Three paths to the Zim­babwe we want

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

PRO­FES­SOR Mthuli Ncube is ev­ery­one’s dar­ling at the mo­ment. Be­ing part of the “Dream Team”, comes with a lot of a na­tional bur­den even if the coun­try is hope­ful at this mo­ment.

Peo­ple are ex­pect­ing him to cal­cu­late Zim­babwe out of this cramped eco­nomic dearth.

He should turn the for­tunes of the coun­try in the quick­est time than ac­tu­ar­ial sci­ence can per­mit. This week I sub­mit that his suc­cess is only suc­cess­ful in the pres­ence of three paths we have to follow.

Dear reader, let me be as sim­ple as I can in un­pack­ing these paths I en­vis­age to lay bare to you. To un­der­stand my po­si­tion, let me be­gin by stat­ing that it is im­pos­si­ble to sep­a­rate peace and se­cu­rity in Zim­babwe from eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, demo­cratic gov­er­nance, and im­prove­ment in the daily lives of Zim­bab­wean, in­clud­ing those from eth­nic and re­li­gious mi­nori­ties. A sig­nif­i­cant fail­ing in any one of these three ar­eas will put in se­ri­ous doubt the abil­ity of a coun­try to main­tain peace and se­cu­rity.

Zim­babwe has ex­pe­ri­enced de­press­ing eco­nomic growth in re­cent years. That is the bad news. At the same time, we con­tinue to ex­pe­ri­ence un­nec­es­sary con­flict.

That is the bad news. Con­flict can quickly re­verse the ben­e­fits of even strong eco­nomic growth. At the mo­ment, as also stated by His Ex­cel­lency, ED since Novem­ber 2017, we are a frag­ile state. Frag­ile states are es­pe­cially sus­cep­ti­ble to con­flict.

To put this ar­ti­cle into fi­nan­cial per­spec­tive, the African De­vel­op­ment Bank es­ti­mates there are 20 “frag­ile states” to­day in Africa. Al­most half of these states qual­ify as “mid­dle in­come,” a shift from a decade ago when most were low-in­come coun­tries. The African Fu­tures Project, a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort in­volv­ing the In­sti­tute for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies in South Africa and the Josef Kor­bel School of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of Den­ver, uses cri­te­ria that iden­tify 26 frag­ile African coun­tries, and Zim­babwe hap­pens to be one of them — man­dat­ing Prof Mthuli to fa­cil­i­tate our es­cape. Then, up emerges a prob­lem the Prof of Maths has to deal with to achieve Zim­babwe’s 2030 Vi­sion.

1. Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment

While the coun­try is grap­pled with the co­nun­drum of peace and se­cu­rity, of which I must state that we are in­deed peace­ful, the first rem­edy is eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

The street adage goes: “a hun­gry man is an an­gry man”, proph­esy­ing that poverty is a frus­tratant be­cause many poor Zim­bab­weans find them­selves turn­ing to vi­o­lence to sup­press their hunger and ra­di­ate that poverty anger.

An eco­nom­i­cally un­der-de­vel­oped coun­try is a ripe space for con­flict be­cause there is a cycli­cal en­vi­ron­ment of re­source con­tes­ta­tions.

Where re­sources are lim­ited, op­por­tu­ni­ties are scarce hence in­fin­i­tes­i­mal con­flicts such as cor­rup­tion to get a job, keep it and get pro­mo­tion, yield pre­ventable con­flict.

The rea­son why there has been the emer­gence of the nar­ra­tive of “keep­ing jobs at home” is be­cause of scarcity of jobs, which are a symp­tom of eco­nomic mis­for­tunes.

Prof Mthuli has to deal with eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, not through Short Term Eco­nomic Re­cov­ery Strate­gies like we were treated to in 2009 by one boast­ful Tendai Biti. Prof Mthuli, needs to sub­mit long term eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strate­gies that will not see us back to the old days.

We were at some po­si­tion in 2008 be­cause of Short Term Emer­gency Re­cov­ery Pro­gramme. (STERP), and one won­ders what the op­po­si­tion boasts of. We are in this mess be­cause of them. Sober econ­o­mists can tes­tify to this. Prof Mthuli has to pro­vide a rem­edy to feed the “hun­gry” man.

We de­pend heav­ily on nat­u­ral re­sources such as till­able land and min­er­als hence our Eco­nom­ics Min­istry should de­velop a longer-term strat­egy for eco­nomic growth as these re­sources di­min­ish or even dis­ap­pear. With our “open for busi­ness” phi­los­o­phy, we are adopt­ing what in de­vel­op­ment ap­proaches is called an in­te­gra­tionist par­a­digm.

Zim­babwe could ben­e­fit enor­mously

from eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion and sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased in­ter and in­tra-African trade.

To make most of this, I am also in­clined to be­lieve that Prof Mthuli also needs to pro­vide ad­di­tional in­cen­tives to the pri­vate sec­tor and give greater em­pha­sis to the em­pow­er­ment of women in the econ­omy.

Some of the chal­lenges fac­ing Zim­babwe are not of our mak­ing and will re­quire sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­na­tional as­sis­tance to re­dress the prob­lem. Cli­mate change is a case in point. My Cli­ma­tol­ogy in­for­mant, Masie, ad­vised me that Africa is re­spon­si­ble for only about four per­cent of the world’s car­bon emis­sions, but will ex­pe­ri­ence a dis­pro­por­tion­ate neg­a­tive im­pact from global warm­ing.

Zim­babwe, be­ing a de­vel­op­ing coun­try will not eco­nom­i­cally de­velop negat­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal jus­tice dis­courses. In re­build­ing our econ­omy, we have hard stark choices of ex­ploit­ing the en­vi­ron­ment or not touch­ing it at all — the bot­tom line is we have to make the most of the en­vi­ron­ment to make money. The Maths Guru has to cal­cu­late the risks for us to ben­e­fit.

2. Qual­ity of Life

In an­other anal­y­sis, Zim­bab­weans just want qual­ity of life to im­prove for them­selves and their prog­eny. Most are prob­a­bly will­ing to ac­cept the sta­tus quo so long as qual­ity of life is at an ac­cept­able level. But if there is a per­cep­ti­ble re­duc­tion in their qual­ity of life over an ex­tended pe­riod of time, chances are good the re­sult will be in­sta­bil­ity, con­flict, and/ or vi­o­lence.

High lev­els of in­come in­equal­ity, a sit­u­a­tion where there are small numbers of ex­ces­sively wealthy elite com­bined with a small mid­dle class and a very large low in­come group, lead to in­sta­bil­ity. I do not nec­es­sar­ily sup­port the school of thought that be­lieves poverty causes con­flict, in­sta­bil­ity, and the rise of terrorist groups. But poverty does con­trib­ute to an en­vi­ron­ment that al­lows these neg­a­tive con­di­tions to take root.

Most of the so­cial and eco­nomic fac­tors that de­fine a poor qual­ity of life are well known. They in­clude high rates of mal­nu­tri­tion, high child mor­tal­ity lev­els, low lev­els of life ex­pectancy, high per­cent­ages of unem­ploy­ment es­pe­cially among youth, high lev­els of in­fla­tion and in­ad­e­quate ac­cess to health care, safe water and good san­i­ta­tion. Right now we are deal­ing with Cholera. Re­lated to rapid and un­planned ur­ban­i­sa­tion in Zim­babwe as ev­i­denced by spo­radic un­sanc­tioned hous­ing projects is the need to fo­cus on the se­ri­ous prob­lem of youth un­der­em­ploy­ment and unem­ploy­ment. All this should be on Prof Mthuli’s desk to in­form his strate­gies of tak­ing Zim­babwe to Canaan.

3. Ur­ban gov­er­nance

When all can be said and done, good ur­ban gov­er­nance re­mains a se­ri­ous is­sue now than ever. I am not sug­gest­ing that we adopt an alien and nev­erseen-be­fore so­cial or­der.

There are, how­ever, some ba­sic con­cepts that his­tor­i­cally have worked well for ac­com­mo­dat­ing mi­nor­ity views, min­imis­ing eco­nomic in­equal­ity and po­lit­i­cal marginal­i­sa­tion, and al­low­ing so­ci­ety to ex­er­cise pres­sure for change be­fore it reaches the level of vi­o­lence and con­flict. My thrust on this ar­gu­ment fo­cuses on the ur­ban space that is turn­ing to be po­lit­i­cally in­tol­er­ant to a di­ver­gent po­lit­i­cal view. Iron­i­cally, 81% of our ur­ban gov­ern­ments are con­trolled by an op­po­si­tion which claims to be demo­cratic.

These con­cepts in­clude pro­vid­ing space for po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and re­li­gious mi­nori­ties to ex­press their views openly; a strong and in­de­pen­dent Coun­cil­lors; strict ad­her­ence to the rule of law; trans­parency in lo­cal gov­ern­ment de­ci­sion-mak­ing; a sys­tem that reg­u­larly re­sults in change of po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship; a lo­cal gov­ern­ment that makes ev­ery pos­si­ble ef­fort to mit­i­gate cor­rup­tion; and one that is re­spon­si­ble in both name and fact to the will of the ma­jor­ity.

Demo­cratic gov­er­nance comes with its own messy prob­lems, but over the long-term it has proven to be an ex­cel­lent safety valve and sys­tem for re­leas­ing po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and so­cial pres­sure.

A well gov­erned City that op­er­ates on ba­sic demo­cratic values will min­imise the se­ri­ous prob­lem of alien­ation and ex­clu­sion and, as a re­sult, the like­li­hood of in­se­cu­rity and vi­o­lent con­flict.

All of the is­sues are im­por­tant to peace and se­cu­rity in Zim­babwe and most are crit­i­cal, at least in some ar­eas. The list is long. While it is not nec­es­sary to re­solve all of them to en­sure peace, it is im­por­tant that Zim­babwe make progress on most of them.

Let us build Zim­babwe.

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