By Prince Kurupati
Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate estimates range wildly with official country statistics bodies putting it at 10.7 per cent while some unofficial statistics institutions put it 60 per cent and others at 95 per cent. Despite the absence of ‘reliable’ data, what’s clear on the ground is that an unemployment challenge is existent in the country. With fears rising in the country amongst the locals especially the youth that the prevailing economic situation may see more companies and industries closing shop, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa was quick to allay those fears stating that his administration will create over 700 000 formal jobs in the immediate future. The President said this as he launched the country’s new economic blueprint, National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
The National Development Strategy 1 is a policy document that will guide the economic fortunes of the country for a 5 year period starting New Year (2012) up to 2025. During his presentation, the President said the new economic blueprint is anchored on economic growth and institutional reforms which aim at helping Zimbabwe attain an upper middle-income economy by 2030. The blueprint runs under the theme “Towards a Prosperous and Empowered Upper Middle-Income Society by 2030”.
NDS1 aims at comprehensively turning around Zimbabwe’s economic fortunes. On this front, the new economic blueprint aptly tables polices and institutional reforms that all aim at transforming the countries’ economic fortunes. Five areas are outlined in the economic blueprint as the priority areas that require much needed and undivided attention if the country is to attain its vision of becoming an Upper Middle-Income Society by 2030. These five areas are (strategic infrastructure in) energy sector, water and sanitation, ICT as well as the transport sector.
“Riding on the momentum realized during the phase of the TSP (Transitional Stabilization Programme), the construction, rehabilitation and modernization of key infrastructure will continue with greater speed under the NDS1. Focus will be on strategic infrastructure in energy, water and sanitation, ICT and transport sectors which enable Zimbabwe to be more efficient and competitive,” Mnangagwa said.
President Mnangagwa said as the country starts implementing the National Development Strategy 1, human capital development and innovation will be needed if the blueprint is to pay dividends. “The development and deployment of appropriate skills, competencies and capabilities is set to be accelerated under the NDS1. The promotion of excellence, innovation, integrity, honour and hard work among our people should also be our focus into the future.” On this front, the President promised that over 700 000 formal jobs will be created during the tenure of the blueprint.
The President also highlighted the key industries that need much of government’s support that is, agriculture, mining, and manufacturing and tourism sectors. “The constant tracking of the objective of Vision 2030 will be essential as we go forward. The NDS1 will focus on accelerated growth of the economy between 2021 and 2025 leveraging on our agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism sectors…The Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy will continue to be boldly implemented towards a vibrant US$8,2 billion agriculture sector that will achieve national food and nutrition security.”
In addition to helping make the country food secure, President Mnangagwa said prioritizing the agriculture sector is crucial as it helps in facilitating increased exports, innovative market driven production, productivity and investment.
Another key tenet of the new economic blueprint that will help the country turn around its economic fortunes are the twin concepts of devolution and decentralization. “In line with the devolution and decentralization agenda provinces will be developing their provincial plans aligned to the NDS1 based on their respective resource endowments and comparative advantages.” He said devolution and decentralization is one sure way that the country can effectively tackle the challenges faced by women, youth and people living with disabilities when it comes to economic participation. By taking advantage of comparative advantages that exist in individual provinces, the problem of poverty can also be addressed and eradicated more effectively.
The President said the success of the National Development Strategy 1 hinges on ‘our united and unitary character, as a nation” thereby he called upon all Zimbabweans to work together in unison for the betterment of the country.
Speaking during the launch of the economic blueprint, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Minister Mthuli Ncube expressed optimism that the NDS1 is a perfect successor to the TSP stating, “The overaching goal of the NDS1 is to ensure high, accelerated, inclusive and sustainable economic growth as well as socio-economic transformation and development as we move towards an upper middle-income society by 2030.”