Thursday, April 25, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Makoni attacks MDC's record in government
24/04/2013 00:00:00
by Moses Chibaya

OPPOSITION leader Simba Makoni on Wednesday attacked the MDC-T’s record in government, insisting that the party’s claims that it stabilised the economy through dollarisation were a fraud.

The MDC-T went into government in 2009 after disputed elections forced President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party to sign a power sharing pact negotiated by Zimbabwe’s neighbours.

The MDC-T’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti scrapped the local currency and replaced it with a multiple currency regime under which the United States dollar, the Botswana pula and the South African rand all became legal tender.

The measures are credited as a key factor in bringing down the country’s trillion dollar inflation to single digits and arresting the economic freefall.

But Makoni, a former finance minister who was a losing presidential candidate in 2008 with his Mavambo-Kusile party, says neither Biti, who implemented the currency transition, nor Zanu PF’s Patrick Chinamasa who was acting finance minister and announced the measures in January 2009, can claim credit.

“The people of Zimbabwe dollarised this economy in October 2007 long before Chinamasa made his announcement in January 2009 that we were abandoning the Zimbabwe dollar… that’s when dollarisation took place,” Makoni told a news conference in Harare.

“Dollarisation is the only factor that brought some modicum of relief to the Zimbabwean economy, not the MDC.”

Makoni described the performance of the unity government as “dismal and pathetic.”

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s boasts that his party’s government role brought back goods to formerly empty shelves was nothing to celebrate, Makoni said, as most of the goods were imported.

“They promised to stabilise the economy,” Makoni said, “well, as far as I know the economy continues to decline. I know that Prime Minister Tsvangirai will want to boast that the shops are full of goods. It is true shops are full of goods, but whose product?

“I know that if you walked into a supermarket in 2006, I would say 90 percent of the goods on the shelves there were made in Zimbabwe and the other 10 percent that was imported were luxuries not basic commodities.”

The productive sector in Zimbabwe has continued to face severe operational constraints that have curbed production capacity, with Biti revealing that in the first quarter, exports raked in a paltry US$689 million against a bloated import bill of US$1,739 billion.

Exports for the first three months of the year declined by 10.3 percent while exports increased by 14 percent compared to the same period last year.

The decline in exports has been exacerbated by an increase in imports of manufactured and processed goods, which the minister said was not sustainable.

Most manufacturers in Zimbabwe have complained about erratic power supplies and expensive short-term capital while industries in Bulawayo are battling severe water shortages.

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