Goodbye 2018, Hello 2023
HALF empty or half full? Face or Vase?
Big or Small? Good or Bad? This is the dichotomy of perceiving 2018. How you perceive a situation, regardless of what that situation may consist of or which area of life it is, has a direct impact on the future results that you will inevitably experience as a result of that perception, or more specifically the emotions that are experienced as a result of the perceptions that you hold.
Hamba kahle 2018
This is a famous Ndebele dirge. Born in a stubbornly Catholic family and growing up as an alter server, I became accustomed to the mourning song “Hamba kahle, hamba kahle sihlobo sethu, ushiyile lumhlaba . . . uphumulile ebunzimeni” (Go well our beloved, you have left this world . . . you have rested from the hardships). This melancholic requiem is accompanied by the priestly verse of Ecclesiastes 3 v 20, Africanly known as Umtshumayeli Wesithathu ivesi ngu- 20. It is at that point that every altar boy knows that it is time to pass the thorab and boat for incense to accompany the beloved who breathes no more. But well, the African Catholic in me always knows that death does not mean the end of life, it means the beginning of it, either in purgatory or in Heaven, and at least that is what my church childhood taught me.
Back to the dirge hamba kahle, it indeed suits well with the year whose prologue inspired the whole nation, especially after the success of Operation Restore Legacy. Zimbabwe was a New Dispensation, a Second Republic had blossomed and the year had a lot of promises. Remember, we greeted 2018 with inviting the uncut world to an open Zimbabwe. In his office, the Head of State and Government, His Excellency ED Mnangagwa’s re-engagement strategy was of nerving the country back into the global economics precinct. His global visits and invites to both the East and West, something we had long disremembered attracted a lot of optimism within the intellect, hopeless, technocrats and all sundry on the possibility of a successful foreign policy. To many, oblivious to the fact that foreign policy serves self-interest first, it appeared as a “confused” and futile economic revival plan. We had accustomed ourselves to the famous “Look East Policy”, not that it was highly problematic, but it momentously limited us from beneficial global exploits. We missed a lot and Emmerson Dambudzo had a humongous task of recreating global perceptions. The positivity he bore and all the visible attempts he made are successes of 2018, let us celebrate and bank on them, but 2018 should rest in peace.
2018 was not a so-good year anyway. To summate it all, the new Government spent much of 2018 days recreating perceptions about Zimbabwe. Take note, it was essential as much as it was supposed to deliver measurables, but remember, 2018 marked the escaping 37 years of doom where the Government was reversing mal-governance, repositioning political culture and character, aligning statecraft to international customs whilst responding to regressive geopolitics of the West and at the same time, caught up in nature’s misgivings such as cholera, road carnages, early and unplanned pregnancies, the rise of cancer and the continuous ravages of HIV and Aids. ED and his team faced all this which signalled to be impediments to keeping the 2018 dreams alive.
Having to deliver historical elections and differentiate the Second Republic from the Mugabe era, ED had to subconsciously nudge the much needed global economy whose capital we are in dire need of. What Zimbabwe needed was the world having trust in it, and this could have been done by presenting the country anew, procedurally, recreating a perception about the country.
Even so, with all hands on deck, some flew to Washington, begged for the renewal of sanctions, declared that if they do not win elections they will make this country ungovernable — “Jecharise”, incited unwarranted violence on the 31st of August haivhiyiwi all culminating to numerous problems we see today that range from economic sabotage that haemorrhages the markets, spirals of strikes by key personnel and noting that they are key actors in negative public relations of our country. Please take note, I do not place the whole blame on them, I am simply reflecting on their massive contribution to our plight as well.
Despite the wholesome success of the New Dispensation such as immediate reaction to conflict resolution, a dedication to political plurality and tolerance, new faces to politics and public offices such as ministries, a commitment to public financing of human capital development and a degree of transparency and accountability, there is more to do in the forthcoming years, but 2018, we say hamba kahle sihlobo sethu.
The expected greeting will be “hello 2019”, which I too hoped would make sense, but with the way things turned out to be, trend and sense that has become common is postulating 2023. The question maybe why? The answer is: strategic planning recommends that we have at least long plays of three to five-year projections which allow suggestions of strategies, analysis of them, review and re-planning. So, let us start looking beyond 365 days. In any case political parties have set the pace, 2023 endorsements are precursory to how Zimbabweans should plan — 2023 is the New Year to focus on.
Focusing on the agreed New Year, 2023, policymakers must emphasise five key drivers of successful rebranding the country when elaborating economic policies. In order to grow and be competitive as we want, the manufacturing sector needs capable, healthy, and skilled workers. This will only be a result of a refreshed political culture whose domino effects yield competent and intelligent public officials. Policymakers should adjust curriculum to ensure that skills are adapted to the market and should include special attention to youth.
Starting in 2019, Government should revisit education curricula to focus on skills acquisition and build capacity for entrepreneurship and selfemployment through business training at an early age, skills upgrading at an advanced one, and better promotion of science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship, and mathematics as well as vocational and on-the-job trainings. In other words, they should build the human capital necessary for the industrialisation of the country.
This probably has been said countlessly, but I retort that in order to accelerate industrial development, Government must bring the cost of doing business down, addressing costeffectiveness challenges such as energy, access to roads, security, financing, bureaucratic restrictions, corruption, dispute settlement, and property rights, among others. They should also ensure the effectiveness of special economic zones to fast-track the process, that is, Bulawayo should not be for ZITF ONLY.
With such models and an approach, industries are more likely to evolve in the presence of sufficient or competitive networks. Government should increase the size of the supply market by easing trade restrictions, integrating regional trade networks, increasing the country’s ability to develop sophisticated products, and lifting the barriers to small and medium-size business growth and development.
Moving on, Government should now offer tax incentives to patriotic firms in order to unlock job creation and increase individual and household incomes. Higher purchasing power for households will increase the size of the domestic market given the rapid growth of the demand of manufactured products. This increase in domestic demand will also contribute to the creation of pan-African demand, which, associated with the removal of trade barriers suggested by the African Union, protectionist policies, and subsidies, will help fulfil Zimbabwe’s goal of opening its exits and entrance to business.
It is high time Government facilitates access to finance, especially for small and medium enterprises, by developing and effectively managing instruments appropriate to the stage of development (loans, guarantees and venture funds) in critical sectors. In order to better attract foreign direct investment, we now should address the poor risk perception that scares off potential investors or sets excessive returns expectations. We should also mobilise domestic resources, curb illicit flows, appropriately manage state revenues, and invest to stimulate inclusive economic growth.
Beyond all of this we say Hamba kahle 2018, and I recommend that people read Ecclesiastes 3 v 1-8.