Dimaf — epitome of a failed model

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For a long time this country has been lulled into believing that salvation in all aspects of life should come from the State.

The government has operated in this mould, in which it has used varying benevolent schemes to spur economic activity and hopefully grow the economy.

This is a failed model.

The list of these petty schemes includes doling out tractors and inputs to farmers and equipping small miners

The latest in this raft of measures is the Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf) which has raised the ire of businesspeople in Bulawayo.

The businesspeople are angry with Industry minister Welshman Ncube who recently announced that he was taking the scheme to other cities.

Bulawayo companies reportedly got $40 million from the fund, but business bodies in the city have said there is no evidence of the injection of that money in the city’s business outlook.

This is true because the extent of the malaise in Bulawayo cannot be cured by a $40 million injection.

The failed model unfortunately is now being transplanted for implementation in Gweru and Mutare and the outcomes should not be very different.

The impact of the State intervention in industry has been premised on the forlorn hope that small capital will make a huge difference. It does not work and has never worked in modern economies.

Countries in the Sadc region that have realised real positive growth lately are those which have managed to attract big money into their economies.

Mozambique, Angola and Zambia are key examples. Huge investment in agriculture and infrastructure development has generated opportunities downstream and with it, positive growth.

Zimbabwe has similar opportunities to build roads, rehabilitate the rail system and increase productivity in the mining sector and on the land.

The greatest enemy to progress is poor governance which has manifested itself in anti-big business policies and embarrassing corruption in the handling of contracts for infrastructure development.

We have a government that has made it its business to try and chop top-performing companies into small pieces all in the name of black empowerment.

There is currently an axe hovering precariously over giant platinum miner Zimplats because it is not dancing to government’s discordant indigenisation tune.

Another opportunity for growth, in the Midlands at Zisco where Indian company Essar has taken over the rickety steel plant, is being frustrated by corruption in government offices and stunning lethargy in concluding the deal.

The list of stalled projects includes Gwayi-Shangani, Tokwe-Mukorsi and the quest to pipe water from the Zambezi River to Matabeleland provinces.

This is where the growth is. Successful implementation of projects attracts investors with big money.

This seemingly banal fact appears to escape the ruling establishment in this country. This government should wake up to the realities of international trade and commerce because at this rate, we are moving fast towards ruin.