via Zim Asset: Utopian pie in the sky – DailyNews Live by Jeffrey Muvundusi 17 DECEMBER 2013
Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza has cast aspersions on a new economic blueprint that the ruling Zanu PF claims will spearhead the turnaround of the flagging economy.
Mandaza described the policy, dubbed Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset), as an ambitious political statement.
The 129-page blueprint was on the agenda of the just ended Zanu PF conference in Chinhoyi.
Speaking at the Leaders for Africa network conference in Bulawayo last Friday, Mandaza said anyone who took the policy seriously was out of sync with reality.
“Zim Asset is just a political statement,” Mandaza said.
“From where can you get that 7,3 growth next year. It is just a Zanu PF manifesto, it is just a political statement which means totally nothing. It has no relation to reality. It is largely a reflection of Zanu PF’s election manifesto. I don’t take it seriously,” Mandaza said.
The ruling party’s new economic blueprint Zim Asset proposes a cocktail of measures to revive the economy, including borrowing money from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, a group of large emerging market nations collectively known as Brics, and setting up a sovereign wealth fund.
Zim Asset also looks at the sale of bonds, securitisation of remittances, re-engagement with international finance institutions and the creation of special economic zones.
The blueprint is meant to develop the economy in the next five years.
However, the country is currently under a biting liquidity crunch that has degenerated into a crisis as depositors are now failing to access cash from several banks.
“Towards an empowered society and a growing economy, from October 2013 to December 2018” is the motto for the blueprint.
Since the adoption of the multi-currency system in 2009, the country has battled a liquidity challenge, with the main sources of liquidity being domestic savings; foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, Diaspora inflows, export proceeds and foreign lines of credit.
“My government has formulated a new plan,” Mugabe, 89, said in the foreword to the document, which details a five-year plan stretching to 2018 for the economy.
The plan is designed to “enable Zimbabwe to achieve economic growth and reposition the country as one of the strongest economies in the region and Africa.” Mandaza said Zanu PF needed to recast a new economic model if they are to turn around the economy “they have destroyed through a combination of mismanagement and illiteracy.”
“One of the biggest failures of the Zimbabwean government is (economic) illiteracy. Our leadership is largely economic illiterate including Mugabe himself. We need people who know what they are talking about,” Mandaza said.
He added: “So the issue is we have to make a deal with those who run our economy. We ruined our own economy so we have to go back to IMF.”
Mandaza said mining was one of the biggest revenue sources for the country hence the need to operate in a more transparent manner.
He said Zimbabweans must look beyond Mugabe for economic redemption.
“Mugabe is old he is very old he should have retired long ago,” Mandaza said.
“Mugabe will not be there forever so you must be thinking on the post-Mugabe era. Look beyond the current leadership most of them are old,” he said.
“We need a new leadership, generational change is necessary. For those of my age and older, we have failed even if we do not admit it.
“Too often we cannot. There is no magic in our hands anymore. Every trick has been tried and failed, so we need change,” Mandaza said.
He said Zanu PF has got no capacity to turn around the economy after 33 years of rule.
“They are failures,” Mandaza said. “I couldn’t be part of them. It’s a pity you now all focus on Mugabe.
“You need to look forward. Infact, he is not even there. Is he? So prepare for the future and look beyond him.”
Mandaza said Mugabe was sorely to blame for the economic rundown that has characterised Zimbabwe for the last two decades.
“We can produce alternatives to the existing political structures,” he said. “We need to change the nature and content of politics.”
He said it was unfortunate that the country has to be led by illegitimate leaders after ballot fraud.
“Every election will have problems. The only way we can win elections now is by rigging,” Mandaza said.
“Who will vote for you if you have failed. Did you vote? I never bothered.”
He said it was difficult to break the cycle of fraudulent and violent elections that has become part and parcel of African politics.
Mandaza said economies in Africa have continued to under-perform due to an obsession with power retention by the ruling elite.
“You need to exercise your mind on the economic front,” he said.
“One of the failures of post-independence in Africa is the pre-occupation with politics at the expense of the economy,” he said, adding that very few African leaders have ever taken an interest in economics.