Mthuli Ncube calls for patience
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has called for patience among citizens, adding that reforms initiated by Government since late last year were beginning to show signs of economic transformation.
He said it normally takes up to 18 months for economic recovery to become visible where austerity measures have been implemented.
Prof Ncube said this in an interview with SABC News last week on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Cape Town, which ended on Friday.
With budget deficits now a thing of the past following the economic reforms being implemented under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), Prof Ncube believes the economy has started to turn for the better.
The TSP is a short-term economic blueprint that runs from October 2018 to December 2020.
“But then, the response of the economy (to reforms) usually takes longer,” said Prof Ncube.
“There is often an 18-month lag in terms of economic response to certain economic policy. So, citizens should be patient; we are on a reform agenda, the economy is in transition (and) we will get there.”
Prof Ncube said the bulk of challenges confronting Zimbabwe were essentially monetary issues, resulting in high inflation and shortages of some basics such as fuel.
“So, the monetary issue is being reformed to deal with those challenges that pertain to currency and fuel challenges in terms of supply,” he said.
Already, the currency issue has been partly resolved through the introduction of a single currency for domestic transactions, effectively removing multiple currencies that had been in use since 2009.
Multiple currencies had exposed the country to unintended consequences, with some traders demanding foreign currency only, which many citizens didn’t have.
Experts say the introduction of a single domestic currency will enable the country to save foreign currency to import essentials such as fuel, power and industrial inputs, while also building reserves to support the local unit. Despite the economic challenges occasioned by the economic reforms, Prof Ncube said foreign investor interest remained high, especially in the mining sector.
He expressed hope the sector, together with tobacco, will underpin the country’s economic growth and recovery, at least in the short-to-medium term.
Prof Ncube said Zimbabwe had at least 40 of the most valuable minerals in the world, including gold, diamonds, platinum, chrome and nickel.
He added that in line with the theme of the WEF Africa 2019, which was “Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, Government would work hard to support ICT initiatives in the country, particularly to support job creation among youths.
Prof Ncube was part of President Mnangagwa’s strong delegation to WEF for Africa 2019, which included ministers Dr Sibusiso Moyo (Foreign Affairs and International Trade), Engineer Joel Biggie Matiza (Transport and Infrastructural Development), Advocate Fortune Chasi (Energy and Power Development) and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya.
President Mnangagwa has already been invited to next year’s WEF in Davos, Switzerland after he impressed its founder and executive chairman Professor Klaus Schwab with the amount of progress Harare has posted on reforms.
After a meeting with President Mnangagwa, Prof Schwab said the fact that Zimbabwe was now posting a budget surplus since January 2019, was an important piece of news that investors should hear.
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