Zanu-PF indaba must bring solutions to economic woes

The Sunday Mail

It will not be business as usual at the 18th Zanu-PF Annual National People’s Conference which begins this week in Goromonzi, if sentiments expressed by President Mnangagwa at the Women’s League’s Second National Assembly Meeting in Harare on Friday and the general hype around the impending meeting are anything to go buy.

The theme “Modernise, Mechanise and Grow The Economy Towards Vision 2030” is indicative of the seriousness with which the party is taking issues economic to transform the lives of Zimbabweans who have had to endure decades of economic recession under the First Republic.

The retreat comes at time when the economy is transitioning from austerity to prosperity through higher productivity, growth and job creation as enunciated in the 2020 National Budget.

“The people should always come first in all we do. We are a people’s party, a listening party and a party which serves the people wholeheartedly through servant  leaders. Let us never lose the rich tradition and character of our party,” said President Mnangagwa, Zanu PF’s First Secretary,  as he addressed the women.

Over 5 000 delegates expected at the conference from a wide spectrum that includes the private sector, Diasporans, some opposition party representatives and delegates from the region are largely expected to deliberate on issues affecting the ordinary Zimbabwean and proffer solutions that can be adopted by Government.

Top among these are wanton price increases that have become the order of the day, affecting the livelihoods of millions of people who have had to make do without some basic goods which have been priced beyond their reach.

The intervention by President Mnangagwa to reinstitute subsidies will obviously go a long way in stabilising the price of maize-meal, expected to now fetch $50 for a 10 kilogramme bag that was selling at an average of $110 before the intervention.

The direct subsidy on roller meal avoids the problems and dangers, and gives greater benefit to those who need it.

For a start, farmers — whether independent, contracted to the GMB or contracted to millers — are paid the proper market price, so they do produce.

Importers buy their foreign currency on the market, so hidden dangerous subsidies arising from currency manipulations are eliminated.

With only 23 millers, corruption and cheating are eliminated since a handful of civil servants can maintain an almost continuous audit, ensuring that the subsidised roller meal both physically exists and is being delivered.

Prices of other goods such as cooking oil, sugar and laundry soap have continued to rise, even when the exchange rate has stabilised over the past week.

The President has expressed his disdain  unreservedly.

The conference is expected to weigh in with interventions to bring normalcy and ensure Zimbabweans enjoy the festive season.

Inadequate water and electricity supplies are also expected to come under the spotlight as the party seeks solutions to issues standing in the way of its ideals.

Thematic committees on food security, infrastructure development, devolution, value addition, investment and other key aspects of this country’s socio-economic fabric should also bring to the fore solutions that the Government and its stakeholders will implement to take the country forward.

The impasse between the Government and striking doctors will obviously not escape attention at the conference.

The deadlock has been going on for too long and fears of a third hand at play are not without basis.

Adequate health services are a vital cog of a nation hence the need to find common ground between the two parties sooner rather than later.

Our Zimbabweaness should take precedence over self-interest.

President Mnangagwa told an extraordinary Zanu-PF Politburo meeting last week that the conference must provide appropriate policy direction to Government and outline achievable goals in line with policy targets.

This should be amply demonstrated.

There is indeed more to gain if the Government and doctors break the impasse.

Furthermore, Zanu-PF has established a research unit made up of fundis, whose recommendations should feed into well-informed resolutions and recommendations on challenges confronting the country.

It is our fervent hope that the five days of deliberations will produce tangibles that can add value to the national discourse.

Challenges afflicting the populace need to benefit from solutions-oriented deliberations.

The keen interest demonstrated by private institutions as stated by Zanu-PF secretary for Administration Dr Obert Mpofu in an interview carried in this paper demonstrated the appetite by Zimbabweans to work in unity to bring solutions to challenges while maximising on the country’s advantages.

That Zimbabwe is too blessed to be poor is almost a cliche, but one that we need to keep on the dashboard as we deliberate and meditate on our journey to the land of milk and honey.

Also, the interest taken by some opposition parties to attend the conference should give impetus to the collective efforts to take this country’s economy and politics to a new level.

The initiative by President Mnangagwa to invite opposition parties to actively participate in national development is indeed bearing fruit.

It is unfortunate that some have spurned the efforts and continue to adopt destructive tendencies that do not help the very constituencies they claim to represent.

Zanu-PF remains the majority party whose ideals and ideologies Zimbabweans believe in.

For a start, it is a majority party because it can read the electorate, or rather the wide range of electorates, better than anyone else and can craft general policies that it expects the Government to implement.

We wish the revolutionary party all the best in their deliberations.

President Mnangagwa has put on the pressure with his rolling 100-day targets for Government Ministries and departments that have kept them on their toes.

Therein lies the need for the National People Conference to stress that action is vital to achieve results.