By Patricia Mudadigwa
The year 2015 was an extremely challenging and difficult year for most Zimbabweans, panelists at a public meeting called by the Mass Public Opinion Institute agreed Thursday evening.
The formal economy has continued to nose-dive with intra and inter-party violence dominating the political front, much to the chagrin of the ordinary person.
The year has indeed been difficult with prospects for 2016 looking gloom as the government struggles to find solutions to the country's problems, according to the panelists at the MPOI meeting titled; "The Ups and downs of 2015 and a prognosis for 2016".
Takura Zhangazha, an independent analyst, told the meeting that above all the other challenges faced during the year, the failure by the government to cater for young people could be described as the gravest mistake ever as youths in other African countries like Kenya seemed to be sprinting ahead.
“Political parties, the government and even private organisations have abandoned the concerns of young people who are trying to leave the country en-masse and involved in illicit operations such as drug abuse,” he said.
“Until we start concentrating on young people's key concerns we will not progress as a country.”
Zhangazha said the failure by the government to address issues of climate change also spells doom for Zimbabweans who depend on an agro-based economy.
“We have not taken climate change issues as seriously as we should” he said. “We should have put a minister of climate change in the cabinet to help tackle issues of drought which are now more regular than before, pollution and Kariba going dry amongst other things are key national issues that affect livelihoods. The current government doesn't take these issues seriously.”
For Movement for Democratic Change spokesperson, Obert Gutu, the budget presented Thursday by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa signified all that was wrong with Zimbabwe.
“This is a Mickey Mouse budget because we are talking of a $4 billion budget in an economy we would be easily talking about $100 or$ 150 billion budget if the country was properly run,” he said.
“You are talking about a budget that is less than the budget of pick and pay group of companies in South Africa. We are talking about a budget that has been on $4 billion for the past three or four years.”
He continued: “We are talking of an economy that is contracting, that has grown by 1.5 % for the entire period of 2015 which is a very small growth rate when you compare to the regional average”
For Gutu, 2016 will be another difficult year for Zimbabweans.
“This economy is in a serious deflation mode and unless something is done urgently we are heading for a crisis again in 2016,” he said.
However, for Jacob Mafume, the spokesperson for People's Democratic Party, PDP, while 2015 was bad it also had its own positives.
“We had positives from the Constitutional Court which we can celebrate about,” said Mafume.
“We had the striking down of Section 121 which was used against activists a lot by the prosecution when an activist is granted bail. Section 121 would be invoked to revoke bail.”
“Some insult laws on the president were removed from the statutes which was a positive development and also the law that was used against women unaccompanied at night by the police to detain them was also taken away by the supreme court.”
With the national blueprint - the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Social and Economic Transformation (ZimAsset), so far failing to create the 2.2 million jobs promised by President Robert Mugabe during the 2013 elections, the panelists were agreed that it may take time for Zimbabwe to get back to the good old times where everyone looked forward to the end of the year and the beginning of a new one.