Zimbabwe’s drastic and effective economic reforms under the Second Republic that laid the foundation for sustained productive growth, and the resulting fast growth that starts this year, are now making the country one of the models for African development.
Even something like the national Covid-19 vaccination programme, the best in sub-Saharan continental Africa, is seen as model, especially as it was launched and has so far been almost entirely paid for with local resources, long before loan schemes opened or the International Monetary Fund decided to chip in with a general disbursement of a new issue of special drawing rights to help countries overcome Covid-19.
President Mnangagwa noted last week that the clean up of Government finances that released cash for capital and emergency spending has already been making a major difference to the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.
The ability by the Second Republic to control Government spending has allowed large sums to be spent on infrastructure, such as dams, roads and the like. These take time to build, but already there is quite a bit on the ground.
That spending has been coupled with the devolution agenda with serious money allocated to local authorities.
That devolution money has to go on capital expenditure, that is on buying equipment or building something, not on salaries or other routine operations.
So we have been seeing rural district councils buying the equipment to maintain and expand that vast network of minor roads that link their villages to the national highways, and allow farmers to bring in their inputs and even more importantly get out their harvests.
We have seen clinics going up, with a fair number still under construction, and we are seeing schools getting their extra classroom blocks. All these are little things, perhaps, but make a huge difference if you live in one of these areas.
Even urban councils are now starting work on approved capital projects to sort out their water and sewer disasters and similar infrastructure.
Just as importantly, the change over in Zimbabwe is making investment attractive. President Mnangagwa was speaking at yet another new private investment, this time into a specialised beef cattle scheme that will result in exports of high-priced beef and ensure a decent income both for the workers in that investment and the small-scale farmers who will be involved.
Once again it is an investment that ticks a lot of boxes: more growth, more exports and the benefits widely distributed across the community where it operates.
One sign of how Zimbabwe is changing and developing is the interest being taken by those who have to monitor the global economy and try and grease the wheels of global development.
Already the Afrexim bank, which facilitates trade finance, has been sufficiently impressed by Zimbabwe and its new hair-shirted economic discipline to convert some emergency support into longer-term and more normal financing.
Last week the World Bank executive director for our part of Africa, Taufila Nyamadzabo was in Harare. He was impressed.
Speaking to Vice President and Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga, he noted the dramatic progress the Second Republic has made in upgrading the public health sector, which has been the mainstay of the drive to cope successfully with the Covid-19 outbreak, and noted the successes of the vaccination programme and especially the procurement success.
He thought the time had come for the World Bank to look at increasing its support for Zimbabwe, despite the problems of Zimbabwe’s arrears, which are now being addressed and, although he did not mention it, the problems of sanctions that affect World Bank support for Zimbabwe.
It should be noted that the IMF did not have any trouble including Zimbabwe on its list for its fair share of the new issue of special drawing rights last week, and again that is a positive development.
Admittedly this issue was something that was automatic for all members, but a good chunk of the Zimbabwean issue is going on creating and boosting Zimbabwe’s development.
A great deal of the costs related to Covid-19, direct and indirect, had already been funded from the Government’s budget surpluses, which allows the bulk of the IMF grant to be used for development and for what normal IMF facilities do that are made available to countries not under sanctions.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube noted this late last week in an interview when he said some would go into a special fund that would guarantee trade finance made available by the banks using the huge US$1,7 billion they hold in foreign currency deposits.
As he noted the Government would not be involved in what should be standard bank operations with their clients, but would be able to use the new reserve funds to make it easier for banks to venture into this business. If we had been able to tap normal IMF financing this is exactly how it would work.
This general impression of competence and a Government that knows what it is doing, with those who mark this sort of thing giving out high marks, is how Zimbabwe should always be.
We fell behind many other countries because we wasted money and spent on short-term consumption.
Now we are moving forward, and every week sees yet another milestone in our journey to high levels of prosperity.