A CLEAR picture is slowly building up on the state of Zimbabwe’s economy as ministries present their 2024 budget proposals. That picture is not good at all.

Far from Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s repeated assertions that all is well (zvakarongeka) in Zimbabwe, the situation is horrendous as the various ministries are daily confessing to the nation and the world.

The latest ministry to expose the country’s dire state of affairs is that of Health and Child Care whose “chief executive officer”, Douglas Mombeshora, told us last week that his ministry is now literally in the intensive care unit.

This is what he has told the nation: “Our ministry acknowledges that the country is facing a serious shortage of medicine and drugs, which is culminating into a crisis, especially at the lower level and has left patients at the mercy of private hospitals.

“We do not have enough drugs for even a month in our stores and allocations are not in line with the ministry requirements. For instance, we made a request for US$129 million for 2023, but Treasury responded by reducing the budget to US$52 million and you can see the gap. We are appealing to Treasury to honour our requirements.”

Mombeshora says the ministry needs an estimated US$17 million per month for medicine.

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Definitely the Treasurer-in-chief Ncube’s work is cut out for him and chickens will really come home to roost when he presents the country’s budget soon.

No amount of sugar coating will convince some of us that all is well in this country when our own government cannot afford to stock medicines at public hospitals and clinics. When our healthcare is in this state, then this simply means that the entire country is gravely sick as the state of the health sector mirrors a country’s economic condition.

And when all ministries, as the trend is showing, are in dire straits, there is no way Ncube is going to tell us that his budget will do wonders if he fails to satisfy their demands.

When the Finance minister presented the 2023 budget titled: Accelerating Economic Transformation on November 24, 2022, he told us that the year 2023 marked “the mid-point in the implementation of the transformative and inclusive development agenda under the National Development Strategy 1, allowing the nation to assess progress made to date and recognise successes, identify challenges and plug any gaps encountered”.

However, frankly speaking, the successes appear few and far between and the challenges and gaps are so enormous and wide that plugging them will be a mammoth task. We sincerely do not envy being in Ncube’s shoes at this point in time when he is expected to do the impossible.

While Zimbabwe hoped to accelerate economic transformation this year, what the various ministries are telling us is that economic transformation has decelerated at a quickening pace. When we cannot afford to buy drugs and medicines like painkillers, there is no way anyone can tell us that we are economically developing.