Zimbabwe has a wider array of mineral resources than Botswana, and arguably a more skilled human resource as well. Our Achilles heel is that Harare institutions are corrupt, weak and compromised, and that's something that can be corrected by strong political will from the Presidency
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa already has his hands full with his fight against corruption not bringing satisfactory results and public sector unions already demanding dollar-indexed salaries.
The road to reform will not be a walk in the park given that President Mnangagwa himself is no saint, and the benefit of doubt his critics might have given him has now run out like the pages of a blank cheque book.
Although Zimbabwe has left the realm of hyperinflation with the local currency almost stabilized against the US dollar, the country continues to have structural problems that impede market reforms.
This is often the case in developing countries, where the succeeding government — despite all its promises and vows to break free from the preceding government’s corruption — ends up breaking down because of incompetence and corruption in its leadership.
Due to the preponderance of Marxist- and Keynesian-inspired ideas, the window of ideological options is quite small for many developing countries.
A large portion of high-ranking officials in developing countries have been instructed in these schools of thought at Western universities abroad — where these ideas have not been fully implemented.
However, many developing countries, Zimbabwe included, are fertile soils for destructive policies such as Keynesian or Marxist populism.
Widespread wealth gaps between the politically connected haves and the disconnected have-nots, general ignorance about the implications of interventionism among the public, and a predatory political class that is shielded from popular backlash makes these countries susceptible to mass intervention.
When the West can’t implement some of its economically illiterate ideas at home, it finds willing importers in the developing world. We have seen that with the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) of the 1990s, but more poignantly the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s Staff Monitored Programme.
An ominous future awaits not just Zimbabwe, but much of the SADC region. Our neighbor South Africa is going through its own trials and tribulations, as land redistribution has become a major political issue in recent years.
The only good news for us is that our neighbor Botswana provides an alternative path to economic prosperity. Botswana has taken an atypical route in economic development by stressing free trade, low foreign aid, and strong institutions that respect private property.
Botswana, along with Chile, appears to be a radical exception rather than the rule in the developing world.
Zimbabwe has a wider array of mineral resources than Botswana, and arguably a more skilled human resource as well. Our Achilles heel is that Harare institutions are corrupt, weak and compromised, and that’s something that can be corrected by strong political will from the Presidency.
Ideally, Zimbabwe would completely depart from the Robert Mugabe legacy and replicate Botswana’s policies of strongly relying on mineral resources. But that requires unrivaled transparency all the way from licensing the resources miners to accounting for revenues from those resources. This is where strong institutions such as the judiciary, police, legislature and executive come in.
Suffice to say, nothing short of an economic exorcism is needed in Zimbabwe. Based on what President Mnangagwa has done so far, it doesn’t seem that Zimbabwe is actually serious about making tough reforms.
Let’s face it: aid from China, IMF, AfDB or any other player for that matter has never helped any economy grow.