Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa’s assertion that he is now able to find sleep after presenting a hopeless national budget last Thursday defies all logic.
THE STANDARD EDITORIAL
Chinamasa did not offer any solutions to the economic crisis, characterised by high unemployment and a biting liquidity crunch, but found comfort in peddling depressing figures that confirm that Zimbabwe is now a basket case.
The minister announced 55 443 workers had lost their jobs since 2011 while close to 5 000 companies had closed shop in the same period.
He also revealed 82% of the projected 2015 revenues were for meeting employment costs, leaving nothing for capital projects. As confirmed by Chinamasa himself, Zimbabwe is surviving on US$4,1 billion, a small budget that should ordinarily belong to a company.
It’s difficult to understand why the minister can now sleep soundly after making such an uninspiring budget presentation and being fully aware that Zimbabweans are facing a difficult 2015. Such startling unemployment figures signal that Zimbabwe’s economy is indeed doomed and there is little that Chinamasa can do about it, unless President Robert Mugabe makes a paradigm shift and pursues sound economic policies.
The painful irony of this tragedy is that Zimbabwe is endowed with rich natural resources and a highly skilled workforce and should be booming economically in line with regional trends.
While Zimbabwe attracted only US$1,458 billion in Foreign Direct Investment, Zambia received US$7 billion and Mozambique US$16 billion over the past five years.
The blame for this malaise lies squarely on the shoulders of Mugabe who took over in 1980 when the country’s currency competed with the British pound. Years of Zanu PF mismanagement have taken a toll on the economy and drastic corrective measures need to be instituted, otherwise Chinamasa’s budget will really become irrelevant.
Zimbabwe needs to come up with investor-friendly policies so that it can be seen as a safe investment destination.
The important thing is not to focus energies on fighting Vice-President Joice Mujuru and other alleged weevils but to do away with harmful indigenisation laws and normalising relations with the West that has started warming up towards Zimbabwe.