|Long live Zimbabwe!|
|Thursday, 19 April 2012 00:00|
ZIMBABWE yesterday commemorated 32 years of Independence. What an achievement for a country that was hamstrung by colonial forces for so long. Age 32 is one characterised by maturity and settling down. Any traces of teenage-hood that could have remained in the twenties will have now been completely eradicated as one faces the reality of life.
For Zimbabwe, age 32 is one that should bring about a consolidation of gains that come with independence.
On the economic front challenges come and go periodically but at some point, a country needs to stand firm on those policies, unique to its own environment, that should take the economy forward and produce results for its people and for posterity.
By age 32, a country will have experimented with the likes of Esap, Zimprest, NERP, STERP and any such economic policies in its quest to find the right formula that will lay the foundation for solid and consistent growth.
At this age, an economy should have a clearly pronounced direction, goals and vision that can be modified here and there but should largely remain steadfast.
At 32, a country should take stock of its resources, both natural and man-made and come up with strategies on how these can be best exploited to the benefit of its citizenry and for future generations.
In our case, the fairly recent discovery of diamonds in Chiadzwa, Chimanimani and the eruption of gold, uranium, platinum and other minerals should not only improve GDP growth but should secure the future of our children, their children’s children and many other generations to come.
Deliberate policies and strategies to facilitate this can certainly be enunciated and implemented at age 32.
President Mugabe was spot-on when he addressed children at a party ahead of yesterday’s Independence celebrations.
He said it was critical that we utilise resources and come up with policies that ensure a bright future.
“We are living in the afternoon, if not in the evening of our lives and those who are still in the morning of their lives will have the benefits we are fighting for.
“They do not have to toil as we have done. It would be much easier for them to proceed into the future,” he said.
This is how it should be. This is information not difficult to comprehend at age 32.
I have always celebrated independence not just as political victory but as a process that ushered economic emancipation.
As such, when I take stock of our politics, I also assess how much ground we have covered on the economic front.
Economic emancipation is as critical as political freedom. In fact, the two go hand in hand.
Those who fought in the liberation war will tell you they did so mainly for the land. I remember a pay-off line that often said the land is the economy and the economy is land.
I vividly remember the excitement that gripped the country on April 18, 1980 when Zimbabweans from all walks of life, in their afro-hair and bell-bottom trousers (flared bottom trousers) leaped with joy that Zimbabwe was free. The trousers were also called “marevolution”.
Even as young as I was then, I was also filled with so much joy. In the streets of Marondera where I grew up, we broke into Chimurenga songs and dance, singing Mukoma Nhongo bereka sub tiende chauya chauya . . . and the likes of Lawrence Katsiru would lead us into the song that went “VaMugabe varipo here mwoyo wangu ndafunga kuvabereka . . . mwoyo wangu ndafunga kuvabereka . . .
Those were the days. So it is with such celebration and joy that we should remain steadfast as a country to ensure the attainment of Independence translates into real economic empowerment that feeds into GDP growth.
Every Zimbabwean should pause and think for a minute what it is they are doing for their country. Are we building or destroying?
Zimbabwe is the country we call home and everyone would want their home to be as comfortable as possible.
The President’s words were instructive: “Being a Zimbabwean is an attribute you should always treasure, which you should hold dearly close to your heart. It gives you your identity and dignity.
“No one can dare call you a stateless person or an inferior person without nationality. Independence has created out of us a sense of belonging . . . that image and identity of someone who belongs to Zimbabwe.
“When we read the Bible, it tells us that we are all created equally and therefore we as the people of Zimbabwe are not inferior as human beings to any others. That should motivate us and bring that sense of courage and determination to prepare ourselves for the future and also to prepare to serve our country.”
We have come far as a country but we still have some way to go to achieve sustainable economic growth. We need to build on the achievements made so far and take our economy to the next level.
Watching ZTV news last night, I was alerted to a development that we often dismiss or take for granted.
A carpenter at a Glen View centre spoke of how he felt empowered to the extent that he chose to leave formal employment and started a thriving furniture business.
A snapshot of some of the furniture made there showed real application of skill and expertise. Thousands if not millions of Zimbabweans have joined the informal sector and are sustaining families and the economy at large, to some extent.
Some voluntarily entered the informal sector to put their skills to good use while others were forced by circumstances when companies closed down or trimmed operations.
Either way, there is growing economic activity within the informal sector, which, if correctly accounted for, could show a significant contribution to overall GDP growth.
When figures such as 90 percent unemployment are touted, we know the bulk have started small operations in the informal sector and are, therefore, not redundant, but making a living outside the formal channels.
The entrepreneurship culture is now deeply entrenched in most Zimbabweans to the extent that even those that are employed in the formal sector run small businesses to augment income.
The broader economy certainly needs attention. The first quarter of the year has come and gone and as we navigate our way through the second quarter let’s aspire to make real strides towards attaining sustainable growth.
What do we want to achieve in terms of mining, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, small businesses, skills development, technology acquisition, women empowerment, local investment, foreign direct investment, public-private sector partnership, savings mobilisation, infrastructure development, exports, imports and other such critical aspects of our economy?
It is as Zimbabwe celebrates its birthday that we need to take stock of where we have come from and the path we desire to take from here.
Long live Zimbabwe! In God I trust!
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