PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday met with his Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) in order to come up with solutions to the economic problems facing the country in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The PAC meeting that was convened at the State House yesterday, and involves the business community, was held at a time when Zimbabwe is experiencing economic shocks caused by the effects of Covid-19, Cyclone Idai and the impact of illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the Western world.
At the same time some unscrupulous businesspeople have taken advantage of the situation to manipulate the exchange rate, much to the detriment of the broader masses.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa confirmed that the meeting between President Mnangagwa and the PAC board was seeking to find solutions that will take the nation forward.
“We want to thank the President Mnangagwa who created this platform so that the business and Government can actually talk together. The meeting was very candid and was looking at the state of the economy,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She said PAC would serve as President Mnangagwa’s sounding board on key economic reforms, issues and initiatives in line with the President’s ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business and national dialogue mantra’ and also within the policy framework of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, an initiative that seeks to set the country’s economy on the recovery path after years of stagnation.
“This (platform) has been created by the President who really wants all Zimbabweans to come on board to talk about issues which take the country forward. We learnt a lot. The presentations were very good, very candid, and I think we all benefited immensely from the discussions,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
The meeting, that was also attended by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya, Finance Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube and several Government ministers, also tackled the performance of the country’s dollar against the United States dollar on the parallel market.
PAC chairperson Mr Edwin Manikai said the no-holds-barred meeting also addressed the issue of price increases that have negatively affected most of the country’s populace.
“These are not easy times, obviously we are going through Covid-19 and the economic meltdown.
“Before that, we already had Cyclone Idai, drought and if we put all that together we are going through challenging times in health, economic and social development issues,” he said.
In the time of distress, Mr Manika said the PAC, which includes captains of industry, economists and other eminent Zimbabweans is fully behind the President.
“The PAC stands together with President Mnangagwa to share some ideas on how we think we can address those three areas, from the health side, economic and social development.
“As we all know we have issues on the value of our currency against convertible currencies going on about two weeks. There is a total collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar against the United States dollar feeding into inflation, and feeding into the cost of goods and commodities for our people. So today we come to discuss with His Excellence some interventions that we believe will assist. Some are tactful in terms of closing loopholes. The main ones have to be structural to deal with fundamentals of our economy,” he said.
On the other hand, PAC deputy chairman Mr Trevor Ncube said although the meeting was a tough one, solutions were found.
“We are happy with the progress that was made with everybody in the room putting their heads together, ideas together in terms of how we move our country forward. It was robust. It was tough but we made a lot of progress. We are very passionate about sending the message that it’s not a game and pass kind of approach that the PAC works to add value to what the Government is doing. In doing that the Government also has a responsibility to push some of the things that we put before it,” he said.
President Mnangagwa set up a 26-member advisory council, comprising of entrepreneurs, business executives, intellectuals and church leaders to advise him on policy matters.
And in the wake of the devastating effects of Covid-19, which has wrecked world economies and killed more than 300 000 people, Zimbabwe has not been spared.
To mitigate the impact of Covid-19 the Government has put in place measures to assist the needy during times of distress.
The PAC was established principally to advise and assist President Mnangagwa in formulating key economic policies and strategies that push Vision 2030, which seeks to make the country an upper middle-income economy with a per capita income of between $3 896 and $12 055.