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The West cannot tell us what to do

15 Sep 2016 at 09:30hrs | Views
Vince Musewe
The very nations who underdeveloped Africa or their agents must not come here to us as if they are the only ones with economic solutions for the problems we face. We as Zimbabweans will implement our own informed economic development solutions and ask for advice if and when we need it, but they cannot and must not attempt to set our social developmental agenda.

This of course sounds familiar doesn't it? President Mugabe has said this before, but let me comfort my readers by saying that our President, although he has this vision, has for many reasons failed dismally to implement it and we are saying it is now time he gives us a chance to re-invent Zimbabwe so that we can create a new paradigm for the economic empowerment of our citizens who have suffered grossly under ill-informed and badly implemented ZANU (PF) policies over the last 36 years.

Zimbabwe has all it needs to be a Singapore of Africa. We have all the intellect and resources required to take Zimbabwe forward. All we need now is the political power to implement our ideas. For many years some of us have been advising ZANU (PF) through our analyses and economic commentary on what needs to be done, however, their paradigm and narrative will not change and hence they are unable to take our country to the next level.

Any sustainable economic development must be buttressed by the respect of private property ownership, free enterprise, consistent government policy, competent project management skills, accountability good planning and integrity.

Developed economies developed because they focused on industrialisation thus were able to achieve increasing returns and high wages which led to improved standards of living. In addition, they had a captive market for their manufactured products, thanks to colonies and laws which prohibited the establishment of manufacturing industries in the colonies. They also protected their economies from foreign competition in order to develop local production capacity while they invested heavily in and subsidised research and development of new technologies and production processes to increase productivity.  They promoted innovation and entrepreneurship to create their industrial base.

We can do the same for our country, but we must move away from undue reliance on raw materials only, which give diminish returns and are subject to exogenous price fluctuations. We must move to high value add products and services to increase our income levels while investing in new technologies to improve productivity, skills and competitiveness. We need to also promote regional integration and trade.

In this process, we cannot and must not rely on the largesse of developmental partners and their institutions or foreign governmental loans, but must attract private capital in our own right. This requires that we put into place conditions which attract capital to Zimbabwe. This is where our politicians are failing us.

We can only eradicate poverty through high incomes and social safety nets for our vulnerable people. In addition, we need to manage our environment better to create sustainability. All this we can do on our own as Zimbabweans.

I would argue that the only thing stopping this process is first, the lack of a cohesive national vision beyond political bickering and policy inconsistency, patronage, corruption and second, a lack of cohesiveness among stakeholders in Zimbabwe. We are divided through political camps and vested conflicting interests as a society. This environment has been created by ZANU (PF) its leadership paradigm which has never seen Zimbabwe as an inclusive democracy but as a divided, opportunistic winner takes all cesspit of unmet expectations, political divisiveness, selfish ambition and a total disregard of the quality of life of our people. In short a dictatorial unproductive and unaccountable leadership has underdeveloped Zimbabwe.

We can indeed transform Zimbabwe, but we need a transformational leadership paradigm which Hanning Mubaiwa, a Zimbabwean social scientist based in the USA continues to promote. He says that Zimbabweans have to realize that unless and until we crash the old and re-entrepreneur, think of next great possibilities, re-engineer, be creative and rebrand ourselves, we cannot innovate our market value on the global free enterprise to tap capital not from other governments, but in the free market capitalization place.

This means that we must place less and less reliability on others to think for us but begin first to believe that we indeed can do it ourselves and second,  we must be bold enough to implement our ideas on our own. We cannot expect the old paradigm to create the new, nor must we continue to give that responsibility our creating our future to others. It is our cross to carry.

Yes we can engage international development partners but it must be on our terms to implement our own vision and our own ideas, not what they think it should be. They must never think that they are the masters of our destiny.

Let's make Zimbabwe great again!

Vince Musewe is an economist and author. He is also Secretary for Finance and Economic Affairs for PDP. You may contact him on

Source - Vince Musewe
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