The Sunday News
THIS week’s instalment is a continuation of last Sunday’s article — Structural progression key to economic transformation.
It has taken the events of November 2017 that led to the demise of the previous political economy, for some of us to imagine a real new and changed Zimbabwe that has moved on for sustainable development.
As I have said in the past, that the success of the coming elections guarantee the newly-found Zimbabwe’s political economy transformation towards sustainable development that has eluded the country for more than a decade. A post-election
Zimbabwe Government will need to develop a sound economic strategy and investment plan that is clear with a major plan to harness developmental projects that should be spread around the whole country.
Like the rest of the economic blueprints of the past political economy that have been crafted from independence in 1980, Zim Asset is struggling to effectively drive the economic recovery trajectory. The question may be why? Economic blueprints that are crafted and left floating without an anchor base of a sound economic strategy and investment plan would not see any light of the day in a dynamic global economy. In my opinion, this is the missing link in the past economic planning trajectories of this country.
The country will need sustained projects that will deliver maximum returns on investment by both domestic and foreign investors and create employment opportunities for the people of Zimbabwe, while at the same time catalysing food production.
The country will need to go back to the pre-hyperinflation and land reform self-sustaining food production levels. Historically, the agricultural sector has been the economic backbone of the country’s economic growth.
Notwithstanding the importance of the development of the mining sector, the mining sector should not be allowed to substitute or replace the agricultural sector; instead, the two sectors need to strongly complement each other for the sustainable development of the country. Zimbabwe desperately needs its agricultural sector largely for sustained food production in order to help manage the balance of payments deficit as well, that has become a burden and hamstring for economic growth and development.
Having said this, my argument is that whatever Government will emerge from the harmonised national elections would have to strongly reconsider the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, and strategically place the project under SEZs priority. The project has a strong potential of rejuvenating the agricultural sector of the economic for sustainable domestic food production and can help the country restore its breadbasket of Africa status as well.
This would help develop a potential prime investment destination corridor and cluster along the project that should attract both domestic and FDI inflows. The new economic vision for the future of the country needs to focus on transforming the economy via industrialisation and sustainable public-private-sector initiatives, that will open up opportunities for growth and improved living standards of the country’s citizens.
The Government will need to continuously develop, mobilise, and empower the women and the youth through planned and well-articulated capacity building programmes that do not only come alive during election times.
The new Government will have to target to provide trade, commerce and tourism throughout the relevant parts of the country.
To achieve that the incoming Government will rehabilitate the country’s infrastructure, that is both road network and power infrastructure in order to facilitate the ambitious industrialisation agenda into the country’s remote countryside as well.
One actually wonders what has happened to the plan about the Special Economic Zones (SEZs). So much has already been done towards the establishment of the SEZs, but it looks like the whole thing is not really taking off. As part of the new overall vision for economic transformation and sustainable development, mobilisation of domestic and foreign financial resources will be required for fresh funding and rehabilitation of existing companies, while several of the State-owned enterprises and assets should be transformed into the prize possession of new private investors.
International development agencies will need to be attracted into the country and the private sector positioned to forge the development of the growing small and medium enterprises sector in the country. In addition to the already identified potential SEZs the incoming Government would need to establishment clusters throughout the country which would house the enterprise and employment schemes to promote entrepreneurship development outside the country’s major cities and towns as well.
The country is endowed with a variety of natural resources found in different regions. These resources would need to be exploited for the economic benefit of the regions they are resident in for direct employment creation as well as being attractive investment destinations.
There is a huge investment gap between the country’s cities and the countryside which could be turned into prime investment destinations. Maybe starting with a serious development of the country’s growth points as spring boards for the sustainable development of the country’s remote rural areas as well.
The incoming Government would need to lead the much-needed and highly progressive departure from the epoch of primary commodities export revenue dependency and fiscus allocations, towards industrial value addition and production of high-tech export products.
In conclusion, a new political economy should emerge from the 30 July harmonised elections that should usher in the political will needed to transform Zimbabwe for meaningful sustainable development and position the country to meaningfully make a contribution in the launched Africa Free Trade Agreement and globally.
Dr Bongani Ngwenya is based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal as a post-doctoral Research Fellow and can be contacted on [email protected]