PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has unveiled a five-year economic plan, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio-Economic Transformation, which will form the bedrock of its attempt to spur economic growth, which has stalled in the past two years.
The economic policy highlights the party’s intention to look internally for solutions to revive the economy, and signals its frustration with the international community, which has been unwilling to do business with the newly elected government after it won re-election on July 31.
Upon implementation, economic growth is expected to average 7.3%, while forecast growth in 2018 is 9.9%.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa last week returned empty-handed from Washington, where he failed to persuade the International Monetary Fund to release lines of credit to support recovery.
Mugabe is seen to be under increasing pressure to make good on a raft of election promises which include improving the material position of the country’s 230,000 public servants and rolling out the indigenisation programme to poor Zimbabweans.
Drawn up by Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Jonathan Moyo, who was also the key architect of Zanu (PF)’s election manifesto, the agenda has identified mining, agriculture, transport, information communication technology and infrastructural sectors as key drivers of the economic turnaround.
The policy has four strategic clusters that the government will prioritise, namely food security and nutrition, social services and poverty eradication, infrastructure and utilities, and value addition and beneficiation.
Mugabe, in a foreword to the policy, said it “was crafted to achieve sustainable development and social equity anchored on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation, which will be largely propelled by the judicious exploitation of the country’s natural and human resources”.
The policy has also identified “key success factors”, including strong collaborative partnerships among the government, private sector, citizens and other stakeholders.
Observers have expressed concern that Zanu PF may “ransack” industry and the private sector in a bid to enforce financial support for its economic policies, and to meet its growth targets.
Economic analyst Brains Muchemwa said: “It is well crafted on paper. It looks good, but the challenge is implementation.”
Economist Vincent Musewe expressed reservations about the policy and said it had to be taken with a pinch of salt until Zanu PF was able to deliver.Advertisement
“Do they have the interests of ordinary Zimbabweans at heart, or is this a party-centred agenda? I don’t put much faith in economic blueprints until there are improvements in the daily lives of ordinary people,” Musewe said.
Senior analyst at the International Crisis Group Trevor Maisiri said the new economic policy did not give clarity on how foreign direct investment would be balanced with the critical need for indigenisation and economic empowerment.
The potential existed that if these two factors were not harmonised, they could become centres of policy dissonance, Maisiri said.
“The biggest challenge, which has always faced the country, will be in the implementation of the economic policy and creating a socioeconomic and political environment that is supportive of the economic growth imperative,” said Maisiri.
“The other important component will be the country’s foreign policy … If Zimbabwe’s foreign policy remains highly confrontational and without sensitivity to the country’s economic imperatives, then it will destroy whatever leverages that are needed in global markets for the country’s economic revival.”
Industry, Trade and Commerce Minister Michael Bimha defended the new policy and said there was renewed consensus and a lot of planning by the government.
“The emphasis we have now is to perform and deliver,” said Bimha.
But the Morgan Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic Change’s spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said: “It is not blueprints that revive the economy, it is the attitude of the people running the country that attracts investors. What is our relationship with the … world?”