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Zim Government lacks consistency on Policy and economic projects

13 Mar 2019 at 21:38hrs | Views
Succession politics is a major stumbling block to the success story and progressive ideas in Zimbabwe. It is not about Mnangagwa, Chamisa or Mugabe, but it is about the future of this country. Government of Zimbabwe has abandoned several projects due to policy inconsistency and lack of political will and cohesion. My advice to Zim Government is that whilst you are implementing the "Zimbabwe is open for business mantra", it is key to be consistent with projects that were engineered by the previous regime.

What happened to the STEM project? What happened to the Zim Asset project?

Is there anything wrong if the current regime incorporates Policy ideas from the SMART policy document from the Chamisa led MDC?

 What happened to the BUILD idea of Mai Majuru? What happened to the Chirundu- Beitbridge highway project?

What led to the cancellation of the previous contractor who was given the contract? Our country has lost huge sums of money because of inconsistency and lack of political will. STEM was a good idea, the projections were so good, but because of consistency, it was abandoned and we now have the 2030 vision.

At first it was 2020 idea, later abandoned, Government is now working on the 2030 vision to achieve the middle class economy.

My question then comes back to the same Government, what has happened to the previous projects which were incorporated in previous budgets?

How then do we explain to potential donors about resource mobilization, yet we are known for abandoning potential projects which can enhance economic growth and development.

Imagine if the Government would go back to those projects and implement them, the issue of employment creation will be covered. What happened to the Zambezi water trust project, were millions of dollars disappeared into the pockets of well-known politicians, and the project never saw the light of the day? How then do we progress as a nation, when we have such type of inconsistency in our economic agenda?

Abandoned projects in Zimbabwe

Lack of hindsight and institutional co-ordination across government ministries has led to most large investment projects failing to take off. There is no proper coordination between people and institutions which will lead to the paralysis of service delivery.

Various large investment projects like the Zambezi Water Project, which was viewed as the long term solution to the southern region's water challenges, the construction of Kunzvi dam touted as the solution to Harare's perennial water shortages, the Harare-Chitungwiza railway project, the Jatropha bio-diesel plant in Mt Hampden, the Chisumbanje ethanol plant and the Nuanetsi Ranch ethanol plant project, to mention just a few, are some of the projects that seem to have been abandoned.

In the late 1990s the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) tabled ambitious proposals to construct a railway line linking Harare and Chitungwiza. Key development practitioners and Local experts others, who included Electrowatt of Switzerland, Mott MacDonald of Britain and China Southern Railway designed and presented their plans to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.

Chitungwiza residents were ecstatic and in 2003, the government granted a consortium of investors the approval to go ahead with the first phase of the multi-billion dollar project.

The residents were already fantasizing of travelling in safety and comfort. Fast forward 20 years later, there is no indication that the construction of the railway line will ever commence. Some home seekers have since been allocated stands along the route that had been pegged for the railway line, raising questions as to whether the project has been completely shelved.

It cannot be disputed that railway transport is cheaper and safer compared to road transport. It remains to be seen whether the government will resuscitate the project that is expected to bring relief to economically hard-pressed Zimbabweans.

In 2005, the government revived the bio-fuels programme as a response to the energy crisis the country was facing. The then National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) was mandated to head jatropha production across the scale, through smallholder farmers. At the height of this excitement, the jatropha plant was named the plant of the year by the Forestry Commission in 2006. Several nursery beds of jatropha were set up and to top it all, a state-of-the-art bio-fuel processing plant and, the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa, was constructed in Mt Hampden.

The plant, which is said to be the brainchild of the then Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor, Dr Gideon Gono is now a white elephant and the company which was tasked to contract and buy the jatropha, has since abandoned the project, leaving the farmers whom it had promised to give all the necessary support, deserted.

The two are just but an example of the many projects that have left observers querying the seriousness on the part of government or is it the tendency that just like in the education sector where the Nziramasanga Commission of 1999 was just this year retrieved from the dust shelves and finally implemented. Lack of resources on government's part, abuse of office and misappropriation of the little available funds are some of the reasons cited for failure to implement vital national development projects that benefit ordinary people.

Cases of non-action on certain national projects, shoddy implementation or unfinished projects have become a cause of concern as Zimbabwe grapples to fulfill the socio-economic needs of its people.

Planned road projects that have continued to take their toll on human lives roads that have been established but begin peeling off after a short life span, dam construction projects that have failed to materialize to ease water shortages and commercial activities for the communities, are but some of the cases under the spotlight.

In interviews with some independent sources in Harare, the view is that corruption which is manifest in the form of improper awarding of tenders for construction of roads, dams and other facilities are hindering progress in the country. In some cases, tenders are given to undeserving candidates on the basis of nepotism and corruption where winners are expected to give some percentage of money to the awarding authority. Other tenders are awarded to entities of individuals that do not have the capacity to do the job and end up performing shoddy work. In other instances, funds meant for national projects are misrouted to line pockets of some individuals through salary increments and packages that include posh motor vehicles to the disadvantage of the people.

Lack of accountability and impunity have cost the nation huge sums of money in unimplemented projects. Human resources are not being retrained to keep abreast with new trends and they therefore lag behind in implementing development projects. There consensus among people in the streets that that those proven to have misappropriated development funds and abused their office should be dealt with as a matter of urgency for development to take place in the country.

De-link development from politics

Why would Zim Asset and STEM be abandoned? I remember the idea of Robert Mugabe University was a good idea if implemented, and what happened to it? So why would the Government come up with new initiatives, and yet previous projects are not yet implemented? It would be ideal for Government to put measures to curb corruption and inconsistencies. We should deal with succession politics policy that should allow projects to continue even if the current Government has lost power. Continuity is key for national development. We must apply progressive politics in developmental matters.

Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo writes in his personal capacity as the Head of Global Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (GIPAR), and he is a leading project consultant and academic, studying Doctor of Philosophy at Women's University of Africa and he can be contacted at tinamuzala@gmail.com

Source - Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo
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