PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is eager to adopt his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame’s economic development model which blends authoritarian practices and home-grown solutions with international best practices from developmental states in Asia, insiders say.
BY ANDREW KUNAMBURA
Mnangagwa and Kagame are now close allies since the Zimbabwean leader ascended to power through a military coup last November, prior to winning a disputed electoral mandate in July.
At the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York this week, Kagame, also the African Union (AU) chair, went out of his way to rally the international community and plead with them to give Mnangagwa a chance.
“In Zimbabwe … the next stage on the country’s path of progress warrants steady encouragement from the international community,” Kagame said in his address.
Kagame was one of the few African leaders who attended Mnangagwa’s inauguration in Harare on August 26.
As previously reported by the Zimbabwe Independent, the British government is supporting Mnangagwa’s plans and the bid to adopt the Rwandan model based on a strong leadership and high, sustained economic growths over years.
“The model emphasises marketisation of the economy with little or no regard for political and civil liberties; a number of Asian economies followed that path,” a source said.
“The Rwandan model seems to appeal to Mnangagwa. Because of his authoritarian developmental approach, Kagame has drawn parallels with Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore.”
Lee was Singapore’s founding leader who ruled for three decades, transitioning his city-state from a third world to first world nation in a single generation.
When Kagame took over the Rwandan leadership in 2000 following a devastating civil war and genocide in which almost a million minority Tutsis were killed by Hutus, the country moved to rehabilitate devastated infrastructure, while embarking on an ambitious development strategy to transform the country from a low-income agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based service economy by 2020.
Since Mnangagwa first met Kagame as president on the sidelines of the AU extraordinary summit on March 21 in Kigali, the two have been working together closely despite having been on the opposing sides of the Congo war from 1998-2002. After their meeting, Mnangagwa’s administration flew in Rwanda Development Board chair Clare Akamanzi in April to help in the process of establishing the envisaged Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency.
Rwanda Air now flies the Kigali-Harare-Cape Town route, showing close co-operation between Mnangagwa and Kagame.
The World Bank says Rwanda’s extensive reforms ensured GDP growth rates averaging 8,6% per year for over a decade during the reconstruction phase.