News Column

Zimasset - Zanu-PF Gropes in the Dark for Funds

May 16, 2014

Stewart Chabwinja



IT must have come as news to Zimbabweans aware of the parlous nature of the state coffers and government's failure to lure investors that implementation of the country's latest economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), is actually well under way.

On Tuesday it was reported Zanu PF's politburo had been briefed that not only was ZimAsset gaining traction, but its implementation was progressing "well" with several projects "already at various stages of progression as government revives the sanctions-battered economy".

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa is said to have cited projects worth hundreds of millions in US dollars being undertaken, but details were sketchy.

No doubt the continued slide of the economy, especially since Zanu PF secured a parliamentary majority in last year's general elections, has injected a sense of urgency, if not downright panic, in government to fix the perennially troubled economy.

Government is, among other much-publicised measures, busy trying to bring transparency to the diamond industry which had become something of the mining sector's underworld; revisiting indigenisation laws blamed for repelling investment; passing the begging bowl around as it seeks foreign funds to ease a swingeing liquidity crunch while proposing to offer tax incentives to foreign investors willing to invest in firms requiring a huge capital injection have started.

"A special package of incentives is set to lure investors and help revive the country's ailing firms, which are at the heart of the new economic blueprint," Finance deputy minister Samuel Undenge said this week.

Such has been the ZimAsset blitz over the past few weeks that Vice-President Joice Mujuru simplistically likened the economic programme to the war of liberation that was won "against all odds".

For all it's worth, Mujuru might as well have said ZimAsset would succeed because Zanu PF won the elections, but then again as the opposition often says the ruling party can rig elections, not the economy.

Clearly, ostensibly guided by ZimAsset, government has its sleeves rolled high up for the task of repairing a once robust economy, which critics say it wrecked in the first instance, but currently it simply does not have the tools of the trade to fix it, so to speak.

Industry minister Mike Bimha cut through the shrill ZimAsset hyperbole by pointing out a basic fact: Zimbabwe simply does not have the funds to implement the five-year economic blueprint which requires US$27 billion, a staggering amount for an economy whose budget for 2014 is US$4,2 billion.

Government is facing a policy implementation crisis and needs a financial bailout for ZimAsset, Bimha pleaded at a Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce function last week.

"Government has spent time and resources planning the ZimAsset, but will not be able to implement this scheme on its own," he said.

What's more, he warned that if private players did not chip in, ZimAsset is going nowhere.

No matter how thick and fast the ZimAsset rhetoric comes, it's dead in the water without funding.


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Source: AllAfrica


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