via Africans are not rising – The Zimbabwean 15.10.2015
“Africa hasn’t taken advantage of the social, human, technological and industrial changes that have taken place over the past 57 years.
We are the only continent that does not have major industries (except in South Africa) as those found in other developed nations.
Yet in the past 30 years, the African mass has academically and professionally matured to a level where the economic landscape of Africa should be different today.” – H Mubaiwa from his pending book “The Recreation of Africa—Reinventing Zimbabwe and Southern and Central Africa”.
It is a sad fact that Africa is practically in the technological and industrial stone age of the 20th century. Our political architecture has failed to create developmental states that deliver the best socio-economic experience on the African soil. That has to change.
“Africa rising” is the latest term used by the international development community to describe a rising middle class of Africa that is consuming their products. Yet the quality of life of the African is not rising.
We need to use our power as consumers to recreate and industrialise Africa. At the moment, it is being used against us to the benefit of international monopoly capital and we are naively enjoying the ride while we struggle with increasing poverty and lack of development. It is critical that we change this narrative and reinvent and reengineer ourselves.
Mugabe not wrong
It is my opinion that, in principle, President Mugabe has not been wrong on the need to empower Zimbabweans. What he has failed to do is to cast a compelling inclusive national vision for the country that takes a scientific approach in achieving the stated objectives of the ownership of national assets and resources by Zimbabweans.
In my view, he has failed to create the space for all Zimbabweans, regardless of race, to craft an inclusive and productive industrial economy. Yet we have millions of Zimbabweans, black and white, with the know-how and the requisite skills to build a formidable economy.
He has also failed to transform Zimbabwe by building the necessary non-partisan inclusive institutional framework, but has relied on the old colonial architecture of control and command by a political centre, which has marginalised millions – thus creating a massive brain drain and poverty mentality. We can reverse that.
Currently there is excitement that a delegation is talking to the IMF with regard to restructuring our debt. There are hopes that the IMF may resume funding next year. Interestingly enough nobody is asking where the billions we supposedly borrowed from them went. How were they used and have we reinvented ourselves enough to take a different direction in the future?
My question is when and if we resolve our debt issue, then what? You see the problem is not the debt itself, the problem is that we have an economic system which requires a fundamental rethink. And so without a fundamental paradigm shift in how we operate and what we want, we are likely to recreate exactly the old problems.
According to analysts, our debt overhang continues to be an albatross around our neck and supposedly getting rid of it will create the necessary growth. Nobody remembers that the IMF delivered ESAP to us in the past – their prescribed “solutions” to our problems are really not about transforming our economy into a self-driven sustainable industrialised economy that does not need their help in the future. That is not their mandate.
What must we do?
In my opinion first we need to cast the grand vision which I did in my last article- that Zimbabwe can be a trillion dollar economy in 30 years’ time with full employment.
Then we need to build consensus how we can do this by constructing a value proposition of the country so that we can attract long term industrialisation capital in the free international market.
The bottom line is that we can raise our own capital through free enterprise engagement and cut off the foreign government capitalisation model.
These government capital dependence protagonists such as the IMF are fully aware that their economies were never built on non-free market principles.
Mubaiwa’s book says: “If we agree and believe that we can indeed innovate our value to be worth $1 trillion and then create an indelible code that protects investments, private property and a professional environment that is driven by a culture of business success and engage our desire for excellence, and competitiveness, we can become a magnet for free market capital in the region and attract all the money we need”. But that requires a significant paradigm shift in how we imagine ourselves. It also requires a seismic shift in our political leaders’ mind set.
We must start our journey towards a trillion dollar economy now. Those are the kind of figures that excite great bankers who are masters at crafting funding for massive capital projects. Ours is to create an environment of low risk and high return and offer real value.
We must deliberately create an environment that attracts free market capital. As we do that, we must have a plan to ensure that the money moves us towards rapid economic and social transformation through massive industrialisation but on our terms.
We must not sell ourselves cheap to the Chinese or the Russians – or the West for that matter.
We must be the captains of our destiny. – Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. The ideas in this article are in collaboration with H Mubaiwa, a Zimbabwean engineer and based in America. You may contact Vince at email@example.com