Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Time for extraordinary solutions

Time for extraordinary solutions


The words we choose establish our life experience. I refuse to accept ordinary thinking and people who keep complaining about how things are in Zimbabwe and yet they continue to do nothing.

The words we choose establish our life experience. We can complain all we want about corruption and particularly the seeming aloofness of President Robert Mugabe to how social conditions are fast deteriorating, or we can be part of the solution and start to think the extraordinary and act outside our imaginary limits.

Things cannot continue on the current path, this must be evident to all. This, of course, includes even those in Zanu PF who must continue to pretend that they are in control and have a plan; don’t be fooled; they think exactly like everyone else and must put up pretences or they will be branded sellouts.

I actually feel sorry for some of these people who are, like flies, caught in a spider’s web of greed and fear. It must be a terrible thing to know that your boss is wrong and no, because he feeds you, you must keep quiet. It seems to me that the MDC-T is aspiring for the same, but I digress.

Our challenge right now is to create new income streams for the country and at least get our economy going and pay the wage bills. One solution lies in sorting out the land issue which we can do with speed to re-establish some sanity and confidence in the economy.

I listened to Professor Erik Steenfeldt Reinert, the Norwegian economist with development economics and economic history as his specialties and author of the book, How Rich Countries Got Rich . . . and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor (2007), who visited last week courtesy of the Norwegian Embassy and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries.

His message was lucid and clear; that the problems we are facing are not unique at all. Countries such as Argentina managed to get out of the same rut, but this requires a grand plan including sincere and effective implementation of the solutions. In fact, in his opinion, Zimbabwe can bounce back very quickly.

I agree with that and I think that what is critical is us having the management competency and the will to actually come up with economic solutions divorced from party politics and predatory State capitalism peppered as indigenisation and empowerment.

Our fundamental conundrum is that Zanu PF, the State and the army have become one entity. Purely logical and rather obvious economic solutions are hardly considered because they may go against the political objectives and hidden vested economic interests of those with power and influence.

Despite an avalanche of dissenting voices last week on my views on the European Union and the issue of targeted sanctions, I remain steadfast that Zanu PF has repeated the lie that we are unable to lift our country out of the problems we are facing on our own solely because of targeted sanctions.

The sad reality is that most of the readers who responded to my article have bought the lie and they actually believe it because it has been repeated so many times.

Because of this, we remain disempowered to think of alternatives outside the sanctions narrative. The removal of targeted sanctions will not result in economic recovery until we think and act differently and implement new solutions competently. Why can’t we look at sanctions as an opportunity for internal development, strong import substitution and mass employment projects in rebuilding our infrastructure?

One potential source of internal recovery is how we deal with the land issue, the solution is very simple: Compensate commercial farmers through creating a United States dollar-based long-term bond that can only be traded locally and attract billions of dollars to kickstart economic recovery and increase liquidity in the banks. This would also bring back confidence in the economy and the issue of secure property rights for all can be sorted out.

The estimates that I have seen are this could attract between $7 billion and $10 billion of long-term capital into the country. Add a multiplier effect or knock-on of three times, and we can create economic activity of about $30 billion within a very short period of time. Industry will recover, employment will increase so will disposable incomes and therefore the tax revenues of government will also increase. The spinoffs are incredibly humungous for everyone!

The Marshall Plan for Western Europe of 1948 did just that by providing $15 billion to give impetus to reconstruction after World War II. It made a decisive contribution to the renewal of the transport system, the modernisation of industrial and agricultural industries, the resumption of normal production, the raising of productivity, and the facilitating of intra-European trade. Clearly nothing is new under the earth.

Now I would have been impressed with Zanu PF if they were talking like this in order to generate funding for ZimAsset which hopes to attract $27 billion from thin air. It isn’t going to happen and, funny enough, the solution lies in our hands and not in us sending delegations to beg the EU to remove sanctions.

I am quite astounded at a group of white Zimbabweans who have joined the sanctions removal chorus; the problem with Zimbabwe is about political leadership, accountability and the will to solve our problems on our own — period. This victim mentality that has gained popularity over the years must stop, starting at State House.

We can also be creative when it comes to our own currency, but it would be dangerous to even consider that issue before we get things right first.

Now in approximately 1 000, words I have provided what I think is a sustainable and doable solution to our economic problems. What is Zanu PF up to? I guess political egos and hidden vested interests will remain our main obstacles.

The people come first!

Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him on [email protected]


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