For Once, Things are Looking Positive in Zimbabwe

For Once, Things are Looking Positive in Zimbabwe

Has Zimbabwe turned a corner? Businessmen think so.

That’s after the political instability, economic stagnation and two bouts of spiraling prices over the past two decades.

Now inflation is slowing rapidly  albeit it’s still 322% and the government expects the economy to expand 7.4% this year, rebounding from a 4.1% contraction. The country also got a step up on its African peers by starting a Covid-19 vaccination program in mid-February.

Much of the improvement has been due to nature and the global economy.

Heavy rains are expected to result in the biggest corn crop since 1984 and have filled the world’s largest man-made reservoir, allowing more electricity to be generated from the Kariba South hydropower plant. Gold and platinum prices have risen over the past year, boosting mining income.

Still, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube took the tough steps of devaluing the local currency and enforcing discipline in government spending. There’s been some investment in energy projects and in reviving horticulture, once one of the country’s export mainstays, while Afreximbank offered respite on debt by agreeing to reorganize its $1.4 billion the nation owes it.

The “green shoots” that business leaders are speaking of are hard to discern on the streets of Harare, however.

With a weakened currency and most goods imported, the few Zimbabweans lucky enough to have jobs have seen their spending power slashed. The government, which still owes almost $7 billion in other external debt, has to repair its relations with international lenders and sanctions imposed on its leaders by western nations because of political repression remain in place.

But for the first time in a long time, there’s hope. –