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THERE is no confidence that government, in its current composition, is capable of ushering in the economic turn-around the country desperately needs to lift it out of the decades’ long quagmire, analysts told the Financial Gazette this week.

The once promising Zimbabwe, which at independence had a currency which traded at one to one with the United States dollar, has slid into poverty for the majority of people, with no currency of its own no gold reserves to talk about a comatose service delivery system encumbered with untenable debt overhang due to a crippling balance of payments ratio which has resulted from the country importing much more than it exports.

With companies spewing out thousands of employees onto the streets as more and more firms either close shop or streamline operations to the bare minimum leaving the taxman with a tightly shrunken tax base and the Ministry of Finance with razor thin fiscal space the country is desperate for rescue.

Illiquid conditions have continued to prevail as banks, companies, government departments and other institutions and individuals chase after far too little cash.

Yet no light exists at the end of the tunnel. At least not yet in the foreseeable future.

Instead of government scrambling to find bacon, opportunities, silver and gold for the masses and bending over backwards to accommodate all manner and colour of investors, all Zimbabweans have been seeing is political infighting so loud, its deafening out potential investors and drowning out the cries of agony from the general populace.

“I don’t think the government in its current state is capable of ushering in an economic turnaround,” said economist, John Robertson. “We need people that are already there to come up with new ideas or to get completely new people.”

According to Robertson, the current thinking in government was too stiff and staid to allow for new ideas which the country needs to steer away from the decades long economic challenges, which have become perennial.

“There is rigidity of thinking in the style of management and the choices they (the leadership) are making makes the country uncompetitive which discourages investment from flowing in which makes people want to move to other countries where they can be better paid, have better opportunities and better lives,” Robertson said.

Because of the persistence of the economic quagmire and current absence of hope, many have adopted a wait and see attitude underscored by a heavy sense of uncertainty.

Without any specific event or outcome to actually wait for as a change point, uncertainty is reigning supreme. What has exacerbated the uncertainty is the current infighting and ousters in the ruling ZANU-PF.

“All that uncertainty remains discouraging to the investor,” said Robertson. “People don’t know who is going to be removed or who is going to be there. While uncertainty of any kind exists, investors keep away.”

Another economist, Prosper Chitambara told the Financial Gazette that under current conditions and all things being equal, it was almost impossible for a turn around.

“It is very, very difficult at the moment for there to be a turn around, particularly if you look at the problems the country has,” Chitambara said.

He said this compounded the existing economic problems.

“Zimbabwe is a very high cost economy requiring massive financial injections in the country in order to improve the Doing Business environment,” Chitambara said.

He also has no confidence in the current government pulling the country out of the economic abyss.

“I am not sure that the will to make a turnaround is there in the current government particularly if you look at the political infighting,” Chitambara said, adding that the country needed time, a lot of focus and, most of all, social cohesion.

“Government needs to be humble enough to accept that things are not well and be open even to input from other stakeholders across the political divide, in business, civil society and many other partners. The country needs unity, dialogue and smart partnerships,” Chitambara said.

Source : Financial Gazette

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