SONA: Chance for E.D. to assure the nation

By Daniel Chigundu

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to use the State of the Nation Address (SONA) that he will present later today to assure the nation that things will turn for the good despite the current price increases of basic commodities.

Since 24 November when he took oath of office, prices of such basic goods as meat, washing powder, rice, flour, cooking oil, mealie-meal and more recently bread have gone up.

It had to take the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to hastily meet with the Bakers Association of Zimbabwe and entice them to restore bread prices to their former levels.

These price increases which are happening at a time when the country is going through a stressful financial crisis have however left many wondering whether it could be a sign of bad times ahead or it’s just a mere act of sabotage by the retail sector and industry.

According to People’s Democratic Party (PDP) the price hikes are not because of inflation but that of a leadership in denial who fail to appreciate the need for structural, fiscal and monetary changes as the situation requires.

Therefore if there is any truth in what PDP is saying then President Mnangagwa will have to demonstrate through his address that they are on top of the game if he entertains hopes of restoring deteriorating public confidence.

He will also have to do better than his predecessor Robert Mugabe who used to present SONAs that ignore the real situations and challenges facing people on the ground.

Chief among issues that Mnangagwa has to talk about is the issue of the cash crisis bedeviling the banks which has resulted in people spending most of the time in bank queues trying to withdraw their money.

He also has to talk about the foreign currency priority list which has seen some critical companies failing to access the currency needed to import raw materials.

Some of those companies include Onsdale which manufacture Farai Sanitary Pads and Refreshing Sanitary Pads which manufacture Happy Sky pads.

Failure to access foreign currency by these two companies has resulted in prices of sanitary pads being hiked as they have no choice but to turn to the black market for access the elusive United States dollars.

While people have pleaded that President Mnangagwa be given time to settle down, he will however be expected to talk about job creation strategies as his establishment is keen on kicking vendors out of the street pavements.

According to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, there are only 500 000 people who are still formally employed in the country while the rest are now occupied in the informal sector.

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