FINANCE and Investment Promotion minister Mthuli Ncube says Zimbabweans should enjoy the good times because the country’s economy is booming.
Addressing delegates during the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ) convention held in Bulawayo last week, Ncube, who was recently re-appointed to Cabinet for the second time under the same ministry by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said the economy was registering a positive growth rate.
“We have had such a positive rate of growth for three years in a row, 8,5% gross domestic product growth in 2021, 6,5% in 2022 and this year we are expecting to achieve 6%. Enjoy the economy and we are in good times. People are hurt by inflation, they were hurt by the previous currency weakness,” he said.
“How many times have we heard about speculation that shelves would be empty, I have never seen such full shelves since 1980? Eighty percent of the goods are locally made, I cannot remember a time when 80% of goods were locally made. Why do we have a parallel market?”
Revealing that the current multi-currency regime will remain in place so that consumers have a choice, he said: “So you have no reason to worry, speculate about the currency because you have an option to use many currencies that are there. I do not know of any country that is allowed to do that, you have a choice so do not complain about that choice.
“Treasury is no longer using the central bank as a cash box, five years in a row; fundamentals have been put in place. It is not about the past, why the hell of having a parallel market? If it is not to do with just speculative behaviour, civil servants and companies have found an easy way of making money.”
National Consumer Rights Association spokesperson Effie Ncube has, however, shot back at Ncube’s bragging describing the touted economic progress as textbook growth far divorced from people’s lived realities.
“Despite the promises of economic revival that the government has been making, millions of Zimbabweans are still languishing in worsening unemployment, poverty and hunger. For many, the situation is hopeless and degrading. Government should come down to where real people live and not talk about fictional and non-existent economic growth,” Ncube said.
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In June, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) said a family of six required ZWL$1 million a month to survive, up from ZWL$611 275 in April.
According to CCZ, the cost of living rose by 62% between April and May this year.
Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a cocktail of economic challenges which include a weakening currency, rising inflation and basic commodities price hikes which have left workers failing to cope due to low earnings.
CCZ Matabeleland chairperson, Comfort Muchekeza said while there was an element of truth that the country had seen a positive rate of growth during the past three years, it was common knowledge that the country’s economy was still in the negative.
“The rate at which the economy has been picking up is by far below the rate at which the same economy was falling,” Muchekeza said.
“We appreciate what the government has been doing to improve the lives of the citizens and the economy but we believe there is still more which needs to be done.
“First and foremost the government has to create an environment where everyone sings from the same hymn (book) … While we appreciate government’s efforts to reduce the tax from 2% to 1%, consumers still expect more of such reductions. The majority of consumers still live below the poverty datum line, Consumers define good times not only based on positive growth rate, but mainly on disposable income, buying power and affordability and availability of basic goods and services.”
Another economic analyst Prosper Chitambara said the challenge bedevilling the country was the high level of inflation which affected real growth, investment and capital inflows, which was creating uncertainty.