By Elijah Chihota
The ZANU PF 17th Annual People’s Conference adopted an array of resolutions which are in sync with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s focus on the economy more than politics. For sure at this year’s conference it was not business as usual as the revolutionary Party made commitment to revive the country’s economy.
Delegates noted on the need to ensure food security in the country. Most areas in Zimbabwe have arable land to support meaningful crop husbandry. However, most farmers lack tillage equipment to carry out their farming activities. Urgent implementation of a farm mechanisation programme will go a long way in fulfilling this resolution. This farm mechanisation programme will be complementary to the Brazil More Food for Africa programme which supplied farmers with farming implements and irrigation equipment.
Therefore delegates proposed the rehabilitation of irrigation systems to utilise perennial water bodies across the country. With the issue of climate change and global warming taking centre stage, rain fed agriculture is no longer sustainable. For farmers to remain viable they need to irrigate their crops and practice double cropping. Farming is a multi-billion business; therefore our farmers need to harness the potential in this sector for the benefit of the economy. Government has been promoting the resuscitation of irrigation schemes across the country in order to promote improved food security and cut on the import bill.
It came to the attention of delegates that the country had no programmes which promote water harvesting. Delegates therefore, urged all districts to embark on a massive water harvesting, de-siltation of dams and complete construction of dams across the country. There are several dam construction projects which had been on hold for a long time such as the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project which if completed as recommended will go a long way in alleviating water shortages in urban areas as well as for rural areas.
Given that the Zimbabwean economy is agro-based, delegates resolved that Government should come up with strategies to help farmers to have access to local and external markets for their produce. In most cases farmers end up selling their agricultural produce for a song or it gets rotten as they fail to secure markets for their produce. ZimTrade has been scouting for markets for farmers, but some farmers are not aware of this role by ZimTrade, hence, they continue to lose their produce.
The Party resolved that there is need for Government to provide tillage services to farmers who have lost their draught power to tick-borne-diseases. A lot of farmers in a number of districts including Hwedza, Chikomba, Goromonzi and Mhondoro- Ngezi, among others lost their livestock to tick-borne diseases as they were failing to dip their beasts frequently.
The ZANU PF conference called upon Government to work out on improving the ease of doing business in the country. Zimbabwe is ranked 155 among 190 other nations in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business annual ratings. In 2017, Zimbabwe was ranked at 159 which show an improvement. Potential investors have been complaining about the ease of doing business saying it takes longer for one to acquire the requisite papers before a business is registered.
The banking sector was also scrutinised for giving clients nothing or next to nothing on interest. They proposed that banks should give meaningful interest rates on depositors and avoid astronomical bank charges. It is these exorbitant bank charges which cause a number of Zimbabweans to put their savings under the pillow.
Since the turn of the century, a number of companies closed owing to financial challenges and obsolete equipment. Delegates therefore, called on Government to be instrumental in the resuscitation of all closed factories. Re-opening of industries will result in employment creation which means the Government revenue would also increase. The long term effect will be that provision of social services will increase and the standard of living will improve as well.
Zimbabwe is a country endowed with vast mineral resources including gold, diamond and platinum, among others. ZANU PF resolution on mining was that Government should expedite the establishment of gold centres across the country. Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Dr Gideon Gono, set up some gold centres and one such is at the gold rich Chikuti, Hurungwe District in Mashonaland West Province. Such gold centres will increase the production and gold deliveries at the Fidelity Printers and Refineries and the announcement to remove the middlemen in gold buying will go a long way in combating gold leakages.
For a long time the country has been losing revenue by exporting unprocessed minerals. A good example was in the Platinum Group of Minerals (PGM) where the countries exported platinum matte which contained 5 other minerals such as ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium and iridium. The Party recommended the construction of refineries for value addition of minerals. Government has been pushing for the construction of a platinum and chrome refineries.