DURING the late former President Robert Mugabe’s long tenure, the excuse for not implementing reforms was always “sovereignty”. It was no surprise that his aversion to change contributed to his downfall.
His former protégé and successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa struck the right cord when he took over in November 2017, promising that he would pursue re-engagement and fight graft. However, his trademark “the voice of the people is the voice of God” mantra has now been rendered rhetorical three years down the line.
What is his excuse of not implementing reforms?
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently concluded a virtual IMF staff-monitored visit meeting with Zimbabwe’s Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya, other senior government and RBZ officials, representatives of the private sector and Zimbabwe’s development partners. During the visit, while the IMF lauded the government’s efforts to stabilise the economy, the international financier hammered on the need to implement reforms. Before the IMF’s staff visit to Zimbabwe, the World Bank had just released its third economic update on the country and also called for several reforms.
So, it is clear that reforms are the elephant in the room and are impeding government efforts to deal decisively with human rights abuses, corruption, policy flip-flopping, judicial bias, and security forces meddling in civilian matters. Given the increase in wanton arrest of journalists, political rivals, youth, civil activists, internationally approved reforms are needed for Zimbabwe to move forward.
It’s the only way Zimbabwe can regain the confidence of international lenders amid an external debt position estimated to be close to US$15,5 billion. That is because no matter how good her plans are on paper, Zimbabwe, under a Zanu PF government, has an unfortunate past and an unpleasant reality, which needs cleansing in the form of reforms.
The reforms are meant to improve transparency and accountability, respect for human rights, fight corruption, and ensure political freedom as well as minimising government interference in judicial processes and interventions by the security sector in civilian matters. Anything else other reforms is like lighting a “candle in the wind”. Why? Because, IMF and World Bank cannot give government money knowing that it is responsible for gross violation of human rights.
Thus, implementing the reforms will unlock fresh capital from international financiers and attract investment into areas that could stimulate growth.
Such growth will improve the lives of Zimbabweans, like what happened during the Government of National Unity from 2009 to 2013 when the MDCs were part of government.