President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government’s economic direction appear to have unsettled the main opposition MDC whose MP this week claimed the new administration cloned some policies from its own economic blueprints.
Mnangagwa has been warmly received by the large cross section of Zimbabweans which opines that his economic reforms, if backed by implementation, could extricate the country from its current economic mess.
Last Thursday, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa presented a budget which was largely welcomed by the business community and ordinary citizens who said it ticked the right boxes.
In the Budget, Chinamasa proposed sweeping changes which could benefit the economy if implemented.
MDC Manicaland spokesperson Trevor Saruwaka said they were even willing to support Mnangagwa’s administration with ideas to improve Zimbabweans’ welfare, adding that they were happy that the new president was “stealing” their ideas.
“Our desire as MDC is for Zimbabweans to live well. We have never once refused to advice government to improve the welfare of Zimbabweans.
“Mnangagwa found it fit to start stealing ideas coming from MDC so that it helps the nation and is something quite commendable and positive,” Saruwaka said.
“What the nation should realise is that the positive they will see are MDC ideas but those things that will be amiss will be Zanu PF.
“But when MDC gets custody of government after the next elections things will be even much better. Let them try to copy as much as possible to improve the economy,” he said.
Saruwaka said the National Budget showed a total shift in Zanu PF’s approach as it dumped both sanctions mantra and any reference to ZimAsset, which was largely criticised as a pie in the sky due to lack of adequate financing to implement it.
He said this was a clear admittance of the ruling party’s failure in favour of MDC’s policy suggestions.
“What is exciting is that listening to minister (Patrick) Chinamasa’s Budget you could not hear any mention of sanctions or ZimAsset. This is a clear admission by Zanu PF that they were lost and taking the country up a garden path but policies that were always been promoted by MDC were always good so we are happy if they succeed,” Saruwaka said.
Chinamasa last Thursday presented his National Budget for 2018 which is consistent with Mnangagwa’s inauguration speech as it shows a huge shift from Mugabe’s moribund policies blamed for sinking the economy.
In his presentation, Chinamasa made a raft of changes that speak to austerity, pragmatism and keen on wooing international investors.
Chinamasa has proposed to cut Zimbabwe’s embassies from 46 to a reasonable figure consistent with the political and economic ties that the country enjoys with those countries.
Crucially, as he valiantly attempted to haul Zimbabwe back from the abyss, the Treasury chief announced retirement of all public servants who would have reached the mandatory 65 years, cut international trips, allowances, number of delegations, reduced vehicles allocated to senior servants and introduced a loan scheme for other civil servants as opposed to buying them vehicles.
For a long time, economic analysts and ordinary people have complained about many useless foreign trips which gobbled millions of dollars without bringing tangible benefits to the economy.
The many foreign trips which were either undertaken by Mugabe or various ministers will now be scrutinised with embassy officials in foreign missions actively representing government.
Chinamasa’s Budget has certain echoes to his mid-term fiscal policy review statement that he made in September 2016 where he had introduced a number of austerity measures that included retrenching tens of thousands of civil servants and the cutting of salaries of senior government officials.