Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda told the house that the Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube will have to update the nation on the seemingly deteriorating state of the economy now plagued by a rising cost of living and shortages of some basic commodities amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
Issues around the instability of the local currency, refusal of some notes by retailers, increases in prices dominated debate during Wednesday’s questions and answer session.
Mudenda told the house finance minister will have to address the nation on what is being done to improve the economy after a proposal from the independent legislator, Temba Mliswa that the legislature suspends debate on other issues that are not related to the economy.
“The economy is the real cornerstone of any country. The Bills (we debate here) do not mean anything unless the economy is intact. I would therefore implore your good office to at least adjourn every debate until we talk about the economy of the country from pricing to the currency itself because that is what keeps us going,” Mliswa said to applause.
“The economy is what sustains us as a nation. We should talk about the economy so that we get the full answers.”
The Norton legislator said all ministers that have portfolios directly linked to the performance of the economy must get the legislature to understand what they were doing to improve the situation.
But in response, Mudenda said, “The issue of the addressing the economy rests primarily with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and we may have to ask the Honourable Minister (Ncube) to come and make a ministerial statement on the state of the economy and then we will debate accordingly.”
Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, Zimbabweans have to endure a spike in the cost of living at a time when incomes have been reduced due to a lockdown aimed at curtailing spread of the disease.
An appeal by government to businesses to exercise restraint on price increases fell on deaf ears, with businesses arguing they were hedging against the increase in the cost of doing business.
While inflation, now almost at 800 percent, has been on a upward trend from the beginning of the year, the cost of living, has also increased by over 100 percent to over $7 420 for a family of five as at the end of April.
The country has also been plagued by intensified fuel shortages that are threatening to grind business to a halt.