Masimba Manyanya Policy Analyst
Visions are often likened to grand apparitions. Such as perhaps Jacob’s experience in Genesis 28:12.
Today Social Scientists tell us the vision is the grand picture of a desired end, inspiring humankind to strive towards it through plans and programmes.
On the other hand there are also fantasies and illusions: false hopes and beliefs drawing people to failure, frustration, and ruin. It’s common practice these days for governments to craft development programmes around “national development visions”.
Such as the vision crafted decades ago, for Zimbabwe “to be a united, strong, democratic, prosperous and egalitarian nation with a high quality of life for all Zimbabweans by the year 2020’.
In 2018 the government of Zimbabwe announced Vision 2030 (Zimbabwe: Towards an Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030). Vision 2030 is the key framework of the government’s national development strategies under the Second Republic. National visioning is necessarily positive, reflecting progression, rather than retrogression in the lives of citizens.
A national vision represents the convergence of hopes and dreams of citizens, inspiring and uplifting; a good centrepiece of initiatives to mobilise citizens and to marshal resources in specific, positive directions.
Explaining why the national vision is a good rallying point for, and a source of nationally shared citizen satisfaction, honour and pride. The question is are we on the journey to the Upper Middle Income Country by 2030?
The World Bank defines low income countries in terms of per capital gross domestic income of less than US$1 045; lower middle-income countries earning US$1 046-US$4 045, upper middle income economy, $4 046-$12 535, and high income countries earning above $12 535. There are approximately five billion people (out of the total seven billion) who live within 107 MICs.
These nations represent approximately one-third of global GDP, and over 70% of people in the world live in MICs. The main characteristics of (both lower and upper) middle income countries are pertinent struggles by states to provide citizens with key public/social services such as quality education and healthcare, clean water and good roads.
Because of the sheer size of MICs in the global setup, it is obvious a positive GDP impact in these regions will have massive income redistribution effects touching the lives of 70% of the global population, the majority of whom are impoverished. Such global shifts mean quite a lot for livelihoods hounded by poor nutrition, high infant mortality rates, low life expectancy, rampant corruption, international trade challenges, low per capita availability of hospital beds, physicians, and teachers, border conflicts, unsustainable energy development, food and water insecurity.
For Zimbabwe, Vision 2030 means the country’s cherished dream to depart from the low income country ranks and aspire towards (the upper) MIC status is quite inspiring.
But the big question is, is it feasible?
There are complications on this journey towards a MIC, as exemplified by Kuwait, which was estimated to have a per capita income of $14 480 in 1985, 50% of which originated from oil. A close study of Kuwait shows that during the period when it experienced huge oil inflows, the country’s economic and social indicators fell well below what other countries with similar per capita incomes had achieved.
What it means is that it may not necessarily be about desired end results, visions, or even dreams.
But about tackling immediate challenges at hand that impose obstacles on the paths of progress. It means for many low income countries redirecting policy attention from wasteful “prestige” projects towards basic population needs, and also re-engineering a culture of economic governance founded on democratic values of transparency, and accountability.
However, in the specific case of Zimbabwe, according to analysts Techzim for Zimbabwe to be a middle income country by 2030 “then it must grow by 359% . . . . even if Zimbabwe registered 5,5% GDP growth in 2021 and 7,8% in 2022, the country will still be far from even just reversing the 23% decline experienced over 2018-2020”.”.
“Zimbabwe reached the lowest point, our rock bottom, back in 2008 when it was US$330. We dollarised in 2009 and the GNI per capital grew every single year to a record high of US$1 410 in 2018. We held our elections that year, the second republic was born and the GNI/capita has been falling every year since. A 23% drop since the elections. Our GNI/capita fell by 15% from 2018 to 2019, before the pandemic. So we had our problems before the 2020 madness. During the pandemic in 2020, we fell by 9%, meaning a smaller percentage drop than in 2019 when there was no pandemic”.
Zimcodd reported in May 2021, “An adverse irony is that Africa is losing more through illicit financial flows than what it receives annually as official development assistance. The Economic Development in Africa Report of 2020 reported that Africa losses approximately US$89 billion to illicit financial flows per year which is equivalent to 3,7% of the continent’s gross domestic product. This has steeply gone up from at least US$50 billion annually reported in the 2011 High-Level Panel on illicit financial flows from Africa Report led by the Mbeki Commission.”
In 2020 a man suspected to be coming from Zimbabwe was arrested at OR Tambo airport with 23 pieces of gold worth R11 000 000. Zimcodd reports, “Using the 1 ZAR = 0,0711255 USD or the 1US$ = 14,0597 exchange rate, the value of the gold is US$782 380,37.
This points to excessive revenue leakages and poor public resource management especially following another incident where Henrietta Rushwaya in October 2020 was caught at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport whilst trying to smuggle 6kg of gold to Dubai.
The Rushwaya’s case involved an estimate of US$333 000 worth of gold.
Illicit financial flows in Africa and Zimbabwe continue to erode potential revenue that can lift the continent and the country out of the economic situation that it finds itself in. Thus, Zimbabwe’s economic turnaround hinges on a determined effort by the government to stem illicit outflows, and recovering billions of potential tax revenues lost through informalisation of industry, then redirecting these massive resources into public and private investments that impact directly on citizen livelihoods.
Explaining why, granted the country’s world renowned massive deposits of precious minerals, the large expanses of farmland, the clean air, as well as the large reservoirs of water, Zimbabwe may not actually need ODA, let alone new loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
To make a significant difference, the journey to Vision 2030 would also have to be underpinned by a growing and robust formal sector contributing significantly to the fiscus, and also to wage employment and labour markets security and stability.
Zimbabwe is limping towards 2030 on the back of mismanagement, illicit outflows and informalisation, which are all bleeding the resource base.
Beyond the preoccupation with balanced budgets, GDP calculations, estimations, and projections, perhaps we now need broader perspectives and approaches emphasising ‘the creation of wealth from which community benefits are realised. It is more than a jobs programme, it’s an investment in growing your economy and enhancing the prosperity and quality of life for all residents.’. So, it may not really be about 2030, but about today.
- Manyanya is a policy analyst. These weekly New Perspectives articles, published in the Zimbabwe Independent, are coordinated by Lovemore Kadenge, an independent consultant, past president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society and past president of the Chartered Governance & Accountancy Institute in Zimbabwe (CGI Zimbabwe). — kadenge,firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile: +263 772 382 852.