FORMER Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, says Zimbabweans enjoyed the most stable and fruitful economic period during the Government of National Unity (GNU).
His remarks come at a time when Zimbabwean is reeling from biting poverty and rampaging inflation which analysts and commentators have blamed on failed economic policies by the incumbent government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Dr Gono was RBZ governor from 2003 to 2013, when the GNU’s tenure of 2008 to 2013 expired, plunging the Zimbabwean economy back into the abyss of hyperinflation and despair.
“In this country’s history the GNU era saw Zimbabweans enjoy the most stable and prosperous economic environment, where the country did so well. During the GNU years, agriculture contributed close to 15 percent of this country’s GDP. You had tobacco farmers who doubled and tripled productivity as a result of the farm mechanization program. You had a period where the dependence of importation of grain was reduced compared to previous ones,” he said during a show on ZTN.
Upon the taking over of power by President Mnangagwa from his mentor and longtime ruler, the late former President Robert Mugabe, many Zimbabweans had hoped that ED, as Mnangagwa is affectionately called by his supporters; would join forces with opposition and create a GNU in order to tame the economic slide, something which did not happen.
When s technocrat in Professor Mthuli Ncube was appointed to the Finance and Economic Development portfolio in the new government in September 2018, hopes were high that he would bring about the much needed economic stability and growth, but nearly 2years later the economic situation has drastically taken a turn for the worst, dashing hopes of a recovery for the long suffering Zimbabweans.
In his budget presentations and several announcements in the past few weeks, the Finance Minister has forecast economic growth ranging from 3 to 5 percent GDP-wise. However, Zimbabwe’s real gross domestic product (GDP) is seen contracting by 15,5% in 2020 as the foreign currency shortage, limited investment, company shutdowns, soaring inflation and lockdown measures imposed in order to stem the spread of corona virus continue to weigh down the economy. These statistics are contained in a country report by the Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU).
“You had a situation where our GDP growth was over 7 percent, nine percent, 10 percent. In other words we enjoyed some of the greatest economic achievements in the GNU thanks to the agricultural mechanization program,” argued Dr Gono.
Prof Ncube last week said that the country was on track to meet its budget deficit target of 1,5% of GDP in 2020 in a key update that was absent from his mid-term budget last week.
He said that he would not seek additional funding this year since the national Treasury had spent less than half of its budget despite pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am still focusing on a budget deficit of 1,5% of GDP and we are well on our way to achieving that,” Ncube said during a review of the half-year budget held virtually. This would be an improvement on last year’s 4% deficit.
It was not clear why that figure was omitted from last week’s presentation.