Zim’s economic development requires national solutions
By Tina Tiny Shanduka
The reputation of a State is a determining factor of economic development, in particular when it comes to questions of re-engagement and opening up of the economy to businesses.
A good state reputation tends to attract significant bilateral and multilateral relationships that benefit the entire state ecosystem. However, at the moment Zimbabwe is not attractive enough to attract new economic ventures such as investment, business partnerships and international finance.
As for the current turn of events in the international system, re-engagement should be placed last on Zimbabwe’s economic development list after crafting modalities to suit its backyard.
Re-engagement and foreign aid are two sides of the same coin, because both have terms and conditions.
It is these conditions that have a habit of crippling Zimbabwe’s economy, bringing us back to these structural adjustment programs.
Moreover, Zimbabwe’s external debt continues to grow and the rhetoric of the economic bailout is losing its relevance and importance.
Thus, the government of Zimbabwe should not place all hope and rely on these aspects.
Even so, it is unrealistic to perpetually view foreign direct investment as a major injection into the national budget.
A major economic driver should be based on the nationalization of resources as an alternative given that Zimbabwe has natural resources in abundance.
Resource nationalism allows a nation to develop by leveraging its natural resources and using them wisely to build and rebuild the nation.
This is well understood in what is called a developmental state, which is a model Zimbabwe should explore to achieve a middle-income economy by 2030.
Even in the entertainment industry, productions such as Black Panther offer a clear overview of what a developmental state under resource nationalism can accomplish.
Therefore, Zimbabwe should not rely solely on external finance for its development, as this can be detrimental to the nation if exposed to desperation and exploitation.
In particular, there are no permanent friends in international politics since some states can claim to be friends at all times.
There will always be this aspect of pursuing self-interest in the name of bilateral relations. This is so because states around the world have an inherent desire to dominate others and will do anything to maximize their power. Is Zimbabwe helping other states to develop economically at the expense of its citizens?
There are two economic sectors which, if properly managed, Zimbabwe will grow significantly. The agricultural and mining sectors are the most important sectors where the nation’s wealth lies and these sectors must be protected if Zimbabwe is to become a middle-income economy by 2030. The Command Agriculture Program, a laudable initiative, should be extended for the full economic resuscitation of the state.
Even so, a similar initiative should be taken in the mining sector to address the problems of illicit financial flows and the smuggling of precious minerals.
A strong government intervention in these sectors especially in the promotion and support of local entrepreneurs will make a huge difference for the economy compared to the rights granted to the Chinese and the Russians. But in order to make progress and be successful in these areas towards the nation’s development, it is necessary to aggressively fight corruption.
The Asian Tigers and Rwanda got to where they are today by leading a serious fight against corruption. Lucrative domestic policies and attractive foreign policies can be crafted, but if corruption gets in the way, development is just a guess.
The income lost from year to year due to corruption is so great that, if properly accounted for, borrowing from the International Monetary Fund and other financial institutions will be a thing of the past.
Unless corruption is rooted out, most development efforts will be like pouring water into a bucket with holes.
Finally, the government of Zimbabwe should re-engage with its citizens before extending its ideas to external actors.
At the same time, for Zimbabweans there is an important role to play in the development of our nation, and the task should not be left solely to the government. A divided house cannot stand and Zimbabweans must stand firm.
It calls on Zimbabweans to stand together and nation building in anticipation of good things for the nation.
- Tina Tiny Shanduka is a visually impaired student at the University of Zimbabwe pursuing an MA in Politics and International Relations