Leaders must prioritise economy not politics

Celebrated African literary icon, Chinua Achebe, who died last month, in spite of many of his contributions to the world’s literature, is still best known for his maiden work Things Fall Apart.

Candid Comment with Itai Masuku

There are strong parallels between this famous novel and George Orwell’s Animal Farm. They are both timeless.

Pick any character from these books and you can with almost certainty find their modern-day incarnation. But we shall not dwell on any modern-day Achebean or Orwellian caricature. Rather, we shall examine the almost prophetic title of Achebe’s first offering Things Fall Apart.

How apt when we look at Zimbabwe’s economy. Achebe stated the what; we shall attempt to address why things fall apart. The reasons are manifold and any claim to pin down any one as the sole reason is dishonesty.

However, it is undeniable that there is a direct link between good governance and economic prosperity. It is worrying that this seems not to matter to the powers that be.

Elsewhere in this paper, Albert Einstein is quoted as saying problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them in the first place.

We all know who created problems after Independence, so according to Einstein, those at the same level of thinking cannot be part of the solution.

We all remember that we pursued Marxist policies while the protagonists of that system were going in the opposite direction. Over the past five years now we have seen others supporting the economic model and on occasions opposing it.

One is not sure whether it can be said we’ve seen a preview of what we would do if those claiming to be alternatives were solely in power.

It appears Padraig Carmody and Scott Taylor are correct when they say in the latest African Studies Quarterly that: “In Zimbabwe, state policy is subject to dramatic shifts depending on whether external constraints or the potential loss of power resulting from internal socio-economic conditions are more pressing. The state can implement transformative projects, such as Esap (externally-driven) or land invasions (internally-driven), but these do not reflect autonomous planning for social transformation.”

Add to this the current indigenisation model, and the statement cannot be more appropriate. We need a dispensation that focuses on social transformation through economic transformation.

In light of this, the upcoming UNWTO general assembly should not be viewed as a political mileage issue.

If it is true that the other part of government is not releasing funds because of political expediency, then we may very well be seeing the same thinking patterns from alternatives.

At Independence, we inherited a robust economy that had a vibrant industry producing more than 6 000 products. Now we have an economy that imports those same products.

Those aren’t good signs on the dashboard. Given the historical diversification of Zimbabwe’s economy, it is not too late to start thinking differently and put our economic house in order. But we need our leaders to put the economy first.