Victoria Ruzvidzo In Focus
Zimbabwe’S economy is emerging the winner in election campaigns this time around as much of the sloganeering at individual and party levels is now largely centred on promises to revive the economy. Although the electioneering is still to reach fever pitch, it will soon gather pace. The election dates are fast approaching.
The electorate is interested in strategies to improve their livelihoods and those in the ring are all too aware of this fact.
Of course, we can never divorce the economy from politics or vice versa, but the trend this time around has seen much emphasis on economic targets and goals as opposed to mere electioneering to entice voters.
Previously, election periods in this country and elsewhere have generally left the economic bus parked somewhere by the wayside as political parties and aspiring candidates battle it out in the field of play. There were times when decisions that impacted adversely on the country’s economic well-being were made in the name of politics. Politicians desired to win at all costs even if it meant sacrificing the economy for their selfish gain.
There are times when the economy’s future did not seem to matter as long as someone managed to entice the electorate.
There are times when vast resources were abused and potential investment spurned outright because it had all become a political game with little regard to the impact on an economy that was already fragile at that point.
It was more of promises for social welfare as opposed to clear strategies to turn the economy around. Some manifestos may have had aspects on the economy but it was more on paper while in reality the few economic nerves that were still functioning where actually trampled upon as they sought political glory.
It was dog-eat-dog but now you find that parties and individuals alike have come alive that it’s all about the economy. At the end of it all, it has always been about the economy but few realised this.
The entrance of President Mnangagwa and his thrust on the economy has introduced a different ball game altogether.
We have noted that this time around it is more about getting the economy back on track than mere politicking. Much energy is being expended on finding solutions that will get the economy on a sound footing again.
The opposition parties have been talking about bringing about economic changes too although in some instances it is evident that they are a bit out of touch with reality. Some of the promises, desires and aspirations coming from that end sound more like fiction and certainly difficult to envision. But the good thing about it is that they are clear the economy is at the centre of it all.
On the other end, we have noticed that right from day one, President Mnangagwa has been seized with the economy. He has been on a re-engagement process with both friend and foe in his endeavour to rejuvenate the economy. This is working.
He has achieved immense results so far that have seen billions of dollars worth of investment commitments while he has also introduced a work ethic that is already producing results.
Of course, there is still a long way to go and much effort is required to turn things around. It is not a one-day event. The economy went through decades of battering and will naturally need more time to recover and begin to function well again.
But with the kind of energy and zeal being demonstrated by the President and his team, Canaan is not too far. It is no longer just a mere dream but something that could soon become a reality if the momentum is sustained.
As a Presidential candidate himself, President Mnangagwa appears quite clear, in word and in deed, that all the parts to the jigsaw puzzle will fall into place once the economy comes right. He has always had an inclination towards the country’s economic well-being and this is not difficult to discern as he goes about his business.
The big debates going on among and between political parties on who has the brightest idea to bring about the most impactful economic results is very healthy. It means the economy will emerge the winner.
We hope the quality of such debates and discussions will improve as the day of the plebiscite draws near.
Zimbabwe’s economy has gone through immense challenges that require attention. The economy cannot afford to be parked elsewhere while people engage in fistfights but instead, requires all eyes on the ball to achieve results.
Even during the pre-election period, political parties have a responsibility of ensuring the sum total of their actions and words impact positively on the economy.
Of course, they can call each other names as is characteristic of campaigns but that is as far as it should go. We would want to believe that the ruling party and the more than 100 opposition parties believed to be participating in the elections will remain focused on the goal of ensuring economic growth and development. Even the most eloquent of the politicians need to say words that do not harm current efforts to resuscitate the economy.
Differences are healthy but elections or no elections, there is always a time when all Zimbabweans, regardless of party affiliation, should sing from the same hymn book and present a formidable force to confront the challenges that have bedevilled the economy for too long.
Zimbabwe has all it takes to become a strong economy again. It has the natural resources and the requisite skills, in most instances, to achieve double-digit growth figures, but this will happen if we all behave responsibly.
Infrastructure needs to be developed, firms need to recapitalise, small businesses need a more conducive environment, children need to be clothed and to go to school, and the sick need well-equipped health facilities while manufacturers need markets.
Furthermore, thousands of graduates being churned out of universities and other colleges need jobs or capital to start their own enterprises but all this can come about if politicians do not lose sight of this need as they pursue their political ambitions.
Most institutions and global economic commentators have already given thumbs-up to current efforts to improve the economy and many investors are becoming more interested in actively participating in the process. All this needs to be harnessed.
It means Zimbabwe requires a sober atmosphere to aid development. Any progressive and right-minded politician will know that they will need to put up their best act and ensure nothing retrogressive will be said and done. The economy should emerge unscathed after the elections.
Politicians do not have to like each other but they must love their motherland that much to ensure that the economy will be victorious regardless of the outcomes of the harmonised elections.
Zimbabwe has lost time already and it does not have the luxury to shift focus to other things but needs sustained attention on the economy. The challenges confronting the country today are surmountable but they require maturity among politicians and every one of us.
Efforts to grow the agriculture sector, with Command Agriculture and other initiatives should yield results while facilities to prop up the tourism sector, mining, manufacturing and other sectors are bound to ensure higher economic growth come end of the year when we take stock.
It would be a sad day for our country were we to say that the economy realised negative growth because of elections. We are certainly not blind to the amount of resources, financial and otherwise, that will be used for elections, we are surely aware of the self-defeatist tendencies that may visit some in the election mix and we are all too aware that the jostling that characterises elections will leave quite a few limping and bleeding but let this not affect the economic fabric. Let this not strain the economic muscle. It would be a fatal blow to efforts to restore it.
We shall not engage in certain behaviours to give the wrong impression to election observers and the world at large about proceedings. We shall not cry foul when we should be mature enough to accept the outcomes and we shall not engage in violence in any form or manner.
We should instead seek to build and not destroy, for our sake and for posterity.
In God I Trust!