Ishemunyoro Chingwere and Michael Tome
The need to grow the economy which is one of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s major thrust, has cascaded down to members of the Cabinet with ministers appointed to economic ministries yesterday saying they will strive to achieve growth in their respective portfolios.
From his inauguration speech, President Mnangagwa has been consistent that the need to revive the economy will drive his presidency and in a brief chat with journalists after swearing in ministers yesterday morning, the president reiterated the need to focus on the economy.
“It has been hectic, but I believe that my team will stand the challenge,” said the President when asked about his first few days in office. I want them (Zimbabweans) united (and) we must grow our economy,” he said.
His message has rubbed onto his ministers with those appointed to economic portfolios all speaking the language of growth. Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Priscah Mupfumira, said she will work to promote brand Zimbabwe and boost arrivals. The largely perception driven industry last year earned the country $890 million after registering 2, 1 million tourist up from 2, 06 million in 2015.
“Tourism is a key contributor to the economy,” said Minister Mupfumira, “So for me the first thing is about brand Zimbabwe, marketing the brand, making sure that we attract as many tourists as possible and grow the sector’s contribution to Government revenue.”
Lands, Agriculture, and Rural Resettlement Minister Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, who last year led the technical implementation team for the hugely successful Special Maize Import Substitution Programme or Command Agriculture programme, said he will champion productivity on the farms.
“In terms of Agriculture, we have to ensure there is production, all land has to be fully utilised and apart from fully utilising the land, we want productivity to be increased really. We realise that we contribute a lot towards the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the country, wealthy creation in the country and foreign currency earning and we just have to leave up to the expectation of the nation,” said Minister Shiri.
Finance and Economic Development Deputy Minister Terrence Mukupe, said key to growth will be cutting Government expenditure.
“It’s clear when you talk to everyone on the streets the very first thing we really have to do as government is to live within our means, time for extravagancy is over. We have been spending most of our money on recurrent expenditure (and) we really need to take a good look at that recurrent expenditure and go through all the expense lines item by item to make sure that there is no wastage,” said the Deputy Minister.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, who has vast mining experience in the private sector, said while he is not in a position to spell out his strategy as yet, he will however, be guided by the need to grow the sector’s contribution to the economy.
The mining industry last year managed $2 billion exports and Government has this year set a $3 billion target for the sector. However, there have been concerns with a lack of upstream investment with business largely concentrated in the extractive sector.
“I haven’t been even to the office but all I can say is I look forward to being part of the process of growing our mining industry for the benefit of the economy,” said Minister Chitando.
Having served in relatively the same portfolio in former President Mugabe’s Government, Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Minister Dr Mike Bimha, said he will now need to make sure his thrust is in sync with President Mnangagwa’s.
“We need to revisit our strategy as a ministry in line with the thrust that has been given by His Excellency the President. In his inauguration speech he had a number of areas that he would want us to focus on,” said Minister Bimha.
“The issue of job creation, the issue of resuscitating industry and developing new industries these are areas we will continue, as we move forward, (to focus on) to drive the industrialisation agenda,” he said.