HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsTime to fix the economy

Time to fix the economy


The 2018 elections have come and gone. What remains is the disgruntlement over the processes and how they affected the outcomes.

Develop me: Tapiwa Gomo

That discussion, legal or political, will most likely not effect much change in the status quo. Just like previous elections, there is really nothing new that has come of this one, other than that they were new presidential contestants.

For the opposition, the million-dollar question is how to remain alive and relevant after the elections. But for the ordinary men and women in the country, there is now less appetite for who must or must not rule, but how they will put food on the table.

People are tired of futile elections and they want to move on with their lives. The two decades of our time was stolen by elections and bad politics. And in all those years, we prioritised elections over the economy.

We prioritised democracy over economic growth because in modern-day governance culture, democracy is assumed to be the foundation of economic growth. This is an ideal and not necessarily a prerequisite as there is not as many countries that have achieved democracy before growth. It is always the other way round.

There are countries that have recently witnessed rapid economic growth in the absence of the western type of democracy. Some of these include China and its Asian neighbours and the Middle Eastern countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and their neighbours as well.

Their economies have boomed massively to the extent that they are now strengthening the capacity and independence of their institutions of democracy.

Their growing economies are also empowering citizens with access to income and livelihoods, which is gradually giving them a voice, thereby making them active and influential players in national and political decisions.

This is not in any way suggesting that we dump the democracy project, as the country still needs to be unshackled from the capture by a group of people who think they own it and its resources.

The world is at a critical junction, where developed countries are becoming more and more selfish, protecting their economies and preserving what they have for their citizens.

We can no longer afford to pursue democracy at the expense of economic growth. The idea that the economy must wait until there is political change and democracy, frankly, is an approach rooted in old fashioned view of democracy.

One of the main reasons political change is difficult to achieve in Zimbabwe and many other poor countries is simply because the citizens do not wield enough capital and political power to destabilise a misbehaving status quo.

Capital power derives from a functioning economy and enhances people’s ability power to perform politically.

In the current situation, citizen participation is mainly seen in voting with the picketing or protest easily contained by the State due to weaker citizen power.

This absence of power has created a fertile environment for politicians to manipulate voters with short-term freebies and any autocracy would want to maintain that level vulnerability for political expedience.

Illegalities such as vote-buying are rampant because the citizens are in a weaker position to make bold and long-term political decisions without considering their immediate needs such as food.

In addition, in a situation where the economy is not performing, the symbiotic relationship between the people and the government is not as strong such that citizens’ sentiments of unhappiness are inconsequential in destabilising the status quo. This how dictators, mainly in Africa, maintain their hold to power.

As we start the new journey with the “new” establishment, what options are available to ensure that we grow our economy such that by the next election, we will have an empowered voter who is an active stakeholder? If political change has not materialised, we can change the attitude of those who govern.

We already know what we want. Let’s not accept that old school excuse that they need time to settle, but instead we should push them to hit the ground running. It is possible to turn around the economy in one term.

In Malawi, the late President Bingu wa Mutharika transformed his country’s food security situation to feed not only itself, but also its neighbours in one term.

He achieved that with very minimum support from the eternal funders. Ethiopia, Africa’s fastest growing economy, is another story to emulate, whose rise is particularly driven by an increase in industrial activity. In 2000, Ethiopia, was the third-poorest country in the world.

Zambia, too, has demonstrated political maturity, which has been rewarded by a growing economy that is owned and driven by its people. Voter manipulation is decreasing in that country as citizens are earning their voices through economic empowerment.

There is no doubt that Zimbabwe is an attractive country for investment. We have the natural and human resources and the means to get the economy moving, but we lack political stability.

We can make it happen if we channel the same level of energy that was put into monitoring the election processes.

That same level of demand for accountability is what is needed to stamp out corruption and instil confidence in the economy.

We must be beholden to reboot our economy, while simultaneously finding ways of strengthening our democracy. Zimbabwe can rise again, if we focus attention on the economy.

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  1. Quite brilliant.Some authoritarian leaders can indeed drive an economic agenda for the welfare good of their citizens.The striking example is Rwanda’s Paul Kagame who also doesn’t entertain corruption.

  2. Brilliant Comrade

    Fidel Castro also comes to mind! But in the end we need to forget about the politics and make money

  3. Mediocrity in Zimbabwe is the order of the day as a result of hero-worshiping. That is why the ‘rulers’ are not accountable to anyone or anything.

  4. Tapiwa we have been under dictatorship for the past 37 years and our economy shrunk instead of growing. Now you are suggesting that we go through another phase of dictatorship under ED and forget democracy. Dictatorships in Africa only fattened leader’s pockets while majority of population lived in gruesome poverty. We say the guaranteed way for ensuring sustainable growth is through a democracy because of checks and balances (accountability). Dictators in Africa have instead smiled at corruption as long as those engaging in corrupt activities supported their stay in power. I did not think that the rigged election will make us rethink that democracy is really not necessary. On the other hand many analysts had even suggested that if we doubt the need for democracy then why go ahead and conduct elections if their sole purpose is to deceive locals and international community that Zimbabwe voted. If those in power think that democracy is not necessary then people should not be let to go through a futile process of elections wasting resources and raising tempers. Let it then be an outright full fledged dictatorship where our rights will be trampled upon in broad daylight. Under dictatorship there is no guarantee whether those in lead will lead us in the right paths. But in a democracy we can freely question and regulate those in power against excesses. If examples can be used for discourse, Africa is the best example for failure and weakness of dictatorships in bringing about economic growth. The examples you cited Tapiwa of China and UAE may be out of place. China is huge and has many resources, just like UAE it has a lot of oil. But still in China there are a lot of poor people as there is unequal distribution of wealth and a third of Chinese people are poor, and with lack of democracy they have got no voice. Lets not give power to one person, but to the people. Unless if you Tapiwa stand to benefit personally from the ED era which you now suggest should not be accountable to the people. Under Mugabe one party state was suggested, and we now hear suggestions from you of a one man leader dictating on us what we can or cannot do. This is very disturbing to hear someone urging that let ED be a dictator so that we can realize rapid economic growth.

  5. Sorry, this country will never prosper with looters & murderers at the helm. They have gagged ZEC, lawyers, professional doctors etc who now can no longer reason but act like little children who are afraid of being denied milk because one has been given a car or house or plot of land or their misdeeds ignored.

    We now have the criminals that once surrounded RGM and another layer of criminals surrounding the “new” dispenser hardly any recipe for success. Countries which have succeeded economically are those whose govts have become accountable to the citizens so that they trust the government. Who trusts the deceitful & cheating guys we have now? Not me.

    Productive voters want this govt out, only those who are dependent on it want it prolonged. Sadly, no country with such demographics has ever succeeded economically. Perhaps this is why it is proving very difficult for the election “winners” to celebrate – there is absolutely nothing to celebrate.

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