Saving Zimbabwe from 35 years of sheer incompetence will take more than a temporary rescue by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). I think we would be naïve to believe that borrowing $2 billion to pay IMF arrears will result in a fundamental change in our economics and social conditions.
For many years the IMF has been the principal instrument of foreign governmental development capital in Africa and to date, Africans remain poor. There is no evidence the IMF has facilitated the emergence of sustainable industrialised economies anywhere on the continent. Some 50 years later, their job is still not done. Something must be wrong.
In my opinion, as long as Africa is masterminded by foreign governmental capital, the continent will not rise nor will poverty be totally eradicated. Only until we Africans learn how to package our own knowledge and apply it to meet the needs of the African can we really see Africa begin to rise.
We, therefore, cannot continue to expect foreign governments and their citizens to take the responsibility for creating the Zimbabwe we imagine. That responsibility remains ours and ours alone.
It is evident that Zanu PF, despite having 35 years to make a difference, has failed to unlock the value of our assets as a country. This of course is because of their naïve belief that Zimbabwe can change the global game of capital flows and principles. Their continued disregard of universal economic principles has resulted in hotchpotch economic policies, which have destroyed value and created widespread poverty.
It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to create a new paradigm of a Zimbabwe that offers value and legitimately and attracts free market capital without the need to continually depend on foreign governmental aid and tied loans.
Zimbabwe has both the human and natural assets to become the Singapore of Africa and what we lack is a leadership with vision and a new mind-set that stops making excuses and continually pleading victimhood.
If we are to create an environment of low risk and high returns that can attract free market capital to the country, we certainly need a change in our political leadership. This team will not take us there. There is no question about that. Nations fail mainly because of selfish and short sighted leaders.
Firstly, we need a President who actively and deliberately promotes the Zimbabwe brand, not someone who always whinges why we cannot be treated as equals while he does not behave as expected. Zimbabwe owes about $10 billion to its development partners but shows no signs of any development. That is indicative of the mismanagement and the fact that we do not take our responsibilities as a country seriously, so why should others do so?
There are currently palpable expectations and anxious anticipations that things will get better in Zimbabwe once our debt issues are resolved with the IMF and they start releasing funding to us. We must borrow further in order to pay our debts to them. It is like giving an alcoholic more alcohol in the hope of solving his alcoholism. That is sheer stupidity.
The economic architecture of Zimbabwe remains essentially a colonial extractive economy based on primary production of raw materials and has hardly transformed since 1980. In fact its condition has deteriorated significantly because of lack of planning, incompetence, patronage and corruption. That is our fault and not that of international capital.
Added to that is the fact that our laws and institutional architecture are not geared towards attracting long term private capital. In order to do that we need to change our mindsets and hastily acknowledge that long term private investment capital is only attracted to competitive business environments, which offer low risk and high return where there is some level of predictability.
In my opinion, pouring more money into such a system without fundamental change of attitude and behaviour only makes matters worse. We are simply piling debt onto our future generations and are not creating an economy that is sustainable for them.
We must address all those impediments to economic growth first and this is not impossible. Our vision as the future leaders of this country is to create a trillion dollar economy by 2030 with full employment. Yes, we can do that but in order to do so there are certain non-negotiables that must be in place.
First, we need to have a political leadership whose motives and actions are aligned to that goal. Our political actions have been in conflict with the need for inclusive and sustainable development.
Secondly, we must create value and offer that to the free capital markets of the world. This means we have to radically change how we interact with the world as a country and we have no choice but to do everything we can to create an environment that is attractive to doing business.
Third, we need to fundamentally change our value systems and ethics. It is shocking to hear of the graft and downright theft of national assets that is now acceptable in many of our institutions. We can never revive this economy with institutions that are not accountable and how some leaders are there just to make as much money as possible at the expense of national interest.
Zimbabwe needs a new vision a re-awakening to the possibilities that have been deliberately suppressed or ignored by those who fear change.
We have become a pariah state, a banana republic, a failed state which needs a new re-birth and, no matter how we may wish, the IMF is not about to solve that problem
●Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on email@example.com