President Mnangagwa says he understands the hardships that citizens are facing owing to austerity measures which have been compounded by natural disasters.
He said although the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) — Government’s economic blueprint — occasioned difficulties, it laid the foundation for economic turnaround.
The Head of State and Government said this in a letter he wrote on Wednesday in response to the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) and the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations’ pastoral letter.
He warned greedy businesses that profiteered at the expense of consumers.
The President decried the continued imposition of sanctions on the country, but was positive that the embargo would not deter Zimbabwe from charting its way forward.
“I fully agree and acknowledge difficulties which our people are facing as we seek to re-gear our economy after years of weak performance and even negative growth,” said the President.
He said Government was instituting necessary reforms to turn around the economy and better the future of all Zimbabweans.
“We must continue on the path of reforms in spite of temporary hardships for a better tomorrow.
“Indeed, signs of recovery and positive growth are now ample, with clear indications that more jobs are now being created than ever before.”The efforts are beginning to pay off as our country becomes more and more compliant with international benchmarks, while winning more and more international goodwill and support,” he said. The President urged everyone, including industry, to pull in one direction.
“As Government intensifies its engagement and re-engagement efforts, I implore you as our conscience industry to play your part as best as you know how, in bringing about this much-needed rapprochement.
“Zimbabwe cannot continue along the path of isolation. Needless to say, economic recovery and growth require an environment of peace engendered by all Zimbabweans moving beyond the divisive and distracting election mode we all were in a year ago.
“Economic reforms do spawn many difficulties, especially on vulnerable sections of our society. This is the more so amidst a bad agricultural season such as we have had.
“It is for this reason that Government must put in place mechanisms for cushioning vulnerable members of our society who are susceptible to economic shocks,” he said.
President Mnangagwa urged the Church to feed the hungry and protect the vulnerable as well as support Government’s food distribution exercise.
He said Government has concluded grain importation deals with various countries to avert a food crisis until next the harvest period.
President Mnangagwa said Government has started food for work programmes in some areas.
Turning to the transport sector, President Mnangagwa said Government will continue to invest in viable and affordable transportation.
“Regarding transport costs which have been rising against static or even diminishing incomes and livelihoods, Government continues to invest in a viable public transport system by replenishing ZUPCO’s fleet, and adapting our rail system to commuter needs.”
President Mnangagwa blamed greed by unscrupulous business people as the reason behind escalating prices of basic commodities.
“The ever escalating prices of basic commodities continues to worry us. Whilst the prevailing price instability may be attributable to the ongoing reforms, some price movements are unjustifiably traceable to sheer greed.
“We all need to raise our voices against such business malpractices, especially in a difficult year such as we face,” he said.
On wages and salaries, the President said the private sector must take a cue from Government to adjust working conditions for their employees.
“While Government continues to review wages and salaries for its workers, the same can hardly be said of the private sector where wages remain static or eroding.
“Again we must continue to appeal to our business sector to empathise with the hard-pressed working class,” he said.