How to kill your own industries

It will always be difficult to take SADC seriously regarding its thrust to industrialise the region. The regional bloc held an industrialisation summit here in Zimbabwe at the weekend. According to the foreign affairs ministry, this was the brainchild of our nation – the current SADC chair.

The main goal of the conference was to promote industrialisation, local beneficiation and value addition to unlock meaningful economic development in southern Africa. However, the summit host and SADC chair that set the agenda for industrialisation lacks the legitimacy to be leading such a conference.

SADC heads of state, ministers and private sector representatives came to Harare for the summit at a time when Zimbabwe is considered one of the worst performers in the industrial sector. Most of our industries have closed down and the ones that remain are struggling to keep afloat. Because of that, unemployment, independently put at more than 80 percent, is at an all-time high and the informal sector keeps growing.

It is therefore comical that the government decided to convene a summit that was expected to produce a blueprint on how southern Africa could achieve sustainable and robust industrialisation. What lessons are our counterparts from the region expected to learn from our almost-failed state?

If anything the industrialisation summit should have run under the theme: “How to kill your own industries”. This is what President Robert Mugabe’s successive governments have been doing over the years. They destroyed the agricultural sector through their greedy and corrupt land “reform” programme. Since then, nothing has been done to seriously recover the robustness of the agricultural sector.

Government still clings to populist and archaic policies that are driving away investment. At the centre is the indigenisation law which it has refused to discard. Bilateral private property protection agreements continue to be flouted and there is no respect for property rights.

There is no reason to believe that the Zanu (PF) government is serious about beneficiation and value addition. ZimAsset has been in existence for close to two years yet it is not being implemented. What lessons is Mugabe giving to regional colleagues? For years, government participated in the looting of diamonds from Marange. Nobody talked about beneficiation until the sector hit a bad patch as surface diamonds dried up. Where is the sincerity of Mugabe’s government? Seriously, what can the colleagues from southern Africa learn from a host that killed its own industry?

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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