A couple of days ago, central bank governor John Mangudya aptly described Zimbabwe in Parliament as “a step child in a family of nations.”
What an apt description! This is exactly what Zimbabwe has been reduced to.
In fact, Zimbabwe is much more than a step child; it has become an “Oliver Twist” who repeatedly borrows from neighbours.
Early this month, Botswana — which a few decades ago could not match a fraction of our economic might — gave us a $95 million credit line after we had extended a begging bowl to the fellow Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and that of his predecessor Robert Mugabe blame Zimbabwe’s deep-seated economic problems on sanctions imposed on the country by the United States and other western countries.
We are, however, of the view that economic sanctions have become a convenient scapegoat that our government uses to mask its inability and incompetence to address the challenges being faced by the country.
It is crucial to remind Mnangagwa’s government that this country under the late Ian Smith’s racist government witnessed remarkable development despite economic sanctions that had been imposed by the rest of the progressive world in response to the oppression and discrimination of indigenous blacks.
Instead of continually moaning over the sanctions, it is high time we gleaned some important lessons from Rhodesia which developed rapidly in spite of biting sanctions and international isolation.
So remarkable was Rhodesia’s development that when we attained our independence in 1980, this country was not only a net exporter of food but it also had a very strong currency.
In response to the economic sanctions, Smith’s Rhodesia pinned its survival on an ambitious import substitution programme as well as the integrity of its government.
A few years ago, respected economist Vince Musewe explained why the Rhodesian government succeeded in overcoming economic sanctions.
“Ian Smith was not in it for the money or personal wealth. He truly believed in the national cause. Although misguided, he was dedicated to it to the bone. He was not greedy nor did he pursue personal wealth accumulation as is the case with our current political leadership. The preservation and development of Rhodesia came first and all State enterprises and institutions were established and competently managed only to meet that end,” said Musewe.
There is nothing that Smith’s government had that we don’t have.
We have the natural resources and the necessary human capital to develop but that can only happen if our government and all its institutions put Zimbabwe first.
Continually moaning about sanctions won’t bring about the development we desperately need.