THE economic outlook for 2020 is not looking good—and predictably so.As we report elsewhere in these pages today, Zimbabweans are bracing for further decline this year in view of inflationary pressures and drought, among other challenges.
More worryingly, the frightening prognosis is anchored on a suffocating sense of helplessness. Everywhere you look, people have lost hope and now appear resigned to fate.
The International Monetary Fund estimates that the Zimbabwean economy shrunk by 6% last year. For this year, analysts are projecting sharper decline and, although the exact numbers may differ, there is near-consensus that the economy will find itself in a much more precarious position than last year.
This could have been prevented, of course. It will be remembered that in 2017 going into 2018 there was an outpouring of goodwill for Zimbabwe’s economic rejuvenation plan.
How did we get here? Well, this is not rocket science. The refusal to reform is why Zimbabwe finds itself in this undesirable situation.There is a roadmap of political and economic reforms the government promised to implement, but this has not happened.
The failure to implement reforms was highlighted when the government missed important targets under the International Monetary Fund’s Staff-Monitored Programme. Failure to reform is no longer a dismissible opposition gripe but a reality which poses significant danger for the very survival of the republic.
The government’s response to the economic implosion has been lackluster at best and dismal at worst. It goes against all precepts of sovereignty to expect the international donor community to now step up and start feeding hungry Zimbabweans. We cannot conveniently forget the age-old proverb that “He who feeds you controls you.” Where is the national pride when half the country’s population depends on the benevolence of donors—many of them denounced by the same government as “imperialists”?
Zimbabwe is consistently rated as the second worst-performing economy in the world, an indictment on the government’s shoddy brand of statecraft.
What is needed—and urgently so—is a genuine commitment to good governance, anti-corruption, rule of law, constitutionalism, and the political will to chart a new path.
There is no substitute for broad-based national political dialogue. The Zimbabwean crisis is essentially political, although its manifestations tend to be economic in nature.
If yesterday Zanu PF could sit down with former colonial rulers and embrace a policy of reconciliation, surely there is nothing stopping the party leaders today from sitting down with the opposition and hammering out a lasting solution to the problems plaguing this country.
The entire country is in the grip of a pervading sense of despair. There is really no need for all this suffering. In 2020, Zimbabweans deserve a new day.