President Robert Mugabe yesterday appeared completely detached from the reality on the ground when he painted a rosy picture of the otherwise comatose economy, saying the government’s ZimAsset policy had yielded success stories since its launch in 2013.
Addressing thousands of people attending the 37th Independence Day commemorations at the National Sports Stadium, Mugabe skirted over issues to do with rising unemployment, cash shortages, government’s failure to timeously pay civil servants’ salaries and the general economic decay.
He said the agriculture sector was expected to grow by 12% mainly because of the good farming season. He said the mining sector was also expected to contribute more than 50% of the exports this year.
“The mining sector remains crucial to the Zimbabwean economy with the sector contributing more than 5% of exports and 16% to the country’s 2016 gross domestic product. There is a lot of work which is going on in that sector, not least the reorganisation whose completion we impatiently await. Going forward, much is expected from this important sector,” he said.
Concerning the manufacturing sector, Mugabe said they were continuously implementing specific policy measures such as the management of imports, investment approvals, fiscal incentives aimed at improving industrial development and refocusing the productive sectors of the economy.
“These efforts have resulted in an increase in the manufacturing sector capacity utilisation from 34,3% recorded in 2015 to 47,4% in 2016,” he said.
The government last year introduced Statutory Instrument 64 which prohibited the importation of various items, dealing a heavy blow to the informal traders.
Mugabe said electricity supply in the country had improved with the nation going for 15 months without load-shedding, an important milestone for the growth of local industries.
Overlooking the crippling strike by doctors and nurses early this year which left patients stranded in hospitals, the President said his government had made significant strides in improving the health of the nation.
Mugabe said the tourism sector was set for a major boost, while the long-awaited construction of the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu road was expected to start soon at a cost of $400 million.
The frail-looking Mugabe also commended the newly-introduced but heavily-challenged education curriculum.He further said the government had managed to surpass the ZimAsset target of delivering 25 000 stands or completed housing units.
“In pursuit of providing decent housing for all, government has finally serviced 52 000 stands and also completed housing units, thereby, surpassing the ZimAsset target of delivering 25 000 stands/completed housing units,” he said.
As the country prepares for elections next year, Mugabe spoke on the need for unity among Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation.