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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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Breaking news – Chronicle

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, [email protected]

INSIZA Rural District Council has joined hands with residents to construct Bekezela Primary School in Filabusi Town, which has brought relief to the local community.

The project was initiated by the community and the council chipped in with support for the project using devolution funds.

The school opened its doors to learners last year starting with ECD A to Grade 3  learners. 

The council used devolution funds to build two classroom blocks while the community mobilised resources and constructed a third classroom block. 

Parents are targeting to build a classroom block each year so that the school can introduce the next grade every year.

In an interview, Insiza Rural District Council chief executive officer, Mr Shepard Tshuma, said the new school has come in handy to decongest the other two schools in Filabusi Town.

“The devolution fund has come in handy for us as a local authority in improving education sector. In 2019 we came in and assisted in constructing Bekezela Primary School in Filabusi Town. 

“We assisted by constructing two classroom blocks. The community didn’t sit down and watch but they also mobilised resources and constructed a third classroom block,” said Mr Tshuma.

“Now the school houses ECD A to Grade three learners. The plan is to have a classroom block each year so that the school can accommodate children who will be going to the next grade.

“The school has helped to decongest Filabusi Government Primary and Marvel Primary School. At Filabusi Government we had 23 classes but with only nine classrooms. This meant that some pupils were learning in the open space.”

Mr Tshuma said they also used devolution funds to erect a perimeter fence at the school, build an administration block, and buy furniture for the school.

He said devolution funds will be used to build cottages at the school and a computer laboratory while the local authority will, starting next year, use devolution funds to promote the teaching of science subjects in schools. 

Mr Tshuma said this will help to ensure that local schools churn out learners who can enrol at the Gwanda State University. He commended the community for supporting the construction of Bekezela Primary School saying such commitment from parents was necessary for bringing about the necessary development in communities.

Bekezela Primary School Development Committee chairperson, Mr Pilate Siziba said the school has brought relief to their children as some had to walk up to five kilometres.

“Besides learners being congested at the two other schools, children used to walk up to five kilometres to get to school. Some of them were passing through a bushy area, which is very risky for primary learners,” he said. 

“As a community, we realised that we didn’t have to wait on Government to provide everything but we also had to initiate our own development. We are now targeting to start construction of a four-classroom block. We thank the Government and council for their intervention through the devolution fund,” he said.

Insiza RDC has used devolution funds to tackle four key thematic areas in the district namely education, machinery and equipment, infrastructure, and health.

The council has so far received $717 million out of its yearly allocation of $1,5 billion. Some of the projects that have been done include the purchase of a motorised grader, which upon being delivered will see an acceleration in the road maintenance works in the district.

Other projects that have been implemented using devolution funds include the construction of an ECD classroom block at Artherstone Primary School, completion of Sukasihambe Primary School, construction of a Science laboratory at Lubuze Secondary School among other projects, completion of Mbondo Clinic and equipping Montrose Clinic.

Devolution funds are assisting local authorities in fulfilling their obligation of ensuring improved access to social amenities across the country through the development of key infrastructure such as clinics, classroom blocks, roads, and bridges among other facilities.

Social amenities and infrastructure development are some of the major pillars of the National Development Strategy (NDS1). — @DubeMatutu

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High Court overturns Sikhala’s conviction in obstruction of justice case

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By Mary Taruvinga

The High Court has acquitted former opposition MP Job Sikhala in a case he was accused of obstructing the course of justice after he allegedly announced that a Zanu PF activist had murdered Moreblessing Ali.

The State alleged that he posted a video that was intended to mislead the police who were investigating the death of Ali whose body was found dismembered.

Justices Pisirayi Kwenda and Benjamin Chikowero sitting as an appeal court ruled that magistrate Marewanazvo Gofa erred when she convicted Sikhala in May this year.

They quashed the lower court’s conviction ordering that the politician be found “not guilty and acquitted.”

Sikhala will however remain in detention as he is on trial on additional charges including incitement to commit violence, and disorderly conduct.

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Unlocking the power of disability inclusion for healthier, sustainable communities – NewsDay

By addressing the needs and rights of persons with disabilities in all their diversities (PWDDs), policymakers in Zimbabwe have a unique opportunity to enhance social and economic transformation while mitigating health, environmental and climate risks.

IN the face of pressing social, health and environmental crises, such as climate change, infrastructure deterioration, and rapid urbanisation, it is essential to recognise the potential of disability inclusion and management as a catalyst for creating healthier and sustainable communities.

By addressing the needs and rights of persons with disabilities in all their diversities (PWDDs), policymakers in Zimbabwe have a unique opportunity to enhance social and economic transformation while mitigating health, environmental and climate risks.

This opinion piece aims to highlight the critical importance of generating evidence-based reports laden with issues that advocate timely and regular improvements in policies and infrastructural development to foster a more inclusive society.

Climate change, crumbling infrastructure, and rapid urbanisation are prevailing phenomena that are presenting significant obstacles to populations, inclusive of PWDDs through increased vulnerability, health risks and inaccessible adaptation measures.

Climate change-related events such as extreme weather events, heatwaves and floods, much as they affect the majority population, they too, disproportionately affect PWDDs, who face challenges in skin infections, evacuations or finding safe shelter.

Climate change has a pronounced impact on the health of PWDDs, particularly those with respiratory diseases or heat sensitivity.

It is associated with a rise in air pollution due to factors like wildfires, increased dust storms and industrial emissions.

This can worsen respiratory conditions among individuals with disabilities, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease leading to more frequent and severe symptoms.

Heat-related respiratory distress through rising temperatures and heatwaves can trigger respiratory distress or exacerbate pre-existing respiratory conditions.

Further, high heat and humidity can make it more challenging for individuals with respiratory disabilities to breathe, leading to increased discomfort, heat exhaustion or heatstroke, which can have severe health consequences.

Medical experts are increasingly advocating for the implementation of climate-responsive health policies to address the intersection of climate change and public health.

These policies aim to proactively address the health impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations, inclusive of PWDDs.

Integrating climatic considerations into healthcare systems, promoting awareness and implementing preventive measures, these policies can enhance preparedness, reduce health risks and foster resilience in the face of a changing climate.

Experts observe that heat mitigation strategies such as the provision of cooling centres by ensuring access to shade and hydration are important; as they reduce the impact of high temperatures on individuals with heat sensitivity.

Public awareness campaigns can educate PWDDs, their caregivers, and healthcare providers about the specific risks and preventive measures related to respiratory diseases and heat sensitivity.

By recognising and addressing the unique vulnerabilities of PWDDs to climate change, policymakers and healthcare professionals can develop targeted interventions and adaptations.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is an international treaty that promotes and protects the rights of persons with disabilities.

It is closely linked to the sustainable development goals as it aligns with the goal of leaving no one behind and achieving inclusive and sustainable development for all.

In view of this international convention, there is need to desist from developing inaccessible adaptation measures by policymakers through developing climate adaptation measures, such as the construction of barriers or relocation efforts, that do not consider the specific needs of PWDDs, leaving them more vulnerable and marginalised.

Zimbabwe’s disability laws and policies have shown progress in promoting the rights of PWDDs. The country has ratified the UNCRPD and enacted the Disabled Persons Act, the disability policy is also available, which recognises the rights of PWDDs.

However, challenges remain, including limited accessibility, inadequate implementation and gaps in social inclusion.

Further efforts are needed to ensure effective implementation and meaningful inclusion and empowerment of PWDDs in all spheres of society, aligning with the goals of SDGs.

The devastating Cyclone Idai of March 2019 serves as a stark reminder of the importance of considering the specific needs and rights of PWDDs in climate adaptation measures.

In the aftermath of the cyclone, it became evident that many of the relief efforts and infrastructure rebuilding initiatives did not adequately address the accessibility requirements of PWDDs.

This oversight left them even more vulnerable and marginalised, facing immense challenges in accessing essential services, emergency shelters and healthcare.

The experiences from Cyclone Idai emphasise the critical need for policymakers to prioritise inclusive planning and ensure that climate adaptation measures are designed to be accessible and inclusive for all, including PWDDs.

Deteriorating infrastructure everywhere, marked by gaping potholes, uncollected and unsightly dumpsites along major roads, broken sidewalks, lack of ramps at public and private institutions and inaccessible public transportation, all hinder the mobility and independence of travelling populations inclusive of PWDDs,

Shifting perceptions: From risk to resource

Disability inclusion requires a significant shift in societal perceptions, moving away from viewing disabilities as solely health or environmental risks. Instead, PWDDs should be recognised as valuable contributors and agents of change.

By embracing their skills, talents, and experiences, we can tap into a vast pool of untapped potential, fostering creativity, innovation and resilience within communities.

Creating accessible infrastructure

One crucial aspect of promoting disability inclusion is the creation of inclusive and accessible infrastructure. This includes accessible transportation, public spaces, buildings and information and communication technologies.

By implementing universal design principles, policymakers can ensure that infrastructure is usable by everyone, regardless of their abilities. This not only benefit PWDDs, but it also improves the overall liveability and functionality of communities.

Employment and economic empowerment

Creating inclusive employment opportunities is vital for economic transformation and social inclusion.

Policies should be enhanced to promote equal access to education, vocational training and job opportunities for PWDDs.

By recognising their skills and providing necessary accommodations, employers can tap into a diverse talent pool, fostering productivity and innovation. This, in turn, contributes to the economic growth and social cohesion of communities.

Health and well-being

Access to quality healthcare services and inclusive health policies are fundamental for the well-being of PWDDs. It is crucial to address barriers to healthcare, such as physical accessibility, communication, and stigma.

Additionally, targeted interventions and awareness campaigns can promote early detection, prevention, and treatment of disabilities, contributing to better health outcomes for PWDDs and the broader community.

Disaster preparedness and climate resilience

In the face of climate change and environmental risks, it is essential to consider the specific needs and rights of PWDDs in disaster preparedness and climate resilience strategies.

This includes accessible evacuation plans, early warning systems, and ensuring that shelters and relief efforts are inclusive.

By prioritising the inclusion of PWDDs in climate action plans, policymakers can build more resilient and adaptive communities.

Education and awareness

Promoting inclusive education and raising awareness about disability rights and inclusion are crucial components of transformative change.

By fostering inclusive educational environments at all levels, policymakers can empower PWDDs with the knowledge and skills to actively participate in society.

Additionally, awareness campaigns can challenge stereotypes, reduce discrimination and foster a culture of inclusivity.


In the face of community social, health and environmental crises, disability inclusion and management hold immense potential for transforming challenges into opportunities.

By reframing and rethinking disability as a resource and embracing the diverse abilities and contributions of PWDDs, Zimbabwe can create healthier and sustainable communities.

Timely improvements in policies and infrastructure, encompassing accessible infrastructure, inclusive employment, healthcare services, climate resilience and education, are vital for realising this vision.

It is imperative for policymakers to prioritise disability inclusion and work collaboratively with stakeholders and PWDDs to create a society where everyone can thrive, regardless of their abilities.

By doing so, Zimbabwe can lead the way towards a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable future.

Tonderayi Matonho is a journalist exploring disability inclusivity, participation, integration and management debate across communities. He can be reached at 263-777 052 658, Email: [email protected].

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