Will the IMF save Zimbabwe?

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ZIMBABWE – For many years the IMF has been the principal instrument of foreign governmental development capital in Africa and to this date, Africans remain poor. There is no evidence that the IMF has facilitated the emergence of sustainable industrialised economies anywhere on the continent.

50 years later, their job is still not done. Something must be wrong.

In my opinion, as long as Africa is masterminded by foreign governmental capital, Africa will not rise nor will poverty be totally eradicated.

Only until we Africans learn how to package our own knowledge and apply it to meet the needs of the African can we really see Africa begin to rise. We therefore cannot continue to expect foreign governments and their citizens to take the responsibility for creating the Africa we imagine. That responsibility remains ours and ours alone.

It is my contention therefore that Africa can never rise to its full potential as long as it does not build its own developmental capital base and be free from the theories and machinations of international governmental development capital.

If we are to write our own history, it is incumbent upon us to create a new paradigm of an Africa that offers value and legitimately attracts free market capital without the need to continually depend on aid and tied loans.

In Zimbabwe today, we owe the IMF billions and yet no one is asking what happened to those billions released by the IMF supposedly for our development. As a result, we now have a highly indebted country that shows no evidence of any significant development. In fact we are getting poorer by the day with no end in sight.

Despite us having a significant asset base, we remain recipients of their munificence in areas which they choose to assist us as they utilise their own methodologies and highly remunerated experts who have become permanent appendages of the African narrative. Aid and loans to Africa is indeed a lucrative industry, not for Africa’s poor, but for those who claim to know and are best suited to dispense the solutions.

There are currently palpable expectations and anxious anticipations that things will get better in Zimbabwe once our debt issues are resolved with the IMF and they start releasing funding to us. We must borrow further in order to pay our debts to them. It is to me like giving an alcoholic more alcohol and hope to solve his alcoholism. That is sheer stupidity.

The question remains whether our problem are the debts we owe, or whether we have more systemic challenges that no amount of money can resolve? I tend to concur with the latter.

What are those systemic challenges?

The main problem is that our economy has not transformed from a colonial dual economy based on the export of primary raw unprocessed products to an industrialising one. We remain vulnerable therefore to those who determine the prices.

We also have a form of state capitalism that does not respect free market investment principles and believes that the state can manipulate information and the law and must have a decisive say and a significant stake in the market place.

Added to that is the fact that our laws and institutional architecture are not geared towards attracting long term private capital.

In order to do that we need to change our mind-sets and hastily acknowledge that long term private investment capital is only attracted to competitive business environments which offer low risk and high return where there is some level of predictability.

More important, we must acknowledge that Zimbabwe has tremendous assets which offer value to private investors and our job is to deliberately unlock that value.

The dependence syndrome on foreign governmental loans must stop as we recreate Zimbabwe into an industrialised economy driven primarily by free private enterprise and private or free market capital investments.

This can only happen when we begin to adopt a new narrative that says that Zimbabwe can indeed lift itself out of the doldrums created by years of the lack of appreciation of our potential in the African market place.

It is my considered view that the imperative to re-think Zimbabwe and its rather archaic economic model with its continued dependence on foreign governmental funding far outweigh the imperative for IMF aid because we are most likely to prolong our vulnerability to foreign governmental capital interests. We can therefore never claim to be a sovereign state.

It is therefore highly probable that even after the inevitable demise of the current predatory regime we all anxiously await; we shall find ourselves stagnating and unable to live to our full potential as a country.

Of course we need political change in Zimbabwe, there is no doubt about. But as we seek that change, we must not forget that our thinking behind our economic system must also change lest we inadvertently recreate in another form the very problems which we face today.

Politics matters, but in the end what will matter is what we use those politics to achieve. Do we use them as we have done in recent the past or do we use them to unchain ourselves from the global financial geopolitics that see and treat Africa and Africans as always dependent and always needing assistance from foreign governmental funding.

IMF funding maybe therefore temporary respite but let us not overestimate its intention and potential to fundamentally change our future and create the sustainable self-reliant developed industrialised state we seek.

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