Economic blueprints: Here we go again

THE year 1980, the year of Independence was dubbed by the ruling Zanu PF party as the year of the people’s power.

Candid Comment with Itai Masuku

Then we had the year of consolidating the people’s power in 1981. The last time we heard of a theme for the year, if one’s memory serves them right was 1983, which was dubbed the year of transformation. It seems we never had any such political blueprints since; not that one is complaining.

However, it was in 1990 that we started having highly visible economic programmes, the first being the famous Esap (Economic Structural Adjustment Programme) which was abandoned less than half way through. As we have pointed out before, there then followed a plethora of other such economic programmes, which were all similarly abandoned. All these had various acronyms ranging from ZIMPREST, to NERP to MERP, to STERP, you name it.

Seems like if you put together any three or four consonants, then add the vowel ‘e’ somewhere to represent economics, you’ll have come up with an economic programme once crafted then abandoned or never implemented.

And yet ironically, despite all these variously coded solutions to our economy, the basic problem has hardly changed. In terms of economic imperatives we are still exactly where we were when Esap was launched in 1990 or when we entered the year of transformation in 1983.

Yes, the political landscape may have changed several times over but the economic imperatives remain constant. They are like a railway track which dictates that if you want to move from point A to point C, you can only do so through point B. And what in our case may be these points?

Well, basically the same as they have been before; sort out the macro-economic fundamentals, ie inflation, interest rates, exchange rates and government spending: Everyone who lived through Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation knows this refrain. Thankfully, dollarisation has put a lid on the exchange rate and to some extent inflation imperatives. But should this lid be removed, if and when Zimbabwe reverts to a national currency, we’ll see that the non-inflationary and stable exchange rate environment we have been currently enjoying has been but veneer. So what is the real problem?

The problem is not a shortage of blueprints, which may stem from the fact that we don’t have a shortage of academics who can put fantastic, learned ideas onto paper. Professor Jonathan Moyo, long before he was a politician, once commented that Zimbabwe has an oversupply of academics and undersupply of technical people or artisans.

We have many theorists and no executors. We need the theory, but more importantly we need those who will put the theory to test.

Soldiers are known to be men of action. Now that deputy secretary to cabinet retired colonel Christian Katsande is at the helm of the new economic blueprint, Zimbabwe Programme for Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIMPSET) we hope to see some of the military pragmatism in executing the programme.