Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube today said if he were asked to address a rally, he would tell the nation to be patient because the country has a good plan for economic revival.
Asked by Newsday: “If you had to talk at a political rally, not necessarily about politics, what would you tell the people experiencing a shortage of pretty much everything except rhetoric?” Ncube responded: “I would say, look, our economy is sick; it was sick before and you know it yourself.
“What we are doing now, we are like doctors, we are providing medication and solutions to deal with these problematic areas, and I have tried to outline them, but I know this is all high language to most people. Things will get better, the patient must be patient. We have a good plan.”
Ncube’s answer to Zimbabwe’s problems is the transitional stabilisation programme which he unveiled on 5 October. The programme is to run for two years.
“I firmly believe that the Transitional Stabilisation Programme economic package is the way out of this because it clearly identifies the problem areas economically and also legislatively, but critically, we have a solution for each of these,” he said.
“The main issue now I think is about communicating clearly that this is a marathon, not a sprint and calling for patience. I know at times it’s asking for too much by asking people to be patient and they’ll say for how long?
“But that’s how long it will take for the damage that has been done since 2000. It’s difficult trying to fix things quickly and it will take time. There are, however, some quick wins which we can achieve.
“One elephant in the room is jobs and I am planning on saying; let’s propose a jobs indaba or summit just to concentrate our minds on that and then maybe this is something we can give incentives for; such tax incentives that are linked to job creation.
“The design is never simple, but at least try to make sure companies are rewarded through a tax system for creating apprenticeship opportunities and paying those apprentices.
“Job creation is a key issue in this country and everything we do must take account of jobs … to say how many jobs are we creating in terms of the sectoral interventions we are implementing.”
Asked whether there was political will for these changes, Ncube, who is not a member of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, said: “There is political will to do things. For a start, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said this time is about the economy. Elections are done, politics is done, we are focusing on the economy hard over these two years of the TSP and then five years after that for the subsequent plan.
“So it’s about the economy and really committing to economic reforms is what we are about, and I have no doubt that there is political commitment. Of course, one can never over consult, we’ll do that over time and make sure that no one is left behind in the consultation process.”
On legitimacy which has been hammered over and over again by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa who insists that he won the 30 July elections so the crisis the country is facing is because Mnangagwa is an illegitimate president, Ncube said: “Well, on legitimacy I think that is a strong argument. I keep hearing it. The ruling party won two-thirds majority in Parliament and that was not challenged. So, in other words, it was accepted on the ground.
“On the presidential elections, we had a different picture. I am still asking myself if it is possible to overturn that majority to a point where the ruling party does not win the presidency. Then we had the judiciary getting involved to confirm the election result. I think this confirms that the issue of legitimacy has been resolved because what else is left?”