Finance minister Mthuli Ncube says government has set aside $310 million for all the provinces and Mashonaland Central is the first recipient .
This is in its efforts to promote its devolution drive and President Emmerson Mnangagwa has previously made that commitment clear.
Speaking at a panel discussion at the Youth Indaba in the capital last week, Ncube said the allotted funds were the fastest way to boost economic growth at the grassroots level.
“For us as government the quickest trickle down effect is the decentralisation funding that we have allocated, it is $310 million across all the provinces,” he said.
Ncube said the government will begin the funding process with Mashonaland Central with his ministry providing regular updates.
“We are starting with Mash Central, what we are going to be doing from now on, we are going to be announcing about each and every project that government is funding in each province and each rural district and we are starting with Mash Central,” he said.
Ncube urged youths to apply to access these funds but emphasised the funds were not for “buying cars and supporting administration” but were specifically for project initiatives.
The finance minister also defended the recent introduction of Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) dollars as the country’s local currency.
“RTGS dollar whether you like the name or not is domestic currency now. I and the Governor [Mangudya] will defend its value that’s our job,” Ncube said.
He said foreign investors would now find Zimbabwe an even more attractive option as it had reduced risk as a future market-based economy.
“So I want to explain that we are creating this market led economy, this private sector led economy, brick by brick and they should invest in Zimbabwe.
“I keep saying that I was saying that on Bloomberg, I’ve said it on CNN with Richard Quest that Zimbabwe is the cheapest buy in Africa in terms of investment and it has gotten cheaper because they were coming here at 1:1 now they are coming at 1:2,5 or where ever the exchange rate is headed,” he said.
The minister said that the rate would not be pegged at the initially announced rate of United States $1 to Zimbabwe’s RTGS $2,5 but would rather be determined by market forces.
“Our job is to manage the volatility but not the level those of you who did statistics that is the difference between standard deviation and the mean, we manage standard deviation not the mean, it can go anywhere,” he said.
The panel discussion was focused on critical skills development in modern Zimbabwe
It included youthful captains of industry such as Natalie Jabangwe, chief executive officer of Ecocash, Eugene Peters from Spidex Media and Simba Mhuriro from Oxygen Energy.