The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE’S National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), which is halfway through its implementation, has met most of its targets and exceeded some in certain instances.
This will keep the country firmly on track to achieve its economic objectives and attain the national target of becoming an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
With 2023 marking the midpoint of the implementation of NDS1, the country undertook a mid-term review from March to June 2023 to evaluate its performance against the set targets for the period 2021 to mid-2023.
Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said the mid-term review offered an opportunity to assess progress made during the first half of the period and identify gaps and areas for remedial action to ensure the full realisation of the objectives during the remaining implementation time.
The key national priorities of NDS1 are economic growth and stability, food security and nutrition, governance, value chain development, structural transformation, human capital development, environmental protection, climate resilience and natural resource management, and housing delivery.
Zimbabwe has achieved strong economic growth — 8,5 percent, 6,5 percent and 6,2 percent in 2021, 2022, and the first quarter of 2023, respectively, according to the Treasury — above of the average annual NDS1 growth target of 5 percent.
The strong economic growth was largely on the back of the strong performance of the mining and agriculture sectors.
Zimbabwe’s maize output expanded to 2,7 million tonnes in 2021, well ahead of the NDS1 target of 1,8 million tonnes. This represents a significant increase from the 907 629 tonnes produced in 2020.
The increase in maize output is attributed to a number of factors, including favourable weather conditions, the Government’s Pfumvudza/Intwasa agricultural programme and the availability of inputs.
The bumper maize harvest is a positive development for Zimbabwe, as it ensures food security and reduces reliance on imports. It also boosts the incomes of farmers.
The country also became wheat self-sufficient during the first half of the NDS1, with record-breaking output of about 337 000 tonnes in 2021 and 375 000 tonnes in 2022. Manufacturing capacity utilisation increased to 66 percent in 2022, up from 36,4 percent in 2020, with locally produced products enjoying an 80 percent market share.
Earnings from beneficiated minerals increased to US$4,6 billion in 2022, up from US$1,2 billion in 2020, driven by gold and platinum, which each accounted for US$2 billion. Ferrochrome, coking coal and diamonds accounted for US$347,6 million, US$130,7 million and US$121,7 million, respectively, according to the Treasury.
Internet penetration exceeded the target of 62,1 percent after growing by 63,1 percent in 2021 and 65,3 percent in 2020. This was largely due to the deployment of background infrastructure, installation of broadband base stations and laying of fibre optic infrastructure. Social media impressions reached 14 million, against a target of eight million, while 13 re-engagement meetings were held, against a target of six.
Local production of essential medicines reached 47 percent against the NDS1 target of 35 percent. This was after the Government made a deliberate policy to encourage direct procurement of drugs from local manufacturers to reduce the costs. Under the social protection pillar, three million and 3,2 million households benefited from food assistance in 2021 and 2022, respectively, while nearly 3,2 million children were assisted through the Basic Education Assistance Module.
About 1 900 court cases were cleared due to the introduction of the Integrated Electronic Case Management System, which assisted in dealing with a backlog of cases.
Work on three weather radars for monitoring and supporting disaster preparedness for citizens has been completed and the equipment is now operational, while work on the remaining two is 95 percent and 60 percent complete.
In addition, 58 320 hectares of forest area under rural district councils’ jurisdiction were protected in 2021.
In 2022, 54 985 hectares were protected, against the NDS1 target of 49 500 hectares.
The Chambuta Interact Centre was established in Chiredzi to enhance youth sport, arts and cultural activities. Vocational training centres were refurbished and retooled.
The curriculum for vocational training was also reviewed, with eight training modules being developed and approved by the Zimbabwe National Qualifications Framework.
Generally, the proportion of the population that participated in youth, sport, arts and recreational activities increased during the first half of NDS1. The reconfiguration of Education 5.0, complemented by the construction of supporting educational infrastructure, has increased innovative and industrialisation learning opportunities. Innovation hubs and industrial parks were established at tertiary institutions. Under devolution, inter-governmental fiscal transfers were disbursed to local authorities, with 858 projects funded through the utilisation of the transfers. Of these, 296 projects were completed, while 562 are at various stages of completion.
A number of infrastructure projects were implemented during the first half of the NDS1, including the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway and rehabilitation works across rural and urban areas, under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme. Dams constructed include Marovanyati, Muchekeranwa, Chivhu, Gwayi-Shangani and Kunzvi.
The Government rehabilitated public amenities such as recreational facilities in schools; and information and communication technology kiosks in urban and rural areas. There was also rehabilitation of schools, hospitals and clinics through devolution inter-governmental fiscal transfers. The Hwange Units 7 and 8 project stood out as it led to the addition of 600 megawatts of electricity to the national grid during the first half of NDS1.
Despite sanctions preventing the country from accessing external funding, Zimbabwe has made encouraging progress in its development projects, according to Harare-based economist Mr Carlos Tadya.
“It looked like an ambitious document, but the milestones are encouraging,” he said.
Another economist, Mr Takesure Tigere, praised the country’s progress halfway through the implementation of the NDS1, calling it “impressive”. He said a “strong foundation has been laid to forge ahead”.
Mr Tigere, however, urged the Government to seek long-term funding for infrastructure development, and avoid using fiscal resources to fund capital projects in order to prevent destabilising the markets.
The Government has already indicated that it was reviewing current private funding arrangements for some projects in a bid to ensure long-term fiscal sustainability, while also considering new financing innovations such as refinancing and asset recycling, which are expected to crowd in additional funding to the sector.