MNANGAGWA :HOW I WILL REVIVE ECONOMY
Implementation of consistent policies, which has been the glaring missing link in the past, is required if plans set up by President Emmerson Mnangagwa are to succeed.
President Mnangagwa, who took office last Friday, said the country’s economic turnaround would be anchored on high agricultural production and foreign direct investment (FDI). Since Government embarked on the land reform programme in 2000, yields, mainly for the staple maize and tobacco, have been plummeting due to lack of experience by the beneficiaries and absence of massive and consistent funding.
Maize output only rose exponentially in the last cropping season after Government instituted an import substitution programme, Command Agriculture, and yields are expected to surpass two million metric tonnes this season. Tobacco has also been doing well, averaging 170 million kgs, especially since 2009.
However, President Mnangagwa, who is under no illusion of the task confronting him, announced that there will be more agriculture facilities to support farmers going forward, if economic turnaround is to be achieved.
“I have to hit the ground running to make sure that I lead in stupendous efforts we all need to summon and unleash in concert, towards taking this great nation beyond where our immediate past President left it.
“The task at hand is that of rebuilding our great country. It principally lies with none but ourselves. Therefore, I exhort beneficiaries of the land reform programme to show their deservedness by demonstrating commitment to the utilisation of the land now available to them for national food security and for the recovery of our economy.
“They must take advantage of programmes that my Government shall continue to avail to ensure that all land is utilised optimally. Our economic policy will be predicated on our agriculture, which is the mainstay and on creating conditions for an investment led economic recovery that puts premium on job-creation,” said President Mnangagwa.
With indications that agriculture can be revived, predicated on the resounding success of Command Agriculture last season, the new dispensation has to also focus on creating a conducive environment for foreign direct investment.
President Mnangagwa said “key choices” would have to be made to attract FDI so as to tackle “high levels of unemployment” while transforming the economy, which has been in the doldrums for almost two decades now.
FDI has been coming down in recent years, plunging 30 percent last year to US$294,66 million from US$421,2 million in the year earlier, against a target of US$2 billion in 2020. In 2014, the country’s FDI peaked at US$545 million with the energy and mining sectors being the biggest magnets.
While Zimbabwe is struggling for FDI, mainly because of alleged bad investment policies dramatised by the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, and high cost of registering and doing business, other regional countries such as Mozambique and Zambia have been doing fairly well.
In 2015, Zambia and Mozambique attracted FDI worth US$1,6 billion and US$3,7 billion driven by friendly investment laws and implementation.
Market watchers have urged Government to expedite the ease of doing business reforms, which were kick-started in August 2015.
Government, through the Office of the President and Cabinet, has been engaged in efforts to transform the doing business environment.
Eight laws out of 14, including the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act and the Movable Property Securities Interests Act, have so far been gazetted as part of addressing the doing business environment.
Despite the milestones achieved so far, the country has not significantly moved on the doing business standings.
It only gained two places to 159 out of 190 on the World Bank’s 2018 ease of doing business global rankings, suggesting that a lot still needs to be done by the incoming regime to convince foreign investors that Zimbabwe is ready to do business. Analysts also praised President Mnangagwa’s declaration of war against corruption, which is also contributing to the foreign investors’ difficulties in doing business in the country.
Corruption has been blamed for weighing economic growth in the last 20 years as politically connected individuals abused their positions to enrich themselves.
Major General Sibusiso Moyo also recently slammed corruption in high places when he addressed the nation on the day the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) begun Operation Restore Legacy.
President Mnangagwa warned corrupt elements to brace for tough times ahead if they continue prejudicing the nation.
“As we focus on recovering our economy, we must shed misbehaviours and acts of indiscipline, which have characterised the past.
“Acts of corruption must stop forthwith. Where these occur, swift justice must be served to show each and all that crime and other acts of economic sabotage can only guarantee ruin to perpetrators.
“We have to aspire for a clean nation, one sworn to high moral standards and deserved rewards.
“On these ideals, my administration declares full commitment, warning that grief awaits those who depart from the path of virtue and clean business,” he said.
The President also promised to tackle cash shortages, financial sector viability, and to re-engage the international community.