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ZimAsset targets elusive

Zimbabwe’s economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), has missed some of its targets, with the programme’s coordinator saying more engagement is critical to achieve its intended objectives.

BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA

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The blueprint was launched in October 2013 and runs to the end of December 2018.

A recent review conducted by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) showed that the majority of targets set within ZimAsset had not been met.

A report by the Value Addition and Beneficiation Cluster, consisting of about 13 ministries and the OPC, co- chaired by the ministries of Industry and Commerce and Mines and Mining Development, noted challenges are having a significant effect on the ZimAsset implementation.

It said the cluster was affected by obsolete equipment and infrastructure which was “expensive to maintain, thereby contributing to high costs of production”.

The report said the cluster was hamstrung by a lack of investment and fresh capital due to an unfavourable macroeconomic environment, “in particular inconsistent policies and the high cost of doing business, slow speed of enacting legislation and fragmented coordination processes.”

The report said the shortages and poor quality of raw materials were hampered by the underperformance of the agriculture sector, and this negatively affected the manufacturing sector since it consumes about 70% of the agricultural output.

It said the agricultural sector had performed badly despite achieving nearly 80% of the ZimAsset funding target.

Targets going forward include the resuscitation of the Ziscosteel project and establishing of diamond cutting and polishing centres.

Since October 2013, there have been 15 diamond cutting and polishing factories established, 14 are in Harare and one is in Mutare, with 1 000 carats of polished diamonds produced.

Another target included the establishment of agro-processing projects such as apiculture, processing and canning of fruits and vegetables, oil expression, leather and leather products.

It also aims to strengthen small to medium enterprises and cooperatives to allow them to be viable as tools for poverty eradication.
The OPC was given the coordination role for the ZimAsset agenda, which is essentially a multi-stakeholder strategy involving the private sector, development partners and civil society.

Senior principal director (department of public affairs and knowledge management in the OPC), Mary Mubi told Standardbusiness one of the major findings from the review showed that “further engagement was needed with stakeholders for the full implementation of ZimAsset”.

The challenges faced by the blueprint are attributed to budgetary constraints for the recapitalisation and day-to-day operations, fragmented data base as most of the sectors lacked capacity, poor value chain networking, uncompetitive pricing models, and low effective demand.

Short-term expensive working and fixed capital, lack of entrepreneurial skills and the failure to deploy tourism attaches in identified key tourist source markets were also cited as major impediments.

These led to Zimbabwe’s market share in those markets decreasing, becoming a poor destination accessible to the tourism sector.
However, the report stated that since the development of the economic blueprint, Zimbabwe’s tourism sector managed “to record 1,8 million tourist arrivals, amounting to revenue of $870 million since October.

Analysts have noted the failure to achieve ZimAsset’s full implementation also stems from a lack of policies that are inclined towards investment, production and growth of the economy.

The effect of polices, regulations and laws was noted by a senior Reserve Bank official, Simon Nyarota, who said there were many that needed “to be modernised so that they can fit the current economic environment”.

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