via ‘Calls for economic dialogue’ – DailyNews Live 28 July 2014 by Kudzai Chawafambira
HARARE – Former Economic Planning minister Tapiwa Mashakada has called for the establishment of an all-stakeholder National Economic Council (Nec) in order to arrest Zimbabwe’s economic collapse.
Mashakada said the council will “sit down and work out modalities of recovering the economy…and reversing the economic decline”, which he alleged, “cannot just be done by Zanu PF alone”.
This comes as the country’s economy is faltering, with 2014 economic growth targets revised downwards to 3,1 percent from government’s initial 6,1 percent projection.
The southern African nation — still suffering a hangover from a decade-long economic recession — faces a widening trade deficit, high unemployment levels, unprecedented company closures, a huge debt overhang, dwindling revenues, deflation, depressed aggregate demand and an acute liquidity crisis, amid concerns of further deterioration. “… the Nec will be a cross cutting body comprised of industry, labour, churches, political parties and members of Parliament,” Mashakada told Parliament last week.
He added that the country urgently needs to tap expertise from the private sector and other sectors of the economy.
“I am calling upon the setting up of this all important stakeholder Nec to resolve the economic quagmire that Zimbabwe is into,” he said.
Early this month, President Robert Mugabe’s administration said it was ready for face-to-face talks with opposition parties and civil society to find solutions to the country’s problems.
The ruling party Zanu PF’s spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said dialogue was possible with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, but insisted the former Prime Minister must first drop claims that Mugabe and his party had rigged last year’s July election.
Gumbo’s remarks followed Tsvangirai’s document dubbed “Personal Reflections” in which he repeated calls for talks to help end the economic slide.
“The economic transformation that we want to achieve requires the voice of everyone, including the opposition and civic society,” said Gumbo.
He, however, said “there is no point in pointing fingers”, but rather work together in order to deal with problems besetting the country.
“What we need to do as a country is to focus on economic issues affecting us. Many Zimbabweans do not understand the problems we are facing. Let us stop fighting for the sake of fighting.”
“Let us eliminate criticism for the sake of criticism. It is a tragedy that Tsvangirai blames the president it is not a blame game. He just cannot open his mouth without uttering something bad. We want to change the landscape in our country,” Gumbo said.
His tone signalled a shift in Zanu PF’s hard stance, after the party initially out-rightly dismissed calls for dialogue with Tsvangirai — who was in an uneasy a four-year coalition government with Mugabe since 2009 — to save the economy.
Tsvangirai, analysts and other economic stakeholders have repeatedly called for a multi-stakeholder dialogue on the economy, amid growing concerns about Zanu PF’s capacity to turn it around.