By Lynette Manzini
President Emmerson Mnangangwa has urged the nation to strengthen its tenacity towards economic recovery after the COVID-19 induced lockdown period elapses.
Before the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID19 a pandemic, the economy had already been marred by hyperinflation, inadequate supply of foreign and domestic currency. This disfigurement of the economy has seen many losing their jobs as industries scale down operations and some coming to a complete closure due to viability challenges.
Economists are on record blaming government policies for constraining industry’s effort to stay afloat. Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) 2019 Manufacturing Sector Survey released last February revealed a decrease in capacity utilisation from 48.2% in 2018 to 36.4% in 2019. A situation economists say will be fuelled by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Government enforced a 21 day lockdown beginning 30 March to 20 April 2020 as a mechanism to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and to encourage social distancing. It is still unclear whether the lockdown will be extended or not.
During the course of the lockdown regulations were relaxed allowing farmers to sell their produce at official produce markets across the country, under the prescribed regulations and monitoring of security personnel.
Delivering the 40th independence speech President Emmerson Mnangagwa recognised the need to maintain the economy despite the dangers paused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Beyond grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to keep our economy functional. Unavoidable shocks and disruptions must be mitigated.”
“Once the lockdown is over, we must all get back to work, with discipline and harder effort as we ready ourselves for speedy economic recovery,” Mnangagwa said.
Mnangangwa added that the pandemic induced border closures has kindled and created an opportunity for local industries with little competition
“The silver lining to the present global health crisis is the awakening of our national creativity and inventiveness.”
“It is commendable that local industries and universities have become hubs for import substitution, starting with the essential materials needed for immediate use in our health sector.” he said.
He committed to supporting the manufacturing processes developed as part of the country’s defence against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the high unemployment rates, effects of the economy and drought have exposed 2.2 million Zimbabweans in the city and 5.5 million in the rural areas to food insecurity according to the World Food Program.
To cushion the vulnerable in the cities during the lockdown the government set aside ZW$600 million to be distributed for three months among one million people under the Cash Transfer Program.
Messages instructing submission of names of vulnerable people were shared on social media groups by some councillors and Member of Parliament but not everyone is on social media.
Unfortunately, to date some are still not aware of the program as the information has not reached them.