I HAD great pleasure reading a recent article of the New York Times. It confirms what some of us have been saying all along: our survival does not depend on the internatiional finance institutions as some of our supposedly educated econom
ists have been insisting.
It can be hard sometimes being in a minority when even those who should know better start parroting like zombies the idea that the solution to our economic malaise lies in subjecting ourselves to IMF/WB solutions.
Because our country is a part-owner of these IFIs (a very tiny shareholder though), I have never had a problem in us having cordial relations with these institutions. What has always worried and scared me is the desire by some among us to want to put IFI ideas at the centre of economic planning.
Past experience of both us and other countries around the world that have tried these policies show them to have been utter failures, in every single country, without exception. Why Zimbabwean “intellectuals” are so convinced that our country will be the only exception to reap success out of following IMF policies still leave my head spinning.
I am very fond of our Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono. He has proven that what Zimbabwe needs is more hard work and common sense, not defeatist excuses or unculturated generic economic formulae. However, my opinions on his constant mention of the involvement of IMF in the economy are still at large. If he is calling for us to have cordial relations with these institutions without necessarily leading ourselves into the Esap fiasco, then I am with him all the way.
However, if the kind of relationship he wants to develop with the IFIs is akin to what these organisations have always asked for from their client states, I have to part ways with the governor.
So far, I am happy that other than the country living up to its debt obligations with the IMF, there has not been any moves, at least publicly, where the governor has sought to dip the country’s hand into the IMF’s poisoned chalice of balance of payment money. Any penny paid out by this Uncle Scrooge has always cost more than a pound of flesh from the hapless client country.
I hope the governor continues his present route of caution and avoids crossing over to negotiating another post-Esap arrangement.
In my opinion, the country is doing very well, charting an economic recovery that is locally-driven. It has to be remembered that the only reason we called in the IFIs in the first place is because we could not balance our imports with our exports.
The Argentinians are making it and outside of the IMF orthodoxy too! It is very understandable for local economists Tony Hawkins and John Robertson to keep insisting on the country’s re-engagement with the IFIs, it’s an insurance policy for them. They probably see themselves more as a part of the neo-liberal West than Zimbabweans who are stuck with only one country to reside in and defend at all costs.
However, to hear other educated black economists repeat the same tired pro-IMF dependency themes is really a hard one to swallow.
In my opinion, our country’s only use for the IMF right now is to use the payments we are making back to it to re-establish a good credit rating.
Never so we can re-borrow from them, but use that rating to allow our businesses to borrow from other more friendly places in the world, especially in the East.
Interest rates from other sources might be a little higher than from the IFIs, but the cost in economic and political control of our destiny is so much lower and well worth the added interest cost!
The successes Gono’s policies have shown so far, coupled with the beautiful flower blossoming out of Argentina, are ample proof that there is another way to economic success and stability outside of IFI orthodoxy.
My only hope is our leaders are not force-marched by the hordes of the local neo-liberal wing of economists to embrace IMF loans again. Just because the majority of our economists, business journalists and other commentators believe we have to toe the IFI line, does not make them right. The Argentinians are proving otherwise.