Zimbabwe is facing a serious economic crisis. The current main business activity in the country is basically buying and selling, with very limited production.
By Langford Mateveke
Most companies are operating at well below capacity; others are closing down, thus worsening the unemployment rate estimated at around 90%.
There are limited, if any, foreign direct investment capital inflows which the country desperately needs to expand the economy. With high imports and low exports, the economic ship is sinking.
Agriculture which is supposed to feed the economy and the nation is declining. There is virtually no manufacturing or construction to talk about.
Faced with the above distressful situation, the people are getting despondent as they watch their standards of living fall every day. Meanwhile, the political leadership is desperately groping for clues. But who or what is to blame for the crisis? How and why did the economy sink this far in the first place?
The Zanu PF leadership blames it all on sanctions. “The West imposed illegal sanctions on the country as punishment for our land reform progamme,” they claim.
But assuming the sanctions issue held water; did the leaders not foresee it? Of course, they did not. Why did they not anticipate it? That is the crux of the matter.
One of the duties and responsibilities of all national or corporate leadership is to plan strategically.
According to corporate strategy gurus Gerry Johnson and Kevan Scholes, strategy is the direction and scope of an organisation (nation) over the long term, which achieves advantage for the organisation (nation) through configuration of resources within a changing environment… (The organisation is Zimbabwe, long term ranges from five to 50 years, resources include human and natural).
Dictionaries define strategy as a formulated and detailed method by which a thing is to be done; or the practice or art of using stratagems, as in politics or business.
A meticulously crafted strategic plan comes up with various scenarios which must be thoroughly scrutinised. Each scenario’s implications and consequences are rigorously analysed before one of the scenarios is identified and chosen for implementation. The idea is to leave no stone unturned, thus there will be no room for mistakes.
In Zimbabwe’s case, the 2000 land invasion turned out to be a political gimmick rather than a strategic plan. Zanu PF did not harness all human resources at its disposal to create the various scenarios as the concept of strategic planning expected.
As a matter of political survival, it became absolutely and urgently necessary for the party to formulate a short-term strategy to fend off a threat from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The implications and consequences of the strategy were not considered. “We will cross the bridge when we get there”, seemed to have been the approach. In some cases, unfortunately, Zanu PF and the nation at large failed to cross the bridge.
What are the issues that were supposed to be considered before a well-planned land reform programme could be embarked upon?
First and foremost, land reform needed meticulous planning: how much land to take over and for what purpose; period of phasing the exercise, identifying and training potential land owners (especially agriculture college graduates and experienced black farmers), source of funding, production targets and pricing. The list is endless.
Secondly, who was to be dispossessed and how would that be done without attracting unnecessary international attention? What comes to mind was the 1997 United Nations land summit on Zimbabwe. If fully implemented, the decisions of the summit would have resolved the land question without the consequences that followed.
Compromises mean a give-and-take or win-win or lose-lose situation, especially in international relations.
Zimbabwe would have lost much less and won much more, if it had compromised at the land summit.
Thirdly, the indigenisation and empowerment policy should have been formulated that investors would have come in numbers all the same. Despite the recent cosmetic amendments, the damage had already been done.
Fourthly, violence should never have been an option. Zanu PF’s policy during the armed liberation struggle was to employ violence to overthrow a brutal racist regime, and bring peace to the country. Peace was one of the party’s core values.
Fifthly, who was to implement the strategic plan at various levels, starting with the district, all the way up to the national leadership?
Besides implementation, there should have been monitoring and evaluation, to assess success or failure, making adjustments if/when the environment changed. All this would have been to ensure success.
The effects of ignoring the above issues were: targeted sanctions or restrictive measures; pain and suffering of the people who now have little or no income, are unemployed, are short of food, poor and hopeless. Pensioners were among the worst hit because of the worthlessness of the Zimbabwe dollar at the end of 2008.
Zimbabwe would have been a proud country with its own currency. Poor performance of the economy coupled with the printing of money reduced the Zimbabwe dollar to a worthless currency which nobody wanted.
How could the national currency be divorced from sovereignty? Using the United States dollar was an act of desperation and betrayal.
Furthermore, the national leadership has condoned corruption over time, until corruption became entrenched and institutionalised. It is now out of control and the leadership has neither the political will nor the capacity to fight and eradicate it. Corruption does not inspire confidence in the foreign investor and demoralises the common person.
Therefore, the current state of affairs was consequent upon the leadership’s dismal failure to discharge its strategic planning duties and responsibilities.
Since 2000, the leadership has been consistently, shamelessly and relentlessly blaming the West for the country’s poor economic performance and political isolation. It is time to shift the debate from the blame game to introspection. This will eventually help the country find answers to its problems.
In fact, what divides the country is the branding of people as sell-outs versus revolutionaries (including some of Bishop Muzorewa’s top officials who are now top officials in Zanu PF).
Zimbabwe needs to unleash all the talent at its disposal, regardless of political leaning, gender, tribe, race, creed, etc, in order to rebuild the country. The country has great potential. It just needs visionary leadership to guide it to dizzy heights.