7 percent this year, from an initial projection of 1,7 percent on the back of a better agriculture season, has been rubbished by a leading think-tank — NKC African Economics.

The Cape Town-based research firm said it still deems its projection for real GDP to contract by 1,7 percent this year, as appropriate at this stage.

This comes after Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa told military officers attending Joint Command and Staff Course Number 30 at Zimbabwe Staff College on Thursday in Harare, that the agricultural sector is set to perform strongly on the back of a projected three million tonne grain crop, the highest since 1984, according to official data.

Chinamasa’s optimistic revision is closer to the World Bank’s forecast of 3,8 percent.

“That said, in comparison to our own and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s projections, the government and the World Bank are especially optimistic,” NKC — a subsidiary of UK-based economic advisory firm Oxford Economics — said.

However, the civil society groups said they wanted to speak out more but were stifled by the repressive Public Order and Security Act (Posa), used to smother freedom of expression, association and movement by authorities. 

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