Lovemore Chikova Assistant Editor
Zimbabwe, like many other countries, has gone through different phases in its development as people seek to chart a path that brings prosperity.
Each epoch in the country’s history has been characterised by a national question – that which people rally behind in their quest to achieve certain goals.
As the Second Republic takes off, there are undoubtedly a number of questions that confront the Government of President Mnangagwa and his Cabinet.
The provision of adequate answers to such questions will lead to the achievement of the set goals, especially the middle-income vision by 2030.
What is now needed is to thoroughly study the obtaining political, economic and social terrain to come up with a glaring national question existing in those areas.
Starting in the 1890s when people rallied behind the Anglo-Ndebele War and the First Chimurenga, issues that required collective efforts have always been defined.
Some of the policies enunciated by colonialists, especially those on racial segregation as anchored by skewed land tenure laws, led to the rise of nationalism.
It was the locals’ desire to chart their own way and redefine the national ethos in their own terms that saw the spirit of liberation spreading across the country.
Although the indigenous people were defeated in both early wars, mainly due to the superiority of weapons used by the settlers, the desire to liberate themselves did not wane.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the country saw the rekindling of the national resistance, starting a fresh epoch that united locals against the white settlers.
Political movements, mainly Zanu and Zapu, started the recruitment of cadres to enlist as fighters who would form the core group of the Second Chimurenga War.
Then came the 1970s and the national question became the prosecution of the liberation war which gained support throughout the country. The fact that the war was won means that leaders of the liberation struggle managed to successfully rally the people behind one goal – that of achieving Independence.
At Independence in 1980, a new epoch dawned on the country that demanded new ethos to define the newly independent nation. Three issues – rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement – became points under which the national question was defined. Infrastructure destroyed during the war needed rehabilitation and reconstruction, while resettlement became a must, especially after many people had been displaced by the war.
The 1980s epoch saw another national question arising – that of national unity, as witnessed by the signing of the Unity Accord between Zanu and PF-Zapu in 1987. During the 1990s came the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, though with some devastating consequences, Government managed to rally people around this Western-sponsored economic project.
At the turn of the millennium, another national question emerged around land reform. From 2000, land reform gained traction, uniting people around efforts by Government to correct the colonial imbalances in land ownership.
During this period, Zimbabwe became known throughout the world for embarking on land reform in defiance of former colonisers who still wanted to retain control on the land.
The decade of land reform implementation was followed by the push on indigenisation – another national question. From the above narrative, it is clear that each epoch in the country’s history has been characterised by some national question around which the people rallied.
The question to ask now is: What is the national question confronting Zimbabwe as we enter the Second Republic? Well, President Mnangagwa’s pronouncement of the vision to make the country a middle-income economy by 2030 should give us pointers as to what issues will pre-occupy the country from now onwards.
It is important that the nation charts a clear agenda that unites people under some national question that needs to be solved for this vision is to be attained.
The fact remains that achieving Vision 2030 means taking Zimbabwe out of poverty to prosperity. Government should, therefore, be able to identify areas that it should rally people behind if this vision is to become a reality.
Questions on why we have been food insecure in the past years need tough responses in the Second Republic.
For the past two decades, the country has been pre-occupied with land reform, which was successful in addressing the land imbalances that were skewed against indigenous people. The Second Republic should definitely move on from the land reform to ensure that production is now the buzz word when it comes to agriculture. There is no longer anything new to talk about when it comes to land reform, and it seems we have reached a dead end or else everything becomes just rhetoric.
We are at a stage where land is being taken for granted by some, while to others it has since become a burden.
There is glaring need to re-frame the whole land question so that we now talk about food security, modernisation and mechanisation. It is time to give new impetus to Command Agriculture and the Presidential Inputs Support Scheme, both of which are aimed at enhancing food security.
More measures are needed from Government if the country is to return to being food secure, a major pre-occupation that President Mnangagwa should be tackling.
The plausible way to go is for Government to move on to empowerment of the new farmers and in some instances re-organising them to ensure that everyone truly benefits from the sub-soil asset.
It is time to make land the basis for people’s livelihoods and this can be achieved through a re-framed preposition that also involves value addition.
Foreign Direct Investment
The new Government has already laid its cards when it comes to attracting foreign direct investment. What is needed is for the ground that has been laid since December 2017 to begin to bear fruits.
The amendment of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act was one clear example of how the new administration led by President Mnangagwa would want to proceed.
The indigenisation law had been handled haphazardly by the previous administration, to the extent that investors did not see any reason to commit their resources to Zimbabwe.
Mindsets which might still be belonging to the Mugabe era need to change when it comes to attracting foreign direct investment. More laws that need to be changed should be changed, accompanied by refocusing institutions so that they are ready to serve the country.
The mantra that “Zimbabwe is open for business” will obviously need a thorough look-at so that it reflects what obtains on the ground. Are we really open for business in all the sense of it? How do we rank in the ease of doing business index? These are some of the questions that investors usually ask.
The country needs to quickly move away from the bad reputation of being a trap door, which makes it impossible for one to move funds out once they come in.
Unambiguous laws and rules that govern foreign direct investment, especially taxes, tariffs and concessions will help open up the country to investors when they are clear on what they will be able to take out and what they will be compelled to re-invest. New investment laws, anchored by the proposed investment entity in the mould of the Rwanda Development Board, need to be put in place.
Of course, this is tied to foreign direct investment. The more foreign investments come into the country, the more job opportunities arise. Jobs should be created through investments in agriculture, mining, tourism, the service sectors and new infrastructural projects.
Once Government deals with jobs, it will automatically be dealing with every facet of the economy. The Second Republic is inheriting a skilled economy, and there is need to morph that into a huge benefit, especially in helping attracting investors as industries open.
There is need to re-frame the national question around national unity, with the message loud and clear that Zimbabwe is broader and unitary, but more united than ever. Two factors were mainly responsible for the composition of not only Zimbabwe, but many other countries in Southern Africa. These were war or conflict and migration. For instance, the destabilisation caused by the Mfecane in South Africa scattered many tribes to a number of countries in the region such as Zimbabwe and Zambia.
There was also migration as people moved from east African countries as shown by history, and the movement continues even up to now as people criss cross the region in search of new opportunities.
So, it no longer matters where you find yourself in the 21st century, because countries in the region are made up of different tribes and sub-tribes. What is important is to ensure that Zimbabwe is one despite such diversity, and that everyone should pull in the same direction for its prosperity.
President Mnangagwa’s Government has to show that development is an entitlement to everyone, hence the implementation of the devolution policy.
Devolution is expected to empower provinces to determine development priorities and how to use available resources to uplift their local communities from poverty. The policy has been successfully implemented in other countries, especially in China where some provinces make billions of dollars in their Gross Domestic Product.
The beauty of devolution is that the provinces will be empowered to make economic decisions, but still the central Government and the party, Zanu-PF, will be guiding them.
Re-engagement has already moved a gear up since November last year and it is important that President Mnangagwa has indicated that the country will move on with countries that want to co-operate with it. So, it is now clear with which countries Zimbabwe would continue to pursue re-engagement.
In the re-engagement efforts, the Zimbabwean authority should adopt the stance that those they cannot win as friends, they should not have them as enemies.
President Mnangagwa’s Government should make the fight against corruption one of its major priorities. Corruption is not only bad economics, it is also bad politics hence the need to strengthen the infrastructure on fighting corruption.
The anti-corruption unit in the President’s Office came at the right time and will go a long way in consolidating efforts to defeat the scourge. There is need for a clean Government that captures the confidence of the people, but this cannot be achieved if there are suspicions that officials are involved in corruption.
In fact, corruption disrupts all effort at economic recovery and the realisation of President Mnangagwa’s vision for a middle-income economy by 2030 can easily go up in smoke if the scourge is left unattended to.