I’m still kinda in the celebratory mood after the firing of our Vice President, then coup-not-coup, then resignation of our dear President and finally installation of a new leader. It’s been a very interesting month and if you laid your head down to rest for a minute too long you may have missed it all.
So with the coming of a new President comes a new cabinet. Our constitution states that once a new President is inaugurated cabinet is automatically dissolved and this brings us to needing to replace the incumbents.
We’re not sure whether the Ministers of ICT, Media and/or Cyber Security will live to see another day but fingers are crossed the new brooms will come that will hopefully sweep clean.
There is a lot of anticipation and excitement (some of us were not around in 1980, so all this euphoria is new to us) and the next few days/weeks will be telling as to where we are headed.
A lot of conversation has been going on with people being optimistic that this is it, things are going to turn around. Our problem was Robert Mugabe (phew, didn’t think I’d ever be able to write that while he still lives) and his exit signals our rebound say some while others state that the foreign community support President Emmerson Mnangagwa and FDI will return.
Is this it? Can we smile again? Are Zimbabwean’s justified in having hope?
Yes, No, Maybe
Those questions are pertinent and will need to be answered and as best I can I’ll try to share my thoughts on it.
Not wanting to venture into a political debate, but from the looks at what has been happening over the last few days, I believe that things will change for the positive. Out with the old, in with the new will not only bring new minds to the table but also allow the market to regain confidence.
Most of the indiscipline in the market has been due to a lack of confidence in first the banking system but the political leadership as a whole. New leadership could restore people’s belief in ‘the system’ and not only lower the ‘exchange rates’ but also probably bring down the prices of goods and services that had skyrocketed over the last couple of months.
The hopes are that with this new change not only will prices go down and access to funds in the bank increase but the cry for jobs/employment gets louder day after day as people fail to sustain themselves. Eyes will be on the new dispensation to see whether they will be able to pull this off and jumpstart the economy.
When you look at the current leadership at the helm you’ll realise it’s the same group of people who have been in power for the past two decades. What they failed to do then, how sure are we that they will all of a sudden start to perform?
When you think of it, ZANU PF is a system and that doesn’t change overnight. If it does, then it’s going to be a very long night.
What are the chances that the current crop of politicians can all of a sudden start doing their work? Does it need an election and them being voted out of power and a fresh set of minds putting their hands to the plough? Hmmmm, how well did we do with the GNU of 2013?
I believe that something positive may happen if the country focuses on a few areas and gets it right there. In fact, they can be summed up in two areas: Exports and FDI.
The country needs to start exporting more and importing less. $4.2 billion worth of imports in 10 months is huge for an economy like ours and if anything Government should be prioritising allowing businesses to bring in capital equipment that will help industry get back on its feet and in the medium to long term start supplying products to the region again.
The idea of Special Economic Zones is noble however targeted areas in the economy should be afforded tax holidays of say 5 to 10 years allowing firms in these fields to reinvest in their businesses.
A special focus on internet based activity, that allows the country to export services, should be targeted, especially since we have a high literacy rate (eeeerrrrrmmmm, no don’t comment). What you will agree with is that our English speaking ability is very good compared to the rest of the continent allowing us to offer services like virtual call centres and customer support.
There are a host of technological services we could offer as a nation but the onus will rest with the new leadership to think anew and out of the box, in that as much as we were once an agric focused economy, the internet has made the world a literal global village enabling people to interact as if they were next door to each other. This ease of doing stuff over the internet needs to be embraced and channeled to bring the train back on the rails.
It surely is not going to be a walk in the park. Someone has to put in the work, together with a tolerant and patient citizenry that will allow leadership to do their thing.
I believe that the last words from Robert Mugabe in the resignation-not-resignation speech are fitting: “Iwe neni tine basa” (you and I have work to do).