Unpacking impact of conflict on the economy of a nation

18 Jun, 2019 - 00:06 0 Views
Unpacking impact of conflict on the economy of a nation

The Herald

Dr Panganai Kahuni Correspondent
“Humanity is now facing challenges unparalleled in its history,” notes the institute for Economics and Peace 2018 report.

It is said many of these challenges that contribute to conflict are global in nature such as climate change, ever-decreasing biodiversity and depletion of the earth’s clean water. In sub-Saharan Africa, these challenges are exacerbated by endless intra-state conflict such as terrorism, militant political violence, perpetual political disharmony and debilitating violent mass demonstrations.

Conflict is defined in literature as “a literary element that involves a struggle between two opposing forces, usually a protagonist and an antagonist”.

The political scenario that currently exists in Zimbabwe fits very well in the above literature definition of conflict. The protagonists in this case are ZANU-PF while the antagonists are MDC-Alliance. And indeed such a political scenario is unhealthy for the country as it continues to impact negatively on the economic performance of the nation.

It is hoped that such a scenario of political players treating each other as mortal enemies will soon come to an end so as to allow economic space for development.

Lessons could be learned from countries like South Africa, India and Kenya where after elections political players agreed to subordinate politics for economic development.

President Mnangagwa has been on record inviting all political parties to dialogue. However, the MDC-Alliance continues to defy that clarion call for dialogue which has a potential to end the political conflict that has continued to scare away investors.

In the global arena, conflict emanates from disagreements on how to either solve a challenge like global warming or how to operationalise agreed solutions.

A distinct example is where America continues to demonstrate an arrogant behaviour resisting to reduce carbon emission into the atmosphere which results in causing climate change that is causing untold suffering to humanity through incessant droughts or floods. Food security and infrastructure have been badly affected by droughts and floods respectively.

Droughts and floods also impact negatively on the availability of fresh water which is an essential commodity for human survivability.

Climate change and depletion of fresh water are a threat to global security. When America continues to behave arrogantly against the reduction of carbon emission into the ozone layer, one wonders how it then prides itself as a nation that respects humanity.

America is the largest contributor of carbon emission that affects the ozone layer which ultimately results in droughts or floods in different parts of the world.

Such a scenario also impacts badly on the economics of less developed countries. Thus for America to preach or lead in attacking small nations which it criticises of violating human rights, sounds absurd to right thinking people.

It is saddening to note that most opposition parties in the developing countries such as the MDC-A pride America as a human rights watchdog. One wonders whether these opposition political parties will not be singing for their super from a master who wantonly fund them to cause illegal regime change.

People will recall the MDC-A going to America to plead for more sanctions. One wonders whether such a strategy is not aimed at causing conflict among citizens resulting in violent demonstrations.

A professor of peace and security studies at the University of Johannesburg posits that; “Conflict bigots peace deficiency creating high levels of social and economic insecurity”.

Scholars of peace and security studies argue that changes in positive peace when combined with systems thinking, provides a theory change.

It is further argued that through building the strength of positive peace, a nation’s overall socio-economic trajectory improves. Positive peace provides a unique framework to better manage human affairs and to relate to the broader ecosystem upon which we depend.

It must be noted that positive peace in many ways is a facilitator which makes it easier for workers to produce, business to sell, entrepreneurs and scientists to innovate and governments to serve the interests of their people.

Pracademics of peace and security studies argue that countries with high positive peace are more likely to maintain their stability while adopting and recovering from both internal and external socio-economic shocks.

Now, when the MDC-A continues to call for sanctions, demonstrations and refusing to join others in political dialogue one wonders what it benefits from causing conflict.

The Institute of Economics and Peace, in its 2018 Positive Peace Report, mentioned that 84 percent of major political shocks occurred in countries with low positive peace.

Similarly, it is argued that there are 13 times more lives lost as a result of socio-economic conflicts in nations with low positive peace as opposed to those with high positive peace.

It is thus my humble view that the MDC-A and its supporters will stop engaging in demonstrations and join others on the dialogue table for the economic benefit of the country.

Fellow Zimbabweans, the above narrative clearly reminds us of the debilitating political scenarios of the 2008.

Due to behaviours, the socio-economic fabric of Zimbabwe was decimated. Prophets of doom preached gospels that rendered the value of our sovereign currency useless.

This nation was faced with supersonic inflation, closure of industries, high unemployment rate and the disappearance of basic commodities from the retailing markets.

Currently, the very same ghost seems to be raising its ugly head targeting to render our socio-economic situation untenable. The vampire I am talking about is exemplified by cartels, political disharmony, violent demonstrations, unethically colluded price hikes and run away parallel exchange rates.

President Mnangagwa has enunciated a doable economic vision; that of Zimbabwe becoming a middle class economy by 2030.

A middle class economy which ensures that the nation of an increase in disposable income. While citizens expect fast changes in the economy it can be argued that no economy in the world has been turned from depression to high levels within a year.

Positive growth is never achieved overnight, but it demands citizens to find each other and collectively work towards creating a positive peace environment first.

It is thus critical for Zimbabwe to abandon acts of self-sabotage. Self-sabotage only occurs when political players and citizens engage in political disharmony and violent demonstrations.

It must be clearly understood, therefore, by every right-minded citizen that positive Peace defines goals that a nation needs to evolve too. Interventions, therefore, should nudge the nation as a collective entity towards higher levels of peace and co-existence.

I am therefore, tempted to conclude by saying if every citizen abandons conflict behaviours and sincerely embraces the mantra Zimbabwe is open for business the nation will be posed for better economic growth.


 Dr Panganai Kahuni is a political socio-economic commentator with a military research background and a diplomat in the southern region. He writes on his own accord.


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