By Nelson Banya, HARARE, October 29 (The Source) – Today, we launch The Source.
The Source is a new independent business and financial news service that will provide accurate and informed news and analysis. It is based in Zimbabwe and has established a network of locally-based journalists, ranging from seasoned writers who make up the core of our team, to eager stringers across the country.
Ours will be a credible, independent agency that seeks to provide a platform for the free-flow of financial information within Zimbabwe as well as to those outside but with a stake in our economy. We view our mission as sacred and pledge to uphold only the highest standards of journalism.
While our partners – The Thomson Reuters Foundation and the European Journalism Centre — have played a key facilitatory role in the establishment of The Source and will continue to provide technical support, the news service is operated by Zimbabweans, seeks to serve Zimbabwean media, financial institutions and fellow citizens – while also providing trusted information that will also be of value to current and potential foreign investors.
Following yet another disputed election, the country’s fragile recovery under the last coalition government looks to have stalled, presenting President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF administration with a mammoth task. The nation, and indeed the world, expects the new government to chart a clear path for the economy for the next five years and beyond.
It also expects accurate, informed, timely and detailed information on developments around the economy.
This is a challenge we have taken up.
While our task to tell the often complex economic story of Zimbabwe is by no means a simple one, that confronting the new government is even more daunting.
The election outcome was greeted by huge losses on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and, even more telling, panic withdrawals of almost $1 billion from the banking sector, with the funds being funneled offshore.
All this shows the new government has a lot to do to instill confidence. And that’s just one of its problems.
The new administration faces an already burgeoning government payroll that is set to grow due to the expanded bureaucracy – larger parliament and new provincial councils– that the new constitution, overwhelmingly endorsed by the public in March, brings.
Mugabe has also promised a government pay increase, taking the wage bill beyond the current high levels of about 70 percent of all state expenditure in the process. Local councils, which have been directed by the government to cancel an estimated $1 billion in unpaid municipal fees, will lean more on central government to avoid total collapse.
All this against the grim background of diminishing revenues. The government has cut its 2013 economic growth forecast to 3.4 percent from the initial 5 percent, citing lower-than-anticipated output in the key mining and agriculture sectors.
We are, however, optimistic that the cause of getting Zimbabwe firmly back on track towards recovery is not a lost one. But it would require economic pragmatism and, perhaps more importantly, genuine steps to root out corruption.
Whichever way the story unfolds, we will be here to tell it, accurately, dispassionately and in time!