Rethinking Zimbabwe’s model for growth

Zimbabwe registered double digit growths between 2010 and 2012. However the sad thing is that the consumer basket has actually been rising sharply during the same period, from levels as low as $200 in 2009 to about $600 at present, thereby worsening the economic conditions for most Zimbabweans.

Aggregate demand for 2013 fell down to five per cent, from 13 percent in 2012, which can only indicate that many people cannot afford even the very basic socioeconomic rights such as food, health, education and housing.

A country that cannot provide its citizens with these basics is referred to as a failed state. Is the growth model that has characterised Zimbabwe from 2009 to present an ideal one for Zimbabwe?

Jobless growth

When growth takes place without expanding employment opportunities, it becomes jobless growth. When the number of people who were formally employed in 1980 is more than the number of people employed now, it tells us that we have not expanded employment opportunities.

Unemployment has actually risen to levels as high as 80 per cent, with formal sector employment falling from the 1998 peak of 1.4m to around 500,000. Growth that is not people-centered and pro-jobs is futile.

Ruthless growth

This is growth that is associated with increasing inequality and poverty. It appears as if we have become a predatory state, whereby the state is captured by a few individuals for their private benefit.

Rootless growth

It appears we have reached the level we call Pareto optimality in economics – when you cannot improve one’s welfare without reducing another’s economic status. The rich are getting richer with the poor getting poorer.

This is growth that also withers cultural identity. We seem to be fast losing our sense of identity, as can be largely seen by what we our importing. The high import bill of $7bn indicates our fetish for foreign things and how we are losing even our culture in the process. People are even importing goods that we can make locally. Is such growth desirable?

Futureless growth

When growth is characterised by squandering resources needed by our future generations, it becomes futureless growth. Just look at how our resources such as diamonds are being opaquely squandered, with some proceeds from sales going missing.

We are even talking about leveraging some of the diamonds to fund Zim-Asset. Is this a sustainable growth model? An ideal growth is whereby the present generation can meet its needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

When we squander all the diamonds and other resources out of our greed and selfishness, what legacy are we leaving to the future citizens of Zimbabwe? We cannot borrow from the future knowing that we won’t be able to repay.

Sustainable growth

The above dynamics tell us that mere economic growth is futile if it does not give highest priority to poverty reduction, productive employment, social integration and environmental regeneration. Growth needs to be accompanied by an expansion of people’s choices and it needs to enable them to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives. Sadly Zimbabwe’s growth model has failed to capture the important aspect of sustainable human development.

Zimbabwe needs to remodel its economic growth and put the people at the heart. It is meaningless to pride ourselves on double digit growth when people are languishing in poverty.

We need to start re-working our priorities and ask ourselves how we can foster growth that is pro-poor, pro-nature and pro-jobs.

Post published in: News
  1. Disturbed

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