Zimbabwe opens new economic chapter

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube

ZIMBABWE will turn a new economic chapter this week when Government unveils its new economic blueprint  the National Development Strategy-1 (NDS-1)  that is expected to provide the guardrails and springboard needed for the economy to take off.

The Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), from which the new programme takes over, has managed to deliver its primary goal  to stabilise the exchange rate and prices, and create conditions for growth.

It runs its full course next month.

President Mnangagwa will tomorrow headline the official launch of the NDS-1 in Harare.

Cabinet last week approved the strategy, which is projected to steer the economy into average annual growth rates of 5 percent.

It will run under the theme “Towards a Prosperous and Empowered Upper Middle-Income Society by 2030.”

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube last week said the programme was results-oriented.

A high-level monitoring and evaluation unit under the Office of the President and Cabinet will be established to undertake strict periodic reviews of progress for individual programmes.

“The NDS-1 is building on the successes and challenges of the TSP, which was the foundation,” said Prof Ncube.

“It then runs for five years; that is until the year 2025, and then in 2026 we then have the NDS-2, which then takes us towards an empowered and prosperous upper middle-income economy by 2030.”

The new plan has 14 priority areas: economic growth and stability; food security and nutrition; governance; moving the economy up the value chain and structural transformation; human capital development; environmental protection, climate resilience and natural resource management; housing delivery; ICT and the digital economy; health and well-being; transport, infrastructure and utilities; image  building and international engagement and re-engagement; social protection; youth, sport and culture; and devolution.

Its broad objectives include strengthening macro-economic stability, low and stable inflation, a stable exchange rate, inclusive and equitable real growth in the gross domestic product, promoting new enterprise development, employment and job creation, and industrialising and modernising the economy.

“In terms of process, it has been a very inclusive process for us to get to this point.

“Inclusive in the sense that it was inclusive within Government, but also inclusive more broadly because we have had extensive consultations nationally.

“Each ministry or cluster of ministries was leading a theme and we came to about 14 thematic areas, which were led by the various ministries or cluster . . .

“I must say that what is unique about the NDS is that it is very results-oriented.”

Prof Ncube said the Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, will lead the daily monitoring of progress and management of the programme.

Experts who spoke to The Sunday Mail agree that the NDS-1 should be results-oriented and have an in-built monitoring mechanism.

Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) senior economist Dr Prosper Chitambara said Government should prioritise employment creation, especially in infrastructure development and agriculture.

“It is now generally accepted that jobs  and when I say jobs I mean full and productive employment opportunities  serve the role of stimulating growth and development. So we need to see the mainstreaming of employment creation within the NDS-1.

“The NDS-1 must be focusing on those sectors that are labour intensive like agriculture. We are expecting that there is going to be an upsurge in investments targeting the agriculture sector and investment targeting infrastructure as well because infrastructure can also result in job creation.”

Government, he said, should also invest heavily in social services such as education and health.

Trade unionist and Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZTA) chief executive Dr Sifiso Ndlovu said the strategy should be driven by consumption, which stimulates production.

“Zimbabwe has been used to having debt-led development strategies over the years and what has that led us to?

“When that debt relief dried up, what happened? We failed to move.

“Why do we want a wage-led programme? It is because most households in our communities spend much of their money on consumption.

“It is this consumption that will stimulate production in industry and eventually stimulate our inward- looking economy,” he said.

The country is targeting to create a relatively prosperous economy in the next 10 years. Market watchers say the economic stability that has been created, particularly in the past five months, has the potential to anchor the envisaged economic growth. – Sunday Mail

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