Zimbabwe: Economic recovery compromised

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Zimbabwe’s food security has eased with the formation of the inclusive
government, which has relaxed import regulations although basic
commodities remain unaffordable to many of the few employed people. According to Deon Theron, vice-president of Zimbabwe’s Commercial Farmers Union, sanity in the agricultural sector remains key to the recovery of the economy.

According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) Food
Security Outlook, just released, food security has improved since last
year when seven million people depended on food handouts. The United Nations estimates the number will go down to between two million and 2.4 million people during the 2009/10 period.

In February, the inclusive government formed by President Robert Mugabe and his former arch rivals introduced the use of multiple currencies to replace the inflation-battered Zimbabwe dollar. The monetary reforms, coupled with the relaxation of import duties on basic commodities and a better harvest have improved food security, the FEWSNET report said.

“Generally food security in Zimbabwe is expected to improve given the
2008/9 harvests and the continued favourable regulations on the
importation of basic commodities, which have resulted in improved availability of food in local markets,” the network said.

FEWSNET said since the introduction of the multiple currencies, which stopped hyper inflation and the new import regulations had resulted in a marked improvement in stock levels at shops and forced prices down. “Between January and June 2009, some basic food items fell by between
30 percent and 60 per cent, but still prices remain between three and six times higher than the five-year average for June 2009,” the report said.

“Between April and June 2009, maize grain price dropped by 31 percent
and maize flour went down by 15 per cent… This decline was attributed to both improved supply on the market and the good harvest… In the rural areas, again prices are even lower than those in urban areas, with grain selling at US$0.17/kg on average and between two times and three times less than urban prices.”

Meanwhile, Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) says Zimbabwe’s economy will
not recover until the government puts a hold to continuing farm invasions. Deon Theron, vice-president of Zimbabwe’s Commercial Farmers Union, says that sanity in the agricultural sector remains key to the recovery of the economy. “There is need to try and put a stop to the continuing evictions because they are threatening the economic recovery of the country, there is no way the economy is going to improve without stability in the agricultural sector,” said Theron.

“This sector remains absolutely critical to attracting investor’s confidence. There is need to urgently find a way to solve the problems because if we don’t it is the economy which will continue to suffer.”

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