Zimbabwe’s real assets are its people – Vince Musewe

via Zimbabwe’s real assets are its people | The Zimbabwean by Vince Musewe 19.11.13

I know that we have quite comprehensive plans for how to revive the Zimbabwean economy. We are not short of ideas for resuscitating agriculture, industry, manufacturing and mining. We are clear what has to be in place to create jobs, rehabilitate our infrastructure and eradicate poverty. We know we are lagging behind on technology and we must use it to leapfrog our neighbours if we are to become the formidable economy that we used to be.

I often sit and try to understand what is it that we may be overlooking and every time, my mind takes me to human capital.

I have seen bit and pieces of ZimAsset, the ‘new’ economic policy being peddled by Zanu (PF). Nice-sounding document, but the underlying assumptions are false. It assumes that we have access to the funding needed, whereas we all know that Zimbabwe is broke. It also assumes the necessary political will exists to take this country to the next level, but that will not happen given our disjointed and ego-driven politics.

Zimbabweans are very well-educated and have a good work ethic – that’s well-known in Africa and abroad. The sad part is that we have failed to take full advantage of this asset as a country.

‘ZimAsset assumes that we have access to the funding needed, whereas we all know that Zimbabwe is broke’

One Sunday, I went past the University Of Zimbabwe. The car park was full because of MBA students. I wondered what the point of it all is and what businesses are these people going to administer given that we are decimating our own economy through politics.

China is ahead of the game because they are focusing on human capital development as their tool for world domination. No country can reach its full potential without ensuring that its people are skilled and have an environment in which they can be creative and innovative.

I think that our education system remains too geared to producing technocrats. We are academics and produce nothing of our own. We do not invest enough in research and we have not fully supported entrepreneurship as the driver of economic growth.

Our only assets or competitive advantage are the 12m brains that we have, and any government should ensure these brains are nurtured and fully used towards the development of the country. And let’s not forget the 4m outside the country.

I have never seen a government that wants to control everything as ours does. Instead of facilitating growth, we have a government that limits growth through over-control and over-legislation, particularly in business. We also have state enterprises that are highly inefficient and should be shut down to allow private business to take over the services.

Centralised political power no longer works simply because we are now in the information age where the centre cannot control information. Knowledge to act has now been localised and we need to encourage that as a country. After all, the centre does not necessarily have the best brains in the country.

For Zimbabwe to accelerate growth we need widespread access to new information so that individuals can use knowledge to act and create new circumstances; a well-managed social health system with universal access; an education system that identifies and nurtures talent in the early stages of life; access to capital to allow entrepreneurship to flourish so that we can produce our own goods and services, and a culture of human rights that respects the dignity of all.

If we only do the above for our communities, we will find our economy growing in no time at all.

– Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him at vtmusewe@gmail.com



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    Zimbabweans are only assets if we have a moral, lawful and corrupt free leadership. The current leadership have stripped us of our usefulness and all we can do is watch as Zimbabwe is laid to ruins!

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    Boss MyAss 8 years ago

    The traditional model of foreign aid doesn’t work: the crushing debt burden of repayment, the frequency with which corrupt officials divert funding away from its intended purposes, the unpredictability of funding flows from donor nations, the stifling of innovation, and concerns over building a culture of dependency. There has been a growing realization that aid cannot be fully effective in the absence of strong institutions and a commitment to transparency in recipient nations.Looking beyond foreign aid, the usual economic development palliatives are not up to the task. Foreign direct investment flows are not high enough to drive aggregate demand and growth, and portfolio capital flows for many developing and frontier markets are at a trickle due to insufficient banking institutions and capital market development. Sovereign debt reduction all too often benefits the entrenched elites and does not translate into real infrastructure improvements for the poor. Microcredit, which seeks to provide small-scale entrepreneurial financing to the poorest of the poor, has been widely heralded as a fresh approach. But it is not the panacea that was once envisioned: it still has limited penetration in many neglected regions and, while alleviating, it can never drive economic growth to the levels required to build a global middle class.This is the point at which financial innovation has to enter the game. A wave of innovation has swept through the world of philanthropy and the world of bilateral and multilateral development finance agencies in recent years; foundations, foreign government donor countries and NGOs alike have been implementing new models, approaches, and technologies. But pull mechanisms—financial incentives that trigger donor payments when specific outcomes are achieved—remain a surprisingly underutilized tool. Unlike grants, or push mechanisms, they are paid out after results are realized, and they allow donors to reward whichever entity (or entities) actually produces the desired outcome. Both grants and incentives can be effective, and tool selection should depend on the circumstances. But donors should consider expanding their use of pull mechanisms where possible and they can be coordinated and integrated into new financial facilities and financial products for development.

    Pull mechanisms are an attractive option for several reasons. They do not require donors to pick winners in advance, decreasing the risk that subjectivity will influence award selection. Moreover, donors only pay when results are achieved; if no entry proves to be effective, donors keep their money. The greatest appeal of pull mechanisms is that donors are not just funding good intentions; they know they are eliciting the desired outcomes for which they are paying. Table 1 outlines the differences between pull and push mechanisms, situations where they are best utilized, and examples of specific tools. Foreign aid has traditionally relied almost exclusively upon push mechanisms, which have discouraged market development.

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    I for one doubt our purpoted education.In fiercely developing nations like Mexico,Chile , SA, Brazil,the education is measured on the ability to turn raw resources into end products.We are a nation of dealers, crooks who wouldn’t want to buy a simple fruit canning machine for US 7000 and start manufacturing fruit juice from our abandunt mangoes , guavas,paw paws ets.We have dealers who take trips to China to order millions worth of manufactured clothes and then say we are educated.Remember India made the Mahindra vehicle,Tata to reduce imports.That innovativeness.I do not want to hide behind economy, the truth is we are dealers and we do not have faith in manufacturing.Look Lever Brothers is no more, who among the self styled millionaires decided to try it and manufacture its whole lot of food products?We want buying land zvechitsotsi in urban areas and then say we are into real estate.I know some are honest but we lag faf far in becoming a nation of real business people

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    Nyoni 8 years ago

    True Vince. What incentives is this Government giving our Diaspora to open shop here in Zimbabwe. Please let us know or is it a secret.

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    Nyoni 8 years ago

    True Vince. What incentives is this Government giving our Diaspora to open shop here in Zimbabwe. Please let us know or is it a secret.

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    gig zanja 8 years ago

    Taura hako Vince.Zimbabweans overate how much they are overated.

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    King Mufasa 8 years ago

    Zimbabwean education is overrated.Zimbabweans and Africans in general are consumers of other societies innovations.
    You have hit the nail on the head Vince

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    Zvakwana 8 years ago

    Mugabe is a Zimbo is he an asset?

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    Karikoga 8 years ago

    Our so called leaders compete over who can give potential investors the biggest boot on the bum, to look macho in the party. Some have tried to make a name on this account. Our human potential remains a buried treasure as a result.

    On the wealth of our human potential, you are spot on Vince. Those in the diaspora, especially, know how this true. But I don’t know how long this will remain true. Remember the role models that our new generations have…..