Rescuing the dictator of Harare

So now it’s re-engagement season. The chorus is being led by the famous Chatham House think tank. The dictator must be smiling because he has managed to re-frame a problem he created and now the monkey is off his back.

Vince Musewe
Vince Musewe

I just don’t get it. “Black man you are on your own!” Steve Biko was right.

I want my country to be successful and live up to its full potential but before that, I want to be free in my country of birth. I want to associate with whomever I want, wherever I want and talk about whatever I wish. I want my leaders to be accountable on how they lead and spend our taxes. I want to see them manage the resources that belong to all of us – including future generations – in a responsible and transparent manner.

I want our children to grow fat, always have enough to eat and pursue whatever ambition they want without limit. I want a government that has its priorities right and does not spend millions on cars instead on providing disaster relief.

I want all Zimbabweans, black and white, to use their talents to solve national problems – because we have the skills and the competence to do so. I don’t want to be led by incompetents, appointed in their positions of authority for political reasons that have nothing to do with their ability.

I don’t want to see the abuse and harassment of citizens by the police. I don’t want to hear about patronage and corruption that is now so rife in our government. Above all, I want Mugabe to go so that we can now get on with building our country.

Unfortunately, a rescue package for Zimbabwe may postpone all this because some academics somewhere far away have decided that my rights are not that important. They hope that the dictator will change his ways and habits by pouring money into his coffers. How silly.

There is absolutely no justification to rescue Zanu(PF) right now, an organisation whose past and future will never resonate with our aspirations as progressive Zimbabweans who want our country to be a modern democracy underpinned by liberty, equity and justice.

I guess I must learn to accept those things I can’t change and if the West has indeed decided on re engaging with Zanu (PF), there is nothing much I can do about it. The horse has already bolted.

However, I do think there is an opportunity to provide funding for Zimbabwe’s economic revival a better way. The first thing we need to do is to revive industry and create jobs and thereby reduce the suffering in the shortest period of time.

This could be done through the establishment of a Zimbabwe Re -industrialisation Fund that is not administered by this government, but as a private equity fund that invests in those companies that can be revived quickly. This will reduce the pain.

Second, I think that we must establish an Agriculture Revival Fund. Farmers should be compensated and all those who occupy land should get title so that they can be productive. This would trigger the revival of other sectors and create massive employment.

Third, indigenisation laws must be suspended for the purposes of immediate economic recovery, thus attracting more foreign investment in other sectors.

Fourth, in order to democratise Zimbabwe we must resolve the military question. Security chiefs must be offered immunity and exit packages as a precursor to holding substantive free and fair elections in 2018.

Above all, this government must learn to live within its means. I know this requires a cultural change that will take some time. Budgetary support must be based on sound principles where the country “eats what it kills”. For years the IMF has been encouraging a better fiscal management regime but I do not think that this is about to happen.

So yes, we need economic rescue and revival but unfortunately this is likely to also rescue the dictator – thus further postponing our total freedom.

– Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You can contact him at [email protected]

Post published in: Analysis
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