I watched with interest yesterday the state media’s coverage of the funeral of the late hero Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret) Harold Mtandwa Chirenda at Heroes Acre.
Editor’s Memo with Iden Wetherell
What was of particular interest were the posters linking Col Chirenda’s sacrifice to what we are told will be the prosperity the country will enjoy once the Zim-Asset programme kicks in.
A report on Tuesday provides shocking evidence that Zimbabweans are among the poorest people in Africa, with the forthcoming indigenisation laws expected to further erode what is left of their wealth.
Neighbouring South Africa tops the prosperity list with per capita wealth of US$11 310 last year, research by a consultancy firm, New World Wealth, reveals.
South Africa’s per capita wealth grew 169% from US$4 200 in 2000. Zimbabwe’s per capita wealth on the other hand stood at US$570.
That was slightly better than Tanzania, (US$450), Mozambique, (US$430), Uganda (US$360), and Ethiopia (US$260) the report, published by –– bdlive.co.za –– says. Should the government pursue its damaging indigenisation policies, decline is likely to persist.
The last decade has seen Zimbabwe sink from a middle income state to a low income one.
In 2000, New World Wealth’s analyst Andrew Amoils says, Zimbabwe was among the wealthiest African countries ranked ahead of Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Zambia and Ghana.
But over the past 13 years it has fallen behind due partly to the erosion of ownership rights –– read farm invasions –– currency devaluation and hyperinflation.
The country saw better times in 2009 with the formation of the inclusive government and the multi-currency regime. But the exclusion of the MDC formations from government, the lack of a free press and the threat that the US dollar might be abandoned have raised worries that the slide might persist.
“We have already seen people queuing at banks … everything that can go wrong has,” Amoils says.
Namibia (US$10 500) and Botswana (US$6 580) are now way ahead from being relatively undeveloped 10 years ago. Angola shows rapid growth over the past 10 years followed by Ghana and Zambia, the report points out.
The government’s poster campaign to promote Zim-Asset is a forlorn project so long as the factors leading to failure in the past are repeated in the present.
Those in government and Zanu PF who think they can overcome the tide of economic reality should take a look at the New World Report.
Quite evidently those countries that follow certain formulas, many of them in the region, are the ones that succeed.
They have in most cases been friendly to investors and understand the importance of sound governance. Botswana, Rwanda and Tanzania head that list.
Those who remain locked in the past and appear determined to go on getting it wrong, will end up at the bottom of the list. It is sad but that is where we are headed.
At one stage we were led to believe that our salvation lay in Marange diamonds, among the largest deposits in the world, but that mirage soon evaporated.
The forthcoming launch of Zim-Asset will see free-press advocacy groups seeking reforms in the media sector which should have been implemented years ago.
These are elementary steps which the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe set out on its stall even before the formation of the government of national unity.
We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The Promotion of Access to Information Act in South Africa is a good example of how our
Writing in the Sunday Times this week, Professor Dario Milo reminds us of what Nelson Mandela told his own government in 1994: “It is only a free press that can temper the appetite of any government to amass power at the expense of the citizen.”