The first of October marked the State Of The Nation Address (SONA) and the official opening of the second session of the ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe. The two events had to be held on the same day in turn but in this article, my focus is on the SONA. The SONA was presented by President Mnangagwa and was the second one since he became the officially elected President of Zimbabwe. He started his speech at midday and I shall be discussing some of the highlights from his address.
Government Supports Fintech Services
He pointed out that the government’s commitment to supporting digital financial services. He indicated that such services are important for attaining financial inclusion. He also said they are working towards addressing the cash situation which has of late led to illicit behaviour (this obviously was in reference to the Ecocash platform). Exchange rates manipulations by those who hoard cash is something he said is intolerable. Basically the government is in the process of getting rid of conditions that fuel price distortions.
He acknowledged the effects of drought in the country and indicated that the government has earmarked ZWL$1.8 billion dollars for food crop production. He also stipulated the condition upon which farmers will qualify for support under the Command Agriculture initiative. He also highlighted that US$51 million has been set aside for the procurement of the equipment needed for this initiative. Farmers who have been consistent with their delivery of grain to the GMB are the ones who will be catered for. He also highlighted that plans are already at play to facilitate the importation of fertilizers and other related inputs duty-free. Government is also putting together an initiative that will see animal dipping chemicals becoming more available so as to promote livestock production.
He hinted on a framework to surge the local mining industry net worth to US$12 billion by 2012. He said the roadmap to achieving that milestone shall be announced and rolled out soon. He also highlighted that the establishment of one-stop border posts is central to making the country a transport and communication hub. With that in mind, he said the government is working towards achieving that.
In a bid to curb electricity shortages, he pointed out that it is the reason why cost-reflective structures have been restored. The President also said the government is also working on increasing imports of electricity. He also said that ZESA shall be restructured soon in order to get rid of corruption and optimize the power utility company. Much stiffer penalties shall be enacted under the Electricity Act for culprits involved in vandalism.
State And Publicly Owned Enterprises
The process of restructuring state and publicly owned enterprises is still on-going says the President. He stated POSB and GMB as some of the examples that are in the process of either partial or complete privatization. GMB shall be split into grain reserves and silo food industries. The other enterprises to be privatized are TelOne and NetOne. Allied Timbers, ZUPCO, IDBZ and AgriBank shall be partially privatized.
Companies that have foreign currency are now allowed to source their own fuel using registered oil companies. In order to deal with malpractices, the government is working on introducing a national fuel monitoring system. The Petroleum Act is being refined to facilitate the establishment of a framework that promotes the exploration of mineral oil and natural gas.
These are some of the key highlights from the recent State Of The Nation Address. As always most of the said issues will hold water once they have been implemented. I say so because some of the issues have been talked about for a while now without any tangible progress on the ground. Some do feel that a lot of pertinent matters were not covered in the SONA. It also seems to have been silent on empirical data summarizing the current state of the nation.