What’s in store for our economy?

Victoria Ruzvidzo Business Focus
Yesterday I came across an invitation to a Christian conference in the United States where the host intends to lead discussion on what the world number two economy is going through nationally and more holistically as a major world player.

The country is concerned about the one trillion dollars added to national debt over the last few years, in a world economy that has been on the brink of collapse for a long time.

The title, “What’s in store for our economy” got me thinking about our own Zimbabwean economy. What lies ahead.

In fact this is a question that I have to help answer most of the time I meet people. There are discussions everyday about how tough today is and what could be in store tomorrow.

Of course most of those I interact with are gloomy about tomorrow but you read undertones that they are desperate for a better tomorrow.

So how best do we answer this question? Even before that who should be asking this question and to who?

An obvious answer would be people asking Government or the masses asking their party. In this instance the ruling party ZANU-PF.

But is this correct? Should we not be asking ourselves what’s in store for our economy given our diverse roles to help shape or even destroy the economy.

Or more importantly the question needs to be directed to the true prophets of our time who are obviously in the picture already of what the future holds in terms of this economy.

Given the current circumstances, many could easily say that what’s in store for the economy is not pleasing. For instance:

◆ The country sinking deeper in debt

◆ More imports as local manufactures succumb to present operational challenges

◆ Dwindling exports as local costing structures and systems make exports less competitive

◆ More vendors in the city centre as a result of more retrenchments and company closures

◆ Reduced disposable incomes as companies fail to pay salaries

◆ Food price increases due to low supplies stemming from drought

◆ Increase in corruption as custodians of resources seek to safeguard their lives

◆ More Zimbabweans losing property as they fail to repay loans

◆ Unsustainably high levels of non-performing loans

◆ Economic growth will be stunted owing to most of the above factors.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list but ordinarily one would be tempted to say the above ingredients will make up the economy over the next few months or years based on what is happening presently.

But is this what we would want to see? Is this the Zimbabwe we want?

A definite no. No! Any such thoughts or fears can easily drain energy and leave us without hope. The economy should have positive answers while at the same time being realistic and practical.

An ideal situation should bring us a positive tomorrow but this takes effort.

We would want a tomorrow which has something like this:

◆ Double digit economic growth

◆ Attracting huge multi-billion dollar foreign direct investment.

◆ Very few cases of corruption due to a zero tolerance stance both in Government and the private sector

◆ More companies springing up, creating more employment and wealth.

◆ Adoption of new technology economy-wide to produce more efficiently

◆ Local investors participating actively in the economy

◆ Policy consistency

◆ 50 percent reduction in imports

◆ More lines of credit

◆ More orderly vending at designated points

◆ Three balanced meals a day for an average family.

Indeed this would be the ideal Zimbabwe we would all want to experience. It is certainly not a pie in the sky but something within our reach once we ALL work towards it.

For a start, the National Economic Consultative Forum could hold an all stakeholders conference to identify our challenges, come up with quick wins or low hanging fruits that can expedite transformation.

Of course much of the stuff is already well packaged in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Agenda but there is dire need to operationalise it and ensure everyone is on the same page.

NECF, being a platform that brings Government, business, political leaders, civil society and the academia to discuss socio-economic issues, could help identify solutions and how they can be implemented to bring a quick turnaround.

Indeed as the NECF motto goes “Together We make Zimbabwe Great”.

Last week’s instalment on the vendors in Harare elicited so much interest, with most readers proposing an urgent redress.

The Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa conceded that the situation was untenable, stressing that the chaotic vending was a symptom of a much broader underlying cause – challenges of dwindling job opportunities in the formal sector.

“When I look at the vending issue, it is a symptom to a problem and unless we address that root of the problem, we will remain with it,” he said as he addressed Pension Funds gathered in Victoria Falls last week.

His response resonates well with calls to resolve current economic challenges expeditiously.

Below are a few emails on the story on vendors.

“Hi Victoria, In 1999 a friend of mine from Kenya visited me and as I took him around Harare from Mbare, Epworth Warren Park . . . to Borrowdale, he admired the smartness that we had though the deterioration had already started taking its toll.

“He mentioned something profound to me. He said the smartness and lack of vendors every where on the streets was a clear indication that we had not yet indigenised our economy. He said once you see every pavement occupied and every shop entry point inundated by vendors that have no overheads in terms of rent etc then you have started enjoying an indigenous economy.

“I had vowed to him that that would not happen in the Sunshine City of Harare, but I was wrong. The situation has really gotten out of hand. Surely even if the City fathers were to provide stalls for all vendors sisy Vic, its just not possible because we have more vendors than workers for obvious reasons. There are no jobs and the economy is not performing well.

“A joke went around social media on May Day with people asking whether it should be Workers Day or Vendors Day. What we are seeing are mere symptoms of bigger challenges and there doesn’t seem to be any strategy in place to deal with the underlying issues as we continue to cruise almost on auto pilot.” – Simbarashe Takawira

Emmanuel Mamini wrote in part:

“Thanks so much Victoria, your article touched us all. It’s not only in Harare cbd, come to Chitungwiza. Construction of cottages is taking place everywhere unserviced without council authorities allocating stands . . . These stands are being sold. Come to Chitungwiza, Manyame Park, St Mary’s, Zengeza, Chikwana and many places. Is this proper for future generations?”

In God I Trust!

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