Elliot Ziwira-Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe is on a path to rapid socio-economic growth driven mainly by measures put in place to boost production, which has risen remarkably across various sectors of the economy in the last few months, President Mnangagwa has said.
He made the remarks during a virtual address to mark the 2021 International Workers Day, which fell on Saturday.
The President’s views are shared by top economists, including Mr Eddie Cross, who believes 2021 would be a year for “significant growth”.
Said President Mnangagwa: “The implementation of our National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) is on course, with the country now on the path to sustained socio-economic growth.
“This is anchored on increased production and productivity across all sectors of our economy.”
Industrial capacity utilisation, said President Mnangagwa, was already on the way up, with locally-manufactured goods occupying a greater share of space in supermarket shelves owing to the dedication, hard work ethic and honesty exhibited by workers across all subdivisions of the country.
Deliberate policies by the Government, including the Local Content Policy, have seen the capacitation of local industries to boost their production levels, resulting in improved availability of goods in shops.
Previously, imported goods dominated supermarket shelves, a move that resulted in low employment levels.
The NDS1 — a five-year economic blueprint that runs from 2021-2025 — was launched by President Mnangagwa in November last year to promote inclusive development.
NDS1 endeavours to streamline gender, youth, women and other vulnerable groups, thus creating equal opportunities for all in an economically stable environment.
It is a successor to the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), and is seen as critical in the attainment of an upper middle income economy by 2030.
Notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic that has played havoc on global economies, the Second Republic has kept its eyes on the ball in its quest to create an enabling environment for socio-economic growth and boost investor confidence.
“The gloomy picture of 2017 has been replaced by a genuine sense of optimism; optimism that conditions are now in place for our country to fulfil its potential and for our people to thrive,” said the President.
In a recent interview on SABC’s The Globe, Mr Cross said Zimbabwe had turned the corner, adding that substantial progress had been made towards socio-economic growth in the last two and a half years due to President Mnangagwa’s commitment to “substantial and fundamental changes” since becoming President.
“I think in the last two and a half years, very substantial progress has been made,” he said. “It really started after the 2018 elections when (Professor) Mthuli Ncube was appointed the Minister of Finance, and he is a well-known, internationally recognised economist with a solid track record.”
Mr Cross pointed out that the TSP, a short-term blueprint that ran from October 2018 till the end of last year, brought about economic stability the country enjoys.
“It stabilised the macro-economic situation in the country and achieved a fiscal surplus, a feat achieved for the first time since independence in 1980,” he said.
“The runaway exchange rate, fuelled by the parallel market, was also reined in. The inflation rate which was at 800 percent last year, was brought down to the current two and a half percent per month.
“These are no mean achievements. My view is that 2021 is going to be a year of significant growth.”
Mr Cross said the construction industry will maintain its growth trajectory, especially following the commissioning of a US$2,8 million dry mortar mix plant at Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe in Mabvuku, Harare, by President Mnangagwa last week.
The plant, which is under phase one of Lafarge Zimbabwe’s three-phase expansion programme launched in 2019 for a total investment of US$25 million, is set to revolutionise the construction industry by expanding the range and quantities of raw materials suitable for the latest building technologies.
It will also provide additional lime for agriculture and water treatment.