By Lynette Manzini
FreeZim Congress president Joseph Makamba Busha has lamented the inadequate ZW$18 billion stimulus package availed by government to encourage production in various sectors of the economy insisting the package would not be enough to eradicate hunger let alone kick start the economy.
Unveiled last Friday, the stimulus package is meant benefit agriculture, mining, manufacturing, health sectors and the vulnerable from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the package includes safety nets for the vulnerable, negative perceptions surround the development as the first round of funds earmarked for the vulnerable were flawed with secrecy.
According to the World Food Program 7.7 million Zimbabwean are food insecure, a number that is likely to rise owing to the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to Radio VOP in an exclusive interview Busha said, “The stimulus package is insufficient even if it was allocated for hunger elimination only.”
However, Busha suggests that government instead should prioritize social problems currently bedeviling the country that could compromise national stability.
“Poverty, hunger and health are the immediate threat to national unity, peace and security before any short to medium-term solutions are implemented,” Busha said.
Despite the numerous donations and funds allocated to the curtail the spread of COVID-19, local media reports imply the tension between the health care workers and the government pertaining pandemic related allowances are still high, a situation that could prove to be disastrous for the already ailing sector.
The mining sector being the biggest foreign currency earner sets to benefit ZW$1 billion while ZW$6 billion and ZW$1 billion has been allocated to the Agriculture and Health sectors respectively.
The FreeZim Congress leader added that the lack of accountability and transparency in the mining industry short changed the nation.
“The only sector that could bring forex and contribute to the fiscus is mining but the revenue from the sector cannot be accounted for,” he added.
In 2017 before the late former President Robert Mugabe was ousted, he revealed the country failed to account for the fifteen billion United States Dollars from the diamond mining proceeds. To date the money has still not been accounted for.
Regarding the agriculture industry Busha is adamant that the command agriculture program should be disbanded if it fails to contribute minimum of percentage to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The command agriculture never benefited the nation, but individuals. Our food reserves should last at least two or three seasons. That’s FREEZIM Congress Policy on domestic food security.”
“If the Command Agriculture program cannot be managed to be productive and contribute at least 20% to the National GDP, then it must scrapped totally.” he said.
The FreeZim Congress leader contested in the 2018 presidential elections and came a distant fourth after Emmerson Mnangagwa of ZanuPF, Nelson Chamisa of MDC Alliance and Thokozani Khupe of MDC.