HomeCommentEric Bloch: Time For A Change Of Plan

Eric Bloch: Time For A Change Of Plan

IT appears that the many months of juvenile, ego-protective political wrangling is ending,

albeit without achieving the genuine powersharing that was the declared underlying intent of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Zimbabwe’s three major political parties on September 15.
 Subject to Parliament and the Senate expeditiously enacting Constitutional Amendment No 19 to give effect to the agreed terms of the so-called powersharing government, and provided that none of the major parties retract from their  declared resolve to proceed with such government, then some compromise resolution of the prolonged political deadlock that has beleaguered Zimbabwe lies imminently ahead.
The new government’s first need is to not emulate that which it is replacing. What is needed is a government that places the interests of the populace of Zimbabwe first and foremost, ahead of all else. What is needed is a government that is not interested in self-enrichment, in entrenchment  of power, in  pandering to ego cravings, and which is determined speedily to end the immense suffering and distress that characterises the life of almost all Zimbabweans (other than the politicians that have held power for all too long).
What is needed is a government that unwaveringly recognises realities, and not only does not deny their existence, but is also focused upon removing all such realities that are unacceptable burdens and oppressions upon Zimbabwe and its people. These realities presently include that the once virile, growing economy has been reduced to a point of near total destruction, and that as a result:
lInflation has soared to quadrillions per cent, greater than ever endured anywhere else in the world;
lOver 80% of the population is struggling to survive, at levels well below the Poverty Datum Line (PDL), and more than half of those endure endless hunger pangs and life endangerment  through grievous  malnutrition, their available resources  being far below  the Food Datum Line (FDL);
lMore than half of the Zimbabwean population possessed of skills has left Zimbabwe to generate livelihoods for themselves, and to access funding support for their families and other dependants in Zimbabwe. That brain drain has been of such magnitude that Zimbabwe is severely  lacking in critically  needed skills, whilst concurrently family structures have been horrendously  broken;
lThe infrastructure verges upon the inoperable. Energy generation and distribution  is becoming ever less, impacting most adversely upon commerce, industry, all other economic sectors, and upon domestic life, as well as upon the provision of services by parastatals and local authorities;
l    Telecommunications are appallingly deficient, erratic and inadequate,  negatively affecting economic activity, and occasioning  frustration and immense inconvenience for all;
lHealth and education services have almost wholly collapsed;
lBanking services are in gross disarray, to the prejudice of all facets of the economy and of the population as a whole;
lScarcities of essentials are horrifyingly great. Access to maize meal, bread, milk, cooking oil, eggs, medications, petroleum products, and numerous other essentials of life is almost totally non-existent, save for those possessed of, or able to access, foreign currency;
lAlmost all engaged in economic activities, and the majority of the rest of the population, strive to survive by near-total disregard for rule of law. Whilst not legally enacted, most commercial transactions are now “dollarised” in hard currencies, corruption prevails very extensively  in both public and private sectors, and general crime is surging upwards;
And  those are but a few of the many ills that now afflict Zimbabwe, none of which would have been so had it not been for the gross political and economic mismanagement of Zimbabwe  over a very extended period of time, and particularly so for the last ten years.
Although government would categorically and vigorously deny it, its concepts of national rulership have consistently been founded upon never-ending entrenchment of its grip on power, upon self-enrichment, and upon continuous attribution of responsibility and blame for all Zimbabwe’s ills to the actions (mainly perceived and not actual) of others, such others including much of the international community, the political opposition, the ever-shrinking white population, and nature. In its perceptions, the government that has “ruled” Zimbabwe since Independence was, and is, omnipotent and infallible, and wholly faultless for all that has ailed Zimbabwe, and continues to do so.
Now that a new government is to come into being, even though it is a patchwork one not reflective of the majority will of the people, it must immediately develop a new plan, even if abhorrent to those in the new government as were members of the old one. The plan of not only disclaiming culpability for Zimbabwe’s intense problems and difficulties, but of pronouncedly proclaiming that they were caused by others, allegedly usually with malicious intent,   must be abandoned.
Instead, the new government must intensively  work to repair and eliminate  the divide that  the previous government  created with the international community, for Zimbabwe’s derelict and destitute  state is such  that Zimbabwe  cannot achieve  recovery by “going it alone”. To achieve reconciliation, vituperative castigation must cease, and instead reconciliation pursued. This does not need subordination and subjugation to others, but cooperation, collaboration and constructive, non-confrontational dialogue. And that must be reinforced by ensuring that Zimbabwe speedily progresses to genuine democracy, and that it unreservedly respects the rule of law, human and property rights.
Concurrently, the incoming government must urgently remove most existing economic and fiscal policies, which have proven themselves to be not only ineffective, but also most destructive. As evidenced for may decades by every successful economy, deregulation and minimum regulation is essential, with the economy driven by market forces, instead of by ill-conceived, authoritarian, economic dictatorship. Fiscal policies must be aligned to economic means and needs, implemented with total probity.
 Conducive, welcoming investment environments are necessary to attract both Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Domestic Investment, inclusive of security of investment, meaningful incentives, reliability of infrastructural service delivery, and a tax regime which is non-oppressive and regionally competitive. The central bank must be genuinely independent and autonomous, and not foisted with quasi-fiscal operations which, if necessary, must be wholly executed by government, but only within its means.
Whilst the land reform programme should not be reversed, it should be reformed, making it just and equitable, consistent  with international  law, and ensuring restoration of the very considerable  agricultural  production that  prevailed before the poorly conceived, and even more poorly implemented programme was embarked upon.
Agriculture was the foundation of a very substantive economy, for a considerable period of time, and could be so again, ensuring not only economic recovery but also national food security. Concurrently, economic exploitation of Zimbabwe’s vast mineral wealth potential, and that of tourism, must be strongly facilitated.

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