The State of the Economy Address (SEA) and the MDC Alliance’s post COVID-19 pandemic recovery plan: Restoring and Returning Zimbabwe back to prosperity

Introduction

Zimbabwe’s economy remains mired in a deep structural crises, that includes humungous macroeconomic imbalances, huge fiscal deficits, massive corruption, low output, an extractive monetary policy and exchange rate structure, massive unemployment and a collapse of the public sector particularly health and education.

Save for a few periodic moments of respite, the Zimbabwean economy has remained permanently embedded in this dark vortex of underperformance, disequilibrium and devaluation in its four decades of independence.

Despite this, the regime has embarked on a self-serving agenda of distortion and deceit, promoting the hollow sound bite of stability and recovery that is not backed by economic data or reality.

Zealous claims have been made about stabilizing exchange rate, positive current account, contained money supply, declining month on month inflation and budget surpluses.

The truth however is that Zimbabwe is sinking deeper in unimaginable depths.

No amount of propaganda nor spin can wash away the hard reality on the ground.

As we have constantly argued one can rig an election but not the economy.

The truth is unless there is political change and a new leadership, Zimbabwe under ZANU PF, will implode as economic and social

decay transforms into social disorder and social chaos oiled by the triplets of illegitimacy, corruption and inequality.

A situation that is compounded by a rising population level. By 2045, Zimbabwe’s population would have doubled and in the next 40 years the population in Zimbabwe’s cities Bulawayo and Harare will double up, yet there is no growth in the economy.

On the contrary, thanks to Emmerson Mnangagwa’s economics of destruction and distortion, the economy is in fact in comatose, leaving the citizen exposed to poverty and social collapse. Proving once more that you can rig an election but not the economy.

In this this State of the Economy Review, we posit the position that the economic situation is dire and requires urgent redress, it cannot be business as usual.

We make the point that the people of Zimbabwe must be given a chance through a political settlement giving birth to an economic program addressing structural challenges.

The Political Crisis

At the epicentre of Zimbabwe’s multiple crises remains a political gridlock anchored by a crisis of legitimacy emanating from the November 2017 military coup and the flawed 2018 harmonized election. The four decades of destructive predatory and exclusive politics have created a society captured by lack of trust, alienation, indifference, intolerance and polarization. In January 2020, the South African Foreign Relations Minister Naled Pandor addressing a symposium on the Zimbabwe crisis said,

“The political formations in Zimbabwe remain at loggerheads and have apparent deep antipathy towards each other which makes joint decision-making and planning extremely difficult.

“It seems clear that even as we support the call for an end to economic sanctions, the political dynamics that we observe are

inextricably linked to the economic solutions and thus the politics and the economic as well as the social need to be confronted simultaneously.

“We are not going to achieve the economic resolution without resolving the political, intractable hostility and lack of amity or social conjoining on finding a national solution.”

Zimbabwe therefore urgently requires a new disruptive consensus. One that recognises the urgency of the matter. One that places the citizen at the centre. A transformative Consensus that will vindicate and salvage hitherto stretched and exhausted narratives, namely the liberation consensus and the democratisation consensus. One that will create an ethical, consultative and consensus state in which everyone lives without fear, and uncertainty.

Restoring and returning back to prosperity

In short, we push, for the restoration and return of Zimbabwe to prosperity. Our people have suffered long enough.

This is why at the beginning of the year we launched our high five campaigns all focused on returning Zimbabwe to prosperity. These were:

Fight for the People’s Government

  1. Fight for better life and dignity
  2. Fight Against Corruption
  3. Fight for the People’s rights ,Freedoms and Security of Persons
  4. Fight in Defence of the Constitution and Constitutionalism

In our document launched in March 2019, the Road to Economic Recovery Legitimacy Openness and Democracy (RELOAD), we make the case for dialogue, for deep structural reform, and implementation mechanism (NTA), with elections to be held therein after.

Eighteen months later, we remain convinced that only deep structural reforms implemented by an NTA can save Zimbabwe.

Humanitarian situation

The humanitarian crisis is a crisis of leadership. One which has left at least half of Zimbabwe’s population requiring food assistance. The World Food Program (WFP) projects that the number of Zimbabweans facing food insecurity could reach 8.6 million by the end of 2020 and this is estimated to be 60 percent of the total population. Maize production in Zimbabwe will likely drop by 57% due to poor rainfall and worsening economic challenges – the country will produce

    1. million tons of maize in 2020 compared to 2.443million tons last year, and this will be the highest decrease (57%) in maize production among SADC Member States in 2020.The decline in maize production in Zimbabwe is in contrast to the rest of the Southern Africa region where the 2020 maize harvest is expected to increase by at least 8% from last year.

Years and years of lack of investment and in some cases disinvestment from social capital in the form of public health, institutions, water and sanitation systems, food and nutrition has left Zimbabwe vulnerable, fragile and incapable of resisting the slightest threat to its wellbeing. Thus, on a regular basis, diseases such as cholera, typhoid and malaria continuous embarrass the state and its lack of preparedness. In this situation of fragility, natural disasters such as Cyclone Idai, which affected the eastern side of the country, grossly exposed the country. Over and above this, erratic rains, have created an excuse for authorities who have diverted huge amounts of money that were siphoned off under an agricultural support scheme known as command agriculture.

Effectively since 2017, Zimbabwe has been trapped in vicious humanitarian crisis. Our greatest fear is that with global warming, climate change, lack of disaster preparedness the lack of resistance and increasing fragility like Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia and South Sudan have become permanent and perennial basket cases.

COVID-19

COVID-19 has become a global pandemic that has unleashed an unprecedented human toll and disruption of the social economic well-being of mankind in ways not seen in recent times.

The rapid spread of the virus has exposed governments and states throughout the world irrespective of the size nor income status of the state. In Sub Saharan Africa, the pandemic is affecting a heavy human toll as well as an economic meltdown that will definitely guarantee that almost all its economies will slide into a recession.

The IMF’s October 2020 Regional Economic Outlook projects that, thanks to COVID-19, growth in Sub Saharan Africa is projected at 3 percent.

The pandemic has exposed the crisis of leadership in Zimbabwe. At the commencement of the crisis, Zimbabwe had one isolation centre, the Wilkins Hospital owned by the local authority, with less than 50 beds. Further, in a country of more than 16 million, Zimbabwe had less than 6 ventilators that were working.

It took the government weeks before COVID-19 was declared a national pandemic in terms of the public health act. It took further weeks for government before social distancing regulations were introduced.

By end of 30 April 2020, a mere 8 314 screening and diagnostic tests had been done out of a population of 14 million out of population of over 16 million with 34 infected and 4 deaths. Despite the undertaking to release ZW$600 million for social safety nets that money had not been released although a ZW$18 billion response package was announced. There was no clarity over its funding.

In short, the response of the Zimbabwean government has been found wanting. The state has failed to conduct mass testing and isolation which is so essential in flattening the curve. In addition, the state has failed to put any resources in combating the pandemic. The lockdown regulations have failed to have a significant impact given the high number of unemployed working people who fend for themselves in the informal sector and have had to go out of their houses to fend for a living.

A November 2020 Price and Income Survey (PICES) conducted by ZIMSTAT which monitored the social impact of COVID-19 makes shocking finding. We reproduced herein disturbing extracts of this important ZIMSTATS survey.1

      • Less than half of the children who were in school before the COVID-19 pandemic engaged in distance learning following school closure. In rural areas, only one quarter of children engaged in distance learning, while in urban areas this proportion was 70 percent. The most common means for distance learning was through parental assignments. The use of mobile learning applications was common only in urban areas.
      • There was a considerable fall in household income since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as 90 percent of households that operated a non-farm business reported a drop in revenue. About 44 percent of wage workers reported a reduction or disappearance of wages. This affected urban areas in particular as the proportion of people working for a wage or operating a non-farm business was higher in urban areas than in rural areas.
      • Employment dropped, as one fifth of the respondents working before the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions lost their jobs. This affected both urban and rural areas and job

1 www.zimstat.co.zw/wp-­‐content/uploads/publications/Income/Finance/Final_Rapid_PICES_Report_Round_1.pdf

losses were particularly severe in the retail and other service sectors.

At the same time, there has been gross abuse of human rights by security agents enforcing the lockdown regulations. The High Court of Zimbabwe had to issue an order restraining the policy against the unlawful extra-legal means employed in enforcing the lockdown.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the Zimbabwean government and emphasises why as a matter of urgency we must restore and return Zimbabwe back to prosperity.

Economy

General

The Zimbabwean economy is in an unprecedented tailspin suffering from massive headwinds across all sectors of the economy. In 2019, the economy contracted by a massive -12.5 percent according to the Economic Intelligence Unit. In a shocking letter, to heads of international financial institutions dated 2 April 2020 the current Minister of Finance projected a negative growth of -20 percent. In that same letter, the Minister confessed that the economy was near to collapse and that an implosion was inevitable unless there was a major bailout from the international community. This confirms what everyone knew.

Fig 1 GDP, Inflation Graph

2016 to 2020

In its Staff Report for the 2019 Article IV Consultation, published on 3 April 2020, the usually placid and complicit IMF was scathing in its exposure of Zimbabwe. They wrote as follows;

Zimbabwe is experiencing an economic and humanitarian crisis. High fiscal deficits financed by RBZ money creation resulted in severe macroeconomic imbalances and market distortions. The government that came to office following the 2018 elections adopted an agenda focused on macro stabilization and reforms. This was supported by a Staff Monitored Program, adopted in May 2019, but is now off-track as policy implementation has been mixed: progress on fiscal reforms was overshadowed by costly missteps on monetary and FX market reforms. Climate shocks have crippled agriculture and electricity generation and magnified the social impacts of the fiscal retrenchment and currency reform, leaving more than half of the population food insecure. Protracted external arrears constrain access to external official support, while additional commercial borrowing has worsened the debt overhang and likely complicated discussions on debt resolution.

With another poor harvest expected, growth in 2020 is projected at near zero, following a sharp contraction in 2019,

with food shortages continuing. With no progress on clearing longstanding external arrears, the authorities face a difficult balance of pursuing tight monetary, to reduce very high inflation, and fiscal policies to address the macroeconomic imbalances and build confidence in the currency, while averting a crisis.

The above IMF’s Staff Report of 2020 was effectively a death knell for any meaningful reengagement between Zimbabwe and the IFIs. For all intends and purposes, the Fund and everyone else has effectively written off Zimbabwe as a Pariah State, incapable of reform. No wonder why the Staff Monitored Program is dead and there are no prospects in the short term for any new program.

Return of depression economics

Zimbabwe’s economy is cyclical and prone to these cycles of slumps and booms. Since 2013, the economy has been in a recession that is fast tracking itself into an economic depression.

Fig 2 below illustrates this.

Given the cyclical nature of Zimbabwe’s economy, any long-term economic strategy by any serious government must focus on creating permanent anti cyclical buffers. In our respectful view, Zimbabwe must develop and industrialize as a matter of urgency.

In this regard, altering an accumulation model based on extraction will be key. This entails value addition and beneficiation of the country’s huge commodity base, particularly iron, platinum, phosphates, chrome, nickel, gold, zinc and diamonds.

Altering the accumulation model must also apply to Zimbabwe’s agriculture where for instance 90 percent of its core cash crop tobacco is still exported in its raw form. Altering the accumulation model, will help deal fundamentally with structural challenge of Zimbabwe’s dual enclave economy.

Zimbabwe’s underdevelopment is a macrocosm of embedded economic dualism, a bi product of the uneven and unequal nature of colonial capitalism.

Zimbabwe thus remains a low resource absorptive economy emanating from the structural legacy of economic dualism which in turn explains the vicious cycle of perpetual underemployment that afflicts the majority of the labour force.

Productivity and employment

Thus, in our view as the MDC Alliance, to break the procyclical nature of the Zimbabwean economy is synonymous with breaking down the dual economy.

This is why in our celebrated economic blueprint SMART; we spoke of

DURA being the Development and Urbanization of Rural Areas.

Stripped to its bear bones, DURA is a developmental state model in which the state plays a pro active role of integrating the rural and/or nonformal economy into the mainstream economy. Thus, allowing the majority of the labour force to be in productive active.

In our policy document SMART, the MDC Alliance outlined its jobs plan. That plan is focused on three issues that are critical for the development of Zimbabwe through the medium of employment creation and industrialization. In SMART we emphasize three things (i) improving the share of the formal segment and total employment (ii) increasing output per worker in the non-formal segment (iii) reducing the unemployment rate.

The biggest fallacy of the Mnangagwa’s Transitional Stabilization Program and indeed of Mnangagwanomics is that in addition to being shallow and extractive, it fails to recognize that the economy at the end of the day is about employment and productivity. That jobs, are ultimately the nexus between growth and development. With an unemployment rate of 95 percent Mnangagwanomics has been a failure. A failure in absolute terms.

Inflation

The mismanagement of monetary policy, the creation of money by the RBZ, an expansionary fiscal policy and the creation of treasury bills have all contributed to the return of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s rate of inflation standing officially at 759 percent in August 2020, the second highest in the world.

Inflation developments

Fig 3

We expect inflation pressures to remain high, arising from the high import bill particularly around the festive season, distortions in the foreign exchange market and massive increases in the cost of government regulated utility prices which includes electricity, tolls and licences and local authority fees.

Inflation needs to be addressed by a cocktail of measures which include fiscal consolidation, macroeconomic stability and proscription of the Reserve Bank’s rogue money printing activities.

Having gone through the sludge of inflation in 2008 it is not acceptable that the present government has allowed hyperinflation to bounce back, the current situation is an indictment against the present regime.

Comparative Inflation Analysis

Fig 4

Regrettably, Zimbabwe retains the highest inflation figure in Africa way above Sudan Congo and Angola which stood 166, 28.7 percent and 26.8 percent in August 2020.

Poverty Datum Line

The Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) for an average of 5 persons, has rebutted any claims by the authorities of a decline in month on inflation.

In October 2020 the TCPL for an average family of five stood at ZWL$ 18 750, a 4, 4 percent increase from the September figures of ZWL$

17 957.

Table 1

Monetary policy and exchange rate

Money Supply

Over the years, the regime’s failure to contain money supply, has created huge distortions in the economy.

In the second half of 2019, reserve money shot sharply to reach an estimated ZWL 9 billion compared to 3.3 billion in June of the same year.

For the period June 2019-June 2020, money supply grew by 575.9 percent from ZWL $14.7 billion to ZWL $98.82 billion.

The increase in money supply is underpinned largely by unregulated quasi fiscal activities by a rogue and captured Central Bank that has effectively been running a parallel treasury.

It is also a reflection of corruption and massive leakages in the system.

For instance, in July 2019 the RBZ discounted, a US 300-million-dollar denominated Treasury bill held by Kuda Tagwirei’s Sakunda Holdings at below market rates thereby fuelling parallel market activity and a sharp decline in the official exchange rate.

The introduction in September for an export incentive for gold purchases increased the reserve money by ZWL 400 million per month.

With Pfumbudza, Command Agriculture and internal fissures, we expect reserve money to increase further thereby pushing inflation pressures.

De-dollarisation and the impact of SI 33/2019

In February 2019 through SI 33 of 2019, the government introduced the Zimbabwe dollars. The sudden introduction of the Zim dollar was irrational. As the MDC Alliance we said it is not possible to issue a currency and expect that currency to survive without attending to the fundamentals. We have been proved right. In February 2019, the Zimbabwean dollar was introduced at the rate of ZWL$$2.5:USD1. Within a few months, the open market rate was ZWL$$100:USD1.

Impact on wages

The consequences on wages, savings and investments was dramatic. In real terms therefore, workers and pensioners found themselves in a negative territory. It is cheaper for a worker to stay at home than to go to work. This is effectively what public sector workers have done, in particular doctors, nurses and teachers who have consistently withdrawn their labour in the last 6 months.

The government’s real wage bill which had increased from 42 percent to 85 percent of total revenue between 2010 and 2015 collapsed to less than 40 percent of total expenditure by 2019.

An average teacher earning US 500 per month has lost 85 percent of his real wage.

Consequently, the wage bill as a percentage of revenue has declined from 90 percent in 2017 to 37 percent in 2019.

Fig 5

Impact on the banking sector

SI33/2019 and its forced conversion of banking assets and liabilities to the RTGS dollar at the artificial exchange rate of 1:1 to the USD was an unconstitutional exercise breaching the country’s property provision in the Constitution.

The capital base of Zimbabwe’s commercial banks was also destroyed. The majority of the banks suddenly found themselves with negative balance sheets resulting in the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe allowing creative methods of capitalization such as land. This iniquitous position resulted in the MetBank becoming the biggest bank in Zimbabwe in balance sheet terms.

Banking sector assets dramatically wilted from 58 percent in 2018 to 24 percent of GDP in 2019

Bank deposits of USD 6 billion dollars wilted to ZWL 6 billion or USD 1.2 billion dollars as shown in fig 6 below.

Fig 6

Impact on Pensions

According to the Justice Smith Commission inquiry into the loss of value in the pensions and insurance sector from 2006 to 2009 presented in April 2017, pensioners lost USD 5, 5 billion dollars due to hyperinflation and the government’s mismanagement of the economy during the meltdown years of 1999 to 2005.

The insurance industry from 2009 slowly rebuilt its assets back to its original pre-2006 levels ,however thanks to the impact of SI33/2019, experts in the insurance industry claim that insurance and pension fund assets were suddenly reduced to a mere USD1.2 billion by the end of June 2020. Of that liquid assets amounted to a mere USD20 million.

The Pensions and Insurance Industry has suffered 2 serious Tsunamis in under 10 years. Billions of dollars were destroyed by hyperinflation, weak regulatory framework and corporate greed by insurance houses in particular Old Mutual and First Mutual Life.

Billions of dollars have now been lost in 2019 through currency and exchange manipulation done through the vehicle of SI33 OF 2019.

Restoring and returning Zimbabwe back to prosperity requires justice for those who lost their value in 2008 and 2019.

We propose therefore the repeal of SI33 of 2019,SI142 OF 2019 and the Finance Act number 2 of 2019. In short, we propose the redollarization of the economy in the immediate short term. In the mid-term, Zimbabwe has no choice but to join the Rand Monetary Union.

The Dutch Foreign Exchange Auction System

In June of 2020, the Reserve Bank Governor introduced the Dutch Foreign Exchange Auction System. The first rate was set at ZWL$$57:USD1. It has since settled at around ZWL$$82:USD1. The following graphs show the rate movements.

Rand versus USD Exchange Rate

Fig 7

ZWL$$$ performance

Fig 8 (Source MDC Alliance Research)

Fig 9

Fig 10

Zimbabwe’s foreign exchange auction system is a rigged one. Despite the fact that Zimbabwe’s economy is a small fractured economy not comparable to that of South Africa, India, China or the European Union. The exchange rate has remained flat with auction rates floating between ZWL$$79 AND ZWL$$82. Yet the USD relationship with stronger currencies Rand, Pula, Rupee, Renminbi, Euro and the Pound have been more volatile for the same period, June to November 2020.

An auction system presupposes an open market both in respect of supply and demand. This is not the case in Zimbabwe. On the supply side, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is the sole supplier of the foreign exchange supplied to the market, therefore it has the capacity to fix a price as it has infact been doing. It is therefore not an auction system but a fixed exchange rate system.

Secondly, the bulk purchasers remain the same, consistently since the auction floor was introduced. The market has been dominated by not more that 20 companies who are traditional beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s patronage system, this include companies in the fuel sector such as Sakunda and Trafigura, companies in the fertilizer industry such as FSG, companies in the food industries in particular the Innscor Group.

Another characteristic of an auction is transparency and openness. There is transparency on both supply and demand and the public can determine a weighted average. Mnangagwa’s auction system is opaque. There is no science at all in how the weighted average is arrived at. The auction system is thus a fraud, a cheap illusion by an incompetent delusional regime.

In our view, the auction system needs to be scrapped, multiple currencies need to be restored, export surrender requirements need to be scrapped, productivity needs to be increased, structural reforms need to be carried out. Anything else is fiction.

Debunking the myths

Failed regimes survive on capture, cohesion and corruption. They also survive on deceit, distraction, delay and deflect.

Failed regimes are not accountable. Failed regimes have no elasticity. No remorse. No scruples. No conscience.

Mnangagwa’s regime is no exception. Lacking output and input legitimacy, Mnangagwa’s regime is at the cutting edge of the false agenda of deceit, distraction, deflection and destroy. In the past few weeks, it has gone into overdrive in preaching the false gospel of economic stability and turn around. In the same breath it has gone into overdrive in hiding its failures and weaknesses under another false gospel of sanctions.

The sanctions mantra has become an overblown excuse for failure and justification of an excesses and illegalities including violence, the closure of political spaces.

On the economic front four myths have been propagated which we shall debunk. These are;

  1. The myth of exchange rate stability
  2. Low inflation
  3. Surplus and balancing of books
  4. Attainment of TSP targets

The myth of exchange rate stability

We have largely dealt with this above.

A system where a captured Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe supplies foreign currency to its chosen cronies can not be described as an auction. There is a real market for foreign exchange out there and it is not John Mangudya’s auction system. To date the weekly supply of foreign exchange to the auction system has been about USD18 million. At this average, it means that foreign currency supply to December 2020 will be USD468 million.

In a 12 month cycle, the total supply by the auction will USD936 million. Yet the country’s imports exceed USD7 billion consisting mainly of fuel USD$2.5 billion, electricity USD1 billion, drugs USD1 billion, agricultural imports USD1 billion, food and others USD1 billion.

The above imports are not being funded by Mangudya’s paltry auction amounts. There is therefore a huge informal foreign exchange market that consist of the following (i) diaspora remittances (ii) gray imports (iii) bilateral offshore transfers and trading (iv)the black market (Fourth Street Market and Espathileni)

It is a question of time before the rigged exchange rate itself cracks due to both supply side and demand side pressures.

On the supply side it is unsustainable to keep on borrowing form the Afrexim Bank to sustain the auction system.

On the demand side demand for foreign currency will increase to finance fuel, electricity, drugs and other consumer needs.

The rate will implode again and Zimbabwe will be back to squre zero

Restoring and Returning Zimbabwe to prosperity therefore requires a permanent and lasting solution on the exchange rate.

The myth of low inflation

Inflation is high and extremely high.

The data capturing inflation fails to recognize that there are essentially four economies out there. First, is the formal Zimbabwean dollar economy which is measuring inflation, secondly the formal USD economy, third the informal USD cash economy where the bulk of domestic transactions are, and fourth the mobile money economy greatly curtailed after the banning of bulk mobile money transfers and the systematic attack on the Ecocash system.

The figures of inflation becomes one of smokes and mirrors. In its quarterly economic brief for October 2020, Imara Asset Management described the situation in the following terms.

It has become increasingly difficult to analyze the economy by researching the numbers. The same can be said for corporate accounts where hyperinflationary accounting further muddies the picture. Part of our problem is knowing which numbers to trust and believe. The numbers published may not be incorrect but they may not tell the whole story. At the same time, the economic authorities appear to have embarked on a media blitz highlighting that the new auction system has been a huge success and has brought the required stability to prices and the exchange rate. Government statistics have presumably been delayed in their publication by COVID-19; we have only just received the July Monthly Economic Review from the RBZ. This highlights the ZWL$$ economy. Missing from economic data is the growing US dollar cash economy. Therein lies the crux of the issue, there is an informal USD cash economy, an official USD economy and an official ZWL$$ economy! To focus on one, will not provide us with the entire picture.

Like the ZANU PF government itself, low inflation is a myth.

In November 2020 alone, there were massive increases in regulated statutory prices including electricity, passport fees, vehicle licensing fees and toll fees.

Furthermore as pointed out above, the TCPL is increasing and increasing firmly thus debunking the myth.

To put it graphically, anyone claiming declining inflation cannot make that claim in Mbare, Makokoba, Dotito and Nkayi.

The myth of surplus and balancing books

The regime has consistently claimed surpluses. In its mid term budget review presented in July 2020 it claimed a surplus of ZWL$$888 million. It its 2021 Pre-Budget Strategy Paper it claimed that the fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP declined from -10.5 percent in 2017 to a surplus in 2019 and with a balance in 2020.

Fig 11

It argues that fiscal consolidation was achieved to the 2 percent IMTT, rationalizing expenditure, containing excessive borrowing and scrapping subsidies, The truth of the matter is the regime was able to eliminate its domestic debt, its huge wage bill, its huge deficits through the unlawful and illegal devaluation of the currency effected by SI 33 of 2020.

However, the truth of the matter is that government expenditure, total government expenditure up to July 2020 amount to ZWL $ 46.47 billion against a target of ZWL $38.5 billion

Cumulative revenue ZWL $46.47 billion dollars, resulting in a cumulative budget deficit ZWL $549.96 million.

The Ministry of Finance itself in its 2021 Budget Strategy Paper, anticipates a budget deficit of 1.4 percent of GDP.

Even on their own figures, there is no surplus to talk about.

In a stroke of a pen, the redollarization process wiped out the government’s USD excesses. However, financial disingenuousness and financial fraud is not the same as structural reform.

As a matter of fact, excess expenditure is still being incurred but s hid through hyper inflation and the ongoing rogue activities of the central bank.

Furthermore, one cannot claim a surplus arising out underfunding the budget. As of September 2020, the 2020 budget had only been 30 percent funded, with all ministries affected. Ministries are complaining of underfunding serve the OPC.

It is a crime to claim surplus when mothers and babies are dying, when teachers and health workers have not been at work for six months and social safety nets is insufficient.

Myth of TSP targets

Table 2 shows the following TSP targets and projections

Table 2(Source TSP)

A cursory study of the above figures, show that the TSP failed to fulfill all its key targets particularly on GDP growths rates, public debt, gross capital formation ,fiscal deficits as a percentage of GDP, inflation and the capital account.

It also failed to meet its other key commitments on the following key issues

  1. Fiscal deficits targets
  2. Domestic savings target
  3. Reduction of the civil service
  4. Devolution and decentralization
  5. Easy of doing business
  6. Weaning off command agriculture
  7. Industrialization and Productivity
  8. Banking sector capitalization
  9. Pension reform
  10. Human Indicators
  11. Governance and Rule of Law Reforms

Fig 12

 

Fig 13 Solutions

COVID-19 presents an unprecedented national public health emergency which has had such multiplier consequences against the length and breadth of the world.

Containment of the virus and stemming the pandemic is a priority. However, the existence of the virus does not exclude other diseases and health challenges. COVID-19 containment can never be exclusive of the routine reproduction of normal health services. Ina dominated social formation such as Zimbabwe, humongous challenges exist ranging from lack of facilities, equipment, drugs and staff.

We propose that the government of the day must urgently mobilize resources to fight the pandemic whilst maintaining a functional health system.

The budget and indeed private sector resources should be mobilized to cater for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Prevention and treatment is anchored on the following;

  1. Testing and isolation
  2. Contact tracking
  3. Social distancing
  4. Protecting health providers. This includes provision of face masks, face shields and protective clothing.
  5. Provision of isolation centres
  6. Provision of equipment in isolation including beds, ventilators,
  7. Provision of community health workers
  8. Involvement of the non-governmental sector
  9. Prioritizing core services

In this regard, both primary and secondary care facilities must be manned with competent professional and the distribution of health professional services and supplies must not be uneven and unequal across provinces.

  1. Ramping up supply chains

Ensuring that essential commodities are available is a key obligation of the state that the Zimbabwean response has been crippled by key components in testing units is testimony to why supply chains need shoring up.

  1. Mitigating risk

The pandemic will consume huge resources and will entail massive procurement. Parliament must play a role in the allocation and monitoring of all public resources allocated. Furthermore, all procurement must be transparent and must be done within the law.

  1. Use of data as driver of policy

Decisions to COVID-19 the disease must be based on opinions of health experts as well as data.

  1. Public confidence and trust

Honest and transparency are essential ingredients in the efficacy of any public policy. Where there is dishonest, non-disclosure, corruption or its perception, incompetence and fudging up, there is a challenge. Where there is no communication strategy, and those that give out information are uninspiring, incompetent and ineloquent public policy fails.

At the epicentre of Zimbabwe’s economic challenges is the regime’s failure to live within its means, the mismanagement of monetary policy and the refusal to implement the requisite structural reforms. The economy thus suffers from the twin deficits of democratic legitimacy and democratic legitimacy. Lack of democratic legitimacy preconditions the total absence of trust and confidence essential to run any modern state. Performance legitimacy denotes the series of cataleptic policy distortions, or policy missteps including corruption, and incompetency.

In the absence of democratic and performance legitimacy, Zimbabwe lacks the requisite social contract that is required as the basis of any modern functional democratic state.

This is why political dialogue is so essential to create the necessary transition to a sustainable state. We identify 7 key conundrums in the economy and offer solutions to the same.

Collapse of social services doctors

Social Service delivery has been abandoned by the government there is a total collapse of both the public health delivery system and chaos in the public education sector.

Medical Doctors are entering their 80th day on strike, while their support staff including nurses are also incapacitated. Public health facilities have been abandoned, before the strike there had been a shocking unavailability of basic drugs and supplies including linen, syringes, blades and even gloves. Hospitals had been reduced to death traps. They had been declared unable to deal with curable diseases while practitioners were also reporting that the working conditions were now unsafe for their own health, protective accessories were simply not provided. Instead of dealing with their grievances a misinformed and uncaring government is choosing a

hostile route of expelling everyone with no capacity nor plan to replace them. As a result, patients are dying at their own homes, this is an urgent situation which needs resolution.

On the other hand, teachers also demonstrated against poor salaries which have been eroded by both exchange collapse and inflation. Left at as is, the situation will deteriorate further, and schools may not open next year. In short, the public service wage situation must be addressed as a matter of urgency, salaries must be paid in US dollars.

Corruption

Zimbabwe has risen dramatically on the global anti-corruption index. Corruption. Recent work in the Public Accounts Committee has unearthed massive corruption done through the Ministry of the Finance itself. In 2017 treasury without supporting vouchers siphoned off USD 2,9 ostensibly to Command Agriculture. This is captured in the Auditor General’s report. The same report of that same year shows that USD 3,3 billion was siphoned outside parliament and public finance management regulations again channelled towards command agriculture. Reports of the Auditor General are official, they are constitutional reports. These actions by the Ministry of Finance go to the root of any SMP, more than that they go to the route of any relationship between any governments with the IMF. There have been huge scandals in ZINARA, NSSA and other State Entities where billions of dollars were stolen to line pockets of the politically connected.

We have mentioned in the past about the 7 commanding heights of corruption, these continue to bleed the Zimbabwean economy, public resources undermining the economy’s ability to recover while robbing the citizen through the State’s incapacity to fund the social agenda.

The key areas of vulnerabilities are the following;

  1. The control and distribution of US$
  2. The acquisition, Procurement, distribution and resale of fuel
  3. Command agriculture
  4. Commodities, in particular chrome, diamonds, platinum and gold.
  5. Subsidies
  6. The Reserve Bank quasi fiscal activities Treasury bills
  7. State procurement

Over and above these the following are critical governance areas where corruption and abuse is taking place.

  1. Serious deficits in the Public Finance Management Act particularly around debt contraction.
  2. The existence of multiple statutory funds such as Potraz, Zimdef, the Registrar General’s accounts where monies are not directed to treasury and are not accounted for.
  3. The absence of follow up system on Auditor General’s recommendations.

Solutions: Transitional Issues

COVID-19

    • COVID-19 presents an unprecedented national public health emergency which has had such multiplier consequences against the length and breadth of the world.
    • Containment of the virus and stemming the pandemic is a priority. However, the existence of the virus does not exclude other diseases and health challenges. COVID-19 containment can never be exclusive of the routine reproduction of normal health services. Ina dominated social formation such as Zimbabwe, humongous challenges exist ranging from lack of facilities, equipment, drugs and staff.
    • We propose that the government of the day must urgently mobilize resources to fight the pandemic whilst maintaining a functional health system.
    • The budget and indeed private sector resources should be mobilized to cater for the prevention and treatment of COVID- 19.

Prevention and treatment is anchored on the following;

  1. Testing and isolation
  2. Contact tracking
  3. Social distancing
  4. Protecting health providers. This includes provision of face masks, face shields and protective clothing.
  5. Provision of isolation centres
  6. Provision of equipment in isolation including beds, ventilators,
  7. Provision of community health workers
  8. Involvement of the non-governmental sector
  9. Prioritizing core services

In this regard, both primary and secondary care facilities must be manned with competent professional and the distribution of health professional services and supplies must not be uneven and unequal across provinces.

Ramping up supply chains

Ensuring that essential commodities are available is a key obligation of the state that the Zimbabwean response has been crippled by key components in testing units is testimony to why supply chains need shoring up.

Mitigating risk

The pandemic will consume huge resources and will entail massive procurement. Parliament must play a role in the allocation and monitoring of all public resources allocated. Furthermore, all procurement must be transparent and must be done within the law.

Use of data as driver of policy

Decisions to COVID-19 the disease must be based on opinions of health experts as well as data.

Subject to Social Distancing, face masks, sanitisation and WHO protocols ,reopening of space including

Churches and places of worship Elections and By-Elections

The Informal Sector Sporting Activities

Public confidence and trust

Honest and transparency are essential ingredients in the efficacy of any public policy. Where there is dishonest, non-disclosure, corruption or its perception, incompetence and fudging up, there is a challenge. Where there is no communication strategy, and those that give out information are uninspiring, incompetent and ineloquent public policy fails.

The Ten Point Plan: Restoring and Returning Zimbabwe to Legitimacy Resolving the Political Crisis

    • We respectfully content as the MDC Alliance that the foundation of progress is,the political dispute around the military coup of November 2017 and the disputed election of 2018 needs to be resolved.
    • The military state and its politics of attrition have worsened Zimbabwe’s image, there is an urgent need to correct the human rights situation in Zimbabwe and restore constitutionalism and the rule of law.
    • It is our respectful contention that a new consensus, the transformation consensus needs to be found and established in Zimbabwe.
    • It is further our respectful contentions that a shared vision must be created on the basis of dialogue.
    • It is also our respectful submission that there is an urgent need to address a comprehensive package of structural reforms, which include political, economic and institutional to move the country forward.
    • To implement these reforms, we propose a National Transitional Authority, to prevent a second implosion which will give Zimbabwe a soft landing while preparing for a sustainable election as a pathway to legitimacy.
    • Our recommendations are contained in our RELOAD document.

Macroeconomic stability

  1. Fiscal Consolidation
    • Zimbabwe must put an end to the days of expansionary fiscal policies characterised by budget deficits and excessive expenditure. We restate the need at the very least to maintain a primary balance. The State must leave within its means. We eat what we kill.
    • The pursuit of fiscal consolidation is therefore an imperative, we propose that the be expenditure re-alignment and expenditure retrenchment in particular on elite lifestyle support schemes like travel ,shady farming schemes ,luxury vehicles and other hefty packages.
    • Any regime of austerity must target expenditure not to be hidden around the introduction of several robber taxes, oppressive taxes must be removed.
    • The Public Finance Management Act must be amended to proscribe the issuance of TBs. More importantly if government is to borrow, such borrowing should not exceed 3 percent of GDP.
    • Part of expenditure retrenchment involves reform of State- Owned Enterprises, some must be disposed and some must be

commercialised, the remainder must adopt corporate governance. At least 30% of GDP is being drained through state owned enterprises that have become a vehicle of patronage.

Restoration of real wages

    • The size of the public sector increased from 236000 employees during the Government of National Unity (GNU) to 550000 workers in the post GNU. This effectively means Zanu PF has recruited 314 000 ghost workers in a space of three years.
    • There is need to suspend at least 200 000 of these ghost workers pending a thorough audit.
    • Even if it turns out that there are genuine workers in the 200 000, the same must be retired on a basis of a social program that will allow them to rebase their lives, most of them own land in the Model A1 or A2 Schemes.
    • Put simply, the ghost worker must return to the land.
    • This retrenchment will allow the government enough legroom to pay decent wages, at the very minimum a living wage in a stable currency in the short term the US dollar.

Pension Reform and Compensation

    • The losses in pensions mentioned already mentioned in this review requires redress. Over 60% of the blame of the losses is attributed to government a huge percentage of the blame being on the mismanagement of the macroeconomic environment as well insurance regulation.
    • It was our contention therefore that government must invest in the compensation of all the individuals who lost pension value before and after the GNU.
    • Further there is need to reform NSSA to ensure the institution concentrates on its core business of pension management as opposed to the current mind-set where NSSA pays more attention to the investment arm while failing to meet pay out obligations.
    • There is also need to move towards a defined pension scheme.

Return of Positive Rates of Interest

    • With the current state of hyperinflation, interest rates of 35% defeats the whole purpose.
    • We propose a return to positive rates of interest to promote a culture of saving and also to preserve value.

Currency Reforms

    • There must be an urgent return to the multi-currency regime, it must be reintroduced and strengthened.
    • We propose that SI142/19 with its cousins SI212/19 and SI 213/19 must be repealed as a matter of urgency to restore the regime of multiple currencies.
    • As a transitional measure, we propose that the currency created by SI33/19 that is to say the local currency, must be allowed to float without any inhibition and controls against the US$.
    • In the midterm we propose that the government must attend to major structural reforms to archive monetary and fiscal convergence with the Rand Monetary Union.
    • Thereafter, we propose to join the Rand Monetary Union.
    • We also propose an end to export surrender requirements, we must liberalise the capital account.

Reform of RBZ

      • In the immediate short term, we propose the amendment of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act such that it becomes an independent institution but whose co-functions are simply, the regulation of monetary policy and running the exchange rate and maintaining current stability.
      • The Reserve Bank should be proscribed, from engaging in any quasi fiscal activities including the issuing of treasury bills, running ZAMCO, owning mines and other companies.
      • We further propose that export surrender requirements must be scrapped as a matter of urgency. In addition, the

Reserve Bank Act must also be amended to ensure that there is no lending to the central government.

      • In the long term, once Zimbabwe joins the Rand Monetary Union, the Reserve Bank act must be repealed, and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe abolished.

Land Question

    • Put an end to the land question by conducting a comprehensive land audit to determine land use and multiple land ownership.
    • Rationalise land sizes and give the majority of Zimbabweans the opportunity to access land in a transparent manner.
    • Restoration of Land Value, the revival of the agricultural sector is predicated upon the restoration of the land value through the issuance of land title i.e. title deeds to all the beneficiaries of the land reform program. Title deeds will enable farmers to access bank loans for agricultural investment.
    • In line with the Constitution of Zimbabwe enact an Act of Parliament to deal with issues of compensation paying special attention to hundreds of thousands of former farm workers who were displaced during the violence of the fast track land reform program.

Debt Question

Zimbabwe’s Debt overhang which is around 79% of GDP is not sustainable. It is important that this government adopts an Accelerated Arrears and Debt Resolution Strategy anchored on sustainable reforms to ensure new capital injection. Our proposal entails the following:

    • Establishing through an Act of Parliament an independent Debt Management Office.
    • Auditing and validation of all Zimbabwe’s debt.
    • Establishing of a transparent publicly accessible and up to date database.
    • Validating of the legality of all such debt and isolating all dubious debt.
    • Implementing of qualitative and quantitative structural reforms.
    • Re-confirming of Zimbabwe’s Low-Income Status (LIC) and negotiating terms of engagement within the context of the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative.
    • Preparing of a poverty reduction strategy paper.
    • Negotiating for comprehensive arrears, debt cancellation, and debt relief programme, including sourcing of critical new funding.
    • Taking appropriate measures, including legislative remedies to ensure debt sustainability.

Gross Capital Formation

    • We propose that Zimbabwe constructs itself out of the crisis
    • The infrastructure deficit is an opportunity to modernise while creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.
    • Target projects must include expansion of electricity generation and modernising electricity transmission.
    • We propose concentration investment in large solar projects and gas projects particularly around the deposits in the Nyamandlovu gas fields in Matebeleland North, small hydro stations can also be built in Manicaland, due to climate change hydros are becoming less and less viable.
    • We also propose attention to be placed on water sources to avert the water crisis in Harare and Bulawayo, the completion of Kunzvi dam and the Zambezi water project is an imperative.
    • To finance these projects the government must enter into transparent PPPs on BOT basis.

Jobs, Industrialisation, Beneficiation and Modernisation

    • There must be a radical shift from the extractive accumulation model towards value addition and beneficiation in the process creating decent jobs
    • The first step is entails reviving and modernising distressed industries
    • A deliberate investment in the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund (DIMAF) and Zimbabwe Economic Trade Revival Facility (ZETREF)
    • Enact a new diamond law which among other things obligates diamond retention and polishing in Zimbabwe
    • Agro-Industrial Transformation focused on decentralised processing of farm produce to other products like cheese, tomato sauce ,vegetable oil ,spices etc
    • Promote rural industrialisation
    • The creation of linkages in particular spatial linkages that will transform mining from a high value low impact industry to a high value high impact industry

Easy of Doing Business and FDI

    • Correction of Zimbabwe’s High Country Risk Profile
    • Enactment of a New Foreign Investment Act
    • Promote policy coherency and consistency
    • Effective trade facilitation and the strengthening of the one stop shop
    • Provide incentives such as tax relief to investors bringing in new technologies since most sectors require new technology and innovative operational strategies, with similar incentives benefiting those partnering with indigenous people.
    • Promote the participation of International banks to increase the capacity and interconnectedness of local banking service.

Development and Urban Rural Areas (DURA)

    • With the African urban population projected to reach 65 % by 2050,there is need to plan for the future and manage rural- urban migration, DURA is our vehicle for this objective, its programs will be centred on the following:
    1. Rural Industrialisation and creation of new work centres linked to old growth points
    2. Rural housing.
    3. On-grid and Off-grid rural electrification with a bias towards solar energy.
    4. Provision of decent roads and infrastructure in the communities.
    5. Establishment of markets.
    6. Establishment of centres of recreation including sports stadiums. Provision of world-class schools, clinics hospitals and other amenities.
    7. Design an accelerated development plan for marginalised areas.
    8. Reduce the domestic sustenance burden for women in rural areas by establishing institutions for women empowerment.

Social Service Delivery

    • The government must urgently attend to its core business of provision of public goods and services.
    • We propose special attention to the health service provision and education
    • The government must resolve industrial disputes with teachers, nurses, doctors and other clinical practitioners
    • Part of the solution is in a basic payment of a living wage in US dollars
    • 15 percent of the budget must be allocated to health
    • The government must urgently approach international development agencies and donors for assistance including provision including establishing a health transitional fund with a view to stop the ongoing soft genocide
    • Consultation with all stakeholders and teachers’ unions should take place to deal with the chaos in the sector including the curriculum
    • There is also an urgent need to work with local authorities and development agencies in the provision of WASH services to reduce the risk of Stone Age outbreaks in the form of cholera or typhoid.

4th Industrialisation Revolution and Digitisation

    • Transition to a tech-based economy in particular the use Block Technology in the following areas:
      1. Finance and Banking.
      2. Identity Management
      3. Asset registration.
      4. Crypto Assets
      5. Revenue Collection
    • There is also need to ensure universal access to broad band and Wi-Fi service, promote cloud computing services, embracing and promoting artificial intelligence and Nano Technology
    • To roll out the 4th industrial revolution, focus must be on Radical transformation of existing government departments to align with the new requirements of the 4th industrial revolution
    • Set up implementation teams where applicable a transitioning task force for each specified area
    • Engagement of the various diaspora communities to find out what skills in these areas already exist and how those skills can be transferred back home. Offer incentives for individuals with special skills wishing to return home.

Re-engaging with the international community

    • We contend that Zimbabwe needs to urgently end its isolation and engage other countries in the international community. In this we propose a Marshal Plan for Zimbabwe Zimbabwe’s finances are too fragile and it will not be possible to forge ahead without the convening of a Zimbabwe Conference on Reconstruction and Development (ZIMCORD 2).
    • Implement comprehensive reforms ,the political culture must abide by international law, the rule of law and constitutionalism
    • There must be commitment and implementation of electoral reforms

Conclusion

We are happy to engage in the discourse of economic recovery for our country, we therefore welcome alternative views to the ones we propose.

We remain hopeful that collective action can get Zimbabwe working again, all hope is not lost.

Despite the bleak festive season owing to mismanagement, the global pandemic and the unpalatable suffering of the Zimbabwean people, the MDC Alliance wishes everyone a restful holiday season even though without the festivities.

I thank you.