BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
A SOUTH African corporate watchdog has said the late former President Robert Mugabe could have taken Zimbabwe far had he not adopted dogmatic economic policies prescribed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in the formative years of the country’s independence.
Benchmark Foundation’s David van Wyk traced the country’s economic problems to Mugabe being a “slave” to World Bank and IMF policies, resulting in de-industrialisation setting in and agriculture taking a serious knock.
“It is also a fact that in the late 1980s, Mugabe became a slave to the World Bank and the IMF, who destroyed not only Zimbabwean agriculture, but also recommended wholesale de-industrialisation in the country.
“Under different circumstances, he could have taken Zimbabwe so far, but we do not make history under conditions of our choice,” Wyk argued in a series of tweets on Saturday.
Mugabe passed away on Friday at a Singapore hospital aged 95.
Bench Marks Foundation is a non-profit, faith-based organisation run by churches in South Africa. It monitors corporate performance against an international measuring instrument, the Principles for Global Corporate Responsibility; Bench Marks for Measuring Business Performance.
“In following World Bank and IMF advice, the country became rapidly de-industrialised and unemployment grew apace. Mugabe’s failure and that of the British government to address the land issue earlier on and taking advice from the IMF and World Bank are what led to the country’s economic challenges,” Wyk argued.
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“He (Mugabe) also foolishly removed all protection for local industry at the advice of the World Bank and the IMF, as these global institutions advised him that he could import manufactured goods more cheaply than when Zimbabwe produced them.
“Your agriculture collapsed after the IMF/World Bank recommended in 1988 that the Zimbabwe government increases subsidies to cash crops and decrease subsidies to food crops so as to repay its inherited war debt from the Unilateral Declaration of Independence quicker (The World Bank and the IMF had funded the Rhodesian army).”
The Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) then piled economic woes onto an already struggling economy and suffering populace, Wyk added.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is also implementing austerity measures — that some liken to Esap 2 — which are widely blamed for impoverishing ordinary citizens.
“. . . The IMF/World Bank then imposed the Esap on an already suffering population, which Zimbabweans joked should read Economic Suffering for African People.”
Esap entailed, among others, the reduction of government expenditure, withdrawing subsidies, commercialising and privatising some
State-owned companies and introducing user-fees in the health and education sectors.