Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
GOVERNMENT will not tolerate acts of economic sabotage as it continues with initiatives to grow the economy as enunciated in Vision 2030 and the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.
Delivering his second State of the Nation Address since winning last year’s elections during the official opening of the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament in Harare, President Mnangagwa said the fight against corruption would be deepened until the vice was gotten rid of in society.
“My Government continues to take bold and decisive steps to open up and grow the economy for the benefit of all our people,” he said.
“The road map articulated in our Vision 2030, with the TSP as the key building block, is being systematically pursued. We are reforming our economy, we are reforming political space, and the very fabric of our society.
“I am encouraged by the nation’s positive response to the currency reforms which we have embarked on. Government is equally pleased with the relative stability of the exchange rate over the past eight weeks.”
However, the President said, last week’s events of exchange rate manipulation amount to economic sabotage and would not be tolerated.
“We all need to adhere to the rule of law and foster discipline at all levels. We are determined to consolidate digital financial services which are contributing to the creation of financial inclusion by way of delivering banking services to previously unbanked and vulnerable groups of our population,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said Government was fully aware of the challenges faced by citizens in accessing cash, resulting in some unscrupulous traders selling cash in exchange for electronic money.
“Appropriate measures are being taken to address the cash situation, which include a gradual removal of arbitrage opportunities created through multitier pricing,” said President Mnangagwa.
Last week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) suspended about 10 accounts of companies suspected of manipulating the currency.
On Monday, the RBZ banned cash-in, cash-out and cash back transactions that were being used by unscrupulous individuals to manipulate the exchange rate.
Mobile money agents were also fleecing people of their money through exorbitant premiums for cash-out transactions.
President Mnangagwa said Government had noted with concern the emergence of monopolies and cartels which stifle competition and engage in unjustified price hikes.
He said while Government will not revert to price controls, it was in the process of reviewing the Competition Act to introduce deterrent penalties to combat such business malpractices.
Turning to corruption, President Mnangagwa said reports of mismanagement of public finances as exposed by the Office of the Auditor General, and brought before Parliament, must never be condoned.
“Corruption retards our development, frustrates our ease and cost of doing business reforms and robs us of revenue. Government will continue to strengthen institutions that help in the fight against corruption.
“We must rid our society of this corruption cancer, to this there is no going back. It is time to increase accountability and transparency. We must work hard and smarter to serve our people, they deserve better,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe can only develop through increased productivity and innovation.
He said the economic reforms Government has embarked on are beginning to bear fruit, adding that making the economy work again will “require time, patience, unity of purpose and perseverance”.
President Mnangagwa said Government’s policies had resulted in a budget surplus in the first half of the year. He added that economic turnaround was hinged on focused support for the productive sectors especially in agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
“The 2018/2019 drought has seen our agricultural sector registering a negative growth rate. Going forward, Government has set aside $1,8 billion towards the production of strategic crops such as maize, soya beans and cotton.
“Of this amount, $567, 4 million has been allocated for the provision of inputs for vulnerable households and $332 million to ensure the procurement of inputs for cotton production.
“A total of $968 million will augment the $2,8 billion put forward by banks and the private sector to support the Command Agriculture Programme,” said President Mnangagwa.
A $60 million facility has been set aside for the rehabilitation of machinery under the Command Agriculture Programme while US$51 million has been allocated for the supply of various agricultural machinery from John Deere, some of which are already being delivered.
“Meanwhile, Government will accelerate the consummation of a facility with the Government of Belarus for the importation of tractors, planters and combine harvesters,” the President said.