Three paths to the Zimbabwe we want
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.