Planning for a better Zimbabwe

via Planning for a better Zimbabwe | The Zimbabwean by Ambrose B. Chimbganda 15.10.13

We have the skills, the natural resources and even the weather, so why is Zimbabwe not flourishing like its neighbours?

AMBROSE B. CHIMBGANDA shares his thoughts on how Zimbabwe can move out of the shadow of economic woes.

It is indisputable that our country has not been developing as fast as it should.

As our elders say: when you see the shadow of a dead person cast on the wall, you know there is something wrong that needs to be put right. Now, we can all see the shadow of our country cast on the wall.

In 1957, when Malaysia got its independence, it was then poorer than Southern Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe. But, where is Malaysia now? The Zambian economy was in shambles and the Zambian kwacha the laughing stock of the region, but Zambians have managed to quickly turn round the economy and it is now flourishing. The same can be said about Mozambique.

Unlike some of our neighbours in the region, we do have a highly educated and skilled labour force to use for our development. The mineral resources necessary for an industrial take-off are there: diamonds, gold, platinum, nickel, chrome, iron ore, copper, coal and so on.

The land is there with for commercial growing of tobacco, maize, wheat, rice, cotton, tea, coffee, sugar, fruits, cattle, sheep and chicken. The climate is one of the best in the world.

Blueprint for recovery

So, to resuscitate the economy, we need a marshal plan along the lines of how Germany was rebuilt after the devastation of World War II.

The difference is that our plan should not be drawn up by conquerors, but should be drafted by Zimbabweans of all shades of political opinion.

The manifestos of different political parties can be used as a starting point to find a common ground, but the drawing up of the recovery programme should be guided by the overall national interest rather than be dictated by parochial political interests. The plan should be a blueprint for the reconstruction of the country focusing on the commanding heights of the economy, such as mining, the manufacturing industry, agriculture, tourism, banking, education and transport.

We need to source funds from within and outside the country. For this to happen, we need to inspire confidence in the potential investor, whether local or foreign. And over and above this, we need to have internal reconciliation, peace and tranquility.

Financing reconstruction

For micro investment, in which many of our people are likely to be involved, the licensing process should not take more than a week. Simply put, all that a local investor with money is required to do is to go to an investment centre, fill in the documentation and then, within the same week or so, should be able to get a licence to operate after paying a nominal fee. What the state should do is to facilitate the investment process by giving advice on the areas that urgently require reconstruction.

To encourage investment, people should have confidence in the political system, which means that the party in power should be seen to be catering for all the people irrespective of their political affiliation. Once there is a stable environment, banks will find it easy to give loans to ordinary citizens who want to start up or expand their businesses because they will know that their clients’ businesses are not likely to be burnt down or confiscated by powerful officials.

The success story of our neighbour, Botswana, is based on this model. There is tolerance and all citizens, irrespective of their political affiliation, are treated equally.

As for the land reform programme, it is a bold decision intended to redress the imbalances of the land tenure system, which had been skewed in favour of a small white settler minority. However, for it to succeed, the new landowners should have access to finance so that they can buy farming equipment and inputs.

This means that, instead of having a lease, they need title deeds for use as collateral. Above all, we need fairness in the distribution of land as well as an adherence to law and order so that we can guarantee sustained development. Past images of farmhouses being torched and rampant thuggery in outlying farming communities need to be replaced by solid norms of productive farming.

Money from the diaspora

Because so many sectors of the economy need to be rehabilitated, the marshal plan needs funding from external sources. One of the potential sources is Zimbabweans who live outside the country.

At the moment, the Zimbabwean economy is fuelled by money sent individually by relatives living abroad. The marshal plan can tap into the financial muscle of those in the diaspora by introducing legal instruments that will enable them to put money into local banks for an attractive interest

The plan also needs to lure back our professionals who have left the country. Think about the shortage of medical doctors, technicians and university professors in Zimbabwe – yet, there’s not a single university in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland without a Zimbabwean lecturer with a PhD.

Establishing a recruitment centre and liaising with neighbouring and other countries to get back our professionals is not a difficult task, is it?

Zimbabwe also needs billions of international funding. We need to be part of the wider international community so that we can be reconnected with lucrative global markets.

The new leader of Iran, for example, extended a hand of friendship to the United States and its allies when he made his maiden speech to the UN. His overture of détente is a paragon of skilful diplomacy – establish cordial relations even with your adversaries so that you can achieve your goal without compromising your national interests.

As for Zimbabwe, in as much as we may not like the United States and its allies in the European Union for imposing targeted sanctions on us, we need to engage them so that we can get funding for our national reconstruction. China is a faithful ally, but we need to increase our circle of friends.

We do not necessarily need funds that chain us to the IMF because the danger is that our country is likely to be bled to death through indebtedness. And we know the consequences: we will eventually sacrifice our sovereignty as we continuously go back to the IMF, cap in hand, to ask for more funds to cushion our debt. What we need to do is to explore bilateral investment, with terms that are mutually agreed upon.

Investment conference

One key area that is harming our image as a country, and is likely to affect our ability to get funds for our reconstruction, is our tattered foreign policy. We need a thinktank that can do reconstructive surgery on our foreign policy.

Much of the damage appears to have arisen from our internal policies, which portray the country as lawless, teetering on the verge of anarchy.

To garner support for our reconstruction plan, we need to organise as soon as possible an international investment conference similar to the successful tourism conference held at Victoria Falls. The conference should not just be a talk show or a public relations exercise; we should plan meticulously so that we can come up with an investment portfolio that details the areas for which we need investment, the finance required, the technologies and equipment, expertise, and the skills and the labour needed.

From the general investment portfolio, we can draw up specific investment packages, sector by sector.

To demonstrate our seriousness we need, without further delay, to repeal all vestiges of social repression, to reform the indigenisation policy, which badly dents the image of our country, to review the land reform policy so that agricultural production can be vibrant once more and to renegotiate the current mining royalties that are likely to scare off investors.

If Zimbabwe is to develop and prosper, it will require our courage as an organic unit to remove the shackles that hold us back. We have what it takes to make our country a shining example of human ingenuity. It all depends on our collective will to succeed. No-one will do it for us.


  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 10 years ago

    While I agree with the idea of a better Zimbabwe ,it seems it is the same story again. The crux of the matter is good governance etc. The MO IBRAHAM FOUNDATION this year awarded no prize to any African leader. Why? Given examples of good governance is worthy but who follows suit. Our culture is we must respect our elders but our elders have for far to long taken advantage of this and every card is played to stay put or in power. The causes of bad leadership are many and most African leaders truly believe they are better or must show the whole world that they are responsible for their own destiny with or without their peoples help.

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      Jrr56 10 years ago

      It all comes down to governance, I can remember in Zambia when Kaunda was in power, the country was destroyed. Once he left attitudes changed and the common folk got on with their live Why should the leaders in Africa be bribed by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to be good leaders, why can they not be good on their own and retire gracefully.

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    Kudzai TN 10 years ago

    This is good talking, jokes aside we are responsible for our own destiny. The only way to wake up folks that are corrupted mentally is eliminate those short cuts they are used to. I do not care which leader is in office but he or she should report to us and make us understand the distance we have covered and why one minister was put in prison. We lead by examples, any corrupt cop is not excused. We do not allow beating of anyone in the streets. Justice means take him to court and he or she will face his or her charges. If we can eliminate corruption by a syringe of fear, we can move the country forward. Remember millions of Zimbabweans are hungry and thirst and they have seen enough and they are breathing corrupted air. Its like a cold, every time you sneeze, anyone around you is infected. How do we go back to that fear of corruption?

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    masvukupete 10 years ago

    The biggest problem is that Zimbabwe is viewed as a personal property by both its own citizens and foreigners. Zimbabwe=Mugabe. Once that tag is removed we will start to see massive investments. I know of Zimbos in the diaspora who have been approached by to spearhead operations for a lot of international companies, but not as long as Bob is around. If the government could keep its word or is it pen, we would be seeing a lot of benefit. We need to start using our resources to our own benefit. When I say to our own benefits I mean start making products to satisfy our needs first then any surplus can be exported. That is the way to do it. We need to produce electricity for our consumption and make extra for export. We need to start producing food for our consumption then export th excess. We need to start making steel for our own consumption then export the excess. Tobacco is a very good example. We should be luring these brand manufacturers to make the branded tobacco in our backyard for export. We should be making plutinum then exporting the excess. Everything is exported raw. We should be gasifying coal to satisfy our own liquid fuel demand and exporting the rest. We need to satisfy our local demand first if we are to be able to go anywhere.

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      B.Mathe 10 years ago

      I agree with you to all you have said but it will only take our generation to understand your bright ideas but dont forget who is running the country my friend.As long as the WAR VETS are in power like now it will never happen and the unfortunate cancer is that they are TOO OLD TO CHANGE.Lets just be patient my friend and survive to INFLUENCE SOME CHANGE otherwise at the moment you may lose your limps in the process.

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    Guvnor 10 years ago

    It ultimately boils down to confidence and credibility. When these qualities are lacking nothing will move beyond the investment planning stage because no one is willing to commit resources to investments without assurance of the security of their capital. So long as there is no political commitment to becoming a reliable and trustworthy investment destination there will be no economic take off and meaningful growth.

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    There will again be prosperity in the land and for all it’s people,-in a NEW RHODESIA, with blacks and whites working together, to re-build the country, from the economically and politically failed Zimbabwe, ruined. You were tricked and deceived into fighting this liberation war for nothing,- except hunger and misery.

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    Mthwakazi 10 years ago

    You can have all the natural resources in the world in your country, but as long as there is no honest, diligent, democratic quality leadership, you might as well forget.

    Zimbabwe is too divided a nation to focus on economic development.

    A lot of prgrammes need to be put in place to run parallel each other so as to ensure that while the economy is being developed, efforts are also being expanded to mould one nation with a common vision. Otherwise, all efforts at economic development will always be sabotaged along the way by those who are disgruntled.

    This is what the new constitution constitutional processes sought to achieve, unfortunately ZANU PF ended up having its way!!

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    Prof Ambrose B. Chimbganda 10 years ago

    Dear Felow Citizens,

    Thank you so much for your comments on my article, which is intended to make us see that, in spite of our current situation, together we can plan for a better future. Change is inevitable in the evolutionary scheme of life.

    Perhaps it is worth recalling the advice of George Bernard Shaw when he says:

    “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future”.

    He also advises us:

    “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance”.

    Thank you, once more. God bless you.

    Prof A. B. Chimbganda

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    Reading all the comments above its clear that everybody is agreed that the inhibiting problem in the country is uncle bob and his party given that the young turks are receiving their training from him through them hence will think alike e.g. Mazivisa etc. Since nobody within the country or outside the country, in the diaspora, will be able to remove them from power notwithstanding that we all know what to do if we were to take over and also given that we are now vilifying the one man and his team who are at least trying to unseat uncle bob and co., the man Tsvangirai, without any of us venturing to replace him or coming up with any name why dont we just shut up and resign ourselves to our fate under uncle bob and team for the next 100yrs.

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    Zeezee 10 years ago

    Malaysia, Mocambique & Zambia have all opened their doors to foreign investors! Investors who don’t have to give half of their businesses to those countries indigenous people. They are also offered excellent incentives to invest. Wake up Zimbabwe, stop your greedy land grabbing and threatening investors with indigenisation and perhaps the economy will recover.

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    ridgeback 10 years ago

    Have any of the under 40’s twigged on that not all whites are colonialists and that whites also had/have Zimbabwe’s best interest at heart.And that Bob’s rantings are driven by pure hatred & personal revenge & short sitedness and used propaganda to turn good black Zimbabweans against good white Zimbabweans,I know co’s I experienced it & so did many of my friends,some unforgivably.I have been back many times and spoken to old black friends and they openly say life was better under the Smith government, How Sad.THINGS COULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH BETTER.THANKS BOB:

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    You want prosperity to return now ?- No problem at all! Pull down the flag of the politically and economically failed state of Zimbabwe, – which has only benefitted the ruling elite! Raise our Green and White again! , – the true flag of all Rhodesians, – black and white.Fly the Green and White from every flagpole in the Country! The hundreds and then thousands of true Rhodesians will return home, to re-build the Country. ( True Rhodesians, not colonials.) Your dedication to this objective, will make the New Rhodesia, we all knew and loved -, the Pride of Africa, with worldwide acceptance.

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    I personally believe if u fight for something for u to have a better future, it is not of your personal use. The continous iteration of how you they fought for this country is now becoming meaningless. We are not the first country to have independance so why make a fuss about it. Many countries haver moved on, and implemented better strategies for a better future. Why are we stuck at ground zero? Looking back in the past, especially more than 33 years of it will not help anything. I’m not saying it was not important, but that should hev helped us propel to th future. Looking at the comments above, I say we can do it