Workload on Govt’s desk

via Workload on Govt’s desk by  Lincoln Towindo SundayMail

The eagerly anticipated new Government, which President Mugabe is expected to announce any time soon, has a mammoth task on its hands. The team of women and men who will be tasked with engineering an economic development agenda will have their work cut out.

The job at hand entails dealing with the ravages of unemployment, ageing physical infrastructure, spurring economic development, instigating sound housing-for-all programmes and ensuring access to health services for all. Speaking at his inauguration ceremony in Harare last month, President Mugabe, who will captain the team, outlined what is expected of the incoming Government.

He told the thousands who gathered for the historic event that among the key delivery areas the Government will focus on include mining, the revival of industries, employment creation and support for agriculture.

he Zanu-PF manifesto, which delivered a landslide victory for the revolutionary party in last month’s elections, proposed to implement what it termed “People’s Goals” once elected into power.
As it emerged, the issues addressed under the “People’s Goals” section of the manifesto proved to be the ones which Zimbabweans hold dear.

Below we look at some of the key deliverable “People’s Goals” expected from the incoming Government and how it could achieve them.

Economic development and prosperity

“To meet the national goal of economic growth over the next five years through Indigenisation and People’s Empowerment, Zanu-PF is committed as a matter of policy to ensuring that the Zimbabwean economy maintains a Gross Domestic Product growth rate that will not be less than six percent,” reads part of the manifesto.

But with an economy under siege from illegal economic sanctions, how can the Government ensure that it realises this goal?

Economic analysts who spoke to The Sunday Mail last week urged the incoming Government to implement consistent economic policies as a way of securing investor confidence and its goal of an above 6 percent Gross Domestic Product growth over the next five years.

Said Buy Zimbabwe economic analyst Ms Vandudzai Zirebwa: “Focus should now be on developing the manufacturing base through consistent economic policies that would spur development and employment creation.

“Support for agriculture will also be critical going into the next five years, given that Zimbabwe is an agro-based economy. Also, there is need to synchronise the indigenisation programme with our established economic blueprint because the policy can reach its full potential when employed on a moving economy.”

Another economic analyst, Mr Brains Muchemwa, concurred.
“Government needs to see to it that its medium term plans are seen to the end and the goals met,” he said.

“This would, in turn, boost confidence in the local economy because it sends the right signals of consistency to investors.”

Employment creation

Critically, it is the goal of every Zimbabwean, especially the youth, to be gainfully employed and the new Government will need to sink its teeth into this matter of employment creation with urgency.
The manifesto promised the creation of “a ministry responsible for creating employment opportunities”, adding that the “Indigenisation and People’s Empowerment is particularly designed to create unprecedented employment opportunities over the next five years.”

Ms Zirebwa believes employment creation is fundamental and should be achieved through improved capacity utilisation and support for agriculture.

Support for the development of small to medium scale enterprises will also be critical for the next five years given the fact that industries are operating below capacity.

Therefore, the persons who will be charged with the key economic cluster ministries will need to synergise their efforts towards employment creation.

Housing for all

The swelling housing waiting list has become a source of much disaffection among Zimbabweans and the new Government will need to ensure the provision of affordable housing is a centrepiece of its five-year agenda.

The incoming Government will also need to regularise land tenure for the thousands who were allocated housing stands on peri-urban farms under the land reform programme.
Government should also implement a vigorous housing programme “using financial resources from assets to be unlocked from the indigenisation of foreign-owned companies”, as was promised in the manifesto.

Critically, though, the incoming Government will need to revive the implementation of the 14-year-old National Housing Policy that was checkmated by illegal sanctions over the years. Said local government expert Mr Percy Toriro: “This is one sector the new Government is expected to focus on. Addressing the problem of housing requires a multi-pronged approach.

“This includes revisiting the targets set out in the housing policy as well as adopting a cocktail of people-centred strategies that will facilitate housing delivery.

“Some of the strategies that Government can adopt are supporting initiatives that harness resources within the people while Government mobilises larger resources for infrastructure. Co-operatives have worked as a model and so should be supported.”

Infrastructure development

The country’s physical infrastructure is in poor condition. Economic enablers such as energy, roads, railway, information communication technologies and dams have suffered for years from the effects of the illegal economic sanctions.

“Zanu-PF Government will unlock value from idle assets within the Zimbabwe economy in order to augment the US$7,3 billion of assets to be unlocked from the indigenisation of 1 138 foreign-owned companies to capacitate IDBZ, Agribank and Sedco,” reads the manifesto.

Analysts argue that the capitalisation of the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) would be fundamentally importance over the next five years in order to spur infrastructure development.

Zimbabweans expect better roads, bigger dams, reliable electricity supplies and a functional rail service.

“Infrastructure development projects require that funding be sourced from friendly emerging economic giants with huge reserves such as China,” said Mr Toriro.

“Such financing should be mobilised by Government as well as larger local authorities.”

Health for all

In its manifesto, Zanu-PF identified “the shortage of skilled professionals and healthcare staff, an eroded infrastructure with ill-equipped hospitals or clinics and lack of critical medicines and commodities” as the major factors impeding access to health by all.

But how could all these challenges be addressed?
Firstly, the repatriation of medical professionals who left for the Diaspora at the height of the economic challenges will be instrumental.

Also there is a need for successive national budgets to have an apparent bias towards the health portfolio.

While the training of medical professionals would be of great importance, the Government will also need to do away with the recruitment freeze that has threatened to cripple operations at Government health facilities.

Innovative measures towards assisting vulnerable groups and people living with HIV and Aids will also be key for the health and social welfare clusters.

Education for all

Zimbabwe will over the next five years need to capitalise on its record of having the most literate population on the continent.

With the country moving towards a knowledge-driven economy, skills development and investment in education have become more pronounced.

Harare-based educationist Dr Lovemore Mapuranga argues that aligning the secondary school curriculum with the country’s specific economic needs will lead to a more relevant education system.

“We need to invest more in education and this should be reflected in the national budget,” he said.
“Our universities are in dire need of recapitalisation, while there is need for more focus on teacher training given the number of unqualified teachers we have working in our schools.

“Remuneration of staff needs to be addressed quickly to avoid unnecessary disturbances and contestations within the sector.”

With the clock fast ticking towards 2018, the need to deliver is imperative, given the millions of voters who bought into the ideas enunciated by Zanu-PF during the elections.

The time to deliver is now.