ED’s Zimbabwe is Open for Business Mantra

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ED can spur Economic Growth via Academics By Nelson Ruwa. AT the 2017 Bulawayo Youth Interface Rally, then Head of State Robert Mugabe explained that he had asked the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) administration the question: “Where are the engineers?” as the Nust graduation ceremony came to closure. The response was that the engineers had graduated over the years and were now at work in industries all over the country. Said Mugabe in response: “No, that is not what we mean. We want people who are innovative and can develop airplanes…”. Having spearheaded the globally outstanding Zimbabwean post-independence education drive, this man must have resigned a disappointed man, and he acknowledged failure to realise the intended gains of the education drive. The University's Vice Chancellor could not define who or what an engineer is. Academics. It is very possible that national university vice chancellors and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, now the new Chancellor of all State universities, in the same manner, find it difficult to define who or what an academic is. The Collins English dictionary defines an academic as a university intellectual who teaches or does research. Residue of Influence from Ancient African Attitudes During the colonization process, Africans marvelled greatly at the disparity between their indigenous technology and that of the Europeans who had colonised them. They later conceded defeat and had consensus that white men were inherently blessed and hence superior. Though liberation wars were later fought and were merely political because it seems that even presently, the inferiority complex still grips the black indigenous, with the education system hopelessly failing to catapult them to catch-up with the developed world in terms of attitudes, imagination and expertise. Many Zimbabweans still question the feasibility of modern civilisation that involves technologies such as bullet trains, numerous airports, world class tourist destinations, a strong currency, road surveillance cameras and others, as reiterated by the young leader of the MDC Alliance, Nelson Chamisa, during his nation-wide campaign trail. The history of the discovery of fire usage, the Stone Age, the Iron Age, the Cow-horn battle formation and the Short-stabbing spear, among other developments, is enough evidence that Africans inherently had some measure of enquiry and imagination. When the Vashambadzi came to exchange their clothing items for the African gold and later the Europeans came to introduce a modern civilization through colonisation, it became evident that Africans were far behind in terms of aggression and pace of innovation and development. Creativity and zeal can also be noticed on the rock paintings by the Khoisan and massive constructions such as the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. However, these developmental approaches lacked scientific substance as they were void of uniformity and symmetrical balance. These developments could not be replicated as they were not documented because our forefathers did not have writing skills and publication technology like other continents. The Egyptian hieroglyphics writing and the scientifically built pyramids suggest that the Arab world has been way ahead of sub Saharan Africa over centuries. In terms of time and labour, the construction of the Great Wall of China might have been very inefficient, but later developments such as the Forbidden City depict traits of modern civilisation based on scientific research and development. Other parts of the world boast of philosophers whose theories still guide their modern systems of governance and economic development. Russians have Karl Max, Chinese have the likes of Confucius, and there are countless European and American inventors that brought about industrialisation. The Arabic numerals are still indispensable and the whole world has adopted the term algorithm after Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Musa al-Chwārizmī, the Arabic mathematician who introduced restoration and balancing in algebra. On the contrary, Zimbabweans have icons like Chaminuka, Mzilikazi, Lobengula, Mbuya Nehanda, Changamire Dombo and the Munhumutapas who did not even leave a single written script but only oral sentiments such as “Take your gun and become independent”. Zimbabweans were, therefore, left with no option but to adopt foreign ideologies and technologies that are proving to be incompatible with our traditions and way of life. There is a great need now to instil values such as attention to detail, creativity, perseverance, time-consciousness and the intrinsic drive in a new wave of patriotism, where everyone is found on the post of duty without fail or excuse. There seems to be need for expatriate teachers in Early Childhood Education to help foster developmental attitudes in the minds of our infants. The already damaged and unexposed local teachers may find it difficult to cultivate a different approach where our infant academics grow up treasuring the culture of meticulous attention to detail, innovation, development and enquiry. The Role of Universities Politicians should not just major on populist policies of university grants and loans for students while failing to acknowledge that, if the academic talents are groomed and promoted, they attract global technological giants such as Google, Facebook, Alibaba and Amazon, who can fund local research projects that can cover a lot of financial needs of university students and professionals. In the early 80s, countries like Sweden sponsored a lot of secondary school science projects. The government should facilitate the provision of an environment conducive for innovation, research and development in higher education institutions. Laboratories should be equipped with modern machinery and operate day and night as Zimbabwe races against time to catch up with others. There should be a major shift from the practice of students learning to reproduce knowledge for the purpose of passing examinations and getting employed. Academics in the Diaspora To narrow the gap between local academic system and that of the developed world, there is dire need to harness the potential deposited in the Diaspora academics who have studied and worked abroad, where they managed to get exposure to modern technologies. Politicians should come up with policies on how to attract Zimbabwean experts in the Diaspora back into the country to spearhead the aggressive transformation of the economy. It seems that the current Zimbabwean government views these Diaspora citizens as enemies of the State in terms of participation in elections and governance decisions. Government only like their investment initiatives, but who will be on the ground to champion the modernisation revolution? Local academics need to do exchange projects with professors in developmental hubs such as the US and Japan. Expatriate professors should flood our universities to complement the investment drive so as to facilitate the provision of local solutions by the locals. In fast developing countries like South Korea and China, it is the locals that run industrial operations, even though much of the investment comes from the US. This impowers the citizens and minimises unemployment. The Mnangagwa Administration can therefore spur Economic Growth via Academics Conclusion When only the leader has the vision and those around are just opportunists echoing that vision, only for political gains, the visionary might end up being distracted, neutralised and joining his lieutenants in self-aggrandisement, to the detriment of the vision and benefit to the masses. A vision cannot be transmitted from one person to another by appointment, affiliation or marriage. It is, therefore, wise for the Head of State to identify the progressive academic technocrats who can share, advance and implement the developmental vision, otherwise political manifestos will be a mere repeat of Mugabe’s 38 years of vacuous and sterile rhetoric. Therefore, President Mnangagwa can spur Economic Growth via Academics Copyright ©www.thesolutionstower.com , 2018 All Rights Reserved. The Solutions Tower Article may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission
President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Since taking over the Zimbabwean Presidency from Robert Mugabe, with the aid of the military in November 2017, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa (ED) has been aggressively reiterating his mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business”.

By Nelson Ruwa.

The questions that rise in the minds of Zimbabweans and other stakeholders include the following: When was the country closed for business? Who had closed the country for business? Is the country really open for business? What kind of business is the country open for?

When was the country closed for business?

Western powers have always been ahead of us in terms of strategic business deals and operations. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana warned against neo-colonialism and modified mental imperialism through mental slavery. How many times was the land between Zambezi and the Limpopo rivers opened and closed for business? There is no agreed clear period where Zimbabwe was closed or opened for business. I will examine some of the several milestones in the economic history of Zimbabwe.

Before the British colonized the country, the Muslim traders known as the Vashambadzi were involved in an unfair trade with the locals who would give them gold in exchange for clothing items. Can we call that being open for business? After colonization, the British started modernization of the then Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe), while at the same time looting a lot of riches and resources. Modern agricultural and mining systems were introduced while the natives were displaced and placed in unproductive regions. Yes, there was business but is that the form of business the citizens would admire?

In 1965, there was the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) of Rhodesia by Ian Smith. This development resulted in the country being placed under economic sanctions by Britain, but the economic situation in the country did not reach the level of the Zimbabwe of 2008. Smith could still use local resources to develop the country despite the drawbacks of the liberation war and the sanctions.

Can we say Rhodesia was closed for business then? In 1980 when the black government took over, there was international confidence in the potential of development of the country. In about two years there were military disturbances in Matebeleland region which dealt a blow to potential development in the region. By 1987 the Matebeleland standoff was resolved through the signing of the Unity Accord between the warring parties.

Just a decade after independence, Free Health and Education for All mantras were now an overburden to the fiscus. The World Bank and IMF proposed the Economic Adjustment Programme (ESAP) in 1992. Aid was to be given to Zimbabwe on conditions. A lot of aged government employees were retired and given their packages, in an attempt to reduce the government wage bill.

At the same time, a serious drought hit the Southern Africa region. Zimbabwe was never the same again. Prices of basic commodities kept rising gradually and the economic downturn got into motion.  Around 1996 headline of national news were suggesting a cold war between the government of Robert Mugabe and that of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair together with other Western financial institutions. An example of such headline in the Herald was like, “President tells IMF and World Bank to shut up”. ESAP was ditched and was blamed for the economic collapse.

War Veterans led by Chenjerai Hunzvi demanded compensation from government and they awarded unbudgeted 50 thousand Zimbabwean dollars each, which was a very large sum of money then. Zimbabwe joined the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo which further offset the economy of the country leading to the food riots and stay-aways led by Morgan Tsvangirai the then secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU). The DRC was for self-aggrandizement of the military chiefs and the international community did not approve it.

All hell broke loose when the fast track land reform programme was rushed which led to introduction of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) by the USA government. ZIDERA are the sanctions that drove the final nail into the ailing Zimbabwean economy. The opposition MDC party gained ground.

The ZANU PF party responded by rigging elections, using violence and intimidation, and using repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). Chinese firms continued to do business in Zimbabwe, especially in mining, but a lot of companies were closed which led to the sharp rise in unemployment and poverty. Could this be when Zimbabwe was closed for business?

The 2008 harmonized elections brewed violence that killed and maimed a lot of opposition supporters. The was operation Murambatsvina which destroyed a lot of informal structures in towns, leaving a lot of Zimbabweans homeless. The indigenization law was enacted which demanded that at least 51% of the shares of any company should be owned by locals. Investors were discouraged by such a law. This law was in place till the end of 2017 when ED got into power. Maybe the indigenization act was is the one that really closed Zimbabwe.

Who had closed the country for business?

Can the same people who closed the country for business be trusted with the task of opening the same? ED himself and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga were in one way or the other identified with some of the following agents of business closure: Repressive laws passed by the ZANU PF dominated parliament in which ED was part of.

Brutalizing of people by the military which Chiwenga was part of. War veterans displaced white farmers of which both leaders were part of. ESAP, war veteran compensation, DRC war and other factors are also to blame. People with clean hands would be the best to bring about an economic turnaround that will bring normalcy in the country, not tainted people.

Is the country really open for business?

Projects like Zimbabwe Airways, National Railway of Zimbabwe, Beitbridge-Chirundu highway are all questionable projects which the current leadership have failed to run. The demonstrations and strikes by civil servants and Hwange Colliery workers show a lot of discontent amoungst citizens. Cash crisis, poor roads and unemployment are negative indicators of any meaningful business growth. Processing of Zimbabwean diamonds in Botswana defeats the Open for Business objective.

On top of all, a lot talents asylum overseas and in neighboring countries which led to massive brain drain. Effort to bring back experts such as engineers, journeymen and doctors have not yielded any significant fruits. There cannot be meaningful business without the technocrats to drive it.

What kind of business is the country open for?

FDI, foreign aid, mining and privatization of parastatals are the top business activities being promoted so far. There are dangers of locals ending up being treated as second class citizens in this kind of business. The ruling elites can also use proxies to run the new investments there by resulting in perpetuation of corruption. Corruption is a serious hindrance to successful business.

Re-look

Zimbabwe is Open for Business is just a broad mantra that does not give the important specifics. It leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Why is it that minerals are just exported from Africa to the developed world? When will minerals be also imported into Africa? We should never forget King Lobengula’s saying about the subtility of a chameleon when it is about to catch a fly.

The hand of Britain in the Zimbabwean military take-over from former President Robert Mugabe suggests a possible capture of the government officials by the western powers at the expense of the backward masses. Zimbabwe may not be really open for business as President Emmerson Mnangagwa suggests.

Copyright ©www.thesolutionstower.com , 2018 All Rights Reserved. The Solutions Tower Article may not be published or reproduced in any form without prior written permission