Soon after the euphoria of tank-hugging Zimbabweans dissipated, the tough task of rebuilding a vandalised economy has reminded the masses that there are no easy victories under the sun and the time for hollow rhetoric has long gone as the new dispensation demands serious work.
Candid Comment Brezhnev Malaba
I notice that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has instructed cabinet ministers to pursue quick-win outcomes. There are goals which can be attained without spending a cent.
This is not rocket science. He should just do the following: 1. Scrap the toxic indigenisation law 2. Introduce bankable title in agriculture 3. Prosecute looters, including ministers and other bigwigs who were considered untouchable in Robert Mugabe’s corrupt administration 4. Reform or privatise loss-making parastatals 5.
Professionalise the police.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, presenting the 2018 national budget yesterday, revealed that the stipulation compelling foreign investors to cede 51% shareholding to locals will now be confined to diamond and platinum mining and will not apply to the rest of the investment sectors. This is fantastic news indeed.
After all, the national budget is the most important policy instrument available to the government. Indigenisation under the Mugabe government was used as a convenient meal ticket for greedy political elites and their acolytes.
The time has come to derail the gravy train.
Initially, the idea of placing the mainstream economy in the hands of indigenous Zimbabweans was a brilliant proposition and nobody can seriously argue otherwise. At independence in 1980, the country inherited a racially skewed economy and it became increasingly untenable to continue defending the status quo. But the tragedy is that the indigenisation mantra soon became the favourite refuge of rent-seeking political scoundrels. Investors were being fleeced in the name of empowerment.
Agriculture can deliver quick-wins, if Mnangagwa and his team move beyond hollow rhetoric and enforce a robust implementation matrix. One of Mugabe’s greatest failures was the refusal to undertake a proper land audit. Under-utilised land must be repossessed; multiple farm owners have to surrender all illegally allocated land and white Zimbabweans who want to contribute to agricultural development must be granted full rights.
In the past, parastatals accounted for more than 40 percent of Gross Domestic Product. That quantum has been whittled down to a paltry 2%. Loss-making parastatals are a scandalous drain on the fiscus. These enterprises must be privatised without further delay—but the process of offloading them has to be transparent and above board.
When corrupt police disappeared from the roads, motorists heaved a sigh of relief. In social discussions, many citizens now say they prefer the army to mount roadblocks. The police have become corruption’s poster child.
Can President Mnangagwa defy Zanu PF logic, rise to the occasion and actually transform Zimbabwe in practical ways? The choice is his and time will tell.