An introduction to Zimbabwe Radical Economic Structural Transformation (REST)

“We have been caught in a spider’s web of lies about our history, our potential and our future as a country since 1980. The only way we can extricate ourselves from it is to first change our belief system as a society and create a new paradigm of who and what we can become and acknowledge the possibilities which are staring at us.”

Economics cannot lie whereas with politics, one can literally create one’s own believable narrative of reality. With economics, one cannot hide incompetence, failure or a lack of delivery and understanding of it because the results stand and speak for themselves. The consequences of one’s economic policies have objective and brutally honest involved judges- the citizens, who must tolerate and experience them on a daily basis. One cannot hide the truths nor wish them away.

Whatever has happened up to this day since 1980 has resulted in an economy which cannot meet the social and economic needs of Zimbabweans. That has to change and be transformed. That transformation cannot come from trying to fix an old and broken socio-economic system through national annual budgets which are never adhered to, but by creating a totally new economic paradigm of possibilities. We have to dare to radically transform our economy into an inclusive modern industrialized state and this requires new mindsets and a totally new approach.

We cannot, therefore, continue on the beaten path of the last 40 years and expect new results. We have to reinvent and re-imagine Zimbabwe.

Radical Economic Structural Transformation, or REST, is an idea which seeks to fundamentally transform the Zimbabwean economy from an economic architecture which was perceived, designed and created by the colonialist and subsequently taken over by the liberation struggle elites and never transformed to meet the growing needs of the majority of ordinary Zimbabwean citizens, who to this day remain poor and are in fact economically and socially worse off than their life condition pre independence.

We cannot sustain our country on primary products which make about 80% of our exports, nor can we continue to consume imports made elsewhere at the expense of local production, jobs and incomes.

We cannot continue to wax lyrical about our resource endowments while we do nothing about them and continue to invite foreign companies to come and extract them and repatriate profits made while exporting them in raw form to be value added elsewhere thus exporting potential jobs and incomes from value addition and selling those products back to us at a value tenfold if not a hundred fold.

We cannot fail to feed ourselves and continue to import food while we possess vast tracts of arable land and water facilities and the necessary expertise.

We cannot accept or depend on other country’s currencies and expect increased local economic activity, self-determination and economic sovereignty as a country.

We cannot continue to only talk and not act on harnessing the prodigious talent and skills base of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora who have gained valuable technical experience and exposure in functional developed economies.

No, we cannot continue to depend on the generosity and whims of other nations whose motives we falsely assume are for our benefit and yet they derive more from “helping” us.

We cannot continue with a victim mentality and continually blame exogenous factors for our failures and thereby disempower ourselves psychologically from taking action and creating the social and economic circumstances we desire.

We are not a poor country, we have been poorly managed. Zimbabwe has everything it needs to create a new modern industrialized economy which more than meets the ambitions, aspirations and needs of all its citizens.

The key objectives of REST are therefore as follows:

– To utilize our mineral resource base to create own capital which can in turn be deployed for rapid industrialization and modernization;

– To fundamentally transform the structure of our economy and GDP so that 70% of it emanates from manufacturing and services thus creating high wage skilled jobs;

– To significantly reduce primary product exports to a set minimum of export earnings;

– To significantly reduce finished product imports and only import raw materials or inputs for local manufacture and value addition;

– To generate adequate revenues for social welfare obligations, free education and free health services for the poor;

– To upgrade economic and social infrastructures and create universal affordable access to the internet and ICT;
– To embrace and adopt the 4th industrial revolution;

– To ensure the majority of our energy sources are renewable;

– To achieve complete and total devolution of economic power to provincial economies; and

– To focus on human capital development and preservation of the well-being of citizens as the only competitive advantage we can deliberately create.

In order to achieve this, we have to first establish an inclusive, exciting, and motivating national vision, think on and articulate the appropriate strategies and then have the appropriate institutional arrangements for effective implementation and lastly determine the required capital budget.

In the next few weeks in a series of ten articles, I will be sharing my thoughts on how we can meet the above objectives, deal with the challenges we will face and articulate the action necessary to radically transform the structure and the results of our economy within given time frames.
Zimbabwe is not poor!

Vince Musewe is an independent economist and you can contact him on or on his twitter handle @vincemusewe