While some people were somewhat disappointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s new Cabinet announced recently, particularly the inclusion of some individuals with previous dark pasts in government, the 2018 National Budget presented by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday demonstrated government’s commitment to deal with the economic mess the nation is mired in.
One of the major issues that had seen international investment drying up was the indigenisation of the economy, which merely rewarded cronyism in former President Robert Mugabe’s regime. In fact, the way the economy was indigenised chased away the desperately needed international investors.
It appeared that the indigenisation policy was a looting channel for the ruling elite. We salute the new regime for revisiting the policy, a development that was also captured in Chinamasa’s budget.
Zimbabweans are demanding pragmatism, and the first step is to attract international investment, which is key to economic development.
We are glad that, through the Finance Bill to be submitted to the august House for the 2018 financial year, the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act will be amended. It is hoped that the changes set to take effect from April 2018, with diamonds and platinum as the only sub-sectors designated as “extractive” and in which foreigners could partake, will kick-start the comatose economy.
We also noted that the previous government’s propensity for greed has also been curtailed in yet another positive development that will address the cancer of an unsustainable budget deficit. What is more imperative is that gallivanting across the globe should be curtailed at all costs, and every government department, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office, should operate within the budget.
State parastatals had become a major drain to the fiscus over the years without feeding back into the economy by operating profitably, but it is heartening that the new government is set to ensure enterprises that exhibit potential reform with the remainder being privatised or closed if there is no hope. Zimbabwe cannot continue to carry dead weight that can only add to the economic problems.
It is our hope that Chinamasa’s promise of a free and fair election next year will be fulfilled. We are not prepared for empty talk. This is one of the greatest indicators that, indeed, Zimbabwe is in a new dispensation and keen to demonstrate to the world that the change of administration witnessed has not been a fluke.
Indeed, a free and fair election will help the economy grow because it will attract the confidence of international players who hold democracy as a sacrosanct tenet of a progressive and civilised nation.
We have no doubt that Chinamasa is also aware that for a long time, government has merely paid lip service to the idea of dealing with corruption. If this has been the hallmark of Mugabe’s government, the promise to fight corruption must be demonstrated to the fullest. Culprits must be arrested, tried and jailed if proven that they had indeed dipped their fingers into national coffers.
It is our hope that this budget will be lived out and then we can have the confidence that this new government means business.