Govt needs an economic rethink

With a fresh year just begun, Zimbabweans have numerous expectations on which the government and other stakeholders must deliver.

Paul Bogaert
Paul Bogaert

Clearly, the biggest area in which we expect to see the government moving with speed, political will and honesty is the economy. As things stand right now, our economy is in a sorry state. Companies are closing daily, and thousands of people are being left without jobs.

The fiscus is not performing well, considering that hardly any money is flowing into Treasury, while there are no signs that those still in employment, particularly in the civil service, will have their salaries adjusted to match the poverty datum line any time soon.

Related to a poorly performing economy, social service delivery is in the doldrums. As Amnesty International revealed late last year, Zimbabwe faces a fresh cholera and water-borne diseases outbreak considering that there is a poor supply of water in Harare and, indeed, across the country. Hospitals still face critical drug and manpower shortages while thousands of vulnerable children are likely to drop out of school because there is no money to fund their education through such initiatives like the Basic Education Module.

That means the government has a tough task ahead to ensure that Zimbabweans live a relatively stress-free life by adopting sound and sustainable strategies to turn around the economy. While the new government set up after the July 31 elections has come up with an economic blueprint, Zim Asset, there are two important things to note.

First, there is need for a proactive team to ensure that the blueprint translates into action. Second, the government should revisit Zim Asset and incorporate more practical and less political consideration. For instance, it does not help to keep blaming the economic problems on sanctions when the truth is that mis-governance, bad policies and rampant corruption are the major factors behind the crisis.

Furthermore, government must rethink its attitude regarding the economic model we should pursue. When Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa presented the budget in December 2013, he announced that government would kill economic dependence on large companies and promote small to medium scale businesses as the backbone of the economy.

This does not make sense, because major companies are a vital component of any economy, and there is no evidence that the government has a sustainable policy to promote SMEs to the level that would transform them into the pillar of the economy. Even in countries like India where SMEs are major component of the economy, major and multinational companies are still present.

There is no way Zimbabwe can forge ahead without collaborating at a pronounced level with the international community, which should go beyond the futile Look East policy and incorporate the west as well.

In short, the government ought to discard its defensive, politically idealistic way of dealing with the economy if it is serious about changing our situation for the better.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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