The Sunday Mail
GOVERNMENT is often accused of policy inconsistency and such concerns were also raised at a recent breakfast meeting hosted by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in partnership with the IMF.
The event was themed “Zimbabwe’s Vision and Policy Options”. The notion that Government struggles to remain consistent on a national vision is grossly exaggerated.
Government’s vision, at least over what was decided to be a five year time horizon from 2013, is very clear! The vision is outlined in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.
To expedite realisation of ambitions set out in the blueprint, Government decided to pursue a 10-Point Plan of high priority.
Thus, Zim-Asset and the 10-Point Plan represent a clear vision of the socio-economic outlook that the Government intends to create.
It was disappointing that neither Zim-Asset nor the 10-Point Plan were mentioned at a forum that intended to justify Zimbabwe’s vision with regards to its engagement with international financial institutions; more so because the event had a fair attendance of Cabinet ministers who remained mum on this matter.
Consequently, a platform meant to display conviction and focus in a national vision was left exposed to an interpretation, yet again, that Government may not have consensus and clarity on where it is trying to go!
We should inquire on why this happens so frequently? Why did it happen that for the umpteenth time, on a platform where Government was meant to exude confidence and clarity in its vision, representatives in attendance were overwhelmed by the moment? The answer could be as simple as a lack of accountability.
When a nation does not enforce accountability on those delegated to achieve set aspirations, then the credibility of those aspirations wanes.
We are then perceived as an unsure nation, and one that lacks seriousness in the path we have chosen.
Were it not for Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s assertive closing remarks, this is exactly the impression our Government representatives had given to international financial institutions that had gathered to actually hear Zimbabwe revel in the purity of its aspirations and offer a strong case of a bankable national vision that warrants financial support.
Ideally, ministers in attendance, for instance, should have engaged IFIs by highlighting the progress they have made thus far in achieving results towards our socio-economic transformation.
Minister Chinamasa and RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya stood out as they shared success in the Fiscal Reforms sub-cluster of Zim-Asset, especially in the matrices of financial sector stability, improved fiscal management, and public sector administration.
The day before, Minister Chinamasa had just announced the successful conclusion of the last Staff Monitored Programme which was well received by international creditors. Unfortunately, this is as far as the ideal scenario went.
Other Government representatives in attendance should have advanced convincing arguments in respective clusters outlined in our national vision.
For instance, the Food Security and Nutrition cluster clearly set out to achieve a self-sufficient and food surplus economy.
It is discouraging that as a nation we have succumbed to the belief that El-Nino should be a strong impediment to achieving our targets, especially when our dams and water sources are above 60 percent capacity nationwide.
If it is the case that we lack infrastructure for irrigation, then perhaps greater discourse should be on how IFI financing can be persuaded into investing in such infrastructure.
The idea is that by achieving our vision of self-sufficiency and food surplus, we would in effect be creating a vibrant and lucrative agricultural sector able to service IFI loans pretty easily.
Unfortunately, we did not use this platform to offer such assurance, and the reason could be that we have not interrogated the progress made in our agricultural sector as a whole.
Perhaps more disappointing was the absence of representatives from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.
IFIs are the most customised financiers of long-term investment that aligns with our infrastructure needs. Private and institutional investors are no longer a dependable market for long term infrastructure investment.
The absence of representatives from this ministry creates a concerning assumption that as a nation we may not be well informed on effective strategies on how to finance our infrastructure deficit.
Zimbabwe should engage IFIs with assurances that structures are being put in place to create productive infrastructure in road, rail and air. For a nation importing power whilst carrying a fiscal deficit is unsustainable and the need cheap capital in power generation is extremely important.
Our national vision is to create an economy based on value addition and beneficiation.
Not much was discussed with regards to how we have taken strides towards shifting our industrial processes towards high value chain activities.
No industrial sectors were presented as testament to these efforts; perhaps due to the fact that industry has not really made notable progress in this direction. More specifically, the mining sector was better off hidden from IFIs.
Recent revelations that US$15 billion has been lost and further admission by Mines Minister Chidhakwa that citizens have not gained anything from mining shows a country deficient in tenacity of purpose. If we cannot manage our most lucrative sector, why would IFIs take us seriously?
We need to take ourselves seriously.
To revert to the important question of why Zimbabwe appears to lack clarity of purpose and vision, the answer is our lack of accountability and result evaluation. If we measured progress towards our set targets, then there is no reason why we should be overwhelmed and blank when we are offered platforms to present what we are trying to do as a nation.
The IMF breakfast was an embarrassment.
We appeared to have no vision, not because we do not have one, but simply because we do not hold ourselves accountable to it!