MDC pledges transparent, viable land reform(01-02-07)

HARARE - The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s Budget, Finance and Economic Affairs shadow portfolio has embarked on a wholesale revision of its economic blueprint, the Reconstruction, Stabilization, Recovery and Transformation programme (RESTART).
The opposition party's economic

blueprint was launched in July 2004 and aimed at addressing the country’s immediate stabilization and reconstruction needs. RESTART also contains the MDC’s industrialization strategy, through which the party proposes how to sustain jobs and economic growth in the long-term.
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti said the economic reality now facing the country now faces required a wholesale revision not just of the numbers, but also the approach contained in the original document.
The blueprint outlines strategies to be used in asking foreign creditors to reschedule Zimbabwe’s crushing foreign debt if elected to power in Presidential elections due in March 2008 (which the governing Zanu (PF) party is frantically trying to postpone).
The moratorium would give Zimbabwe’s troubled economy some breathing space and free vital resources for development programmes.
The MDC, which puts economic recovery top of its priority list, pledges to restore macroeconomic stability by reducing government borrowing on the domestic market, eliminating unbudgeted expenditure and reducing government ministries.
“The refined document touches on a variety of areas such as initiating negotiations to reschedule external debt, seek debt forgiveness and swap domestic debt for external debt. The reasoning is that swapping domestic for longer-term external debt will give the economy more breathing space and release resources tied into debt servicing for development,” said sources who have seen the document. “There are other issues such as macroeconomic instability caused by excessive government borrowing to finance recurrent spending, devaluation and unbudgeted expenditure.”
The Zimbabwean heard that a new MDC government will set up a land commission comprising all interest groups to spearhead the resolution of the perennial land problem. The commission will acquire between six and seven million hectares of land for resettlement through the acquisition of undertilised land, derelict and multiple-owned land already identified and designated for the purpose and all corruptly-gotten land.
Land ownership, Zimbabwe’s oldest conflict, triggered the country’s 1970s war of independence and now threatens the sickly economy as former war guerrillas continue to seize productive white-owned farmland and disrupt farming, the mainstay of the economy. While political analysts accuse the ruling Zanu (PF) party of using the land problem to buy votes, the analysts agree that the question must be resolved if Zimbabwe is to achieve lasting social, political and economic stability.
The refined document suggests that no less than eight percent of the national budget would be committed to the setting up of a revolving fund to support land reform while a new land tax and donations from stakeholders and international donors would raise more resources.
“The document clearly condemns the Zanu (PF) government’s land grab and states land is a national people’s asset and a productive one at that,” said Biti.

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