Mthuli admits Zim economy under negative growth but says better than rest

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By Anna Chibamu

FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube has admitted the country’s economy was experiencing negative growth although insisting it was not the worst such battered economy in the world.

Addressing parliament last week, Ncube said the negative trajectory was not only unique to Zimbabwe but was now a world phenomenon caused by Covid-19.

Ncube was responding to contributions by MPs after a report on the mid-term budget and economic review statement to parliament by Budget and Finance Committee chairperson Felix Mhona.

“The report notes the anaemic growth, generally due to Covid-19 that is panning out across the globe, in fact a negative growth frankly,” Ncube said.

He denied the country was the worst in terms of negative growth at the moment, telling the house Zimbabwe was performing much better than the rest of the world.

“Actually, in Southern and Sub-Saharan Africa, it is performing slightly better than the rest of the developed world.

“Although it is all negative growth I must say, it is still slightly better than the rest of the world.  It is all due to Covid-19, an invisible enemy. It is a serious issue,” said the minister.

MDC MP for Harare East and former finance minister Tendai Biti differed, saying the growth rate seen in the past five years had been depressing and Covid-19 was not in the picture then.

Covid-19 broke out in January 2020 and in Zimbabwe, the first case was reported on 21 March.

Biti argued there were many negative issues associated with the Zimbabwean economy such as low growth rate, unemployment and those that have been long outstanding even before Covid-19.

“The country is arrested by new productivity. The growth rate that we anticipated in 2020, the growth rate that we have seen in the last five years is depressing.

“The Minister himself acknowledges low levels of growth that are stipulated in 2020. In his letters to the IFI 2nd of April 2020, the Minister actually projects that our growth rate is as low as minus 20% in 2020.

“Madam Speaker, there is the issue of unemployment. 95% of our people are employed outside formal employment sector. We have got four generations – munhu asati ambobairwa chitupa naemployer.

“We have got people who are in their 40s right now who have never been formally employed,” Biti said.

Ncube presented the mid-term budget and economic review statement to parliament last month.