EDITORIAL COMMENT: Political will needed

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), together with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, last week held a roundtable discussion at the conclusion of IMF discussions on the 2016 Article IV Consultations and the third and final review of a 15-month Staff-Monitored Programme (SMP) approved by IMF management in October 2014. The IMF team was led by Domenico Fanizza, who was among panellists at the roundtable discussion.
The attendance, even though limited to selected guests, was overwhelming and demonstrated the desire by Zimbabweans as well as external stakeholders, who included diplomats from various countries, for the crisis-torn country to turn the corner and prosper again.
Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, was visibly excited. The IMF team had been surprised by the fact that Zimbabwe was far ahead of what was expected of it in terms of implementation of the SMP, he said. The team had told the minister: “You don’t publicise your achievements.”
It was interesting to hear the minister say that an international financial institution had now started the process to fund government in the recruitment of a communications expert to help “publicise government’s achievements”. But does the country need this?
We are happy to know that Zimbabwe is progressing positively in terms of the assessment done by the IMF team, but we believe any meaningful achievements government will make, to take this country out of its current crisis, would require no spin-doctor for everyone to see.
The statistics that the IMF team assessed during their visit are inconsequential to a starving nation desperate for food on the table. While they are an integral part of the transformation process required to take Zimbabwe out of its current circumstances, they are meaningless as long as the visible measures of unemployment, company closures and job losses continue to buffet the economy against the backdrop of increasing factional fights within the ruling party and its government. As the IMF team noted in its report at the conclusion of its visit, economic difficulties have deepened, and indications point to worsening circumstances. The El Niño-induced drought will this year remain the biggest threat to the economy, and this will partner with low commodity prices on international markets to wreak havoc on the country’s fortunes. The appreciation of the US dollar, an anchor currency under the country’s multiple currency economy adopted to escape a hyperinflationary crisis that had ravaged the domestic currency, has been cited by the IMF as compounding the country’s difficulties.
Yet there are no tangible policies to deal with this. International donors, predominantly from countries we consider unfriendly, have stepped in to assist. But our so-called all-weather friends are watching from a distance. In fact, their companies may have been among those that looted our diamonds at Chiadzwa, where President Robert Mugabe said we lost US$15 billion as a country.
How much could that have meant to our empty coffers?
We believe it does not take statistical compilations to deal with the crisis our country is currently facing, but rather political commitment. Once that is established, Zimbabwe will prosper once again.

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