Any genuine effort to revive the Zimbabwean economy in an inclusive and participative manner must put the needs and aspirations of people first and be led by leaders who put the country first. This is what Zanu PF under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe has failed to do. The recent Zanu PF conference has actually put us further from this goal as we move into the New Year. The struggle for the total emancipation of Zimbabweans must continue.
The pursuit of the political kingdom first and the greed for power without responsibility has destroyed Zimbabwe’s potential. In fact, one could argue that the Zanu PF regime has destroyed more in nearly 36 years of its rule than the colonialists did.
If we consider it, the colonialist actually built Zimbabwe’s productive capabilities and infrastructure in a very short period of time and Zanu PF has methodically and systematically destroyed it. That is the legacy of Mugabe. Mugabe’s rule has been characterised by institutional failure of a post-independent Zimbabwe that is now a mere shadow of the past.
This is typical of most African leaders.
We must remember that the African leader comes from a background of poverty and has not had the opportunity to accumulate wealth and build anything of significance. He will therefore abuse the political platform as his means to personal wealth accumulation by plundering public resources. He remains shackled by his past which limits his ability to imagine beyond expropriating what others have built. He is a primitive gatherer hiding under the skirt of revolutionary rhetoric.
Unfortunately, when Mugabe goes, we shall remember him not for the good he may have done, but for the bad and suffering he has caused. Some of the blame must be with us Zimbabweans. We tolerated and supported a one-party state, and we abdicated our responsibilities at the expense of the country. We inadvertently bred a dictator.
As we move from what has been a disastrous chapter of struggle politics towards creating a democratic developmental state, it is essential that we put a new political leadership in place. This new leadership must be characterised by a new generation of Zimbabweans and not the Zanu PF dead wood — their time has come and gone.
We have been caught in a spider’s web of lies about our history, our potential and our future as a country since 1980. The only way we can extricate ourselves from it, is to first change our belief system as a society and create a new perspicacity of who we can be and the possibilities which are staring at us.
The sad reality is that some members of Zanu PF have been victims to its unceasing rhetoric and propaganda. They truly believe that there is no outside to our current paradigm. They truly believe that we have many enemies out there who are working continuously to thwart our aspirations as a people and that it is those others in the West who have caused the problems that we face today.
According to this belief system, they themselves have played no part in creating the problems we face today. Nothing can be further from the truth as we all know that it is their disastrous choices of the last 35 years which have created today’s problems.
I believe that Zimbabwe can be a great nation indeed once it unleashes itself onto a different trajectory unhindered by the clutches of a history of oppression and fear. The archaic paradigm of victimhood which accepts that we as Zimbabweans are incapable of creating our own prosperity and cannot create a self-sustaining economy. We have all the necessary knowledge base spread all over the world and the necessary resources to create the Zimbabwe we want.
We must vociferously reject this limiting mental model of Zanu PF that there is no outside option to their rule. We the younger generation have the responsibility of creating a new paradigm which says that our country Zimbabwe can be a trillion-dollar economy.
We must also believe that we can shape a self-sustaining inclusive economy with full employment, without relying on aid from the West, or the East for that matter, to determine what we can become. We must stop being slaves to the self-serving political rhetoric or to international capital. We can control our destiny as a country if only we believe.
In order to do that, we must look at other nations that have come out of worse conditions than our country is in. We can build a formidable economy if we choose to learn from countries such as Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Germany and others and acknowledge what they did right.
Political leadership is crucial yes, but what do we do when our politicians are unable to imagine what we want? What do we do when they are limited in their thinking on how far we can go? When they have no vision beyond their lifetime and are only interested in power and what they can get from it today?
We have no choice, but to create our own new paradigm as free citizens of Zimbabwe. In my opinion, Zimbabweans in the diaspora should take the lead in creating a new narrative of the future that is bolder and significantly different from the past, they have the knowledge and the exposure. We must turn the brain drain of yesterday to today’s brain gain.
The first step we must take is to build a compelling and inclusive vision of a better future. This must be a collaborative effort and must never be imposed upon us by political parties. We must then leave it to our technocrats and professionals all over the world to tell us how to achieve our vision.
Our new vision for a trillion-dollar economy by 2030 must be led by rapid industrialisation and urbanisation. We must no longer think primary product but must think of manufacturing things and value adding in both agriculture and mining as the core drivers of economic reinvention. We must think of industrial hubs underpinned by free enterprise and economic freedom.
We must think of servicing Africa as our primary market and forget this idea that Africa can rise only to the benefit of countries such as China. We must think of regional integration in our infrastructure, ICTs and energy sectors. These are the conversations that are now necessary. We have to target the growing African middle class with high end products and not only expect these to be imports from Asia.
This requires that our investment policies to be inward looking and we must rely less on foreign direct investment (FDI) and the International Monetary Fund as drivers of our economic growth. We also need to grow a local vibrant business sector fuelled by our own savings. Entrepreneurship, innovation and risk taking with new ways of creating access to capital are therefore key to our future success.
In my opinion, for Zimbabwe to truly grow to its full potential, it only requires us to change our attitude that government is not the driver of growth. Government is a net cost to society and the rapid growth that we need cannot be driven by yesterday’s politicians, but by entrepreneurs, technicians and dreamers.
Zimbabweans are tired. They are tired of Zanu PF and its leadership; they are tired of non-delivery, the arrogance, the economic meltdown and the continuous non-productive political bickering within Zanu PF that is wasting our precious time.
Yes we need a new political order in Zimbabwe but let us not be naïve and expect this to be a smooth transition. The most dangerous assumption we can make is that Zanu PF is ready to let common sense and popular sentiment prevail. Theirs is an incomprehensible stupidity and a clear lack of moral obligation to the suffering people of Zimbabwe caused by their misguided policies over the last 36 years. Reshuffling ministers, suspending party members and reframing problems will not absolve them.
My greatest fear is that we may be disappointed once more in 2018 as we were in 2013, if we all naively wait and think that we can ever accept to go into another election with the current electoral architecture in place.
It boggles the mind why any opposition party would even consider contesting any by-election at this stage.
The questions we must answer are; how can we define a better future together and agree on what it will look like? How can we move towards that future now?
In my opinion, we must adopt the key principles that have led to the emergence of successful economies throughout history. These include continuous leadership renewal and accountability, rule of law and protection of private property, institutional renewal and delivery, economic freedom and inclusivity, agriculture and industrial revival, human capital preservation and development, effective and efficient resource management, infrastructure rehabilitation and development, promotion of foreign direct investment and lastly citizen empowerment, food security and poverty alleviation.
When Mugabe goes we therefore have an opportunity to re-invent Zimbabwe. When Mugabe goes we shall have an opportunity to begin to create the Zimbabwe we want but that will take all of our collective efforts and courage to ensure that never again can we allow one man to dominate political power and be a little god amongst us.
Musewe is a Harare-based economist and author. These New Perspectives articles are co-ordinated by Lovemore Kadenge, president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, cell +263 772 382 852