Over the past few years, the global economy has experienced a fair amount of “deglobalisation” which has forced economies around the world to be inward looking; shying away from open borders and trade.
During this period, Zimbabwe has embarked on a programme of economic and political reform, which has unfortunately been impacted by various exogenous tremors and shocks, including climate change in the form of Cyclone Idai and the drought, and now Covid-19, all of which have made the ride far bumpier than expected.
As decision makers responsible for charting a new course for our nation, and in particular our nation’s economy, Treasury drew a roadmap which has been followed to the letter from day one. This road map is both ambitious and brave.
It was anchored on a fundamental premise that as a country, we could no longer sustain “more-of-the-same economics”.
Shaped therefore by the vision of the New Dispensation under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, the new economic roadmap, dubbed the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), recognised the need for economic transformation based on a complete departure from the old way of doing things. The TSP, became the first step in the transformative journey towards Vision 2030 — which is for “Zimbabwe to become a middle income economy by 2030”.
As a necessity therefore, the TSP committed the leadership to implementing very tough, but necessary policy decisions, and to stop kicking the can down the road.
Under the reform agenda, Government set out to tackle a number of major issues amongst them; addressing the public sector human resources base through civil service reforms; reforms of State-run entities, reigning in runaway Government spending; addressing graft and mismanagement.
The Government also began a process of serious currency reforms in order to get our own currency and regain control of fiscal and monetary tools of economic management.
The TSP simply recognised that Zimbabwe’s economy needed to be reformed, restructured and rebuilt.
Along the way, however, we have hit many barriers. From recurrent severe drought spells, cyclones and a global virus pandemic; luck has not been on our side. However, we have maintained our resolve and continue to focus on our goal.
One of the key pillars of the TSP was financial and diplomatic re-engagement. On the diplomatic front, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has also charted a new course for re-engagement. They have reached out to all our friends; old and new, with a clear and genuine message: Zimbabwe is back, and we desire to be a respected and responsible member of the international community.
President Mnangagwa has bravely pressed a restart button on many relationships, declaring a new period of cooperation and friendship with all the nations of the world, based on a new national consciousness, a respect for self, and a respect for others.
His Excellency’s re-engagement plan is already paying handsome dividends.
Indeed, the reverberations from this policy have been felt on the economic front too. FDI inflows rose sharply in 2018, though currently investment has stuttered with the advent of Covid-19.
However, international aid has fortunately not suffered. In fact, coming at the peak of reform and during a period of austerity and belt tightening, the Covid-19 crisis has hit particularly hard, but Zimbabwe has been blessed by a true spirit of generosity by many of our international friends.
The funds received for the well-being of our nation during this period amount to almost US$200 million, including over US$45 million from the UK, over US$60 million from the EU and about US$8 million from the US.
The African Development Bank has shown its solidarity once again with over US$13 million, while BADEA (The Arab Bank for Development in Africa) has provided us with US$10 million.
Other generous donations have come in from the World Food Programme, the Global Partnership for Education, the Government of Japan, the World Bank, Global Financing Facility, The Global Fund, and of course the UN and its various agencies. Funding and life-saving medicines from friends such as India, China, and Russia have also proven to be game-changers for our health system during this time of need.
We are doing all in our power to leave the dark times of instability — financial, political and diplomatic — behind us. The next few months, as the world tries to get back to normal, will provide more challenges for both the people of Zimbabwe and its leadership.
However, one thing remains crystal clear. We cannot go it alone. We will continue to strip down the wall of isolation that has been built around the nation and branded us as an international pariah state. We will continue to work with the international community to wear down the sanctions regime that has pushed our nation into isolation.
Zimbabwe will continue to engage with the world, with all-weather friends and with former foes.
We are resolute on our re-engagement path with the nations of the world and the international financial organisations, who continue to provide a lifeline to our economy. We will continue to engage for the future of Zimbabwe.
As we move into a new era of even deeper and broader reforms, we must open up Zimbabwe in a manner previously unseen.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has been yet another hurdle in our quest for prosperity; through patience and hard work, we will overcome this too. Sensible economics, responsible fiscal policy, and close cooperation with the nations of the world are the pillars that will put Zimbabwe’s economy back on its feet again.