11. September 2014

ZANU-PF takes eyes off economy

President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF has taken its eyes off the troubles afflicting the country’s economy, as party officials increasingly become occupied with angling for high office at the upcoming elective congress in December.  The promises made in the run-up to last year’s election such as job creation and empowerment of the poor seem to have been abandoned, as the party undergoes its most vicious cycle of infighting and mudslinging.
Only President Mugabe who has been at the helm of the party for close to four decades is safe from a challenge at the December congress, with everyone else in the party structures being fair game.  The ground appears to be shifting even for Vice-President Joice Mujuru, whom senior party officials have indicated could also face a challenge for her position in the presidium.

Simon Khaya-Moyo, long tipped to be a sure-in for the vacant second VP post now appears also to be an uncertain choice, as former ZAPU officials such as Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu and Kembo Mohadi crop out of the woodwork and have expressed their interest in joining the race. The agenda for the Politburo meetings, which have been held in recent weeks, are a pointer to how the December congress is giving sleepless nights and headaches to the party.
In some cases, Politburo meetings have stretched into the night, with deliberations going on for up to 10 hours on end, as the party̓s highest decision-making body outside congress, deliberates on the political on-goings in the revolutionary party.  Political observers said the agenda of the Politburo meetings was a clue of what was occupying the ruling party the most, even though in public it has put on a brave face and pretended to be concerned with the economic meltdown.
John Mangudya, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, is the second State bureaucrat after Gershem Pasi, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority commissioner to have raised the alarm bell on the state of the economy.  Pasi warned earlier this year that the economy was in the doldrums while Mangudya, in his maiden monetary policy statement issued last month, warned that foreign direct investment had plunged by 59 percent in the first half of the year. Yet his assessment and warnings seemed not to have taken any skin off the noses of the powers-that-be.

It was business as usual when the ZANU-PF Politburo met recently. The latest Politburo meeting which took 10 hours, endorsed the outcome of the Youth and Women’s League Conferences held in August.  The Financial Gazette understands that there was an incredible amount of bickering with tempers rising as members of the Politburo argued, challenged and disputed claims back on forth along factional lines.

Political analyst, Charles Mangongera, said there was no way the economy would be a priority of the ZANU-PF government until after the December congress. “Even after the congress, I do not see how the issue of the ailing economy is going to be resolved. The brutal reality is that as long as President Mugabe is there, we are not going to see any serious capital inflows. I think serious investors are looking at a post-President Mugabe Zimbabwe for them to jump in,” said Mangongera.

Political commentator, Allen Hungwe, said the ruling party had taken its eyes off the economy, with whatever little attention was being paid to the economy primarily focused on how to leverage one faction against the other. “The economy is no longer seen as a priority but a ‘political football’ instrument. It’s a ‘political football’ instrument in a game where the outcome is not about national recovery but rather about scoring to leverage internal factions in ZANU-PF,” said Hungwe.

A week-long trip to Beijing by President Mugabe and several senior government officials has failed to yield the funding and turnaround for the economy which was earlier anticipated — leaving Harare to fend for itself.  The government requires US$27 billion, which it does not have, to implement its economic blueprint — the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.

Patrick Chinamasa, the Finance Minister, who was one of the key negotiators of the China trip, told Parliament last week that no funding had been unlocked from the Chinese government.  “What we have been able to achieve was serious engagement with the Chinese authorities. We got a commitment from the highest authority to fund bankable and viable projects,” said Chinamasa.

“China does not give budgetary support to any country. It is interested in giving infrastructural support. We came back with commitment that they are prepared to fund bankable projects.” With a new ZANU-PF leadership expected to emerge in December, there won’t be reason to celebrate its win – with an in-tray of the economic troubles likely to put an abrupt end to the merry-making. (Financial Gazette, Harare)

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