Sunday, December 11, 2016

Zimbabwe Ministers Under Fire
Kuda Bwititi Chief Reporter
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

GOVERNMENT ministers are set to have a torrid time at the 16th National People’s Conference as ZANU-PF seeks to engineer the turnaround of the economy, a top Zanu-PF official has said.

The conference, which begins on Tuesday and ends on Saturday, will also deal with corruption, housing, factionalism and the state of the party.

For some time now, Zimbabwe’s economy has been under strain largely owing to low manufacturing capacity, a huge trade deficit and depressed foreign direct investment. The situation appeared to take a turn with United States dollar cash shortages which began around April 2016.

It is understood the Zanu-PF Politburo has kept the economy on top of its agenda, with President Mugabe directing his charges to deliver improved living standards to the citizenry.

Now, the conference comes as Government interventions like import controls under Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 are bearing fruit, and Command Agriculture has gained traction.

The SI, according to the latest Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries’ Manufacturing Sector Survey Report, has resulted in some companies bouncing back to 100 percent capacity utilisation.

Further, major economic deals signed between Zimbabwe and China are closer to implementation, with the US$1,4 billion Hwange Thermal Power Station Expansion Project, among other initiatives, now awaiting parliamentary ratification.

Conference will work to build on these scores. In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Dr Ignatius Chombo said Cabinet ministers will be required to present their achievements at the Masvingo indaba.

He said these presentations should be Zim-Asset-linked to track progress in line with goals and objectives outlined in the economic blueprint.

Themed “Moving with Zim-Asset in Peace and Unity”, the conference, Dr Chombo added, will emerge with key resolutions to spur economic development.

“We are guided by the exhortations made by President Mugabe to deliver the wishes and aspirations of the people. So the major focus of the conference will be the issues that concern the people everyday.

“The word on most people’s lips is the economy, so we will sit down and address that issue and come up with solutions to fix the economy in 2017.

“As the Secretary for Administration of the party, I have deliberately set the agenda to ensure that there is special emphasis on the economy.”

Dr Chombo also said: “The conference agenda has everyone looking into the four clusters of Zim-Asset, the 10-Point Plan for Economic Growth and the State of the Nation Address (sona)which was delivered by the President.

“We are going to measure all Zim-Asset targets, and all ministers will be asked to speak about the progress they have made in implementing the blueprint. They (ministers) will speak about what they have done over the years to implement Zim-Asset.

“Their presentations will answer questions on what they have done to create jobs, what they have done to improve the lives of people and what they have done to bring meaningful transformation.

“They will also    tell us their working programmes for the coming year. So, from where I sit, I am satisfied that the agenda we have set will leave no stone unturned in tackling the economy.”

He went on: “Our party policy is that there should be clear interaction between ministries and the party. The party always gives direction to Government. Therefore, whatever comes out at conference is what should guide Government.

“This is why I am urging every Zimbabwean, even those who do not support Zanu-PF, to follow the conference closely because it is an important event for every citizen.

“We are going to have all delegates disperse into nine units. All these matters, including the economy, our political position or the state of the party, will be tabled. These committees allow all delegates to air their views and they will then make resolutions based on what would have been said.

“As you can see, the process is foolproof in getting what the people want. Remember, all these delegates are representing party members from their respective districts; so their views are drawn from the grassroots.”

Dr Chombo said all Zanu-PF provinces had submitted pre-conference resolutions, with President Mugabe’s endorsement as Zanu-PF’s 2018 Presidential candidate being unanimous.

On the state of the party, Dr Chombo said although factionalism was of concern, Zanu-PF was going to Masvingo as a united front.

“While we acknowledge that factionalism has been a problem, it is clear that newspapers appear to create many stories about the so-called factionalism.

“We have heard lots of stories, but, to some extent, it was much ado about nothing. There is no perfect party in the world, we are all going to conference as a united front.”

He dismissed the claim by Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association chair Mr Douglas Mahiya that war veterans will boycott the conference.

“That statement was made by someone who was expelled from the party. So I think he was only speaking for himself because anyhow, there was no way that he was going to attend the conference.

“There are about 34 000 war veterans, and those who fell out of favour with the party are only a few. The Presidium of the party is made up of President Mugabe and his two Vice-Presidents who are all war veterans. So, really, I do not understand how that statement can have any meaning.”

According to Article 6 of the Zanu-PF constitution, the revolutionary party is supposed to hold its conference annually to:

“receive and consider reports of the Central Committee on behalf of Congress;
“to coordinate and supervise implementation of decisions and programmes of Congress by the Central Committee;
“declare the President of the party elected at Congress as the State Presidential candidate of the party;
“to exercise any such powers and authority as may be incidental thereto.

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