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Staff-Monitored Programme: Will it work this time around? – NewsDay

A FORTNIGHT ago the International Monetary Fund (IMF) technical team was in Zimbabwe engaging with the government of Zimbabwe together with other key stakeholders including academia, the private sector, and civil society.

Zimbabwean authorities seek to undergo an IMF Staff-Monitored Programme (SMP), a programme they want to be finalised before April 2024.

The IMF-SMP is an informal agreement between an IMF member country and IMF staff to monitor the member country’s economic programme.

These SMPs are used when an IMF member state is not yet able to implement an IMF-supported program because of limited institutional capacity, domestic instability, and or lack of assurances of financing.

In addition, the SMP can be used to help heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) be considered for debt relief under the HIPC initiative. In short, the SMP aids an implementing nation in establishing a good track record of policy implementation.

As such, a successful IMF-SMP could pave the way for an IMF financial arrangement or for the resumption of a financial arrangement that has gone off-track.

The IMF-SMP programme is crucial for Zimbabwe at this moment when the nation is facing debt distress, weak regulatory and institutional framework, and recurring and severe local currency fluctuations, which are trapping many people in abject poverty as the cost of living goes haywire.

Due to ballooning principal and interest arrears and penalties on public debt, the nation is now struggling to access concessionary external lines of credit leading to the proliferation of resource-backed loans (RBLs).

These are loans where repayment is either made directly in natural resources, such as minerals or is guaranteed by a resource-related income stream.

For instance, in 2022 Treasury revealed that Zimbabwe borrowed US$200 million from China in 2006 which loan was secured by 26 million ounces of platinum reserves in Selous.

RBLs are exerting dire developmental impacts by fuelling unsustainable resource extraction leading to environmental degradation, air and water pollution, forced displacements, and illicit flows. They are also accrued in secrecy thereby increasing the chances of corruption.

The ensuing debt cycle is now greatly affecting the government’s flexibility to react to adverse or unforeseen contingencies. This is happening at a time when the world is experiencing seismic shifts in climatic conditions as natural disasters like El-Nino-induced droughts, floods, and cyclones are becoming more frequent.

Zimbabwe’s capacity to invest in climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives to cushion vulnerable groups and communities and improve economic resilience is constrained.

In addition, since 2020 Zimbabwe’s debt service ratio has been upscaling significantly. This is the ratio of debt service payments made by or due from a country to that country’s export earnings.

In short, the debt service ratio is an indicator of a country’s debt burden. A significant amount of forex generated from Zimbabwe’s exports is being used to pay creditors instead of advancing various developmental programmes.

The economy is also rapidly self-dollarising and the government has joined the dollarisation bandwagon. Recently, it promulgated Statutory Instrument (SI) 218 of 2023, which extended the use of the US dollar (US$) as a legal tender in Zimbabwe till 2030 — the end period of National Development Strategy 1 (NDS2) (2026-2030).

The Treasury initially anticipated the multicurrency regime to wind up by the end of the NDS1 (2021-2025). This policy shift is a bid to quench market panic that emanated from fears of another forced de-dollarisation plan despite a lack of fundamentals to support a mono-currency system.

In June 2019 when the government tried to force de-dollarisation through SI 142-2019, the move greatly backfired and caused huge losses of value that plunged many people into abject poverty.

Statistics show the Zimdollar underperforming against the US dollar by losing at least 60% of its value in only six months in both official and parallel foreign exchange markets.

Consequently, official price inflation tripled from 175,7% in June 2019 to close the year at about 521%. While greater use of the US dollar will bring exchange rate and price stability, it will be a mammoth task for authorities to contain the growth of the hard-to-tax informal sector economy.

Already, public faith in the formal banking system has collapsed as they embrace cash transactions and mattress banking.

The use of cash promotes underground dealings and externalisation. Thus, it poses a big threat to national budget financing on public service delivery, infrastructure development, and servicing of existing debts.

As such, IMF’s technical advice will help in broadening the tax base amid rising informality. Furthermore, the IMF-SMP will greatly benefit Zimbabwe’s reform tracks (economic growth and stability, governance, and agriculture systems) identified under the ongoing structured debt dialogues with creditors.

Given Zimbabwe’s current track record of policy reversals, having an SMP will likely compel authorities to stay the course. However, it is worth noting that most economic and structural reforms entail increases in taxes including high user fees in the education and health sectors, deregulation, and downsizing of government through withdrawal of subsidies, reduction of civil service, and commercialising and privatisation of key state-owned enterprises.

Without the establishment of strong social safety nets, these reforms exert a disproportionate impact on the poor majority who heavily rely on public services in their daily lives.

This was greatly attested by the IMF-led Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) of the 1990s as well as the Treasury’s austerity measures under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) (Oct 2018-Dec 2020).

These reforms led to deindustrialisation, increased informalisation, high unemployment, increased exchange rate depreciation, rampant inflation, and increased poverty and marginalisation.

Therefore, there is a need for a “wet” IMF-SMP to reduce the downward pressure of reforms on the vulnerable groups in particular and the economy in general.

Generally, a wet SMP includes incentives for efforts for reforms as well as funding to mitigate social impacts on the vulnerable.

This is crucial given the fact that the SMP is being proposed at a time when Zimbabwe is also expected to experience El-Nino weather conditions (normal-to-below-normal rainfall patterns) with the potential to cause severe crop failure, affect food prices, and increase food insecurity.

Furthermore, there is a need to prioritise feasible ways of raising fiscal resources without increasing taxes.

These include, inter alia, curbing public sector corruption to reduce resource leakages, plucking illicit financial flows, particularly in the extractive sector, strengthening value chains, import-substitution, formalisation of the informal economy, and strengthening institutional and legal frameworks.

Sibanda is an economic analyst and researcher. He writes in his personal capacity. — [email protected] or Twitter: @bravon96


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Govt overhauls vocational training programmes – NewsDay

The new strategic framework for the modernisation and transformation of vocational training systems has already been approved by Cabinet, Youth Empowerment and Development minister Tinoda Machakaire said yesterday.

GOVERNMENT is overhauling vocational skills training at its centres across the country to ensure that graduates meet the demands of the current job market.

The new strategic framework for the modernisation and transformation of vocational training systems has already been approved by Cabinet, Youth Empowerment and Development minister Tinoda Machakaire said yesterday.

Machakaire made the remarks while addressing 1 501 graduands from Magamba Vocational Training Centre in Manicaland province.

He said the new framework would facilitate the review of skills training and programmes to modernise the vocational training system (VTS) and transform vocational training centres (VTCs) into modern centres of excellence.

“The framework which was developed through wide consultations will facilitate the review of the skills training system and programmes to modernise the VTS and transform VTCs into centres of excellence,” he said.

“The VTCs are expected to provide relevant skills for youth empowerment and the socio-economic development of the communities which these VTCs serve as required by Heritage Education 5.0.”

Education 5.0 is a five-mission model of teaching, research, community service, innovation and industrialisation.

The VTCs have a mandate to develop an entrepreneurial and self-reliant culture among the Zimbabwean youth.

Machakaire pleaded with industry and commerce to support VTCs in their communities as part of their corporate social responsibility to contribute towards the youth economic empowerment agenda.

“The youth empowerment agenda requires the concerted and collaborative efforts of us all — government, development partners, the private sector and community leadership in general,” he said.

“Vocational training and skills development is one of the youth development and empowerment strategies that my ministry is pursuing as an integral cog in Zimbabwe`s industrial development agenda.”

Machakaire, however, admitted that VTCs were facing various challenges related to underfunding.

“I have been informed that some of your challenges include dilapidated infrastructure, inadequate staff, obsolete tools and equipment including the unavailability of reliable vehicles,” he said.

“This strategic framework which is to be implemented should adequately deal with the above challenges.”

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Muckracker: The sandy journey to democracy – NewsDay

It was reported that Tendai Biti, one of the country’s angriest men, is unhappy because of some parody social media account.

MUCKRAKER, like most patriotic people across the country, is still recuperating from the vigorous exertions of dancing in the sand last weekend.

In case you have been hiding under a rock, probably hiding from sanctions, the absolute geniuses in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) organised musical galas recently, which were meant to celebrate the environmental destruction of the country’s longest river, Save.

The Siltation Gala drew thousands of imbibers, who debauched their way through the balmy night and danced away on what used to be a river.

According to the OPC: “Save Beach Bash! Strategic Communications, Presidential Communications, Zimbabwe. Communicating to give impetus to the programmes and projects that contribute to the attainment of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030”.

Indeed, in that vision, all rivers would have disappeared. At that time, we will be hosting similar concerts. Where we once had roads, we will host the Pothole Jamboree. We have already turned old train coaches at the National Railways of Zimbabwe premises into low-cost accommodation for those with rather urgent personal needs.

Nothing can stop this vision.

Nothing puzzling

Around the country, many people are still scratching their heads in puzzlement after a former minister complained about corruption. It was reported that Dzingai Mutumbuka, a former education minister, found out to his horror that someone in the Deeds Office had found better things to do with his property, transferring it to someone else for a small fee, naturally.

For some reason, Mutumbuka is making a song and dance about this small issue. In fact, shockingly, he claims to have taken this up with the country’s owner.

“I met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and I congratulated him on his achievements, but I told him he will not achieve much if he doesn’t deal with corruption,” Mutumbuka said.

“I am known that is why I am able to fight my case in the courts. What about those ordinary men and women in the streets who are not known? They easily lose their hard-earned properties to such fraudsters.”

Of course, we are sure that Mnangagwa must have rolled on the floor with laughter at such a suggestion. First, what does Mutumbuka mean by “achievements? Secondly, why does he think “ordinary men and women in the streets”? Are they the vene of the country? When did they start to matter to warrant such needless noise?

This Mutumbuka fellow should crawl back to quiet retirement and let comrades eat in peace.

Human exports

Speaking of achievements, the country continues to excel by increasing exports. Among the biggest exports of the country, are human beings.

Once, our previous deceased owner described Britain as “a very cold, uninhabitable country with small houses”. Now, we are told by Britain that Zimbabwe is among the top three countries in the whole world in terms of sending people to work in the UK’s health and care work system.

In total, over the past year, some 40 000 Zimbabweans and their dependents left Southern Africa’s fastest growing economy to go and stay in this “very cold, uninhabitable country” and get jobs in care work.

Other countries are trying to copy us. This week, we heard that Pastor Lazarus Chakwera is being congratulated widely for sending 221 young Malawians to work on farms in Israel. The nation congratulates Zanu PF for this massive achievement in growing exports.

We call upon the geniuses in the Office of the President and Cabinet’s Communication Department to speedily host another gala, preferably at our shiny new airport, to celebrate this milestone.


Meanwhile, it’s all hotting up over there in the alleged opposition. It was reported that Tendai Biti, one of the country’s angriest men, is unhappy because of some parody social media account.

It was all to do with an account in the name of one Sengezo Tshabangu, the unemployable lout who now claims to be in charge of the Citizens Coalition for Change. In one post, whoever runs the fake account mischievously claimed that Tshabangu had met Biti for a meal at a hotel. Asked to comment, a frothing Biti told NewsDay: “I’m not interested.

That account must be a parody account that was created by Chamisa and his team. Just check it. I have not met Tshabangu and let me repeat that I am not interested”.

We congratulate Biti for always managing to commit political hara-kiri when his opponents need him to. He has a long, tried and tested history in that department.

French honeymoon

According to reports this week, the Mayor of the Former Sunshine City Lovejoy Chitengu and his deputy Rosemary Muronda are leading a high-powered delegation to the tourist resort of Nyanga to eat as much as they can while they still can.

It is reported that the two, accompanied by 23 other chefs, will spend US$24 000 at a strategic retreat to discuss very important things.

“The objectives (of the retreat) are to find new financial and business partners, expand the network to top-level business contracts, discover and learn best practices from leading” as well as learning about “efficiency towards defined goals and standards”.

We are told the seminar’s theme – there is always a long theme for such events – is “Refining Corporate Excellence and Efficiency towards delivering a Middle Income Economy —Vision 2030.”

Yet, you hear ungrateful residents complaining. They are whining about the fact that “city fathers and mothers” are spending money on hotels, leaving behind a cholera crisis. But these people need to zip their mouths.

Since when do we elect people based on competence? Why are we surprised? Did they show you their qualifications when you voted for them? No. so why the shock? Let them eat on your behalf. What else are they there for?

Jobs, jobs, jobs!

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has flighted advertisements calling on people to sign up to work for the government.

“Are you a recent graduate? Are you between the ages of 19-30? Are you looking for a job? If you answer ‘Yes’ to all three questions then mark this date on your calendar and the venue below: December 6, 2023.

Do you want to work for the government?

Come to the PSC Job Fair for a chance to be considered for employment.”

Muckraker suspects there was a genuine, innocent mistake made by whoever wrote that advert.

It is more likely that they meant to say: “We know you are over 30 and never had a job. Are you desperate enough to sign yourself into slavery? Then come and work for the government”.

The “slavery” part there, of course, refers only to low-level workers.

The rest are the slave drivers who drive 4X4s. Those ones do not need to apply through “job fairs”.

Could this be true?

There were shocking revelations in the trial of Marry Mubaiwa, who was once married to the country’s deputy owner, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

According to one report: “Former health and child care deputy minister Dr John Mangwiro testified in court that Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, while admitted in South Africa, received treatment from a veterinary doctor at the insistence of his ex-wife, Marry Mubaiwa.

Dr. Mangwiro revealed that he discovered Dr. Peck was a veterinary doctor after initially being presented as a family medical practitioner by Mubaiwa.”

Calling a vet to treat a whole human? We can only surmise that Marry, in her affection, took the VP’s totem a bit too far.

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Mawaba primary school unveils e-learning classroom block – The Zimbabwe Mail

The Bulawayo City Council (BCC), Thursday, commissioned an e-learning classroom block at Mawaba Primary School in Lobengula West.

The new facility will provide learners with access to information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The classroom block was renovated for US$5,000 through a collaboration between the school and its parents. The classroom is equipped with 45 laptops, which the school won under a merit award from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

Speaking during the commissioning ceremony held at the school under the theme, “Empowering Learners Through E-Learning,” Ward 14 Councillor Dumisani Netha, who was standing in for Mayor David Coltart, said that the city of Bulawayo strives to be a leading smart and transformative city by 2024. He said that empowering education through e-learning facilities is essential to achieving this vision.

Netha applauded the school and the parents for putting together the resources to convert the classroom into such a magnificent learning facility.

“This is a befitting facility to train our learners in Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) as set out in the smart city concept, national outcomes and requirements provided for by the National Development Strategy (NDS1) and Vision 2030,” said Netha.

“We might pride ourselves on providing our children with such remarkable facilities for e-learning, this is because it is a powerful tool in the modern-day learning experiences as it is a convenient and flexible platform for individuals to acquire skills.”

Netha said that e-learning has great accessibility potential as it offers a wide range of courses and resources. “This accessibility ensures that no one is left behind and learners have an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills while being flexible in scheduling and pacing,” he said.

He said that, unlike traditional fixed classrooms with fixed timetables, in e-learning, individuals can balance education with other responsibilities such as home, sports, and family chores. This allows learners to take control of their learning journey, resulting in a personalized learning experience and increased motivation.

“In the face of envisaged high breed learning, we congratulate Mawaba school and credit to all schools with such projects or are in the process of putting up their internet classrooms. The Education Sector Strategic Plan demands that all schools have user-friendly facilities including disability ramps, ECD classroom blocks, and libraries among other facilities,” said Clr Netha.

“I desire to ensure all council schools and others in our beautiful city implement these requirements as we strive for a smart Bulawayo,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Provincial Education Director for Bulawayo, Sibongile Khumalo, congratulated the school for successfully venturing into e-learning, saying that it is a powerful way to achieve good results.

“Schools are encouraged to embrace online learning as we might appreciate, it comes with several benefits. E-learning is about being able to access education whenever one needs to and from wherever one is. Our competency-based curriculum has embraced ICT and the concept of e-learning is topical,” said Khumalo.

She said that the curriculum has seen the transition of education from being predominantly a face-to-face approach to digital learning platforms where a teacher has merely become a facilitator.

“Through e-learning, learners should be able to take responsibility for their educational progress and access the numerous Ministry endeavours to expose them to as much educational material as possible. These include such platforms as online catch-up strategies, e-learning passport, imfundo endlini, and blended learning, just to mention a few, which are all digital learning programs,” Khumalo said.

She encouraged all schools and their communities to make e-learning a priority in their school development committee budgets.

Source: Cite

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