ZIMBABWE’S economy achieved a real Gross Domestic Product growth of 10,6% in the four years since 2009 when the inclusive government became operational following the signing of the Global Political Agreement.
A raft of measures were implemented during its tenure spanning from 2009 to July 31 that saw the economy stabilising and inflation being maintained below 5% from the highs of 231 million in 2008.
The GNU came into force after the economic meltdown when capacity utilisation was under 10% and savings and pensions were all wiped out due to inflation. The inclusive government adopted a government works programmes through which it sought to turn around the fortunes of the country.
Below is an evaluation of the performance of the government of national unity in the last five years through the government work programme framework and what lies ahead:
Public infrastructure must be maintained to promote efficiency in government operations. The Government of National Unity (GNU) undertook a number of construction activities to rehabilitate public infrastructure. There are currently over 54 government projects completed with 30 projects under design and 59 projects with construction in progress.
This resumption follows a long period of non-progress in construction and rehabilitation of public buildings.
Government will continue with the limits of available resources to support the rehabilitation and construction of public buildings in order to improve conditions under which public servants work.
The country’s infrastructure development is necessary if the economic recovery is accelerated. The erratic supply and high costs of power compounded the poor performance of the industry at large and central to the revamping of the economy is the need to complement power supply to the country
Support was received in the following areas:
- Construction of hydro-power plants, solar power plant and biogas project to complement power supply.
- Financial assistance through availing of lines of credit towards rehabilitation and construction of the water reticulation system and financing of strategic alliance for business entities.
In the health sector, the government recorded notable achievements through collaboration with development partners.
The cholera outbreak of 2009, which claimed the precious lives of more than 4 000 Zimbabweans was stopped and since then the government remained vigilant to avoid recurrence.
The re-opening of major referral hospitals and primary healthcare institutions and the improvement of drug availability to levels of over 80% at primary health facilities is a commendable achievement for the government.
Much appreciation goes to the various government entities and development partners who came together to normalise services.
In 2009, a new National Health Strategy was crafted with the aim of providing a framework for immediate restructuring of the health sector, and to set the country back on track towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals on health.
The success in increasing access to health services is due to a number of reasons, with availability of human resources for health in public health facilities being the most important.
Availability of essential medicines and supplies is one of the key measures by which the public measures the performance of the government. Significant support continues to be reviewed from partners for anti-retroviral medicines, TB medicines, anti-malarial medicines and primary health care packages resulting in improved availability of essential medicinesat the primary health care level increased to above 80% by 2012.
The Health Transition Fund, donor intervention assisted in resuscitating the sector through investing in the health systems and towards water and sanitation.
Achieving universal primary education is one of the MDGs that this country must pursue. The government made tremendous progress in free education for vulnerable groups through programmes such as Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) and financial assistance through Cadetship.
Although the BEAM programme was launched in 2001, the deteriorating economic situation over the year had made it difficult for government to continue with it effectively.
Through Unicef, a number of development partners pooled resources to provide the country with education transition funding which enabled the country procure several textbooks for primary and secondary schools, going a long way in improving teacher-pupil ratio as well as raising the quality of education.
Expanded outcomes from donor support:
- Bringing back children to school through second chance education.
- Support to orphans, girl child and vulnerable children to attend school.
- Equipping schools with textbooks and learning material.
- Improving the school infrastructure through construction and rehabilitation of classrooms.
- Computer learning stations installation of all the IT equipment and software.
- Capacity building and technical support for undergraduates and postgraduate studies.
The GNU made notable progress in the provision of social protection programmes.
The food deficit mitigation programme was approved by Cabinet and launched in 2010.
The programme supported 36 000 households annually with grain, pulses and cooking oil.
Government also placed emphasis on child protection under the second phase of the National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable children that was put in place with the support of development partners.
Furthermore, the programme supported access to specialist child protection services and emergency health services and was extended to a large number of disadvantaged communities.
Access to decent accommodation is a fundamental human right. The National Housing Policy was developed and sets out all the necessary measures required in ensuring housing for all.
To date, the civil service housing loan facility has been resuscitating and a number of stalled projects in various towns are underway again to cater for civil servants.
Some of the bottlenecks identified in the housing sector have been addressed in the National Housing Policy which was adopted by Cabinet.
The next government must continue to engage other stakeholders such as insurance companies and building societies in the provision of housing units as well as serviced stands in order to accelerate the process of providing housing for all.
Although the country has a long way to regaining its bread basket status, there has been improvement in the production of major cash crops. For instance, tobacco production grew from 56 000 tonnes in 2008 to 134 000 in the 2012 season. Livestock production has also recorded positive recovery owing to the consistent 100% availability of dipping and vaccination chemicals.
This has led to greater availability of beef and poultry on the market. Horticulture is lagging behind in terms of production and competitiveness, resulting in continued imports from South Africa flooding the local markets.
The potential of agriculture to transform this economy will be further enhanced implementation of acceptable forms of land tenure and security, including the negotiable 99-year lease.
Transformation of any economy requires sustainable and reliable power supply which Zimbabwe should ensure through rehabilitating existing and building new power stations. The rehabilitation of Hwange Power Station started in 2009 and has resulted in an improvement in power supply.
Production of coal has also increased which should contribute positively to power supply. Despite commendable efforts by Zesa to increase electricity generation capacity, demand still outstrips supply.
The continued efforts to revive the energy sector will propel restoration of industrial capacity and improve the overall economic performance of the country.