THE ruling Zanu-PF party holds its 18th Annual National People’s Conference at Goromonzi High School in Mashonaland East province next week amid a plethora of challenges confronting the country and renewed internal threats emanating from the G-40 cabal. The annual gathering of the revolutionary party also comes against the backdrop of a crippling drought, food shortages and economic challenges associated with the effects of a reform programme.
Zimbabwe’s economy is undergoing a transformation following years of haemorrhaging under the former administration and the reform agenda has seen the implementation of far reaching austerity measures meant to stabilise the macro-economic environment in readiness for eventual growth. Inevitable as they may be, the tough prescription measures promulgated under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme have begun to bear fruit with fundamentals now in place for the eventual take off of the economy.
The year 2020 is therefore expected to be much better than this year with the fruits of austerity set to start being felt around March, according to Treasury. In the meantime, Government has put in place various safety nets to cushion the poor and vulnerable from the effects of austerity.
These include rolling out Zupco buses and kombis, maintaining subsidies on staple foodstuffs such as maize, flour and rice, establishing Silo shops, widening the scope of the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) and disbursing cash grants to the poor. The success of the TSP and its successor programmes is hinged on a good agricultural season since the economy is agro-based.
We expect the Zanu-PF annual indaba to take stock of preparations for the farming season with particular emphasis on the availability of inputs such as seed and fertiliser and the progress made so far in land preparation. Government should be tough on farmers, particularly those who regularly receive assistance in the form of implements, seed and other inputs.
There should be emphasis on productivity and on this score, we expect a brief on the land audit and the progress towards repossessing farms that are lying idle. The Conference should also tackle the issue of multiple farm ownership with a view to redressing the anomaly. There should also be an update on the compensation of former white commercial farmers — a matter closely linked with the re-engagement drive Government has prioritised.
Other key sectors of the economy set to come under the spotlight include the manufacturing sector which is crucial to addressing the negative trade balance. Conference should deliberate and come up with measures to support industry so that it is capacitated to compete favourably with cheap imports. Companies need access to cheap lines of credit to retool.
On mining, there is a need to keep supporting small scale miners so that they ramp up production and deliver more gold to the Reserve Bank.
Tourism is another low hanging fruit that needs nurturing and continued investment in that sector is necessary so that the country harnesses foreign currency.
On foreign relations, Conference should put emphasis on buttressing the country’s re-engagement drive. Zimbabwe is poised for a return to the Commonwealth during the next CHOGM slated for Rwanda next year while talks with the European Union have escalated to ministerial level.
Zanu-PF should make it unequivocally clear that it is open to interact and have solid relations with all nations of the world without due regard for the past. The New Dispensation and its Zimbabwe is Open for Business mantra should find expression in the discussions and resolutions of the Zanu-PF conference which inform Government policy.
We therefore expect robust debates on bread and butter issues in addition to the usual political discourse. After receiving a clear and overwhelming mandate in the 2018 harmonised elections, the people of Zimbabwe expect their Government to deliver on electoral promises. The Conference should take stock of the progress made thus far, milestones achieved and outstanding projects that need implementation.
It should hold its deployees in Government to account and Ministers must be grilled on their various mandates and where possible, be made to explain their shortcomings. In essence, the Zanu-PF conference should not just be a talk shop but a platform for introspection and self re-evaluation with the party being honest and frank in its assessment.
In that way, it may be possible to correct mistakes and expand on the success stories. Internally, Zanu-PF faces a renewed threat from the G-40 cabal which is re-grouping from its various bolt-holes in exile. The group, which includes former Ministers Saviour Kasukuwere, Jonathan Moyo, Walter Mzembi and Patrick Zhuwao, is keen to destabilise the party by reaching out to sympathisers currently within Zanu-PF with the ultimate aim of causing ructions.
Fortunately, Zanu-PF has cottoned on to the plot in the nick of time and their shenanigans are likely to come to grief. We urge the party to keep focused and not be distracted by sideshows and futile machinations. After all, it has a country to run.