Victoria Ruzvidzo In Focus
Zimbabwe’S economy has been in the woods for a long time and it would be folly for anyone to think that the damage can be undone in three months or in 100 days. It’s a whole process requiring much time and total commitment from all of us. I have watched and listened with keen interest as Zimbabweans, resident and in the Diaspora, debate on what the new Government has achieved on the one hand and what others see as failure, on the other.
Quite interesting and even perplexing observations, particularly what has been playing on the social media.
At the outset, let me hasten to say everyone is entitled to their opinion and it is always healthy and progressive to be guided by facts in our submissions lest we poison the environment or elicit unintended reactions on something based on mere perception rather than reality.
Of course, in most cases perception becomes fact if not quickly dismissed with actual facts on the ground.
Some believe that not much progress has been made in resuscitating the economy and they have been quite critical in dismissing current efforts to breathe life into the economy by President Mnangagwa and his team in Government. Sometimes some things are not bad but it is how they are said that conjures ill-feelings. In other instances it is destructive to just criticise for the sake of it.
Indeed, no one is infallible but there are times when we should read from the same page or sing the same hymn to achieve results, particularly in our instance where the challenges confronting this country are not small at all but they require all hands on deck to overcome them and build a better country for all of us.
From my standpoint and that of many institutions, countries and global institutions, Zimbabwe’s complexion has changed dramatically from November last year to date. Of course, a lot remains outstanding but President Mnangagwa and his team have initiated projects and programmes that have put the country on a positive trajectory.
In some instances tangible results have already been felt, for instance, the $3,1 billion plus investment that the country has secured over the last 100 days. This was unheard of. Quite a number of projects in the mining sector, transport, mining, energy and agriculture have already taken off while a number are almost sealed.
On Tuesday Secretary of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba gave a rundown of projects that have either begun already or are being finalised. The $400 million National Railways of Zimbabwe deal is already in motion. Some of the locomotives and coaches have already been delivered.
The Hwange Power Station expansion is a done deal while others are almost at implementation stage.
If this is not something to celebrate then we do not know what is. Furthermore, Prospect Resources of Australia are keen on a $2,6 billion lithium deal. Surely, this is good news.
The fact that such institutions as the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and many multilateral and development institutions globally have expressed confidence in Zimbabwe should mean something to all of us. Many of these were the most critical and were not interested anymore in how the name Zimbabwe is spelt but now they are keen to do business with Zimbabwe.
Many such bodies that had closed shop and were no longer dealing with Zimbabwe have expressed intentions to come back and play a part in transforming this economy. Of course, there are many others sitting on the fence and watching this country like a hawk. This is even an improvement because only a few months ago they did not want to waste their time sitting on the fence. They had actually walked away from the fence.
This in itself is a signal that we are headed for exciting times. If this momentum is maintained, then recovery will be sooner rather than later. We could soon be speaking of double-digit economic growth figures. Indeed, it is now more of a possibility than a fallacy as had become the case not so long ago.
Only yesterday we reported that the AfDB was revising its growth projections following what it terms positive sentiment since the new Government took over, the reformist Budget and re-engagement with the international community.
It had previously forecast a one percent growth in 2018 and a 1,2 percent rise in 2019, but it now says the figures will now be much higher.
The Government has forecast a 4,5 percent growth this year.
To buttress its positive sentiment on Zimbabwe, the bank has also availed a $25 million loan facility for the private sector.
This will be administered by Cabs. “The agreement for signature for a Trade Finance Line of credit worth $25 million with a tenure of 3,5 years is testament to the African Development Bank’s strong commitment to Zimbabwe,” said AfDB country manager Damoni Kitabire at the launch ceremony on Wednesday.
“The facility, therefore, partly mitigates this challenge (of funding facilities) by allowing CABS to on lend over a longer tenure, especially in sectors where longer term trade finance funding is required, such as agriculture, infrastructure and manufacturing,” he said, adding the AfDB intended to expand the facility at some point.
The lender has been a solid pillar for this country even when the chips were down. Its overtures signify the confidence that it has in this country and the new Government.
A few weeks ago I was in Madrid, Spain, and attended a business meeting where the Spanish Chamber of Business expressed keen interest to invest in Zimbabwe. They made glowing statements about the changes Zimbabwe had attained over a few months, since the advent of the new dispensation.
The interest was not just hollow and we are made to understand that deliberations with those intending to set up shop have made significant progress.
There is so much more to say but suffice to say that it is important that we give the new Government a chance. So much has been achieved in the last 100 days and, at this rate, much more will have been ticked over the next 100 days and beyond.
That Zimbabwe is set on a transformative path is without doubt.
Of course, long queues and low withdrawal limits are still the order of the day at banks and that foreign currency still remains a challenge but Zimbabwe is now set on a trajectory that will soon see the disappearance of such challenges.
Many roads are still potholed, with most of the potholes growing into gorges and dams of some sort but we remain confident that these challenges are seeing their last days.
Microwave solutions are not available for some of the challenges. They need time. But, of course, time is a scarce resource given where we are coming from and the high expectations among Zimbabweans and the world at large.
Of course, it is not folly to hold the Government to account and to demand solutions to challenges that make life a difficult road to navigate. Yes, questions must be raised, answers sought but we will achieve much if this is done within a constructive framework.
We need to be realistic in our expectations.
Yes, we must raise the alarm where need be but we should not be alarmist about everything. A few decades of economic decay will certainly not be reversed in a few weeks. We need to take comfort that the country is on a revival path, but at the same time Government should not be too comfortable with what has been achieved.
It has to be a case of more and more work, burning the midnight candle to ensure that Zimbabwe becomes the regional giant it should be.
I believe the phoenix is rising, let’s aid the process instead of destroying what’s on the table through our actions, inactions, or poisonous words that discourage or blow away the kind of energy exhibited by President Mnangagwa and his team.
Let’s also stand up and do our part. Working in concert as stakeholders will yield results and produce the milk and honey we are salivating for.
In God I Trust!