The Zimbabwe we want: Chapter Three; the state must not be predatory

A predatory state stifles potential and creates a patronage system that leads to the mismanagement and misallocation of resources. A predatory state unnecessarily gets involved in everything, is a bully, tends to be corrupt and does not respect the rights of private citizens.

Africa has been characterised by predatory capitalism by the state and there has been a very thin line between the state and the party. As a result, the underdevelopment we see today is mainly because resources have been hugely abused or stolen. Zimbabwe is no different.

The Zimbabwe we want is characterised by a state whose main responsibility is to facilitate development and enable citizens to live freely without limit of what they can become or achieve. We imagine an empowering state that acknowledges the critical role that is played by human capital when it comes to socio-economic development.

In the Zimbabwe we desire, the role of the state will be limited to provide the safety and security of citizens and to develop human capital to its full potential. This can be achieved through education and aggressive skills development in order to empower citizens, access to affordable health services for all and the provision of welfare services for the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups; that is all.

Africa remains underdeveloped mainly because of its failure to look after and develop its human capital. Zimbabwe‘s underdevelopment is chiefly because of the our failure to effectively managed resources that we have.

Government must also be an efficient manager of taxes collected. They must be collected fairly and efficiently and must also be used to achieve its priorities in an accountable manner. The Zimbabwe we want must be underpinned by transparency when it comes to management and allocation of resources and this will in turn improve confidence and trust among government, citizens and potential investors. The role of the state will, therefore, be to pursue fiscal discipline and efficiently collect and allocate revenues to the benefit of all citizens.

The skewed development we see in Zimbabwe is unproductive and does not lead to efficient use of our natural resources. Financial resources must be balanced and allocated fairly among provinces, urban and rural development as the majority of Zimbabweans reside in the latter. If we are to focus on human capital development it is obvious that the highest need is in the rural areas. A rural development agenda is therefore critical.

In the Zimbabwe we want, government must be a development partner and not seek to control or participate in business. It must also provide the necessary regulatory environment and make it easy for investment and entrepreneurship development while avoiding the emergence of monopolies.

State enterprise will be limited to those services that cannot be profitably provided by the private sector and to strategic investments only. Those that are not required will be privatised for good value in a non-partisan manner which empowers citizens.

Foreign direct investment and local investment must be promoted. This requires that we create an environment that attracts investments and encourages local savings. A well regulated financial services sector will be critical to achieve economic growth. This sector must pursue world class services while the Reserve Bank will continue to play its supervisory role. However this role must never be political as has been the case to date.

In addition to the above we must see financial institutions that drive economic growth by mobilising local savings. Zimbabweans no longer have a savings culture because of the hyperinflation of 2008; that is understandable.

This means that we will have to re-educate, encourage, promote and facilitate the emergence of a savings industry that is not only well regulated, but provides quality service to consumers where consumers have rights which are protected by the state.

So, from an abusive state to an enabling state is the journey we must take as a country. The Zimbabwe we want will require principle centred leaders who put the people first.

We must invent our future.

Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact Vince directly on [email protected]

Post published in: Analysis

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