via All hands on deck in 2015 | The Herald 11 December 2014 by Victoria Ruzvidzo
The year 2014 is drawing to a close and how timeous it is to look back and introspect. Progress in the economy has not happened at the pace we had envisaged. We did not get the billions we hoped to in Foreign Direct Investment.
Not many businesses opened but instead hundreds closed. Investor interest on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange plummeted when we had expected it to increase.
The industrial index and the mining index are hovering around 167,77 points and 65,76 as of Tuesday as havyweight counters such as Econet, Delta and Hwange took a knock.
Major economic fundamentals have largely remained subdued hence the depressed performance on the bourse.
Lines of credit have not come our way in the amounts we were yearning for hence liquidity challenges have actually deepened instead of softening.
Banks would tell you that non-performing loans have remained more of a migraine headache as companies and individuals fail to service their loans, let alone pay them off as obliged. And yet the appetite for new money remains real in the economy today.
Even the implementation of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) has not happened at the pace as we had hoped for.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa acknowledged in his 2015 National Budget statement that all has not been rosy.
GDP growth has been revised to 3,1 percent from an ambitious 6,1 percent initially targeted for as the year began.
When the IMF gave that figure earlier in the year we thought they were just being mean and pessimistic as usual when, in fact, they were being realistic as statistics would later show.
Revising the figure downwards by at least half is indicative of an economy in need of some life.
Minister Chinamasa anticipates 3,2 percent growth in 2015, a figure that would have easily been dismissed as too conservative a few years ago when the economy hit double-digit levels but alas that is the real situation on the ground.
Obviously, rumbling on about what has not been will not help matters, but it is important to put everything into perspective.
But what is obvious now is that as we enter into 2015, the economy has to be our top priority. It is not only logical to do so but this country does not have much choice.
All our efforts need to be directed towards restoring the economy. Infrastructure is down, small businesses are struggling, big businesses are choking, disposable incomes have dwindled, youths need jobs and a host of other challenges that need to be address. Electricity is scant while water supplies are not as extensive as they should.
This is untenable. People need adequate food on their table while being given the financial latitude to lead a decent life.
So the national agenda for next year is set. 2015 is certainly not an election year, we have three more years to go before the next elections, so what this effectively means is that the three things that should occupy Government, business, labour and the general populace in 2015 are: 1. The economy, 2. The economy and 3. The economy.
Our collective energy as a people (we have it in abundance in its various forms) needs to be directed towards getting the economy back on track. Any discord or departure from focusing on the economy will not hold for this nation.
It is well documented the world over that this country has so much potential to become a major economic powerhouse on the continent and even influence economic developments on the grand stage, but we need to fully apply ourselves to achieve this.
We should have unity of purpose. One that transcends any natural or man-made barriers that have seen us read from different pages on countless times.
I am sure we are all agreed on the fact the economy is in a bad place and must be rescued. I want to believe that we need no convincing that we, as Zimbabweans, are the people with the mandate to turn things around.
I want to believe also that we all know that any external help can only complement our efforts so we have none but ourselves to get things going.
In this regard, we need to quickly summon our energy and have all hands on deck so that we steer the economic ship towards the right direction. Statistics that we have 49 different kinds of minerals, have the second largest platinum reserves in the world, that we have a highly educated and skilled labour force and other such endowments will not amount to much unless we take real advantage of all this to better our economy, hence our lives.
By now we are all agreed that Zim-Asset is the driving policy to 2018 so we need not waste time but ensure that we implement it effectively.
We have not fared too well so far. Government has predicted a 3,2 percent growth rate, which is far below the 7,1 percent annual growth target under the economic programme.
This means we still have a long way to go to achieve such high growth. But the way can be cut shorter if all stakeholders work towards the common goal of rejuvenating the economy.
Energy-draining traits such as corruption, greed and profiteering should obviously have no place in the economy if we are to make meaningful progress in 2015.
Corruption is an ugly word that this country is really grappling with but every Zimbabwean of a sound mind should put national interest first. We have a collective responsibility to plug all leakages in all sectors of the economy for the national good.
Although agriculture remains the economy’s mainstay, such sectors as mining are coming up while the financial services sector, tourism, manufacturing and other sectors should help leverage the economy.
The fiscal and monetary policies will need to effectively complement each other to ensure the economy progresses.
Such bodies as the National Economic Consultative Forum should see a convergence of the minds to advance the economy while disregarding selfish interests. They should cease to be mere talk shows.
Finger-pointing and blame-shifting will not yield much. But honesty, transparency, predictability and dedication to duty will carry the day for this economy.
Government will need to ensure policy consistency to foster development while attracting the much-needed foreign direct investment. I am still not convinced how countries such as Mozambique (no offence meant) can attract billions of investment annually on our watch.
Zimbabwe is better resourced and better positioned geographically. This should begin to reflect on our balance sheet.
Value addition, a phrase that sounds great but one which the country has fallen short in terms of implementation, should see our economy improving significantly. Exporting primary goods is equal to shooting ourselves in the foot, particularly of late when the international market has been so volatile.
Interesting statistics I heard yesterday morning from the UNIDO director-general Li Yong as he presented a paper at the ACP Council of Ministers meeting that began in Belgium yesterday was that industrialised countries add 70 percent value to their products while African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries add only 0,7 percent or less of value to their products.
“This gap represents the difference between poverty and prosperity,” he said.
Zimbabwe should stand guided by such statistics. We need to add value to our exports so that we earn more from them, create more employment and generate wealth.
The argument is certainly easy to decipher but the devil is in the implementation. There is so much we need to do as a country, so many spoilers to the broth that we must shrug off to experience growth in the economy.
But the strong point for Zimbabwe is that the advantages and opportunities in the economy far outweigh the negative, so if we lean more on the former we will certainly head towards the stratosphere in terms of economic growth.
It’s about time Zimbabwe and its people enjoyed sustainable economic growth that comes with more food on the table and a generally satisfying life.
Indeed, the greatest glory consists not in never falling but in rising each time we fall.
In God I trust!