NEDPP a failure by any definition

THE implementation period of the National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) is to be extended, it has been announced. This is to ensure meeting “some” of its targets.

“We had a number of targets that we have set,” an unnamed government official told the Herald. “Some were achieved but some were not achieved fully.”

So the programme will be extended before the latest blueprint, the Zimbabwe Economic Development Strategy, is launched early next year.

This is all very curious. Which targets have not been “achieved fully”? Indeed, what targets have been achieved at all?

NEDPP was designed as a quick fix that would guarantee a turnaround in six months. It did not happen. The US$2,5 billion in investment did not materialise. None of the public corporations slated for sale was offloaded, and there was no fall in inflation.

NEDPP was a failure by any definition. Above all, captains of industry whose cooperation was sought were sidelined and in some cases imprisoned for conducting their businesses.

Now we face ZEDS which will be touted as another miracle cure which, given the absence of sound policies, is likely to meet the same fate.

The macroeconomic environment is as unstable as ever, forex revenues are drying up, and just to show how committed it is to attracting investment the government plans to help itself to 51% of those companies that have stayed the course. It is a severe assault on the private sector and will be seen as such abroad. Nothing more clearly indicates that the regime is not serious about economic recovery. And meanwhile we will be told that all will be well next year, just as we were told all would be well this year!

Just how urgently Zimbabwe needs to reform its public media was indicated by an advertisement placed in the Herald on Monday by Zimpapers’ advertising department. The Sunday Mail, it said, would publish a special supplement on the ruling party’s National People’s conference to be held in Goromonzi. It is that time of the year when the ruling party deliberates on economic and political issues, we are told.

“We therefore call upon all patriotic companies, organisations, and individuals to place congratulatory messages in support of the people’s party.”

This, let us remind ourselves, was not Zanu PF buying space in the national press. It was the state media offering free advertising to one political party and inviting companies and organisations to pay for it.

This represents a serious abuse of power by the ruling party and the public media that needs placing on record. The public media, as the name suggests, is a publicly-owned enterprise. It should not be placed at the disposal of any single party or the state. Above all, it should not be used for partisan claims.

What “congratulatory” messages can we expect? That inflation of 1 098% is a world record? That unemployment at 80% is the worst ever in the country’s history? That investors are staying away in droves? That agricultural production is 40% of what it was in 2000?

It’s not likely. Instead we should expect a pattern of dishonesty that is already evident in the state media. The country will be told that the invisible “turnaround” is just around the corner and that “recovery” can be expected in 2007.

How gullible do you have to be to swallow these claims?

The question should be put to our colleagues in the state media. How can you believe a minister who for four straight years has got his forecasts for the economy completely wrong, who knows perfectly well that there will be no growth or recovery so long as this government is in power, yet stands up in the House and makes unsustainable claims for inflation and agricultural production?

Is it not the duty of a journalist to be sceptical, rather than gullible, about official claims, especially those that prove to be wrong time after time?

How often does a minister have to get it wrong before government reporters stop seeing sunshine at the end of his tunnel?

How many workers do you see walking around with smiles on their faces?

“Hard-pressed workers had reason to smile”, we were told, after government “injected more money into their pockets” by raising the tax-free threshold to $100 000.

Can the author of this fantasy please produce a worker who thinks this is going to make one iota of difference to his miserable life! Can we find a single serious economist who thinks the economy will grow by 0,5%-1%.

Zanu PF apologist Jonathan Kadzura was on Monday claiming in the Herald that we have “a media regime in this country that with all purposes and intent is bent on destroying the good (sic) party”.

It was unfair to talk about corruption, he wrote, unless facts on the ground supported the allegations. “Our people must at all times demand to know the truth…”

And are they getting “the truth” about the economy from ministers and party spokesmen, from the Herald and Sunday Mail, from the ZBC and The Voice? Are these media eunuchs of the regime’s arthritic sultanate telling the people that corruption is now endemic in the country, that this regime has been stoking the fires of inflation by failing to curtail its incontinent expenditure, that international agencies are having to come to the rescue because the country can no longer feed itself? And that all this is due to the delinquency and dead-end policies of a regime that rules by brutality and deceit?

We agree with Kadzura. There is an absolute need for the media to tell the truth about the mess we are in and who is responsible. No more lies!

One of Zimbabwe’s achievements, Kadzura claims, was to deliver democracy to the DRC.

Zimbabwe, we need to remind ourselves, intervened in the Congo in 1998 to prop up the dictatorship of Laurent Kabila. It was supported by Angola and Namibia but opposed by South Africa and every other Sadc state despite helpful statements from the grouping’s Organ on Defence and Security which was manipulated, as the South Africans feared it would be, by President Mugabe to provide an impression of solidarity.

Mugabe was noticeably absent from last week’s swearing-in of Joseph Kabila. Instead he was attending an ACP meeting in the Sudan. While the ACP meeting was important, it produced little of value for Zimbabwe: no resolution of solidarity, not even any resonance for Mugabe’s posturing on Iraq. So why not go to Kinshasa instead and bask in the gratitude of the Congolese nation? Why send a representative who was not even a vice-president?

Muckraker’s information is that Mugabe is less than pleased with Kabila. Not only has there been no public recognition of the role Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia played in propping up his father, there has been no dividend on Harare’s political and military investment. Instead the pesky South Africans have been gorging themselves on the Congo cake.

Worse still, we gather, Kabila has adopted the advice of his Western backers to have nothing to do with the polecat regime in Harare. Which is why we haven’t seen much of him.

It is all extremely galling for a leader whom Walter Mzembi insists journalists should regard as a hero.

The Zimbabwe story would never be complete, he told the Masvingo Press Club, “without the due portrayal of President Mugabe as a hero with the interests of his country at heart”.

It is good to see some MPs have retained their sense of humour in these trying times! Mzembi claimed that “miracles” like land reform were not getting the attention they deserved from the media. This media delinquency, he appeared to suggest, had led to Aippa.

So all is clear. We need to say more about government’s miracles or else!

Has anyone told the Daily Mirror yet about the difference between to wreck and to wreak? It is the latter that usually causes havoc.

Mirror subs have perhaps been attending the Gweru private college which recently advertised for “lectrurers”. It wanted “part-time academis and professional”. Phone “bedrore” 12 December, it urged.

We understand their need for urgency!

Meanwhile, Muckraker acknowledges that we got it wrong on Pollyanna. It was written by Eleanor H Porter, not Mark Twain as an alert reader pointed out.

We would in turn like to point out to Caesar Zvayi that President Bush is not a candidate in the 2008 US presidential poll (Herald, November 29). The Herald’s political editor should know that ever since Franklin Roosevelt, US presidents cannot serve more than two terms. So Zvayi’s entire article, “Bush abusing Luther King’s memory” in order to secure re-election was based on a false premise.

News reports suggest senior Zanu PF leaders in Manicaland nearly traded punches last weekend over whether to hold simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010 or to bring the polls forward to 2008. Provincial chairman Enock Porusingazi came in for some abuse when he suggested holding the polls in 2008.

“Who sent you, who is your master?” delegates shouted. He was accused of “plotting against the president”.

Porusingazi is associated with the faction supporting Emmerson Mnangagwa.

But the hostility didn’t stop there, ZimOnline reported. Provincial heavyweight and party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, who is not aligned to either contestant in the current power struggle, came in for his share of abuse.

He had to flee the venue of the meeting after a group of officials threatened to beat him up, the online news agency reported. A visibly angry Zanu PF Senator Mandi Chimene told Mutasa: “You are a good for nothing man, you are divisive and you don’t carry the wishes of the province with you when you are at headquarters. Today we will teach you a lesson.”

As other female officials ululated and urged Chimene to finish him off, the elderly security minister beat a hasty retreat, we are told.

While Zanu PF has a reputation for being vicious towards its opponents, what we sometimes forget is that the party’s members can be even more vicious towards each other! But at least its apologists admit that it is intellectually moribund.

“When a party does not deviate from its vision 31 years down the line and when it consistently implements resolutions reached three decades ago, its members have every reason to celebrate,” Zvayi tells us.

Every reason to celebrate a structural inability to respond to the imperatives of a very different world to that obtaining in 1975? To celebrate being left behind by the rest of the region in terms of development and progress? What sort of celebration is that?

We should feel sorry for the infirm and the blind. But not this lot!

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