HomeLocalGNU instability blights economic recovery prospects

GNU instability blights economic recovery prospects

AS the wobbly alliance of the inclusive government stumbles into 2010, there are concerns that the relative economic stability Zimbabweans have been experiencing will be short-lived if the three political parties continue with their endless squabbling. 

The inclusive government celebrates its first anniversary on Saturday, with a challenge to bring to finality all outstanding issues and show commitment in implementing what they agreed on in the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

As it does an introspection of its performance in 2009, the inclusive government needs to ask itself whose interests it is serving — are they individual, partisan or the interests of Zimbabweans?

Political analysts and captains of industry believe that Zimbabwe will not realise economic growth until there is political stability.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Kumbirai Katsande said the three political parties should firstly deal with the sticking points of the GPA and bring them to finality.

Katsande said: “They need to come to some finality and whatever the finality is, it must be implemented. We are worried that politicians don’t seem to understand that if we don’t make progress on the talks, we will go backwards. All the progress achieved so far with the dollarisation will be jeopardised. We have now begun to see a slowdown in the economy.”

“Until these issues are resolved, we will continue to see this confusion with parties trying to score against each other, which is unfortunate.”

Political analyst and University of Zimbabwe lecturer Eldred Masunungure said to fix the economy, there was need to deal with the political crisis.

“You can’t separate politics from the economy. The two cannot be separated — it’s a question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg,” he said.

However, the political analysts predicted that talks to deal with the outstanding issues were likely to drag on in 2010.

Masunungure said all the political parties were just electioneering with no long-term political calculus.

“Talks are likely to drag on. We now have artists in stalling — it will be stop/go with a little breakthrough when the public expresses deep anger,” he said. “The inclusive government will not collapse but will limp along on crutches and each party will push for its best advantage. They will be looking at the impact on the electorate. Everyone is thinking elections. It is a short term calculus, which is tragic.”

While the negotiators have made concessions on a number of issues to do with the media, “pirate” radio stations, land audit, electoral vacancies and external interference, disagreements on critical issues that caused the deadlock still remain.

The parties have failed to agree on the appointments of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana.

They have also disagreed on the swearing-in of deputy agriculture minister designate Roy Bennett, appointments of provincial governors and on Tsvangirai chairing cabinet in the absence of Mugabe.

In addition, there are also new areas of potential contestation this year, such as the re-allocation of two key-ministries, foreign affairs and home affairs and the dismantling of the Joint Operations Command, a security think-tank that was reportedly behind the bloody presidential run-off poll last year that retained President Robert Mugabe to power.

Katsande, who is hoping for a finality of talks, said the government should be united behind policy pronouncements unlike what is happening now where the right arm does not know what the left one is doing.

He said some of the policy pronouncements being made were more political than economic aimed at outdoing the other partners in the agreement.
Katsande gave an example of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Regulations gazetted this week, which Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said were done without his consultation.

The premier’s spokesperson James Maridadi said Tsvangirai never had sight of the regulations.

“According to the Global Political Agreement, the Prime Minister is responsible for policy formulation and implementation. He also among other things plays an oversight role over all ministries and government departments,” Maridadi said.

“That gazette went through without the PM having been consulted. He never had sight of that document and therefore he has since disowned it. Therefore naturally the document becomes a nullity.”

Maridadi said the gazette did not reflect the collective position of the inclusive government on the indigenisation policy, adding that there should be a balance of participation by locals and an attraction of foreign investments.

Katsande said such partisan decisions showed that the government had poor leadership and was therefore weak.

Constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said the government should work collectively to come up with policies that help to restore economic stability and growth.

“They must come up with policies that promote economic growth and stability and improve the social welfare of people. To do this, they have to work collectively,” he said.

Masunungure said top on his wish list was the constitution-making process, national healing and reconciliation and economic recovery.

“The year 2010 should deal with the constitution-making process. Getting the constitution-making process on track will not necessarily take care of everything but will be a foundation of other remedial measures. If we get it right everything else will follow,” he said.
Masunungure said national healing should be a priority and should have come first before the constitution-making process.

“It is irresponsible for the highest order or the leadership to assume that national healing is not important or a priority,” he said.

Masunungure said elections should only come after the constitution-making process, national healing and stabilisation of the economy.

“If you get those three right, then you have a good basis to organise elections and will close this horrible chapter. My personal view is that elections should not be at the top of the agenda and not in 2010 or 2011 until these prerequisites have been done right,” said Masunungure.

Ibbo Mandaza, another political analyst, said the focus should be on the issues highlighted in the GPA –– the constitution-making process, land audit, national healing and economic recovery.

On the economy, he said, the government should concentrate on reviving the manufacturing, agricultural and mining industries,
which are all operating below capacity.

The inclusive government, Mandaza said, should come up with policies that encourage economic recovery.

He said revenue collection was fundamental and it was shocking to hear from Finance minister Tendai Biti that the mining sector was not paying tax.
Mandaza said in 1996, the mining sector, excluding platinum, paid US$3,8 billion in taxes annually.

Media organisations want the immediate processing of applications and licensing of new players in the print and broadcast industries.

The message to the political parties is that they should stop bickering and go through the GPA to remind themselves of what they agreed on and promised Zimbabweans.

 

Faith Zaba

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