6 things Zimbabwe must do to revive the economy- Mnangagwa





Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has outlined six things that the country has to do to revive its ailing economy.

Writing in his weekly column for the Sunday Mail, Mnangagwa said:

  • First, we must resolve to be self-reliant. That means accepting our full responsibility and burden to develop our country Zimbabwe. We cannot rely on the global which is disintegrating, in any event. Hence the mantra: Nyika Inovakwa Nevene Vayo.
  • Second, we must acknowledge that “our supply system will be built with the swell of our soil, and the sweat of our labourers”. The farmer and the worker are the bedrock of the Zimbabwean economic miracle. Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy, which means foremost, our liquidity must go into our land! Both in our National Budget and with respect to portfolios of our financial institutions, our consolidated financial might must be felt on the land.
  • Third, we must “Make in Zimbabwe” but do so efficiently and competitively so Zimbabweans can then be persuaded to Buy Zimbabwe, rather than elsewhere. This means moving away from reliance on antiquated production technologies so our production systems are technology-driven. “Make in Zimbabwe” means “Retool Zimbabwe” and “Digitalise Zimbabwe”. It also means “Re-skill Zimbabwe”.
  • Fourth, we must now develop a comprehensive masterplan and response to results of the National Skills Survey, which revealed serious skills gaps in the Economy, all-round. This national skills strategy should talk to our whole industrialisation and beneficiation strategy designed to create local value chains initially for meeting local needs. Happily, work has already begun at all our tertiary institutions.
  • Fifth, both our Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency, ZIDA, and our ZimTrade must scout for investors and investments, as well as markets, which talk to our Make in Zimbabwe Strategy.
  • Sixth and critically, as with our infrastructure masterplan, we must invest in capital goods and technologies which go with local value chains we already have or wish to start. As I write, Government’s infrastructure masterplan caused companies involved to invest in road construction machinery. We are now very strong in that area.

The recent World Economic Forum, WEF, held in Davos, Switzerland, was held against an overbearing backdrop of:

  • Global climate change Crisis;
  • Global Covid-19 pandemic;
  • Conflict in Eastern Europe of clear global proportions;
  • Global supply chain disruptions.

These adverse developments have made the global and the local more intertwined as never before.

No country, no region, no hemisphere, is spared from this enmeshing spectre. This means limited autonomy for the local, more say for the global. Above all, it means crafting local responses within limiting global givens. Under such global conditions, economists’ notion of ceteris paribus — all things being equal — looks anachronistic. Nothing is equal anymore.

Davos confirmed many things that clearly worry. It confirmed a shrinking global order set against ever-enlarging global challenges. The response to the four aforementioned global challenges suggests a world retreating from global multilateralism in which challenges are faced and tackled collectively through cooperation and collaborative global action. Even as we caucused in Davos, it was clear to us from Africa that some in our midst had come to sell their war and to foist their viewpoint on the rest of us, rather than to engage in the spirit of greater peace and multilateral approach to challenges facing our planet.

There is a disturbing streak of selfishness and coercive diplomacy which is exemplified by Washington’s latest overreaching legislative gamble called Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act.

Through this Act, the United States of America coercively seeks to legislate for a whole continent, in line with its own whims and interests. The illegal Act flattens a whole continent to reduce it to a mere appendage of America!

In the eyes of the USA, our nations are not independent and have no right to relate to other nations of the world as they see fit or in pursuit of their national interests.

The last time America tried this was in 1901 when it passed the Platt Amendment on Cuba by which the Government of Cuba then was enjoined “never to enter into any treaty or other compact with any foreign power or powers”; and was also required to “consent that the United States may exercise the right to intervene” in Cuba for “the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty…”

To imagine that the United States Government, through its legislature, plans another Platt Amendment for a whole Continent of Africa simply beggars belief.

Whether in the Pacific Region, the Americas or in Asia, we are seeing a race towards militarisation through adversarial and confrontational blocs which undermine global peace guaranteed by the observance of international tenets enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

In all this, there is a clear attempt to threaten and objectify Africa, the only continent with abundant resources, and still sworn to multilateralism under the recent Africa Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA. Given America’s iniquitous ZDERA, Zimbabwe is best qualified to warn the world against this insidious encroachment on national and continental sovereignties by powerful States seeking to overreach under flimsy guises.

The same global close-mindedness is shown in respect of global economic affairs. Under several different synonyms — re-shoring, on-shoring, in-shoring, back-shoring or near-shoring — leading economies which historically preached and sold to us the wondrous benefits of globalisation are now giving their back to global trade, thus undermining international trade and the collaborative ethos which underpin global peace and solidarity. The economic correlative to armed global blocs is these exclusive and exclusionary economic blocs which also become fortresses against international trade, and which mete out collective economic sanctions against countries whose politics the blocs dislike or contest.

In hindsight, we should have seen this selfish close-mindedness creeping in. The global Covid-19 pandemic revealed a world retreating from a collective approach to global challenges.

We witnessed callous hoarding of vaccines, especially against the vulnerable South. Equally, Glasgow and previous climate summits showed that countries most culpable for damaging our planet were the least ready to admit to it, let alone pay for, or even share technologies towards its repair. And as the conflict in Eastern Europe is again showing, they do not hesitate to renege on previous climate-saving benchmarks for selfish national reasons.

Even Donald Trump whom we misread as a political maverick in fact gave us a glimpse into things to come through his “America First” mantra. It now turns out Trump was the biblical “John the Baptist” who proclaimed a world to come, without anyone heeding. We now know Trump’s agenda was in fact bi-partisan and thus American. All these were tell-tale signs of disintegrating world order we should have heeded.

Zimbabwe has to locate itself and survive within this torrid global environment as it daily unravels. The environment is not about, or likely, to change.

We have to adjust to this new normal of wars, militarisation, global pandemics, climate change and a broken international system. These overbearing global adversities are increasingly obtruding into our local circumstances. It requires skilful navigation so we do not ram into a dangerous global ecosystem of intricate, interlocking icebergs.

One Nation we can turn to for salutary lessons in India. In the wake of the raging global Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced what he termed “Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”, or Self-Reliant India Campaign. The campaign rests on the following five pillars:

  1. Economy
  2. Modern infrastructure
  3. Technology-driven systems
  4. Vibrant demography and,
  5. Local Demand

It suggests a raft of reform measures focusing on Land, Laws, Labour and Liquidity, with India redirecting its savings and financial prowess (Liquidity) towards improved Agriculture (Land); developing tertiary skills in its workforce for a technology-driven Economy (Labour) and, to simplify its regulations to stimulate more start-ups, and small-to-medium enterprises (Laws).

India’s key point of departure under the Atmanirbhar Bharat or Self-Reliant India Programme is its time-lined commitment to industrialise key sectors in the Economy and National Affairs so India’s demand for goods and services are met locally, with very little reliance on imports. Apart from agriculture, sectors targeted for local manufacture include:

  • Medical equipment and pharmaceuticals;
  • Electronics;
  • Plastics;
  • Gems and jewellery;
  • Textiles;
  • Steel and,
  • Defence Industry.

India has thus embarked on local manufacturing to create local supply chains which supply local markets first, before venturing outward to meet global demand. Where it is still to build capabilities, India has targeted foreign direct investment, and FDI, so industries are set up on Indian soil and employ Indians for skills transfer.

Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan is thus not protectionism; nor is it averse to FDI and international trade.

It merely localises value chains to meet local demand first, before going global with home-grown and tested brands. To achieve all this, India coined two encapsulating mantras: “Manufacture in India” and “Be Vocal for Local”. Clearly, this is an interesting response to the current global crisis, indeed one predicated on India’s history, inner resources, key competencies and huge geography and demography which makes it a whole subcontinent. We can learn a lot from this.

There is a lot we have done already which makes the Indian experience kindred. We both face similar global challenges; we both value agriculture; our two nations are modernising our infrastructures; both our nations have high literacy levels on which to develop higher tertiary skills. Above all, Zimbabwe enjoys very good relations with India which has been supporting us in a number of areas, principally that of energy. It also is part of a region we have always related to in our long history.

Of course, they are key, material differences which, fortunately, do not make the Indian experience inapplicable to our local circumstances. With over a billion people, India, like China, enjoys a huge demographic dividend which translates to a huge internal market. Although our population is small, we have SADC and Africa to offset that. Our national demand for goods and services is very healthy and has even been felt across our borders. That means our internal market is significant and can be developed further.

While India is definitely ahead of us by way of tertiary skills, our high literacy level and the sheer industry of our people put us in good stead. Our programme of innovative hubs in tertiary institutions already gives us a head start in harnessing the national urge for innovation. Our Nyika Inovakwa Nevene Vayo philosophy compares quite favourably with India’s Atmanirbhar Bharat philosophy. So, too, does our Value-Chain Approach to industrialisation, complemented by our “Buy Zimbabwe”, both of which echo India’s “Make in India” and “Be Vocal for Local” campaigns. As with Mahatma Gandhi’s Swadesh or Self-Reliance Movement launched at the beginning of the last century as part of India’s Struggle for National Independence, we, too, had our “None-But-Ourselves” philosophy at the core of our National Struggle for Independence. Our Liberation Armies were as much a production Force as they were a military and political one. History thus equips us, while current global challenges fortify our resolve to creatively navigate between the local and global.

First, as with India, we must resolve to be self-reliant. That means accepting our full responsibility and burden to develop our country Zimbabwe.

We cannot rely on the globe which is disintegrating, in any event. Hence the mantra: Nyika Inovakwa Nevene Vayo. This requires unity and self-belief in ourselves; the grit, determination, and commitment to creatively use our God-given resources in order to raise ourselves by our bootstraps. We should not self-hate or self-deride, both pastimes for the negative press. No humans from any other country, region, hemisphere, or being from another planet, will come to develop us. Or even come to defend us or our sovereignty when under attack; this is why we also say: Nyika Inotongwa Nevene Vayo.

Second, like India, we must acknowledge that “our supply system will be built with the swell of our soil and the sweat of our labourers”. The farmer and the worker are the bedrock of the Zimbabwean economic miracle. Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy, which means foremost, our liquidity must go into our land! Both in our National Budget and with respect to portfolios of our financial institutions, our consolidated financial might must be felt on the land.

It makes us food-secure as a nation; it triggers several value chains which must set us off as an economy. Anything that prevents this goal must give way.

Like everything else, the Land is transformed through Labour. Mushandi ngaakudzwe, the worker must be rewarded and respected.

The paradox where workers cannot afford even the most basic goods produced by their own sweat, simply because of corporate profiteering, just has to be resolved once and for all. Our corporates are creating a situation where workers they employ cannot be vocal for the very local goods their sweat produces.

We are killing local demand, thus undermining local production, the development of local value chains, and the launch of local brands starting from local markets.

Brands are strong and trusted globally because they are strong, trusted, and afforded locally!

Third, we must “Make in Zimbabwe” but do so efficiently and competitively so Zimbabweans can then be persuaded to Buy Zimbabwe, rather than elsewhere. This means moving away from reliance on antiquated production technologies so our production systems are technology-driven. “Make in Zimbabwe” means “Retool Zimbabwe” and “Digitalise Zimbabwe”. It also means “Re-skill Zimbabwe”. These must be the new slogans for our industries, which must outgrow antiquated, sunset technologies they have been running on. At their request, we introduced the foreign currency auction system so they could retool. That facility must not merely repair old technologies instead of bringing in new and efficient technologies. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce must get different subsectors to draw up retooling strategies and to plan for efficient value chains.

As we move into the future, Government will be less and less supportive of operations running on franchised imports. These have been wasting our foreign currency reserves while undermining our Buy Zimbabwe goal. Those involved have had long enough to build capital from those imports; now is the time for them to venture into manufacturing.

In respect of extortionate pricing, we have exhausted moral suasion as a way of causing sanity in the market.

Indiscipline in the market is now so entrenched and even obstinate that it is increasingly becoming a political challenge to the whole establishment. New tools are now needed to deal with the problem. It is Government that gets blamed; it is Government which must tackle this wanton abuse in the marketplace. We are determined to do just that.

Fourth, we must now develop a comprehensive master plan and response to the results of the National Skills Survey, which revealed serious skills gaps in the Economy, all-round.

This national skills strategy should talk to our whole industrialisation and beneficiation strategy designed to create local value chains initially for meeting local needs. Happily, work has already begun at all our tertiary institutions.

The master plan should also integrate technologies we need to either develop, adapt or re-engineer for local needs. On that score, our innovation hubs are key.

Fifth, both our Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency, ZIDA, and our ZimTrade must scout for investors and investments, as well as markets, which talk to our Make in Zimbabwe Strategy.

As we launch value chains for the local market, we must keep our eyes focused on exports as well. For far too long, we have waited to be found by foreign investors, instead of going out to pointedly accost foreign investors to key strategic areas we identify and prioritise as an Economy. That must now change so we are deliberate in our quest for FDI.

Sixth and critically, as with our infrastructure masterplan, we must invest in capital goods and technologies which go with local value chains we already have or wish to start. As I write, Government’s infrastructure master plan caused companies involved to invest in road construction machinery. We are now very strong in that area.

The same must happen in other areas. For instance, before long, Zimbabwe will be a major steel producer.

We should be thinking ahead so we prepare for local machine-building and local tools manufacturing, now that steel will be easily available in the country.

Are we scouting for partnerships in that direction so we graduate to light-to-heavy industries so we lessen our capital goods imports, and so we get better earnings and create quality jobs?

The same holds for precious minerals where production is growing in the context of our US$12 billion Mining Economy.

What matching value chains are we planning for in that area?

We must believe in ourselves and set our targets high enough for a self-reliant Zimbabwe.

Indeed Nyika Inovakwa Nevene Vayo.