ALTHOUGH the milliard of Zimbabweâ€™s doom and gloom merchantsÂ continue to have their endless prognosticationsÂ of Zimbabweâ€™s continuing demise,
nevertheless increasinglyÂ there are those that foreshadowÂ an imminent start,Â albeit slow,Â to a transformation of Zimbabwe from a country of horrendous political divide, of dictatorial domination in contradistinction to democratic rule, and from the most appalling economic malaise that has afflicted the population for all too long to a progressive economic upturn and recovery, notwithstanding that inevitably the metamorphosis will be an agonisingly protracted one
However, amongst those who positively perceive that the very long awaited change will shortly commence, there is a major divergence of view as to the key catalysts and elements that are prerequisites for that change. There is almost absolute accord that, first and foremost, there must be a major change within the political environment.
Virtually all are agreed that there has to be a genuine interaction, collaboration and unity between the diverse political groupings that prevail in Zimbabwe. That political interaction must be wholly directed at restoring wellbeing to the struggling, distressed and oppressed masses of Zimbabwe who are battling to survive in a country subjected to the most pronounced hyperinflation to have afflicted any country in the world in more than 30 years, whose suffering is a composite of lack of basic and essential foodstuffs,Â minimal â€“â€“ if any â€“â€“ income, inaccessibility to basic healthcare, homelessness, prohibitive costs of education, and much else.
Malnutrition, ill-health, gross deprivation, broken families, fear of an oppressive and dictatorial government and its minions, and much else, is the lot of the majority of Zimbabweans today. Hence, there is a near unanimous belief that the first and foremost need to bring about the long and anxiously awaited change is that either the present government must be replaced by another, being one that is driven and motivated by a real and benevolent concern for the lot of the populace or, as a less-favoured but nevertheless reluctantly acceptable alternative, by a government of national unity encompassing the diverse political groupings of Zimbabwe, and driven wholly to bring about positive transformation in the bestÂ interests ofÂ the population.
Notwithstanding these hopes and desperate desires and expectations, there is a widespread recognition that Zimbabweâ€™s economy has been subjected to such gross demolition and destruction that it cannot recover without substantial international support. Most believe that the economy is beyond redemption if that redemption is to be wholly pursued by Zimbabwe without very substantial assistance and support from the world at large. Thus, most believe that the foremost and fundamental essential of a Zimbabwean economic recovery is a flood of international financial aid and support.
In contradistinction, a minority view is that not only should Zimbabwe â€œgo it aloneâ€, but also that it is readily able to do so. Moreover, many ofÂ that minority contend that recourse to international aid and support would,Â to all intents and purposes, result in a subjugation of Zimbabwe to a level tantamount to recolonisationÂ of the country.
Over and above therefore posing the question as to whether acceptance of internationalÂ aid could be prejudicial to Zimbabweâ€™s autonomy and independence, the question is unavoidably alsoÂ whether, on the one hand, acceptance of such aid is essential for economic recovery and, on the other hand, whether acceptance thereof would be so disadvantageous as to outweigh any benefits.
Insofar as the first of those questions is concerned, the answer is very simply
that if the aid and support is
forthcoming unconditionally (save for possible repayment obligations), and that such aid and support is given without any strings attached other than as would be normal and usual in a commercial environment, then it cannot credibly be argued that Zimbabweâ€™s independence and sovereignty would in any manner be at risk.
As to whether disadvantages would flow from acceptance of internationalÂ aid (if given unconditionally, save for normal and usual commercial obligations) to an extentÂ as would negate the benefitsÂ flowing from such aid, and possibly exceeding those benefits,Â the answer must be categorically in the negative. Aid given willingly and without any obligations other than toÂ use such aid exclusively for agreed specific, nationally beneficial purposes, cannot possibly be disadvantageous, save and except if Zimbabwe then becomes so dependent and reliant upon such aid that it cannot survive once the aid ceases.
But Zimbabwe must also recognise that no matter how greatly diverse countries in the world, and bodies such as the Bretton Woodsâ€™ institutions (International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and others) are desirous of facilitating a Zimbabwean recovery, they neither have the resources, nor the desire, to provide unlimited support to Zimbabwe. Having Zimbabwe as a permanent dependent is understandably wholly unacceptable to them. Moreover, the current economic crises afflicting USA, the United Kingdom and most of the European Union, and others, must inevitably constrain the extent of support that can be extended to Zimbabwe.
In the short-term, international support for Zimbabwe is essential. In particular, there is a desperate need for humanitarian aid, bearing in mind the millions that are grievously under-nourished, the immense debilitation of the nationâ€™s healthcare resources, and the near-total collapse of much of the infrastructure.
Also of critical importance for a transitional period of time, is balance of payments support, for that would assure a sufficiency of foreign exchange to meet Zimbabweâ€™s essential needs, thereby eliminating the endless sourcing of essential foreign exchange, at intensely pronounced premiums, from the unlawful alternative markets.
Those horrendously excessive exchange rate premiums are the biggest single cause of the gargantuan Zimbabwean hyperinflation, now measured in billions%! The scarcity of foreign exchange is also a key contributant to the ongoing decline in productivity in almost all economic sectors, further grossly fuelling inflation.
But as important as international humanitarian and developmental aid and balance of payments support are to the recovery of the Zimbabwean economy, of even greater impact is the need for very considerable domestic and foreign direct investment (FDI), for thatÂ investment not only enhances inflows of foreign exchange, but alsoÂ is a very major economicÂ stimulant. It creates much-needed employment, major downstream economic activity, fiscal inflows, acquisition of state-of-the-art technologies, access to international markets, and very much else.
Thus, in the pursuit of the urgently needed, soon to commence, economic recovery, at
least as great an effort must be made, if not even more, to attract and facilitate investment, as must be the pursuit of internationalÂ aid.