IT’S been a long time coming, but surely change is going to come.
Source: Re-inventing our Great Zimbabwe – NewsDay Zimbabwe June 23, 2016
“If we are going to suffer and be denied resources by outsiders, them demanding that they should do as they like in our country, we say no, keep your resources. Our land which we have died for and suffered for is greater, much greater than your resources. Your resources will come and go, but my land will be there.” — President Robert Mugabe
Firstly, I really do not think that Zimbabweans want to invite investors here so that “they do as like” in fact, it is the Chinese who have done and continue to do as they like in our country and externalised billions of dollars at the invitation of the same man who said the above words recently.
As Churchill once said: “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened”, and that is exactly where we are right now. President Robert Mugabe continually stumbles on the truth, but chooses to ignore it and continues as if nothing has happened. Surely, it must be clear to all, even to the President that the Zimbabwe project has failed to live up to expectations and it is time to now re-invent ourselves.
Despite our prodigious resource base, our country is bankrupt and has since 2013, been unable to invest anything in the economy because our government has accumulated a budget deficit of $2,5 billion, which has mainly been spent on consumption and not investment or capital formation. A government that spends $35 million on telephone calls as reported recently is highly irresponsible and not fit to govern us.
The country also has no savings and is not generating adequate export revenues to meet its needs, while imports are ballooning because we no longer produce much here, thanks to Mugabe who believes that land without secure tenure and minerals in the ground are assets.
Dear Mr President, these assets are dead assets until we can have the capital and technology to unlock them. In other words, Zimbabweans will continue to be food-insecure and beg for food from the West, while our mineral resources will lie redundant as we insult those with the very technology and capital we need.
No doubt illicit fund flows are one of the main culprits where foreigners and Zimbabweans have fleeced the country.
By just plugging gold and diamond smuggling, Zimbabwe could be able to double its export revenues.
It is a lie that progressive Zimbabweans want to “sell” the country. This lie only serves to give Mugabe and Zanu PF some false comfort on why they should stay in power. They have failed and that is that. They should go.
Our aim is to re-invent the country, repackage these dead assets and offer value so that any foreign or local investor who has capital can invest in our country, but that will not mean that they own us or they can do as they like. In fact, we want thousands and thousands of local small companies to be empowered as they participate in the supply chain so that they can create employment. We want millions of our citizens to enjoy a decent income so that they can offer their families a quality lifestyle by having decent high wage jobs through industrialising Zimbabwe.
All we have to do is to be an attractive investment destination without cumbersome Indigenisation laws.
Bond notes will not create this and the only viable solution is for Zimbabwe to position itself to attract private capital from the market because we offer value and nothing else.
This repositioning requires first that our President calls it a day and hands over the responsibilities to others.
Second, that we appoint a new team to replace Mugabe’s Cabinet. This new team will then institute substantive economic reforms and manage the economic revival project and also come very hard on corruption and illicit funds flows.
If we can for example attract $20 billion in investment now as an emergency and economic revival package, this would allow us to: revive agriculture sector and rebuild rural infrastructure to ensure food security in one season and stop maize imports; ensure that we have enough cheap energy for industrial revival; rehabilitate our roads and rail sectors; inject huge capital into the banking sector; facilitate retooling of our industrial sector; upgrade our ICT sector and create broad access to internet; rehabilitate and upgrade all hospitals and clinics; build enough schools and ensure they are well equipped; provide immediate emergency assistance to all vulnerable groups; pay off all local public debt and still have some change.
We would of course, create millions of jobs thereby increase disposable incomes and local demand for goods and services. We will also focus on rehabilitation of the tourism sector and aggressively upgrade properties and standards as this is a critical sector.
However, this cannot happen as long as we have the current Zanu PF-dominated institutions simply because they have no vision, no capacity or competence to manage such large sums effectively and transparently.
Without a significant injection of long term capital into the country and a new management team, our economy cannot be revived. This unfortunately is openly being refuted by the President whose fight is really not about economic revival or citizens’ welfare but more about his fears, his ego and selfishness. Zimbabwe will rise.
Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on email@example.com. He writes in his personal capacity.