Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has an uphill task to provide a stimulus for Zimbabwe’s economy to recover especially after the lacklustre State of the Nation Address by President Robert Mugabe which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change rightly described as a dumb squid.
Mugabe literally waffled during the 28-minute address but did one important thing. He approved something that Chinamasa could capitalise on to boost the economy- the trimming of the civil service. Chinamasa stated in his mid-term statement that he intended to trim the civil service by 25 000 but this was overturned by cabinet.
For a country with an unemployment rate estimated at over 85 percent, it does not make sense to cut jobs further but with a bloated civil service that is gobbling 97 percent of the State revenue, it makes a lot of sense. (One is tempted to say it makes a lot of cents.)
Zimbabwe’s civil service is not just too big. It is not providing any meaningful service, if at all. There is too much corruption, too many ghost workers, too many party hangers-on. It needs a thorough clean up.
Chinamasa has come up with plausible solutions for the country but his problem is that he is perceived as an Emmerson Mnangagwa guy and party colleagues from the so-called G40 are doing everything to make sure he does not succeed as this means propping up Mnangagwa. What arrogance, sacrificing the whole nation for political expedience!
But Mugabe must be aware by now that the economy is his biggest enemy, not G40 or Lacoste. People will vote him and his party out if the economy continues on the present path.
They did so in 2008. It was the economy that booted Mugabe out, not bhora musango, not Simba Makoni, not MDC. It was the sound economy that brought him back in 2013. Of course, one cannot discount the violence in the run-up to the presidential elections run-off of 2008, but it was largely the more stable economy that allowed people to vote more freely.
Mugabe and those aspiring to see ZANU-PF re-elected in 2018 have to make sure that the economic is revived in 2017. Otherwise they can kiss good bye to their political careers.
Given a chance, Chinamasa can provide the stimulus that is needed. He kick-started the economic revival in 2009. Yes, it was Chinamasa who introduced the United States dollar as acting Finance Minister in 2009.