ZIMBABWE – PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe on Tuesday proposed a ‘Ten Point’ plan which 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 international community particularly the multilateral lenders.
“Indeed, current re-engagement efforts with both bilateral and multilateral partners including the African development bank, Afro-Asian Bank and the World Bank under various initiatives should see improvement of relations and the opening up of new financing avenues, for long overdue reforms and development cooperation,” he said.
The Ten Point Plan consists of
1. Revitalising agriculture and the agro-processing value chain
2. Advancing Beneficiation and/or Value Addition to the agricultural and mining resource endowment
3. Focusing on Infrastructure development, particularly in the key Energy, Water, Transport and ICTs subsectors
4. Unlocking the potential of Small to Medium Enterprises
5. Encouraging Private Sector Investments
6. Restoration and building of confidence and stability in the financial services sector
7. Promoting joint ventures and public private partnerships to boost the role and performance of state owned companies
8. Modernising Labour Laws
9. Pursuing an Anti-Corruption Thrust
10. Implementation of Special Economic Zones to provide the impetus for foreign direct investment
President Mugabe said overall economic performance, to date, indicates modest growth particularly in the agriculture, mining, construction, tourism and telecommunications sectors. He said that in terms of agriculture, Government working closely with the private sector and development partners has adopted a grain importation programme.
President Mugabe said in order to buttress the positive economic gains, recorded to date, Government will implement policies that will improve the business environment and attract both domestic and foreign investment.
The President said another key government priority that aims to retain economy to sustained growth is reforming the Parastatals and State Enterprises and to this end, Government has since instituted a parastatal reform program targeting ten key enterprises.
He said in each case, specialised audits will be undertaken and various reform and turn around options will be identified.
“Underlining the importance we accord agriculture, the parastatal reform programme is beginning with the Grain marketing Board and Cold Storage Company,” he said.
He added that Government has also turned the spotlight on Corporate Governance throughout the public sector which he said has over the years fallen to levels well below what might be regarded as even minimally acceptable.
“The extravagance of remuneration packages and associated benefits which Boards and management have blithely awarded themselves borders on the obscene, reflecting avarice and greed instead of the commitment to serve which we expect,” he said.
President Mugabe said in line with its Rapid Results Approach framework, an urgent overhaul of the Companies act should be achieved before December 31, 2015.
In terms of other sectoral performance, President Mugabe said mining in 2015, exhibits stronger growth well above 3,5 percent driven primarily by substantial increases in gold, nickel, chrome coal output.
He said government will maintain the policy thrust on beneficiation and value addition that is supported by other reforms which enhance transparency and accountability in the sector.
He said tourism continues to experience tremendous growth.
President Mugabe said the financial sector remains stable. “There is need to maintain that stability hence Government will continue to focus on instituting corrective Statutory Instruments including amendments to the Banking Act.”
Commenting on the Supreme Court ruling of 17 July 2015 that has seen over 20 000 workers dismissed, President Mugabe said Government has reviewed the Labour Act which now awaits his assent.
“We must remove common law provisions that have been used by employers to unilaterally dismiss workers on notice, Whereas this is intended to be a win-win outcome for business and labour in the true spirit of partnerships, the labour reforms are part of the raft of policy measures and legislations being pursued by government to improve the ease of doing business,” he said.
President Mugabe also highlighted that government is pursuing both domestic and external financing for key programmes under ZimAsset which include infrastructure deficiencies.
He said this has seen government signing key projects with China covering energy, roads, railways and telecommunications, water, agriculture mining and tourism,” he said.