FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa has bared his soul on the state of the economy, saying it was time for all stakeholders to find each other regardless of political affiliation and engage constructively towards jump-starting the economy.
BLESSED MHLANGA/ MOSES MATENGA
Speaking at the launch of a financial news agency, The Source, in Harare on Friday, Chinamasa appealed to political leaders and the media to shelve debate on succession politics so as not to scare away potential investors.
“It’s important for all of us, irrespective of political affiliation, irrespective of the sector you are coming from, to understand that the economy is ours and it is important to contribute constructively. If it is not resuscitated, it will mean economic doom for all of us. It does not affect ministers only,” Chinamasa said.
“What you write about your country is amplified outside and wherever I go, I am made to explain stupid reports which have no basis and facts. No one is interested in that; everyone is interested in succession issues like who is doing what to who. That does not build the country, what builds the country is writing accurate news.”
Government, which is struggling to pay civil servants on time and faces a myriad of challenges, has for over a decade failed to access international financial aid from leading financiers because of its outstanding $6,4 billion debt to the World Bank and International Fund (IMF).
“Everyone knows we are in debt and until we have complied, we can’t access benefits. Each time I go there and when I come back, I am asked whether I have brought money. This only comes out of ignorance and lack of understanding of economic issues.”
Zimbabwe has struggled to repay debts to the World Bank and the IMF and has had lines of credit withdrawn.
Chinamasa also ruled out the return of the Zimbabwe dollar, saying it needed to be supported by economic fundamentals and therefore that would not happen anytime soon.
“When I was appointed [minister], the first question I was asked by a reporter is whether the Zimbabwe dollar would return. I made it very categorical that there will be no return of the Zimbabwe dollar currency. I thought that had ended, [but] each week, the same people have been saying I was about to bring back the Zimbabwe dollar. If you analyse that, you realise it’s either out of mischief or they are completely unaware of the economy. Even if I wanted to, it doesn’t happen overnight and it can’t be a secret anyway; it requires a lot of money,” he said.
Chinamasa bemoaned the sorry state of the country’s infrastructure, saying massive financial injection was needed to upgrade it.
“Every road now is in bad shape and rehabilitation requires a lot of money. Every reporter should know we have a problem with our road network which is dilapidated and to address that is not a $1 business, we need millions, if not billions, of dollars.
“Every economic reporter should be able to know that there is a water problem. The former [Harare] mayor Muchadeyi Masunda is here; he tried, but left the problem unfinished. Let’s not apportion blame, it’s too late for that, the situation is already there, the reality is there is no water even in leafy suburbs like Borrowdale and that can’t be addressed overnight,” he said.
“Every economic reporter should know that the manufacturing industry is on its back, not even on its knees. We need complete overhauling and retooling and that’s where we need foreign direct investment. They [investors] don’t come into a country where all you hear is negative news. It needs someone so daring to come to Zimbabwe because they think there will be shootings after the airport,” Chinamasa said.
He concurred with Vice-President Joice Mujuru that the economic recovery blueprint, ZimAsset, needed more time to produce the expected results.
“I think it will be important because we will talk about this programme even for more than five years because what we have set up to do will require a timeframe longer than five years to fulfil it and reporters should have knowledge of this vision,” he said.