Zanu-PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo has dismissed opposition criticism of the ruling party policies challenging them to produce alternative economic policies.
In an exclusive interview with Voice of America, Moyo attacked the opposition for not adding value to national development. “What are they doing themselves, are they not Zimbabweans, they should bring better polices forward.”
Opposition parties have been taking turns to blast the government of President Robert Mugabe for allegedly failing to turn around the economy.
ECONOMIC CRISIS WORSENS
His remarks come at a time the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has missed revenue collection targets for the first half of this year by 6%. ZIMRA collected US$1,66 billion against a target of US$1,76 billion.
In its latest revenue performance report, ZIMRA Board chairperson, Mrs. Willia Bonyongwe said liquidity constraints, company closures, retrenchments, limited credit lines and power shortages resulted in the authority failing to meet its target of US$1,76 billion.
Mining royalties also missed the half year target by 39% on the back of depressed international mineral prices. The mining royalties contributed $39,8 million against a target of $64,9 million, and were 65 percent down compared to the same period last year in which $112,6 million was collected.
The apex organization for industry in Zimbabwe, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry, says the country’s manufacturing capacity utilization – a measure of industry’s use of installed productive potential shows a decline in the sector compared to 2014.
The weighted capacity utilization has shed 2.2 percentage points from 36.5% to 34.3%. The constraints to capacity have remained the same since dollarization and listed as low domestic demand, capital constraints, antiquated machinery and machine breakdowns and competition from imports.
Despite what economists say is a slow down, Khaya-Moyo expressed faith in the government’s economic blue print programme the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset, 2013-2018). Zim-Asset pillars on four clusters of the economy, which include Food Security and Nutrition; Social Services and Poverty Eradication; Infrastructure and Utilities; and Value Addition and Beneficiation.
In a foreword to the economic blue print, President Mugabe said, “In pursuit of a new trajectory of accelerated economic growth and wealth creation, my government has formulated a new plan known as Zim Asset. Zim Asset was crafted to achieve sustainable development and social equity anchored on indigenization, empowerment and employment creation which will be largely propelled by the judicious exploitation of the country’s abundant human and natural resources.”
Asked if the plan was still relevant, Moyo said it is. “Yes, I think it’s going on well, we are doing a lot in agriculture, there is a lot going on in mining, a lot going on in various sectors of the economy. Maybe manufacturing, maybe there is a problem but the other clusters seem to be doing quite well of course we are not in charge of the rains, there is a looming drought which is will definitely affect some of the programmes, because the country is generally very dry.” The plan has missed most of its targets.
The policy document had outlined that the government would mobilize local resources to liquidate the $6,1 billion external debt but the debt though has ballooned.
Zim Asset reads in part, “ … During the plan period, the economy was projected to grow by an average of 7,3%. It is expected to grow by 3,4% in 2013, 6,1% in 2014 and continue on an upward growth trajectory to 9,9% by 2018.”
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) though sees Zimbabwe’s economy registering a modest growth of 2,7% from a forecast of 1,5% this year, discounting fears of a recession triggered by weakening commodities prices and poor rainfall patterns. Some economists also project a growth of less than 1%.
MUGABE 10 POINT PLAN
Mr. Mugabe in what some economists say is an admission that Zim Asset is struggling to meet targets proposed a ‘Ten Point’ plan, which he said will be used to maintain economic growth in particular the creation of jobs. The plan will be anchored on the agriculture sector and value addition and beneficiation.
In his maiden State of the Nation address since the adoption of the new constitution, President Mugabe said it was government’s priority to return the economy to sustained growth. He called upon the people of Zimbabwe “to believe in ourselves, to believe in our collective capacity to overcome adversity and challenges that confront us.”
President Mugabe also emphasized the importance of strengthening re-engagement with the international community.
But Mr. Mugabe’s cabinet is sharply divided about re-engagement. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Industry Minister Mike Bimha have called for re-engagement and even suggesting that Harare should consider revising its controversial Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act which compels foreigners to transfer 51% equity to locals in business ventures. This has been blamed for scaring away foreign investors.
But Indigenization Minister Patrick Zhuwao, who is Mr. Mugabe’s nephew, says government is not going to tolerate any debate on the economic empowerment law. "I am saying this to those who are dreaming and thinking after meeting with the white community at their embassies after being given some glasses of wine and start promising them that we will reverse it (indigenization). Who are you to reverse it?" said a visibly angry Zhuwao.
"This is a journey which was started by great leaders like the late Joshua Nkomo and President Robert Mugabe and it's not like appearing on television and attending conferences."
War Veterans Minister Chris Mutsvangwa recently also took a swipe at Chinamasa for working with the IMF. He was quoted by some media organizations as saying, “They (IMF) want to remove [President] Mugabe…they want [MDC-T leader Morgan] Tsvangirai to be at the helm. We have nothing to do with IMF because their agenda is removing war veterans from influential positions in government. They want security sector reform and they want Tsvangirai to be at the helm of the government.”
The policy discord in government is tied by political analysts to the wrangles in the party to succeed President Mugabe who at 91 is the world’s oldest head of state.
But Khaya-Moyo could not be drawn to comment on the divisions. “I cannot discuss that, it’s a cabinet matter, and if there are problems, they will be sorted out in cabinet.”
Pressed if the ruling Zanu-PF factionalism was not affecting government operations, Khaya Moyo only said, "I don’t know, maybe, maybe not… they (critics) should come up with the names, who are they (those causing factionalism), what is being affected, is it implementation of programmes?"
He was quick though that government has the capacity to correct any anomalies.
The infighting, fueled by fierce power struggles within Zanu PF to succeed Mr. Mugabe, is raging even after the ouster of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and several other party bigwigs on allegations of plotting to overthrow Mr. Mugabe.
Critics say there are allegedly about four factions in Zanu-PF, one that is backing Mr. Mugabe to continue at the helm, another linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa currently involved in close combat with the so-called Generation 40 or G40 led by the increasingly powerful first lady Grace Mugabe, the party’s Women’s League secretary for administration and another Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has also hinted he is in the race to succeed Mr. Mugabe.
Mnangagwa and Mphoko, who were both appointed VPs after the party’s controversial December congress, are alleged to be in a superiority tug of war.
Khaya Moyo blamed the economic problems on the issues of sanctions he claims were imposed on Harare by the European Union and Washington. “You know that our economy was tied to Britain and Europe as it were in terms of equipment, in terms of spare parts, and because of the sanctions we do not have these spare parts and the machinery went down, that are why we had to look East.” said Khaya Moyo.
The United States implemented the targeted sanctions program in 2003 as a result of the “actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons undermining democratic institutions and processes in Zimbabwe.”
The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economy Recovery Act (ZDERA) restricts the United States to vote in support of new assistance to Zimbabwe from international financial institutions (IFI’s), except for programs that meet basic human needs or promote democracy. Washington says, “It is important to understand, however, that Zimbabwe became ineligible for multilateral loans in 1999, well before ZDERA because it stopped repaying loans already owed to the IFIs.”
The European Union renewed for another year its sanctions against Zimbabwe, including a travel ban and asset freeze on President Mugabe and his wife.
In its official Journal, the EU said, "The restrictive measures should be renewed until Feb. 20, 2016," the notice read. "The application of the travel ban and asset freeze should be maintained for two persons.
"Since imposing sanctions in 2002 over electoral fraud and human rights abuses, the EU has eased measures to encourage political reform in Zimbabwe.
Khaya Moyo also said government was investing heavily in agriculture to revive the economy. “You know we just bought tractors from Brazil, you know that a lot of fertilizer companies have been assisted; farmers who had not been paid have been paid for their last season’s crop. But like I said, the main issue is the rain, we can do what we can with irrigation, while we can but certainly it’s not an easy challenge.”
But first Lady Grace Mugabe, and other senior party officials are under fire for allegedly abusing for political gain the publicly underwritten US$98 million agricultural equipment loan facility, extended to Harare by Brasilia under the Zimbabwe-Brazil More Food for Africa Programme, by making partisan donations at Zanu-PF rallies organized using state resources. Asked about the alleged anomaly in parliament Mnangagwa said, "The First Lady has not donated anything but she is just handing over equipment as identified by the ministry of agriculture (under Joseph Made).
"Government has identified a minimum of eight irrigation schemes in each province and equipment from the first phase of the Brazil project from which we are receiving equipment has been duly allocated," Mnangagwa said.