By Africa Moyo
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has reassured the nation that “prosperity is certain”, despite the economic headwinds currently being experienced.
In his Independence address last Thursday, President Mnangagwa said a number of initiatives have been set in motion to ensure the economy turns around for the benefit of citizens.
The President said as the nation reflects on the path that has been walked and “the road ahead”, lessons must be drawn from the “actions of our freedom fighters and the principles that guided them”.
“Over the years, through sweat, struggle and tribulations we have survived and never surrendered or lost our hope . . . as we celebrate the birth of our nation, let us honour the values that underpin it,” said President Mnangagwa.
“These values must drive us forward. We can no longer afford to be concerned with mere survival. Let us instead seek to blossom, thrive and prosper as a nation, as a people, towards a brighter future in the Zimbabwe we all want.
“Together we are building a new economy. We are building a new future, we are building a new Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe shall surely rise again. We are moving on, our future is bright. Forward ever, backward never! Our prosperity is certain!”
President Mnangagwa’s remarks come at a time when the country is battling acute foreign currency shortages and high prices for basic goods.
Producers, wholesalers and retailers blame the high prices on foreign currency shortages, and the sky-high rate of forex on the parallel market.
Government plans to ensure a market driven rate of forex through the interbank market has not gained a lot of traction due to high demand by companies due to an affordable rate that allows for lower prices of finished products.
Some exporters are understood to be withholding their hard currency awaiting a higher rate on the interbank market, causing the current shortages, spawning arbitrage on the parallel market.
But President Mnangagwa believes the amount of work done in attracting investors, boosting power generation, supporting SMEs, and improving the investment climate, would help improve the economy going forward.
Working together, with a particular focus on economic development and improvements in the quality of life of people, is critical, said President Mnangagwa.
“For Zimbabwe to prosper and attain Vision 2030, we need the collective efforts of all citizens at home and abroad. While our friends and investors may assist us, the ultimate obligation to turn around our fortunes lies with us, using our own God-given natural endowments and abilities.
“To this end, my administration continues to engage a broad spectrum of our society to help sharpen Government’s perspective on issues across the socio-economic and political spectrum.
“This inclusive approach will enable us to accelerate the pace of the modernisation and industrialisation of our country. The implementation of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, has since gathered momentum,” said the President.
Agriculture is expected to play a central role in stimulating the modernisation and industrialisation of the economy.
Government is now focusing on unlocking value from land and ensuring maximum productivity, and is determined to provide security of tenure, facilitate access to capital for farmers and generate sufficient raw materials for the revival and growth of the industrial sector.
The mining sector, which has attracted billions of dollars in investments, is also seen as a major conduit for investment inflows, and a “promising source of employment creation”.
A number of multimillion-dollar mining investments are already underway in some parts of the country.
Key among the projects are Prospect’s Arcadia Lithium Project; Tsingshan Consolidated Mining Product; Karo Resources and the Great Dyke Investments Platinum Mining Project.
The Invictus Energy project, which could see oil extraction taking place in Muzarabani, is “increasingly becoming promising”, said President Mnangagwa.
“Such investments will help in the economic empowerment of many communities throughout the country and also result in the expansion of our road, rail, communication, energy and housing infrastructure,” he said.
The diamond sector is expected to grow on the back of two new players, Alrosa of Russia and Anjin of China, who were selected to partner Government to “bring about optimum benefits, world-class systems, technology and skills into the sub-sector”.
Small-scale miners, especially those in the gold sector, have become critical in generating forex for the country.
Efforts to boost power generation are at an advanced stage, with work towards the implementation of the 2 400MW Batoka Hydroelectric Plant now at the Environmental Impact Assessment stage.
Similarly, construction work at the Hwange 7 and 8 Expansion Project has begun, creating thousands of jobs and will see an addition of 600MW into the national grid upon completion.
The expansion of Kariba South added a further 300MW to the grid, although generation is currently constrained due to low water levels.
President Mnangagwa said ramping up power generation would ultimately increase national energy output; facilitate manufacturing sector growth; propel industrialisation of the economy, and ensure the growth of rural industry systems.
To position the country as a transportation and communication hub given its central location in the sub-region, Government is implementing projects to enhance connectivity by road, rail and air transport routes.
The dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu Road, the Harare-Bulawayo Road and Harare-Mutare Road is gaining traction while Government is engaging possible investors for the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls-Kazungula Highway.
General rehabilitation of roads has seen more visible results on both city and country roads.