via Disastrous first 100 days for govt | The Financial Gazette by Maggie Mzumara 14 Nov 2013
DESPITE the glowing promises made by ZANU-PF during its election campaign, the first 100 days since President Robert Mugabe’s administration was elected into office have failed to produce something that could inspire confidence in the future of the country’s economy.
While Tuesday marked 100 days since the party was voted into power, rhetoric and no action is still the trading currency in government, while the general populace continues to swim in a sea of poverty.Much of the early days since thumping the Movement for Democratic Change overwhelmingly in the July 31 elections were spent waiting for outcome of court processes that had been initiated by its main rival.
President Mugabe was only sworn in on August 22 with his Cabinet taking the oath of office on September 11.
Hundred days on, the ruling party is struggling to deliver on the myriad of challenges people and industries are grappling with.
Reports indicate that only 10 out of the 74 companies listed on the local bourse are in the black while several other companies are on the brink.
Recent studies have also revealed that capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector has dropped by more than five percent from December last year to 39,6 percent this year, compared to 44,2 percent in 2012.
If anything, many feel the downward slope is still beckoning despite the launch of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset) programme, which runs between October 2013 and December 2018.
The party’s plans have come off the rails owing to a biting liquidity crunch working against industry’s ability to recapitalise.
Government has also been unable to wriggle out of the economic sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States, restricting its bilateral ties to countries in the Far East, largely.
While many continue to lose their jobs, the economy is still in free fall, hunger is reigning supreme in a number of districts for an estimated 2,2 million people.
More and more youths are on the streets than in offices, factories or others places of gainful employment. Upon assuming office, ZANU-PF directed all local authorities to cancel utility bills with power utility, ZESA Holdings, also giving in to pressure to slash electricity bills weeks later.
While this came as a huge relief to ratepayers and electricity consumers, the excitement was short-lived.
Electricity blackouts have been on the increase throughout the country while service delivery in councils has gone down drastically.
Council workers are also going for months without salaries as the local authorities try to contend with empty coffers.
The debilitating economic crisis is unrelenting with no end in sight. None of the rhetoric proffered by ZANU-PF has had a halting effect, nor a reverse effect on the downward trend.
“We have got to start work, travel less, meet less and more action, more action, more action and that’s ZANU-PF, otherwise people will say to us ‘you said you were going to fulfil these pledges, and you are not fulfilling them’,” President Mugabe said last week at his party’s Central Committee meeting.
Simba Makoni, president of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn party, said it would be more of the same going forward.
“It is the same ZANU-PF government we had before February 2009. There may be a few new faces, but it is the same, therefore I have no expectation of any improvement in the quality of life they offer the people of Zimbabwe. I have no expectation of any new performance, and no expectation of new initiatives from ZANU-PF,” he said.
Yet the manifesto promises were quite specific in their effort to appeal.
In fact, ZANU-PF currently stands accused of going against some of its election promises, among them, its pledge to improve the provision of housing.
In its election manifesto, ZANU-PF said 250 000 low income housing units would have been built by 2018 and that 1250 public houses and buildings will be rehabilitated.
This deliverable was expected to contribute towards the reduction in the housing backlog.
But as of last week, thousands of people were facing possible demolition of their homes in Harare and Chitungwiza, which flies in the face of the party’s pledge to provide shelter as a basic need.
The manifesto also explicitly refers, in another of the key post election deliverables, to restoring sanity and eliminating corruption.
Although some corrupt activities have been identified and individuals like Goodwills Masimirembwa, the former chairperson of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, fingered in acts of graft, no action has been taken yet.
In one of the 23 goals of the party outlined in the manifesto, the ruling party speaks of upholding gender equality, but this was dashed before the new government even started work when only three women out of 24 were appointed to the Cabinet.
“Every ZANU-PF policy seeks gender equality as an aspiration of the liberation struggle,” the manifesto reads on page 21.
While the revolutionary has the mineral wealth of the country as part of the centrepiece of the promises and source of relief for people, some analysts say these natural resources are only worth something out of, not under, the ground.
“Minerals under the ground have no value. They are worthless while they are there. Nobody should be allowed to believe that while under the ground these minerals have value,” said economist, John Robertson.
However, while the odds seem to be heavily stacked against the ruling party before some strides of progress can become evident, the rhetoric, if followed to the letter and spirit, could unlock hope.
One of the litmus test of the election promises lies in whether or not the civil servants will receive promised salary increases. The nation is holding its collective breath for this.