How can Zimbabwe get back on the high road?

Prof Arthur Mutambara

The starting point in the journey to a prosperous Zimbabwe is to understand the nature and character of Zimbabwe’s problems. The country has inextricably linked, seemingly intractable, political and economic issues.

By Arthur Mutambara

On the political side, the challenge is that of polarisation, which is a product of legitimacy issues arising from the disputed outcome of the July 2018 presidential elections. The economy is in free fall, debt-ridden and characterised by a shortage of electricity, a currency crisis, hyperinflation and low productivity. Social services have collapsed — healthcare in particular.

With a clear appreciation of the nature of the beast, the next step is to develop both political and economic solutions, taking cognisance of the primacy of the political interventions. Without resolution of the political challenges, all economic efforts will be futile.

There is a need for all stakeholders to agree on and implement political reforms to deepen democracy and enhance accountability in general, while improving the management of election processes to ensure they are free, fair, credible and transparent, thus guaranteeing undisputed poll outcomes. This will address the major source of Zimbabwe’s perennial polarisation — stolen or rigged elections.

It is important that the State media is professionalised to ensure non-partisan coverage. Major media reforms are required to enable independent private players’ participation in all forms of media, including radio and television.

While political reforms are critical, it is imperative and prudent to note that they are necessary but not sufficient for a successful journey to a prosperous Zimbabwe. With a solid foundation anchored on agreed and implemented political reforms, Zimbabweans must then collectively develop and adopt a shared national vision and strategy with three pillars — social, political and economic.

The vision framework must have overarching values and principles to underpin a new dispensation. Mega-impact projects must be identified, which will have a huge bearing on economic growth and GDP. To complement the shared national vision, a national brand must be crafted to sharpen country competitiveness and foster country reputation management.

Implementation, planning and dogged execution must accompany all national plans, while monitoring and evaluation are dutifully applied. There is a need to develop detailed economic blueprints and implementation plans for all key sectors, including agriculture, mining, infrastructure, manufacturing, health, education and tourism, with emphasis on moving up global value chains, innovation and entrepreneurship, use of high technology and climate change-proofing of all initiatives.

Economic sanctions are a symptom of bigger problems in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans must solve these huge challenges by embracing what has been articulated above. Zimbabweans must address the reasons why the sanctions were imposed in the first place. This must be done not to please external players — the imposers of sanctions — but in pursuit of the national interest.

For the avoidance of doubt, this does not imply reversing the land reform programme. Furthermore, we must address self-imposed sanctions, which take the form of corruption, primitive accumulation, misgovernance, the rigging of elections, violation of human rights, disrespect of the rule of law, police brutality and general subjugation of citizens.

Beyond the country, Zimbabwe must leverage continental integration and the fourth industrial revolution. Africans across the continent must take a vested interest approach to the resolution of Zimbabwean challenges. Why? First and foremost, all people of African descent are the same people.

Ubuntu and Pan Africanism bind us together. Second, the economic prosperity of African countries is inextricably linked. Under globalisation our African economies will flourish or degenerate together.

The above framework will constitute the best path to a prosperous Zimbabwe.

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