Former Bulawayo South member of Parliament and ex-MDC national executive member Mr Eddie Cross says President Mnangagwa’s administration has not received due credit for reforms that he has undertaken in the past year, especially in the international media.
Mr Cross, who on Thursday last week had a talk at the Cape Town Press Club where he addressed the South African journalistic fraternity on Zimbabwe’s transition from former President Robert Mugabe to President Mnangagwa in November last year and its aftermath, yesterday told the Sunday Times that President Mnangagwa had taken Zimbabwe on a path of transformation.
He took the opportunity to boldly declare his confidence in President Mnangagwa’s ability to move Zimbabwe from the quagmire of the past leadership.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Mnangagwa will take Zimbabwe down a different route. And I think in the past nine months (since the election) he’s not received sufficient recognition from the international media for what he’s actually achieved,” Mr Cross was quoted as saying in The Sunday Times yesterday.
The former legislator also expressed confidence and optimism that President Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF Government would turn around the country’s economic fortunes and political standing.
He also heaped praise on President Mnanagwa’s political reforms.
“There would be no engagement from the international community if a political reform agenda is not adopted or followed. In his (President Mnangwagwa’s) view, we had to have legitimacy recognised by the international community in order to put the country back on its feet. We were really quite surprised at the strength of his view,” he said.
Government and the International Monetary Fund are working on macro-economic policies and structural reforms that will underpin the country’s Staff Monitored Programme.
The SMP will be monitored on a quarterly basis and aims to implement a coherent set of policies that can facilitate a return to macro-economic stability.
IMF team leader in Zimbabwe Mr Gene Leon said the successful implementation of the SMP will assist in building a track record and facilitate Zimbabwe’s re-engagement with the international community.
The SMP, Mr Leon said, would be anchored on Government’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme.
Mr Cross also queried the reluctance by the international media to recognise President Mnangagwa’s achievements.
“[But] what more does this guy have to do, except stand on his head, to really persuade the world that Zimbabwe is on a new path? We were so far out of the field economically that we couldn’t expect to remain a player internationally.
“But in six weeks, we had a surplus. The International Monetary Fund couldn’t believe it. And from September onwards, we have run a surplus.”
The administration adopted a ballooning debt overhang which was driven by a significant increase in Government overdraft at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, from US$1,4 billion in December 2017 to US$2,5 billion by September last year.
Mr Cross added: “Zimbabwe has gone from a 40 percent deficit to a balance of payments surplus; by end of next quarter Zim will have a floating currency. Amazing economic achievement done in nine months; (I am) not a fan of Mnangagwa…but he is putting Zimbabwe on a new progressive path.”
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, in condemning a wave of unjustified price increases from an unscrupulous business community, recently revealed that Government was doing very well on the fiscal front.
He said Government was solvent and running surpluses averaging at least $100 million since September last year when the new Government was sworn in.
The Finance and Economic Development Minister said in January, Government recorded a surplus of $102 million, February $85,5 million, taking into account cushioning of civil servants while in March, the surplus doubled to about $200 million.
Mr Cross’s sentiments fly directly in the face of the MDC and other political commentators who have been on the warpath painting a bleak economic picture in Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, a United Nations report has revealed that Zimbabwe was better off under former President Robert Mugabe than under his predecessor, current leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The UN World Happiness Report 2019 ranks Zimbabwe as the 146th happiest country out of 156 nations. Zimbabwe dropped two places from number 144 the previous year.
In an interview with Newsday, Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe director Godfrey Kanyenze had this to say:
“It is not unexpected. If you compare where we are now with where we were last year, certainly last year we were in a better place. Certainly, last year, we did not have the fuel queues, last year expectations were much higher than they are now.
“The longer we go, the more disappointed we are now because it is a crisis of expectations. After the elections, people are expecting results, for the economy to begin to pick up and the government to address the challenges affecting us.”
The UN looked at six key variables when compiling the report over a period stretching from 2005-2018.
These variables are GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption, according to the World Happiness Report 2019.