IT is exactly seven days before the nation goes to the polls. Despite differing projections on the possible outcomes, there is general consensus that these elections are as crucial as the future that follows. The country cannot remain wedded to unresolved political differences.
By Tapiwa Gomo
We have lost two decades of our productive and real lives in the process.
It is everyone’s wish that these elections put an end to the political haggling that has stalled our progress and taken our country backwards when others were developing. There is hope that after these elections, the country will be allowed to heal and refresh its economy. We need a new beginning to usher a new season of progressive thinking and economic growth and development. But the post-election season will also be a moment to face reality out of the catatonic stupor of campaigns and political manifestos.
As we put the electoral season to closure, we will be confronted by a new global economic reality out there. The global economy is ailing. The world is becoming less and less generous. Inequality is spiking and global economic growth has been slowing down. Deteriorating living standards have triggered citizen protests, affecting nearly half of the world economies in 2014 in different regions of he world.
In response, developed countries are increasingly becoming self-centred and more concerned about their economies than those of other countries. As a result, globalisation is in reverse mode with geopolitical relations taking a new direction. Protectionism and nationalism among the developed countries are gradually taking centre-stage. Major examples of such policy shifts include Brexit in the United Kingdom, Trump’s making America Great Again, campaigns against migration, increasing xenophobia and the United States-China trade wars. Nations are protecting what they have for themselves and their people.
In the last two instalments, I discussed the current trade war between China and US and its implications on the economies of developing countries in Africa. This war is much deeper and wider than the two ‘warring’ countries. The Global Trade Alert estimates that the G20 countries have imposed over 640 discriminatory trade measures on other countries in 2015 alone. While protectionism has no history of boosting economies, it earns political votes in the short-term. In the long term, it leads to unemployment, slows economic growth and affects the standards of living in the countries imposing discriminatory measures.
For the developing countries, protectionism is gradually stifling global trade, reducing cross-border capital flows and causing central banks to impose capital controls. This will have an impact on foreign direct investment to developing countries such as Zimbabwe. Solid economies such as South Africa are already succumbing to the global pressure. In addition, developed countries are known to short-change developing countries in the event that they fail to arrest their economic slowdown. A new wave of neoliberal policies may be on the horizon to tap on to our raw materials.
The three major drivers of global economic growth − capital, labour and productivity − are on the slow down. This is because the western consumer markets are shrinking due to increasing unemployment rates, low wages and spiking poverty levels. This means that the demand for and the prices of African raw materials will also be impacted and thus affecting our prospects for economic growth, if our economic recovery path is to depend on the sale of raw materials.
Leaders of developed countries are now more focused on dealing with their domestic issues than focusing on providing assistance to developing countries such as Zimbabwe. It is, thus, safer to warn ourselves that we need to prepare to soldier it alone after the elections. We need to drive our own economic recovery. We have the raw materials and the labour and we can acquire the technology needed to boost our economy.
There is no doubt the young generation in Zimbabwe is now the driving force behind a desire for economic growth, despite that political power remains dominated by an old guard. They need jobs, skills and they want to be productive.
They know that with increased production, access to basic services will improve. They also know that they have been failed by the old guard and they still hope banking on their young age and prospects of a better leadership.
They want change. They also want policies that will improve their lives. The new global economic reality demands new ideas far from the business as usual approach. We cannot just hope on foreign investment alone to boost our economic recovery. We need our people to be at the centre of our recovery. We need a new political and economic thinking whose ideas spans beyond the political terms.
The main task ahead of us as a nation after elections is to define and create that solid and long-term economic growth strategy that builds on what we have with a view to establish a model that meaningfully improves people’s lives.
There is a risky temptation for leadership to go for quick fixes that deliver short-term gains to appease the electorate so politicians can remain in office without taking into account the implications for the long-term future of the country. We have been patient for 20 years and we can surely avoid inferior policies.
Tapiwa Gomo writes in his personal capacity