ZimAsset fails to save economy

ZimAsset fails to save economy
Published: 15 July 2014
Almost a year after Zanu-PF romped to victory in an election marred by irregularities and claims of vote rigging, the ruling party appears at sea as to how to go about revamping the economy.

And since President Robert Mugabe-led government clinched that contested mandate for another five years, as has been the tradition since 1980, critics say Zanu-PF has shown no enthusiasm to serve the people it claims to represent.

Not only has the Zanu-PF administration failed to revive the economy, buoyed by measured confidence during the tenure of a coalition government, but it has also failed to fulfil a raft of ambitious election promises after the contested victory.

The party's election manifesto, premised on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation, promised to stimulate economic development by "creating value of $7,3 billion from indigenisation of 1 138 companies across 14 key sectors and more than $18,4 billion created from the idle value of empowerment assets unlocked from parastatals, local authorities, mineral rights and claims."

The bloated 26 member cabinet comprising what critics have branded "out-of-sorts ministers" has failed to save the economy from a biting liquidity crunch.

A flurry of company closures spawning loss of employment contrasts sharply with the government's economic blue print ZimAsset, which claimed potency to create 2,2 million jobs in five years.

Four years to the timeline, the country stubbornly glides towards losing another chunk of its population to neighbouring countries due to a hostile economic environment.

All the rhetoric about ZimAsset and its populist ambitions have transformed into "a pie in the sky", critics say.

Economic experts say ZimAsset has failed to excite the market.

The blueprint, requiring $27 billion to implement in an environment where international financiers are holding their purse strings tightly knotted, appears to a larger extent illusionary and dead in the water, critics say.

That has not discouraged over-optimistic government officials from trying to justify and embellish its existence as a panacea to economic development at every function, to persuade sceptic citizens to share their unproven optimism.

Interestingly, Vice President Joice Mujuru last month broke ranks and made contradictory remarks that ZimAsset needed 30 to 40 years to achieve its objectives.

Amid this mist of bleakness, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has failed to find external funding or loans to pay off a crippling foreign debt, nudging towards $10 billion, or finance reconstruction of the country's dilapidated infrastructure and comatose economy.

With the financial quagmire the nation is now mired in, there is no reprieve for workers following de-registration of more than 150 companies in April this year.

Statistics indicate that 7 500 workers lost their jobs when their companies failed to resume operations after the traditional December annual shutdown while a total of 450 people are being retrenched every week due to viability problems, according to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.

According to National Social Security Authority (Nssa), at least 10 companies have been closing down every month since the beginning of the year and this could mean 60 companies have closed shop by now.

The count could get to 120 by end of year if the situation remains unchanged.

Company stagnation has pushed thousands into the informal sector which has become the major source of livelihood for many Zimbabweans, most of whom are yet to enjoy the fruits of independence.

This also comes at a time when a welter of government policies has proved retrogressive, myopic and inconsiderate, adding to the socio-economic woes of hapless Zimbabweans.

While the well-heeled and a few top hierarchies have enjoyed the extremes of luxurious lifestyles, it is the ordinary person on the street and deep down in the rural area who have borne the brunt of government's ignorance and recklessness on serving its citizens.

Analysts say, prospects of economic revival have this year been hobbled by liquidity challenges, obsolete technologies, structural bottlenecks that include power shortages, infrastructure deficits and corruption.

And a volatile global financial environment does not augur well for growth in the comatose economy.

"The future of the country is gloomier than ever," political analyst Gifford Sibanda, said.

"Industries are closing down at an alarming rate; unemployment continues to balloon to over 80 percent, people hope more on lottery than the government on economic solutions

"From last July's election to date, we have seen that Zanu-PF with its populist and hard-to-follow manifesto presented ZimAsset which has bred nothing but disaster. The few Zanu-PF elites continue to enjoy the national cake while the nation starves."

He said Zanu-PF was clueless on turning the fortunes of the economy around as much as they do not have an idea on who to turn to for relief.

"There is no will on the part of investors to pour money in the economy because Zanu-PF government cannot be trusted anymore by even their Chinese friends due to policy inconsistences and corruption," Sibanda said.

"The failure to even get funding for ZimAsset makes it worse as this is the government's economic blueprint, which means the economy is not even limping but lame."

The Bulawayo-based analyst said it was unfortunate that with a fractious opposition, Zanu-PF will continue to ruin the country without any challenge.

"We will see the national problems getting worse as the factionalism fights within Zanu-PF escalate up to the congress and beyond," he said.

"These fights will lead to government policy inconsistences as we have witnessed in the purported fight against corruption and indigenisation regulation."

Political analyst Dumisani Nkomo said Zanu-PF was facing a daunting task.

"It is very difficult for them to turn the election rhetoric into reality even the much-talked about ZimAsset has not yielded any results as it also has short-term targets," Nkomo said.

"They are also battling factionalism at the expense of national development but of course this has been the case with Zanu-PF for decades."

As for the economy, he said the situation was very tricky as the party appears to have no clue how they can have consistent policies that can attract investors as evidenced by contradictory statements by different cabinet ministers, he added.

Nkomo said at this stage, Zimbabwe needed nothing short of a miracle to avoid sliding back into the 2008 scenario.

"We just pray for miracles. Besides that, they need to engage other political parties otherwise the economy will collapse on them.

"They have failed dismally, they should know better," he said.

Another analyst Godwin Phiri said the Zanu-PF government risks being thrown out by the electorate in the next election as they will have to expertly craft another "counterfeit" election manifesto to buy their votes.

"It is known that the economy is struggling and that campaign promises have not been fulfilled," Phiri said.

"Zanu-PF campaigned on a platform that they had solutions to Zimbabwe's problems but evidence so far suggest that this is not the case.

"One wonders what excuse they will give and how they will package the new election message come 2018.

"This economy has the potential to seriously affect their electoral fortunes and what can only save them from being thrown out by the electorate is the obvious incompetence of the opposition not their own abilities," Phiri said.
- dailynews
Tags: ZimAsset,


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