PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday launched an interim economic blueprint that will, among other things, demand an immediate halt to farm disruptions in an effort to kick-start the country’s moribund economy.
The Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme (Sterp) seeks to ignite activity in Zimbabwe’s key economic drivers – agriculture, mining and manufacturing – after a decade-long economic decline, through a US$5 billion injection.
Under the recovery programme, government will carry out a land audit to put to use underutilised land and to end multiple farm ownership in a bid to increase food production and clear government’s bad boy image following the controversial land reform exercise of 2000.
“In order to promote confidence, investments and other developments on farms, as well as ensuring security of farming operations, the inclusive government will uphold the rule of law as well as enforce law and order on farms including arresting any further farm invasions which disrupt farming activities,” the document says.
The document promises to carry out the land audit in a “transparent and non-partisan” manner in line with the September 15 Global Political Agreement signed by Mugabe and leaders of the two MDC formations, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, now prime minister and deputy minister respectively in the power-sharing pact.
Sterp also seeks to restore land and property rights and provide security of tenure in an effort
to promote private sector financing of the battered agricultural sector that has been funded through quasi-fiscal activities by the Reserve Bank.
Government, according to the economic plan, is targeting 100 000 tonnes of wheat in the forthcoming winter season and 80% of the estimated two million tonnes of grain production in the 2009/10 cropping season. The recovery programme also proposes to boost agricultural productivity next season through contract farming.
Government, according to the recovery plan, has liberalised marketing of agricultural products and will cease announcing agricultural producer prices.
Government however said it would soon finance farming activity through funds sourced financial institutions following the introduction of a positive interest rate regime.
“It should be emphasised that after Sterp, the state will move away from a regime of dependency and handouts in a bid to ensure the independence and strength of all farm actors.”
“Short term finance will essentially avail 90-180 day working capital for purchase of inputs and other requirements.
BY BERNARD MPOFU