Why freedom matters

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It is our duty to liberate Zanu PF from the responsibility of economically liberating us so that we can pursue our own ambitions, unhindered by their greed and toxic patronage.

VINCE MUSEWE

The 2015 Business Freedom Index has been published by the Heritage Foundation in partnership with the Wall Street Journal. Zimbabwe has been ranked 175 out of 178 only beating Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea. Interestingly enough, Hong Kong is number 1 followed by Singapore at number 2. No wonder why the President likes going there.

The index considers the rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency and open markets.

Under rule of law, it measures property rights and freedom from corruption, while under government size, it looks at fiscal freedom and government spending. Under regulatory efficiency, it scores business, labour and monetary freedom and, lastly, under open markets, it looks at trade investment and, financial freedom.

The findings of the 2015 Index clearly demonstrate the positive linkages between economic freedom and various dimensions of human development. So as long as we do not pursue economic freedom in Zimbabwe, it means that our country will never rise to its full potential.

I always tell colleagues that in the Zimbabwe we are going to create, we must get to a stage where it really doesn’t matter to us who is in State House. We want to create an environment where all Zimbabweans are free to dream big and create business empires and pursue their ambition without government intervention or the need to belong to a political party.

In the Zimbabwe we want, government will not be there to interfere, but to nurture and facilitate the growth of the economy by promoting entrepreneurship, fair competition, self-regulation of business and less red tape. In my view, this will take a different breed of leadership, a leadership that is comfortable with an open and highly informed productive society.

The report clearly states that the whole idea of economic freedom is to empower people with more opportunity to choose for themselves how to pursue and fulfil their dreams, subject only to the basic rule of law and honest competition from others.

Zimbabwe remains a predator State that deliberately stifles private enterprise and business growth simply because our politicians fear what we can become. Not surprising because from colonialism to the bush to a dictatorship is their life experience.

I think that the ordinary Zimbabwean, especially the Zanu PF member, does not really appreciate the extent and depth of the rot that has been created by Zanu PF. It was ex-MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti who pointed out to us recently at a discussion at Sapes, that Zimbabwe has regressed so much that our current living standards are comparable to 1958.

We therefore need to start afresh in building a nation state that is based on economic freedom and free enterprise.

According to the report “Greater economic freedom can also provide more fertile ground for effective and democratic governance. By empowering people to exercise greater control of their daily lives, economic freedom ultimately nurtures political reform by making it possible for individuals to gain the economic resources necessary to challenge entrenched interests and compete for political power,
thereby encouraging the creation of more pluralistic societies.”
Therein lies our problem. Clearly Zanu PF understands that a vibrant, prosperous middle class and a wealthy indigenous apolitical capitalist class pose a great danger to their continued rule.

As a response, Zanu PF’s formula has always been to be the gatekeepers and the kingmakers.

The black parasitic comprador class whose economic fate depends on party politics has kept quiet and loyal to the supreme leader in order to feed from the trough. As long as they can live large, they will do nothing to agitate for change, why should they?

We condemn this approach, especially under the guise of indigenisation and sovereignty. We are not idiots. The Zimbabwe we want to create must only reward hard work, creativity, innovation and the courage to take business risk, nothing else. This means our value system must change, starting from the President’s office.

We will advance freedom so that dynamic and inclusive growth can occur meaningfully for ordinary people in a free society underpinned by the right of all Zimbabweans, regardless of race, gender or politics, to freely pursue their ambition without seeking approval from or involvement of politicians or the President’s office that has become a predatory institution unto itself.

This of course is a totally new narrative that we must create if Zimbabwe is ever going to get out of the rut created by the Zanu PF mentality of “none but ourselves”. This Stone Age mentality is offensive and must be stopped.

According to the report, “The link between economic freedom and development is clear and strong. People in economically free societies live longer and have better health. They are also able to be better stewards of the environment, and they tend to push forward the frontiers of human achievement in science and technology through greater innovation.”

That is precisely the Zimbabwe we want and, I am sorry to say, it certainly will not emerge under President Robert Mugabe’s narrative.
lVince Musewe is an economist and author. You may contact him directly on vtmusewe@gmail.com

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