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Brain drain gives Murerwa headache

Ngoni Chanakira

THE Minister of Finance and Economic Development Herbert Murerwa has blamed the ongoing brain drain in government for the continuous failure to implement various policies timely.

“There are delays in project implementation and we are the first to admit this,” Murerwa told business executives gathered for the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) workshop on project financial management on Tuesday.

The workshop was attended by more than 200 project directors and finance managers of ACBF-supported projects in Anglophone Africa.

“Zimbabwe is faced with implementation problems because there is a huge and serious staff turnover in government at the present moment,” Murerwa said.

Zimbabweans are resigning from the civil service to venture abroad to countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, South Africa and Australia. These nations have stronger currencies when compared to the Zimbabwe dollar now said to be worth only two cents its 1995 level due to hyperinflation.

The currency continues to depreciate weekly, sending black market rates soaring in cities and towns.

Murerwa said because of the staff turnover, projects remained incomplete, riling donors.

He said this could be a major reason why some donors had developed a negative attitude towards funding projects in Zimbabwe because there were no follow-ups.

“In Zimbabwe there is a mixed response to implementation of projects,” Murerwa said. “There are delays in enforcing agreements and long discussions on the clarity of some grant conditions. The planning and monitoring staff are constantly changing jobs leading to confusion because the Finance ministry, which implements these decisions, receives incomplete documentation. Sometimes documents just go missing.”

He said the Zimbabwean civil service was “very mobile” because of its good educational qualifications.

“There is sometimes oversight on planning stages and delays in entry into force of agreements. These appear to be emanating from failure to effectively discuss clarity.”

The minister said there was also inadequate planning and managerial capacity in government as well as weak coordination where project implementation responsibilities were charged with officials.

In his remarks the ACBF executive secretary Soumana Sako had delegates in stitches when he took a swipe at Africa’s politicians, saying they were “bad financial planners because they only plan for elections”.

“Even if you tell them that you need finance that will make your country the greatest in the world, politicians won’t care unless the money will help their election campaign,” he said.

In Zimbabwe, the ACBF extends financial support to the Zimbabwe Economic Policy Analysis and Research Unit within the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the National Economic Consultative Forum and the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa.

The main objective of the workshop was to enhance the performance of ACBF-supported projects and programmes through sharing of information on lessons, practices and procedures on project implementation and management.

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