IN 2019, after Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube presented the 2020 National Budget Statement, economist Mr Persistence Gwanyanya spoke on one of the major challenges the country’s new Government was facing.
He said Zimbabwe carries a burden of the past.
“While there appears to be understanding of the urgency of economic reforms by Treasury, it seems we underestimated the depth of our challenges, ostensibly because we suppressed the economy for too long, through unsustainable subsidies, including currency subsidies; exchange rate parity (1:1) and managed foreign currency allocation system.
“All these are stop-gap measures, short-term fixes and half-baked solutions, which, ironically, got us nowhere, but deeper into the hole.
It’s unsurprising that we missed all key macro-economic targets in 2019 as the economy adjusted to its true position following the implementation of economic reforms, which started in October last year,” he said.
Other challenges that affected macro-economic targets include unprecedented climate and economic shocks, which led to an increase in humanitarian needs.
The impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic can never be underplayed, while the Russia-Ukraine conflict has not spared world economies.
Drought compromised agriculture activities and electricity generation while Cyclone Idai and Covid put Government off budget.
Zimbabwe’s roadmap to a middle-income economy — Vision 2030 — is anchored on four clusters, governance; macroeconomic stability and financial re-engagement; inclusive growth, infrastructure and utilities; social development and cross cutting themes.
The burden of the past has seen Government dedicate more and more resources towards infrastructure and social development.
This is what any responsible Government should do.
However, there are naysayers among us, hence we feel compelled to further explain the findings of the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (2022) Rural Livelihoods Assessment (RLA) report recently adopted by Cabinet.
According to the report, Government remains the biggest social net provider for vulnerable citizens in the country. And, off course, this has a bearing on the economy.
Government cannot cushion at least 61 percent of people in rural areas, a seven percent jump when compared to 54 percent last year, and still be able to meet all key macroeconomic targets.
Further, as we reported yesterday, while Government aid to rural communities has increased, the support received from United Nations Agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) dropped by 12 percent in 2022 from 26 percent last year.
Relatives based in the diaspora as well as urbanites are the second largest source of social security net providers for rural communities at 15 percent.
The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC), which is responsible for advising the Government on the strategic direction in food and nutrition security, commended President Mnangagwa and his team.
“Government is applauded for being the major source of support in rural areas as reported by 61 percent of the households. UN/NGOs provided support to 14 percent of the rural households.
Government support increased from 54 percent reported in 2021 to 61 percent in 2022.
Support from UN/NGOs decreased from 26 percent in 2021 to 14 percent in 2022,” the ZimVAC report reads.
We also commend Government for rising to the challenge and being the major source of support in rural areas.
Anti-Government elements will say what they want to say, but the truth is there for all to see.
We cannot wish away the burden of the past.
The responsible thing to do is to take on the challenge even if it means missing some key macroeconomic targets along the way.