PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday launched the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), the government’s latest economic blueprint.
The blueprint will succeed the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) which ran from 2018 to this year. Despite the abundance of skeptics, the government thought of it as a roaring success.
The new blueprint will focus on 14 priority areas. These include economic growth and stability, food security and nutrition, governance, moving the economy up the value chain and structural transformation, human capital development, environmental protection, climate resilience and natural resource management, housing delivery and health and well-being.
The blueprint has been welcomed by international financial institutions such as the World Bank. However, as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. This is not the first time that the government has come up with an impressive blueprint.
There is no shortage of economic blueprints having had nearly 20 of them since independence. However, most of them have partially or have not been implemented and have gathered dust on the shelves. Brilliant blueprints that is!
The TSP, for example, focused on stabilising the macro-economy and the financial sector, improving infrastructure, and laid the foundation required for economic take-off and growth.
However, under the TSP the economy actually worsened with inflation shooting up to as high as 800% which led to the suspension of year-on-year inflation figures by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube.
Inflation has decimated incomes and pensions which are denominated in the Zimbabwe dollar, impoverishing the average Zimbabwean whose income does not match the prices of goods and services indexed against the United States dollar. This has led to a restive workforce as evidenced by the crippling strike by health workers which lasted more than two months and the current job action by teachers that has disrupted the current school term.
Under the TSP, investment dwindled from US$717,1 million in 2018 to US$259 million last year and is expected to plummet further to US$150 million this year. It was also under the TSP that the government suspended trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange citing illicit activities on the bourse.
This has led to foreign investors deserting the ZSE. Between August and September this year, foreign investors sold 80% of the shares traded on the bourse although Ncube has boasted of a surplus during the TSP. The benefits of this, however, have not been felt by the man in the street with the majority earning well below the total consumption poverty line which is $17 957.
Given the failure of the TSP to provide the foundation for economic take off, it is understandable why most Zimbabweans are not excited about the launch of NDS1. We have been here before where we have had high-sounding blueprints that have not been matched by tangible benefits on the ground. If anything, poverty has deepened.
Without implementation, the NDS1 will join the long list of blueprints that gather dust on the shelves.