Mnangagwa says ministries pushing black market

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has finally confessed that the black market and high pricing are being driven by widespread theft and corruption inside government agencies.
Mnangagwa said in his weekly Sunday Mail editorial, “Many things have been going wrong in (public) sector, which must lead the way and whose purchasing power accounts for 70% of the demand for products and services in our economy. But the government sector is far worse. Given the public sector’s disproportionately large position in economic procurement and its reputation for excellence, it goes without saying that the sector’s actions have far-reaching effects.

“By any measure, monthly government spending is massive; in fact, it determines the course of the whole economy. Everything the government does has an impact on the economy since it is such a large consumer of goods and services. The government’s need for certain products and services should typically lead to a rise in economic activity.

Our most recent research, however, has demonstrated that this is not always the case. Actually, the government’s massive demand for goods and services has been fueling the illicit market, which in turn has caused widespread currency and price volatility. Government has committed several omission-based offences. As a result of our lack of caution in certain purchases, the whole economy has paid a heavy price.

At a conference last week, Finance Ministry Secretary George Guvamatanga made similar accusations, blaming other government organisations and departments for supporting the black market exchange rate.

Unfortunately, Your Excellency, certain pricing models have the backing of procurement and even line ministries. This cannot continue, Your Excellency; it is intolerable.

Mnangagwa, on the other hand, replied vehemently to Guvamatanga’s disclosures, saying that they were punishable and that if they had taken place in China, Guvamatanga would have been a good “execution” candidate for his words.

Godfrey Kanyenze, an economist, has suggested a social compact be established between business and major representatives and stakeholders in the economy to prevent further price increases.

The growing cost of living in Zimbabwe is a painful reminder of the country’s troubled past. There is widespread plundering, and people don’t have faith in or use the local money. “We need to bring a conclusion to those concerns and come up with a social compact which will unite the sector with representatives and stakeholders in the economy,” Kanyenze added.

It is in Mnangagwa’s power to reduce corruption, in his opinion, and he should do so.

One cannot just accept the existence of corruption without taking any steps to combat it. The government has all the authority it needs to deal with corruption concerns, thus it is imperative that an anti-corruption trust be established at the highest level. It would not foster a climate of impunity if it were serious about combating corruption. To combat corruption, strong hands are required. We can’t claim to be anti-corruption if we act corruptly,” he continued.

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Yona Menon Banda, another economist, stated, “It (government) should imitate norms in the developed world, where projects are normally presided (over) by type of public reports with technical input from specialists.” Mnangagwa needs to beef up audits by providing additional authority to the auditor general. Every action should be open to public inspection. Newsday

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