Ailing economy troubles Zanu PF
ZANU PF remains worried by the state of the economy ahead of general elections next year, with ruling party officials believing economic hardships will present a big hurdle for the party’s quest to win polls at all levels.
Amid indications that President Emmerson Mnangagwa — who secured a mandate to lead the party at next year’s elections — will call an election at the earliest legally stipulated time, sitting legislators remain concerned that their prosects may be affected by the state of the economy.
Zanu PF got a majority in National Assembly in 2018 after amassing 144 seats while MDC-Alliance, then under the leadership of Nelson Chamisa, got 64 seats.
“It may be tougher this time around, given the state of the economy and the fact that in 2018 there was a lot of goodwill following the ouster of (former president Robert Mugabe) Mugabe. Zanu PF MPs have expressed their concern over the state of the economy numerous times,” said a Zanu PF legislator.
“It is also on record that legislators have not been happy with the performance of Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, whom we believe has largely failed to deal with the economy. The Hansard is full of complaints and concerns from legislators.”
Concern over the economy was also highlighted by the party in the central committee report presented during congress last week.
On the economy and national security, the ruling party said price volatility caused by sharp exchange rate movements had become a security threat “which consequently had blighted its chance of a landslide win in the 2023 harmonised elections”.
The party applauded interventions by government, including the introduction of gold coins, which have stabilised the exchange rate, but called for more measures to strengthen the economy.
“However, there have been concerns regarding the welfare of the population. It would therefore be prudent for the government to address social welfare issues, including service delivery so that as we approach the elections in 2023 the country does not fall into the same predicament that befell it in 2021 whereby the opposition won some of the crucial urban by-elections despite several infrastructural development programmes done by the ruling party,” the central committee report says.
In July, senators said Ncube and the Reserve Bank had run out of ideas as shown by the introduction of complicated policies that confuse and disadvantage the ordinary people while failing to address the economic crisis.
The upper House said the introduction of countless measures, had failed to address economic problems, arguing that the minister ignored advice to dollarise which came from stakeholders during budget consultations.
In June, Zanu PF supporters strongly warned the party of impending electoral defeat in the 2023 general election because of the economic crisis.
They also accused Mnangagwa’s deployees in government, particularly Ncube, of failing to address economic challenges while behaving as if they are sabotaging him.
The Zanu PF officials gathered at the Harare provincial offices to discuss the economy and argued the situation had worsened on Ncube’s watch in the last four years.
Some officials suggested that former finance minister Patrick Chinamasa had performed better, despite being a lawyer and not an economist.
The irate supporters and officials accused Ncube of failing to deal with a troubled economy and always peddling explanations instead of delivering results to a restless society that is likely to vent its anger by voting against the ruling party in the next election.
The meeting on economic affairs was attended by national commissar Mike Bimha and Reserve Bank officials.
The central bank officials came under fire, with Zanu PF officials and supporters accusing them of failing to arrest the runaway inflation and exchange rate volatility, an indication that they have failed in fulfilling their mandate.
Zanu PF provincial secretary for economic affairs Blessing Chimanga, whose department organised the meeting, said Harare needed proper development if the ruling party entertained any hopes of winning. He warned saboteurs, accusing them of endangering the party.
“While others in different provinces depend on mining, agriculture and so on, in Harare we depend on employment and businesses. Without all that, we are not safe,” Chimanga said.
“We hope to have answers for all those questions we are grappling with. If the economy remains unwell, we will have no joy as a party in Harare. Reasons for this mess are so many. We had a central bank official who clearly did not have answers for a number of problems raised here.
“In 2017, the rate was 1:1. The United States dollar and the black market were at 1:2 when Patrick Chinamasa was the Finance minister. When a professor of economics came in, Minister Mthuli Ncube, the exchange rate now is embarrassingly high.
“In October, there was over US$1 billion which was said to be from the US. Professor Ncube came and told us the money will stabilise the exchange rate and prices. He told us the money was credited, but rates continue to soar.”
He said under the prevailing economic circumstances it would be difficult for the province to perform well. “Today, you cannot buy bread. How do you expect us to perform well as a party when the economy of Harare is not well?” Chimanga asked.
“The party deployees in government, some of them, act as if they don’t care and close markets at will, yet they know it’s a huge source of livelihood.
“We have people like (Provincial Affairs and Devolution) permanent secretary Tafadzwa) Muguti who came here and told us that markets would be opened, but up to now there is nothing. He now behaves like our boss and we are his subjects. The President is up and down trying to show his appointees how to do things, but they do not learn.
“We have roads courtesy of the President, investors come in daily, we have seen his work ethic, but we feel those appointed are sabotaging the President.
“When the son of God came, he had a big job at hand and he chose disciples to work with. One of the disciples he chose sold him out.”
Zanu PF supporters present during the indaba quizzed the director of economic research and policy in the Reserve Bank, John Mafararikwa, whom they accused of not proffering solutions to the troubled economy.