Zimbabwe could miss its 6.4% growth target this year but the final number will not be as low as some international lenders have predicted, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said today. The World Bank has downgraded the country’s growth to 3% this year. The International Monetary Fund says the economy is fragile and sees growth of 4%.
Chinamasa had based his 2014 growth forecast on a recovery in agriculture and a strong performance in mining. Chinamasa told a parliamentary committee on finance that agriculture, which was expected to grow 9%, had performed “reasonably” well after output of the staple maize, tobacco and sugar surpassed targets. Mining in a country with the world’s second-largest reserves of platinum had been hobbled by weak metal prices during the first half of the year, and a number of new mining ventures that were expected had not taken off, Chinamasa said. “So, for now I want to remain, should I say, neutral. Maybe not six point something percent (growth), but not as low as is being put out,” Chinamasa said in response to an MP’s question.
Zimbabwe’s 2014 harvest for maize rose 82% to 1.46 million tonnes, enough to meet annual domestic needs for the first time since 2003, a government report showed. Agriculture is critical for the livelihood of a majority of Zimbabweans, since 80 % of the working-age population do not hold a formal job. Chinamasa said only 500 000 people in the country were in formal employment.