FOR YEARS the Zanu PF government has presided over a collapsing economy instigated by a regime of incoherent and disastrous policies.
By Tapfuma Mandeya
It is likely such incoherences will persist and even intensify as Zanu PF corruptly seeks to buy votes by promising greater and more rapid indigenisation and empowerment.
The apparent political grandstanding and vote buying is set to exert pressure on domestic investment and this could have adverse longer-term economic repercussions.
However, the hopes of the people of Zimbabwe are in the next MDC-T government, which is well poised to initiate intense negotiations with foreign creditors to extend a debt relief programme so as to open the door for foreign capital meant to stimulate major infrastructural projects.
As articulated in the party’s economic blue print Jobs, Uplifment, Investment, Capital and the Environment (JUICE), the programme is earmarked to create over 130 000 jobs through investment in public works programmes, such as housing, road and dam construction, rehabilitation and modernisation of the rail network and airports, as well as promoting investment in the generation of electricity.
This projection is only for infrastructural development.
It is clear that Zanu PF has no solution out of the economic quagmire they have plunged the country into and is now resorting to high risk and high cost solutions which they are negotiating with Chinese firms.
This set-up is akin to mortgaging the country and will cost the country dearly in the long run.
The lack of clear concise and planned decisions on economic issues by Zanu PF has greatly hampered economic progress since 14 November 1997, when Zanu PF inadvertently undertook to pay $50 000 to each of the estimated 50 000 ex-combatants. Whilst ex-combatants deserved gratuities, it is the ad-hoc “unilateralistic” nature of this decision which plunged the country into an unprecedented economic abyss that we are in.
Again in August 1998, the then Zanu PF government embarked on yet another unbudgeted adventure by sending Zimbabwean troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The involvement in the DRC war was estimated to cost Zimbabwe $33 million a month.
Since such expenditures were unbudgeted, the Zanu PF government borrowed to meet the cost of the war.
As such relations between Zimbabwe and her development partners deteriorated and the country was to experience acute shortages of foreign currency which earned her a high-risk profile.
The subsequent breakdown of the rule of law and anti Western rhetoric worsened the relationship between the Zanu PF government and the powerful western economies.
Resultantly donors deserted Zimbabwe and a thriving parallel foreign currency market emerged and became the only source of significant foreign currency in the economy.
By 2000, the unresolved land issue again haunted Zanu PF as people protest against government maladministration intensified leading to the rejection of the draft constitution.
Zanu PF then desperately engineered a chaotic land reform in a bid to prop up its waning fortunes.
Land occupations took place all over the country and agricultural production was negatively affected from the year 2000 to date.
Unlike what Zanu PF would want people to believe, sanctions against Zimbabwe were enforced from 2000 onwards in the wake of violent parliamentary elections and land occupations countrywide.
The economy went into a free- fall and the Zanu PF government again went into a frenzy of unsustainable and ill conceived economic programmes which were either implemented piecemeal or abandoned half way.
Zanu PF tried unsuccessfully to implement half baked policies such as Vision 2020, the, the Millennium Economic Recovery Programme, National Economic Recovery and the 10-Point Plan. By 2005 Zimbabwe was in full economic, social and political decline.
Now in 2013 Zanu PF has again come up with an ill thought out indigenisation programme which in all intends and purposes militates against foreign investment in infrastructure development and other strategic sectors.
In actual fact the programme will only help to increase investor uncertainty by deposing discretionary political powers in Zanu PF’s Saviour Kasukuwere’s hands.
The resultant effect of such a set up is enhanced bureaucracy which promotes corrupt practices in the investment approval process.
More so it only leaves investors vulnerable to goalpost shifting as is the case now where some afterthought clause on community share ownership was slotted in the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act by Kasukuwere.
A cursory glance at the recently launched Agenda for Real Transformation policy hand book shows that MDC-T is committed to restoring the political and economic integrity of Zimbabwe and putting the country back on a sustainable development path.
As a social democratic party, the policies enunciated therein show that the MDC-T’s values and principles points to a developmental path that is set to overcome the established pattern of marginalisation and exclusion which will establish social justice for all the people of Zimbabwe.
Even in the MDC-T’s economic blue print JUICE, it is clear that the MDC prioritise the only drivers of economic growth as the availability and access to electricity, transport and water, mineral rights management and tight revenue collection strategies.
To this end, the MDC-T plans to embark on a major upgrade of infrastructure and generation of more “investor friendly policies” which are set to create 1 million jobs by 2018 and a $100 billion economy by 2030.
Through ART and JUICE, the MDC-T seems geared to develop and implement appropriate growth oriented economic and social policies which will stimulate a seven percent annual gross domestic product growth.
Through JUICE the MDC-T envisage a phenomenal growth which will be attained through the creation of a domestic political and regulatory environment which will ensure both local and foreign investors that their investment will be safe, supported by a skilled workforce and that they will be able to contribute to the country’s revenue base as well as repatriate profits. It is evident from the ensuing situation created by Zanu PF that no one throws good money at bad policies. Since joining government, the MDC-T has introduced and demonstrated a plethora of investor friendly policies. Through Ministries under the MDC ministers, the party has reinforced the need for and elevated the value of Foreign Direct Investment which include the Medium Term Plan (2011- 2015), Industrial Development Policy(2012-2016) and the National Trade Policy (2012-2016). For instance, the 2013 national budget statement Finance Minister Tendai Biti says; “Building a competitive environment characterised by a favourable and stable overall macroeconomic environment is central for attracting the requisite foreign direct investment required for the country. . . ”
Zimbabwe’s post 2000 history is not a happy one and weighs heavily on investors’ perception.
This is the legacy of poorly planned, rather chaotic and violent policies such as the “fast track land reform”.
The policy apart from destroying much of the country’s agro-based economy also destroyed the highly valued private property rights. It epitomised the triumph of political over economic rationality and naturally investors see this irrationality permeating other key policies where the government might have no qualms in taking over privately owned property as is the case with Kasukuwere’s indigenisation now.
But in spite of all these man-made catastrophes, Zimbabwe is not static; it is changing and will never be the same again.
Just as Zimbabwe will never be a colony again, it will never be a Zanu PF protectorate again.
Virtually everyone, including, (if not especially) those in Zanu PF is fatigued by the country’s protracted man made crisis.
Everyone yearns for a normalisation of life in all its multiple facets and this is what the MDC-T seeks to achieve through its Agenda for Real Transformation plan.