Victoria Ruzvidzo, Harare Bureau
ZIMBABWE has begun to enjoy the fruits of the painful policies introduced by the Second Republic when it came to power, with consistent electricity and fuel supplies now the order of the day while the local currency has stabilised.
More positive results have been registered as the country’s resilience pays off. In an interview last week to mark the 41st Independence Anniversary, President Mnangagwa said Government was satisfied with results so far and was confident more would be achieved this year and into the future, particularly if all Zimbabweans worked in one accord to grow the economy. Zimbabwe today celebrates its Independence from colonial rule under the Theme “Zim@41-Together, Growing our Economy for a Prosperous, Resilient and Inclusive Society”.
“When the Second Republic came there were so many challenges. It was necessary that if we had to bring about prosperity certain things had to be done, painful or not painful, and it was necessary for us to introduce measures that were very painful that made us unpopular but we knew that the fruits of that process will bring about prosperity and recovery of our economy. Yes, for instance when we came into office we had been going through very drastic challenges in energy where we would go without electricity. Load shedding was the order of the day.
“The question of fuel, we had queues here, left and right, long queues at the early part of the Second Administration, but we had to impose and create conditions that were very difficult in order to reach where we are today – by introducing policies which bring about resolution to those challenges. Our shelves at one time they were empty, empty shelves, so we had to find out what to do in order that our people have food, have basic needs of life and to do that again it was painful. We had no currency, our currency had collapsed years back, and there is no country that can develop and grow its economy on the basis of another country’s currency,” he said.
There was no way the country could have escaped the painful route.
“So all these things when you are doing them there is suffering, but there is light at the end of the day and I believe people are beginning to see things changing and the currency is stabilising but the fight is still on.”
The economy, he said, was expected to grow by 7,4 percent this year which means it would effectively grow by 14 percent given that it was coming from a -7 percent last year. The President expressed guarded optimism in face of Covid-19 but was confident the projected figure would be achieved, particularly if the pandemic did not deteriorate significantly.
“Things will constantly change depending on the concrete facts on the ground but at the end of the day, we are very sure that the economy has rebound because we have corrected the fundamental issues that affect the economy – the macro-economic issues most of them are now correct and we continue to address them and making sure that as we move on we carry everybody. For an economy to move we don’t need political governance only, but we need everybody on board to share and contribute and become the stakeholders of the vision.”
Inflation, which had risen significantly before the introduction of the foreign currency auction market which stabilised prices, was also beginning to slide, with March figure of 240.55 percent. Before the auction system, the black-market rate was rising daily causing price instability while companies were struggling to access foreign currency to recapitalise their businesses. However, these challenges were now in the past as reflected in company reports of the past few months.
Furthermore, President Mnangagwa noted that the Pfumvudza/Intwasa farming concept had registered great success and would be consolidated this year. More than two million tonnes of maize were expected to be harvested this year, aided by the climate-proofed agriculture programme.
For the first time in years, the country was expecting to harvest enough to feed itself and for export. The good rains received this year had made this possible, complemented by strategies implemented by Government to boost production. President Mnangagwa said corruption would have no place in this country. The fight against the scourge would be intensified. He called on the private and public sectors, the church and families to play their part in this regard.
“We need to put a spirit among our people, this is why I always say, let us be honest, hardworking people. Be rewarded on the basis of honest hard work. We believe that if that can be embraced by our people we are in the right track to achieve a society free of this cancer, a scourge of corruption.”
Local authorities needed to desist from the corruption that had compromised service delivery. Government had now been forced to step in to ensure provision of services ordinarily provided by local authorities.
“Urban councils, like the Harare council have a duty to provide services to the people, but because we have seen that they have failed, this is why under the Second Republic we have instituted an inter-ministerial task force, headed by the Vice-President to override the authorities of these councils so that we can provide our people with the services which these authorities have failed to provide. As Central Government we are intervening, using Central Government resources to do so. This includes housing, correcting wetlands, clean water. I think you have seen on televisions where new equipment is being installed, that equipment is not being bought by municipal funds, we are using our resources at Central Government level to make sure there are services,” he said.
On Zimbabwe re-joining the Commonwealth, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was ready to work with the United Kingdom and to close the rift brought about largely by the land reform programme which he reiterated would not be reversed.
“We are happy we are in control of our land and we say to the British recognise that we are the masters of our land.
Let us have relations which will contribute to good relations between the British people and the Zimbabwean people.
It is good when we work together, but when you make us enemies it is not our choice but theirs.”