By Vince Musewe
IT is imperative that we move away from what has been a disastrous 42-year chapter of lack of economic transformation, towards creating a democratic developmental State. It is only a new and young generation of Zimbabweans who can create a new paradigm and take the country there.
We have been caught in a spider’s web of lies about our history, our potential and our future as a country since 1980. The only way we can extricate ourselves from that is to change our belief system as a society and create a new perspicacity of who we can be given the possibilities which are staring at us.
I believe that Zimbabwe can be a great nation, indeed, once it unleashes itself onto a different trajectory unhindered by the clutches of a history of oppression and fear.
The archaic paradigm of victimhood which accepts that we as Zimbabweans are incapable of creating our own prosperity and cannot create a self-sustaining economy, despite the fact that we have all the necessary knowledge base spread all over the world and the necessary resources to do so must be rejected and expunged from our minds.
We must vociferously reject the limiting mental model that there is no outside. The younger generation has the responsibility of doing that. We must now create a paradigm that says that our country Zimbabwe has all it requires to create a prosperous economy which can, indeed, meet its needs and aspirations.
We must also believe that we can shape a self-sustaining inclusive economy with full employment without relying on aid from the West, or the East for that matter, to determine what we can become. We must stop being slaves to the self-serving political rhetoric or to international capital. We can control our destiny as a country if only we believe.
In order to do that, we must look at other nations that have come out of worse conditions than our country is in. We can build a formidable economy if we choose to learn from countries such as Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Germany and others and acknowledge what they did right.
Political leadership is crucial yes, but what do we do when our politicians are unable to imagine what we want? What do we do when they are limited in their thinking on how far we can go? When they have no vision beyond their lifetime and are only interested in power and what they can get now from it?
We have no choice, but to create our own new paradigm as free citizens of Zimbabwe. This responsibility applies to especially our youths and those in the diaspora who have had experience in how successful economies work. We can no longer give the responsibility to create the Zimbabwe we want to old politicians.
In my opinion, Zimbabweans in the diaspora can take the lead in creating a new narrative of the future that is bold and significantly different from the past since they have the knowledge. We must turn the brain drain of yesterday in to today’s brain gain and it is not impossible.
The first step is to develop a compelling and inclusive vision of a better future. This must be a collaborative effort. Then we must leave it to our technocrats and professionals all over the world to tell us how. I would rather we spend time doing that now than waste our energy on useless politicking which does not deliver any value at all.
Our new vision must be led by rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. We must no longer think primary product, but must think of manufacturing things and value-adding in both agriculture and mining as the core drivers of economic reinvention. We must think of industrial hubs underpinned by free enterprise and economic freedom.
We must think of servicing Africa as our primary market and forget the idea that Africa can rise only to the benefit of countries such as China. We must think of regional integration in our infrastructure, ICT and energy sectors. These are the conversations that are now necessary.
We have to target the growing African middle class with high-end products and not only expect these to be imports from Asia.
This requires that our investment policies must be inward looking and we must rely less on Foreign Direct Investments and the International Monetary Fund as drivers of our economic growth. We also need to grow a local vibrant business sector fuelled by our own savings. Entrepreneurship, innovation and risk-taking with new ways of creating access to capital are, therefore, key.
In my opinion, for Zimbabwe to truly grow to its full potential it only takes changing our attitude that government is the driver of growth. Government is a net cost to society and the rapid growth that we need cannot be driven by politicians, but by entrepreneurs, technicians and dreamers. We, therefore, have to create the right institutional framework for this new paradigm to flourish.
Zimbabweans are tired. They are tired of non-delivery, tired of poverty, corruption and lack of progress.
The questions we must answer are: How can we define a better future together and agree on what it will look like? How can we move towards that future now?
In my opinion, we must adopt also the key principles that have led to the emergence of successful economies throughout history. These include continuous leadership renewal and accountability, rule of law and protection of private property, institutional renewal and delivery, economic freedom and inclusivity, agriculture and industrial revival, human capital preservation and development, effective and efficient resource management, infrastructure rehabilitation and development, the promotion of foreign direct investment and lastly citizen empowerment, food security and poverty alleviation.
Our main challenge is to get rid of patronage and party politics. Patronage, like a cancer, has spread throughout all our institutions, both public and private and will take some time to be completely eliminated.
Our youths must be empowered yes but they must now take the responsibility of creating a better future as they did before. The old are averse to change, they have false comfort in reminiscing about the past and because of that our country is being left behind.