ZIMBABWE has suffered great damage politically and economically because of making a virtue of being uncompromising, of going it alone under the sail of some strong spine.
But the government appears to be changing course because of biting and sobering realities.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said on Tuesday: “In the interest of our country, we should look everywhere in order to move forward and that means we should look to the East, to the West, to the North, and to the South . . . As we all know, we are a small market, so anyone who is serious about growing this country must look to the export market and that means looking everywhere.”
Indeed, in this interconnected world, you cannot go it alone. Zimbabwe is connected to China, which is connected to the United States, which is connected to South Africa, which is connected to Cuba etc etc. This makes the connectivity global, with some weak links like Zimbabwe here and there.
Thinking and horizons have expanded in the face of this new reality. Countries that have been quick to embrace the reality of this interconnectedness have reaped immense benefits, China, now with footprints everywhere, being the best example, with some saying it is world’s newest imperial power.
So, it is refreshing and salutary that the Zimbabwean government is coming round to see this reality and is making overtures globally to spread economic relations.
This spreading of relations will also give the country more leverage in its dealings, unlike being bound to one State, as President Robert Mugabe has been driving Zimbabwe towards China as the perpetual saviour of the country.
It is healthy for the country to have many suitors. Having one suitor means Zimbabwe can be monopolised and patronised by that one country, becoming a client State.
Going by the definition of a client state as a country that is dependent on a larger and more powerful country for its political, economic, or military welfare, isn’t this what Mugabe is leading Zimbabwe into over China and, lately, Russia?
The unintended consequences of Zimbabwe tying itself to the apron strings of one or two big States is loss of capacity to act independently as, for instance, China will get into a position of dictating terms.
The rapprochement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is also a pointer in the right direction. We don’t have to be friends to work with each, but we should do so out of necessity.
No country — however much endowed with natural resources — can do it its own way.
The terms and conditions made by China to bail out Zimbabwe following Mugabe’s much-heralded trip to that country recently are a virtual carbon copy of the demands made by the IMF a decade ago for resumption of lending to Zimbabwe.
If you don’t play by the rules, nothing will come your way. It’s about business, not ideology. That is the new world order which has been ushered in by rapid technological advancements. The world now operates in real-time, and real-time is fast time where operating systems respond to input immediately.
For pointing out these realities honestly and frankly, Chinamasa should be commended.