By Ndakaziva Majaka
Amid the embarrassing news that Zimbabwe has now been officially ranked as the poorest country in Africa, economic experts say the government has no choice but to introduce much-needed policy reforms to resuscitate the country’s dying economy.
Veteran economist John Robertson told the Daily News yesterday that the only way out for Zimbabwe was for the government to urgently change its policies to attract investment.
“The problem is no one in this government wants to accept responsibility for the mistakes that have been made.
“The mere fact that we find our country on that poverty list means we are clearly doing something wrong, and the situation needs to be fixed.
“It is possible to get out of the economic quagmire we find ourselves in if mistakes are admitted to and corrected.
“The country also needs an urgent dramatic policy reversal because the present policies have led us to where we are today, with hundreds of thousands of jobs destroyed and billions in potential revenue unrealised,” Robertson said.
At the weekend, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also said the country needed to overhaul its policies, to arrest the current and alarming economic slide.
“Zimbabwe is in a very, very difficult situation, as you know. There is a limited amount of foreign exchange inflows coming in and no monetary policy tool.
“So, it’s very important to have a more comprehensive policy package which also addresses a lot of the fiscal challenges that the country faces,” IMF director for the African Department, Abebe Aemro Selassie, said.
According to the Africa 2016 Wealth Report, Zimbabwe has been ranked as the country with the poorest people on the continent, with average wealth of $200 per person.
In the report, AfrAsia — a Mauritius-domiciled financial institution which once operated in Zimbabwe after acquiring the now-defunct Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited — noted that back in 2000, Zimbabwe was one of the wealthiest countries in sub-Saharan Africa on a wealth per capita basis.
It listed Mauritius as the country with the wealthiest people, with an average wealth of $25 700 per person.
Zimbabwe is deep in the throes of a debilitating economic crisis which has led to horrendous company closures and the consequent loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
At the same time, economists have said that poverty levels in the country are skyrocketing, with average incomes now at their lowest levels in more than 60 years — with more than 76 percent of the country’s families now having to make do with pitiful incomes that are well below the poverty datum line.
The opposition MDC also said yesterday that Zimbabwe could recover from the current economic mess, as it had abundant natural resources.
“Ours is a classic case of gross macro-economic mismanagement of the economy by the Zanu PF regime over the past 37 years.
“We have got abundant natural resources such as minerals and a good climate, but we have dismally failed to unlock value from our otherwise very huge potential.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel for Zimbabwe as long as the deeply corrupt and clueless Zanu PF dictatorship is booted out of office.
“Anything short of this means that Zimbabweans will continue to wallow in poverty and penury, as the national economy goes on a tailspin.
“This is one of the main reasons why next year’s harmonised elections have to be free and fair, to usher in a responsible, focused, legitimate and caring government of the people for the people,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu told the Daily News. Daily News