Mr Speaker Sir, it is with great pleasure that I stand before this august House to make a year-end statement to the honourable members on my reflections for the past year and to give a projection of government priorities for the coming year.
In the spirit of accountability, the executive should periodically come before this House of elected people’s representatives to update the people on key issues and the challenges that government is facing.
The State of the Inclusive Government
We have had our success stories but this government largely remains dysfunctional, perhaps mainly because we sought to engage and preoccupy ourselves with more issues than a coalition government can reasonably deal with.
With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been more prudent and practical to concentrate on the GPA issues and those issues that guarantee economic stability and guarantee a free and fair election without chewing more than what a government of ideologically opposed players can achieve.
However, even within the limitations of a coalition government, we have managed to make some notable progress in areas such as health, education and provision of clean water in most cities and towns.
Like any coalition, there are no shared values and no shared vision and we have worked on the minimum understanding that collectively, and despite our political differences, we need to get this country working again.
Mr Speaker Sir, more could have been done, particularly in dealing with the GPA issues that have remained outstanding three years after it was signed.
We are no longer talking about selected outstanding issues.
The entire GPA is largely an outstanding issue with key matters remaining unresolved despite Cabinet adopting an implementation matrix with time limits.
Key reforms such as electoral reforms, political reforms and media reforms as agreed in the GPA remain unimplemented.
Mr Speaker Sir, non-implementation of agreed issues has been the major challenge confronting this government and because of the nature of our coalition where various political parties seconded their people into government, it is impossible to take decisive action on errant Ministers some of whom have resorted to open defiance.
Government Work Programme The Economy
1. Considerable progress has been made in the following areas;
a. Macro-economic stability
Inflation has been contained at 4.2 per cent which is a reasonable figure compared to the hyperinflationary environment before the consummation of the inclusive government.
b. Economic growth
Economic growth has been projected at 9.3 per cent in 2011, up from 8.1percent in 2010 and is projected to go up to 9.4 per cent in 2012.
Mining has been the biggest contributor to growth while capacity utilisation stands at 57 per cent, up from 44 per cent in 2010
The rehabilitation of road infrastructure, especially in local authorities has been commendable but more needs to be done to expedite progress on the main trunk roads. Water infrastructure has also registered a significant improvement in both urban and rural communities.
d. Social service delivery
This has improved at the back of development assistance largely from the EU, UK and USA, with $370m realised by end of September mainly in the areas of health, education social protection.
In the past year, I launched the Education Transition Fund and the Health Transition Fund which have changed the face of the health and education systems in the country, thanks mainly to development partners.
Mr Speaker Sir, due to these two critical interventions, the health delivery system has largely seen a positive transformation while every pupil in all our primary and secondary schools is now assured of textbooks in the core subjects.
As Cabinet, we have also discussed and agreed that we need to have a comprehensive input support scheme to support our farmers and not the current ad hoc system which has caused confusion and misunderstanding.
On Chiadzwa, we agreed to resettle the displaced families in the area and to ensure that the proceeds arising from the sale of diamonds benefit all the people of Zimbabwe.
The green fuel from Chisumbanje will provide a major boost to the country and we agreed that it must be made available to the people subject to meeting government conditions through the relevant Ministry.
The one-stop shop which the government launched this year, has also become a major convenience for prospective investors as it reduces transaction time for those people who have shown confidence in our economy.
The launch of the Medium term Plan in July also helped set out the growth trajectory of the economy over the next five years and provided a framework for government operations.
Mr Speaker Sir, ICTs are a critical enabler to growth and economic development and the fibre-optic cable and the phenomenal growth in internet and mobile phone usage is a positive sign for the future of this country
2. Despite the notable successes, more could have been done in the following areas:
a.Investment and FDI promotion
Mr Speaker Sir, there has been stagnation in this area mainly due to the way we have handled the indigenisation policy as well as the political discord arising from the slow implementation of the GPA. The indigenisation policy has largely been turned into political rhetoric which has intimidated investors as some political players sought to make cheap political gain out of this policy.
We need a new thrust that creates jobs and protects investors while at the same time promoting investment and empowering the ordinary person.
b. Fiscal revenue performance
Diamond revenue has been disappointing at $122m in 2011. Recurrent expenditure has been crowding out the capital budget hence service delivery is suffering.
Employment cost at 63% is the biggest culprit. We have an untenable situation where deficits are being funded from reallocations of expenditure.
The power deficit (target of 1600mw versus actual output of 1105mw) means that industry could not perform to capacity, thereby affecting projected growth targets. Slow delivery on irrigation and public works infrastructure owing to poor cash flows has also been a major let-down.
d. Social service delivery
The high salaries bill means that little was left for social service delivery which also meant over-reliance on development partners.
e. Civil servants condition of service
Notwithstanding the unbudgeted salary increase in excess of $400m, the conditions of service for civil servants remain a challenge that we have to deal with.
Going into 2012, the following is critical;
a. Improving revenue performance through transparency with diamonds revenues; the promised additional $600m from diamond sales in 2012 following the KPCs certification of Zimbabwe diamonds was allocated to specific social programs. This means that to a large extent, our ability to deliver as a government depends on the performance of this industry. In this respect, we call for greater transparency in the sale of diamonds and full accounting of the proceeds thereof so that we can be able to fund critical projects.
b. Civil servants’ conditions of service
While there is no provision for an increase in the current budget, the only hope is that diamond revenues will exceed the budgeted $600m, with the surplus being put to improving conditions of service for civil servants.
Today, I want us to salute our civil servants; the unsung heroes and heroines of this country; the men and women who have chosen to work for their country for a pittance.
We expect that with increased inflows from the diamond sales revenue, we must be able to make a meaningful adjustment to civil servants’ salaries and conditions of service.
c. Social service delivery
There is need to improve the business environment so that revenue performance and cash flow improvements will support timely implementation of the budgeted programs especially in the rehabilitation of education and health infrastructure.
We have started on a good note in terms of social services and we hope to put more effort in ensuring that people access quality and affordable services especially in health and education.
3. Legislative reforms
There has been very slow progress in bringing Bills to Parliament and significant improvement is needed in this area. There is no seriousness by the various Cabinet ministers to bring forward the bills before Parliament and this is an issue that I have raised with the President.
For example, for the third session of Parliament, the Legislative Agenda outlined 24 Bills but of these, only seven were introduced.
What is only commendable is that of those seven Bills, key Bills were brought before Parliament and these include the Electoral Amendment Bill and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill. However, these Bills need to be finalised before the first quarter of 2012 to enable these Constitutional Commissions to become operational.
Important Bills which were supposed to be brought before the third session include the Media Practitioners’ Bill, the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform.) No explanation has been given for why these important Bills have been given as to why these Bills have been dropped off the Legislative Agenda.
Even though the Legislative Agenda for the fourth session was enunciated in September 2011, we are now in December and the principles of four key Bills have not yet been introduced before Cabinet. These are: The Referendums Amendment Bill, the Diamond Bill, the State Enterprises Restructuring Agency Bill and the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Bill.
4. Constitutional Commissions
Although the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission were appointed in 2010, and the Anti-Corruption Commission in 2011, none of these have been highly effective as they have been under-funded.
The Bills for ZEC and the ZHRC have not yet been finalised in Parliament and this has severely affected the ability of the ZHRC in particular to operate. The ZHRC has no offices, no staff and no equipment.
Without a legislative framework for the ZHRC, this Commission remains a Commission only in name.
The funding given to all four Commissions in the current budget budget is only $5 million. This falls far short of the budgets submitted by each Commission averaging $30 million per Commission as the amount they need to execute their respective mandates. There will be need for a revision mid-2012 to add more resources to these Commissions, otherwise crucial work in the area of democratic reforms will continue to lag far behind.
5. Media Reform (Board appointments and Licences)
To all intents and purposes, this has become a national joke.
One of the key reforms as envisaged in the GPA and as agreed by the Principals is the issue of comprehensive media reforms, which includes introduction of more and diverse players in both the print and electronic media as well as the immediate cessation of hate speech.
To date, there has been outright arrogance and intransigence from the responsible Minister and his officials.
The appointments of the BAZ board, the board of the Mass Media Trust and the ZBC board have not been effected despite adoption by Cabinet and agreement by the Principals in 2010. The editorial policies of the State newspapers and the State broadcaster has remained partisan and unreformed, and the media field remains dominated by the same partisan State players.
The current illegally constituted BAZ board is now adjudicating and approving broadcasting licences unlawfully. The current BAZ board needs to be directed to stop operating immediately and the licences it has dished out immediately revoked.
The Minister of Media, Information and Publicity should finalise appointments of all the media boards.
6. National Security Council
The NSC had one major output in 2011 and this was the production and adoption of the National Security Sector strategy.
However, this strategy is still outstanding and the issues arising from a security sector that is not realigned to the principles of the GPA adversely affects the operations of the inclusive government. This compounds the perception of the country as undemocratic.
7. Constitutional Reform
The progress in Constitutional reform has been slow and painful. Challenges have been both political and financial. However, it would be remiss of me not to mention the commendable role played by development partners, through the UNDP, in supporting our Constitution-making process.
However, donor funding cannot be the sole source of funds. There is a perception that the government is not putting sufficient resources into democratic reforms and we hope that with the projected increased revenue from the sale of diamonds, Treasury can have enough room to fund some of these important processes.
Way forward for 2012
The year 2012 must not be characterised by rhetoric about an early election that is not accompanied by the necessary reforms that will ensure a free and fair election as agreed by the parties under the facilitation of SADC.
Political stability is key to our prosperity as a nation and only a free and fair election can guarantee legitimacy, peace and stability.
Mr Speaker Sir, in the coming year, we need to implement what we agreed, to poise this country for growth and above all to guarantee peace and give confidence to Zimbabweans, the region, Africa and the broader international community that we are able to conduct a free election.
The all-party indaba that we recently held in Harare should find meaning in our citizens that indeed the leadership of this country is truly committed to tolerance, peace and non-violence.
Mr Speaker Sir, the next year must register growth, set a firm foundation for a free and fair poll and above all, give every Zimbabwean hope that indeed, the future of this country is our shared concern.
Mr Speaker Sir, I have traversed the whole country and the issue of food security is a national emergency. We should make sure that no one starves and as government, we will put in place a mechanism to move grain from the surplus areas to vulnerable communities.
Lastly, I wish to commend the people of Zimbabwe for their patience as we navigate this delicate transition.
We leave you a message of hope that we remain alive to your concerns and that 2012 should bring better prospects for peace, tolerance, growth and prosperity.
I wish you all a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.
Indeed, may the good Lord bless you and your families and expand your territory.
God bless you. And God bless Zimbabwe. I thank YouPost published in: Analysis