A FRESH page was opened this week in Zimbabwe’s efforts to repair a faltering economy with the launch of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
The new economic blueprint is meant to steer the economy to achieve 5% growth rates for the next five years, create 760 000 jobs, mobilise internal sources of growth while Zimbabwe engages the international community to help it achieve an upper-middle-income status by 2030.
The dreams NDS1 lays out were also the aspirations of predecessor blueprints including the Transitional Stabilisation Programme which runs until year-end. These earlier blueprints have shown there are many hurdles in the way of a successful implementation of such an ambitious programme. One such hurdle is the impasse between the government and its workers over wages which has left the workers disgruntled and unmotivated.
The 300 000 civil servants implement state programmes and projects. For NDS1 to make an impact this standoff must be handled carefully and swiftly. The social contract between government, labour and business must also be addressed to do away with the suspicions that have bedevilled the Tripartite Negotiation Forum.
Any effort to build a robust and successful economy will not work without a deliberate strategy to develop a viable and sustainable SMEs sector. Over 20% of the giant Indian economy rides on SMEs so does that of China which has become about the strongest economy in the world.
Government will be poised for failure if it pays only lip service to the importance of technology and innovation. All countries around the globe which have invested adequately in technology have been on a growth trajectory. Africa, particularly the sub-Saharan region, still lags behind in ICT development hence it continues to look up to the developed world for technological innovation. Zimbabwe should therefore redouble its strides towards investment in ICT.
NDS1 should be a national programme and, therefore, should extend beyond Harare and Bulawayo into other provinces where previous blueprints failed to reach. This means the country’s devolution programme as enunciated in the National Constitution should now be implemented with renewed impetus.
The most challenging hurdle in the way of NDS1 will obviously be the scourge of corruption. If corruption is not eradicated or at least curbed substantially, the success of the new blueprint will be just a pipe dream. There, therefore, must be an unequivocal stance against corruption and government must be fighting the scourge holistically and not as a tool for factional fighting in government and the ruling party.
Corrupt bigwigs, just like the small fish, should be brought to justice and punished. The new blueprint will need international goodwill to succeed. The country’s poor human rights record must be addressed with vigour. High level mismanagement must be rooted out together with the endless political crisis that has continued to make Zimbabwe an international pariah.