In his inaugural address the new President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, confirmed that land reform was both historically necessary and irreversible. He also made a commitment to compensate farmers who were forced off their land during the fast track land reform programme of the 2000s.
Many international commentators read this as a sign of a more inclusive stance that could benefit economic recovery. Indeed, the recent reinstatement of an evicted white farmer is perhaps an indication that things are changing. Mnangagwa has no option but to tackle land reform if he’s serious about getting Zimbabwe’s economy back on track. This is because agriculture continues to play a significant role.
Zimbabwe’s major land reform, starting in the year 2000, resulted in around 6,000 farms owned by about 4,500 farmers and companies being taken over. Former owners, most of them white commercial farmers, were evicted, sometimes violently.
Today around 145,000 households occupy 4.1 million hectares under smallholder resettlement schemes. Another 3.5 million hectares are used by about 23,000 medium-scale farmers.
One of the new government’s major policy priorities has to be to get agriculture moving as a motor of growth. The long-running issue of outstanding compensation payments has meant that international donors and financiers have not engaged with land reform areas, missing out on supporting major development opportunities.
Agriculture remains a mainstay of Zimbabwe’s economy. People on the resettlement farms are producing significant quantities of food and other agricultural products. For example, in the last season over half of the 2.2 million tonnes of maize produced in the country, as well as 60% of total tobacco output worth nearly USD$350 million, came from land reform areas. These numbers make it clear how vital they are to Zimbabwe’s struggling economy.
Fixing the system
Former commercial farmers held land under freehold title. In some cases bilateral investment agreements, mostly with European countries, also governed ownership. Yet, as part of the reform, land was expropriated by the state and allocated to new users. Initially this was done without regard to these rights.
The lack of redress, and the ongoing contestation over ownership of land, has caused uncertainty. This in turn has affected growth and investment. Many western countries have refused to undertake work in these areas, linked to a wider sanctions regime.
Resolving the compensation question is vital for seeking a way forward for Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector. Of course offering compensation is not a new policy. Compensation for “improvements” on the land has been on offer for years. It was reconfirmed by the 2013 Constitution, negotiated by all political parties.
To date around half of all farms acquired during land reform have been valued by the government. In parallel, others have been valued by private surveyors and ValCon, an organisation backed by former large-scale farmers. So far around 250 compensation settlements have been reached, amounting to a payment of around USD$100 million. For farms where land was acquired under bilateral investment treaties, compensation for both land and improvements must be paid, adding to the costs.
What’s been missing has been the capacity to undertake valuations of the remaining farms; the funds to pay compensation; as well as the political will to see it through.
This may now have changed under Mnangagwa. A commitment has been made to a process of auditing, valuing and paying compensation, linked in turn to the issuing of 99-year leases and permits to use the land.
Who will pay and how?
The total compensation bill is likely to run into several billion dollars. Who will pay – and how – are the big questions.
A mix of payments across different liabilities will be required. There will be private components, such as equipment that a new farmer is using, that will have to be paid off by larger-scale farmers. This payment can be done over many years through mortgaging arrangements, with upfront payments by the state to former owners.
For smallholder farmers, the “improvements” designed for large-scale farming have been less useful. And their ability to pay is much less. Here state or aid funding of compensation will be required. Other public assets – such as a dam, a road, a building now being used as school or as an extension workers’ house – are more appropriately paid off by the state, or as part of a donor-financed or debt-rescheduling scheme.
Quick resolution is essential
Nearly 18 years after the land reform most evicted farmers want a quick, pragmatic solution. This has dragged on for too long. Former white farmers are ageing and are in urgent need of pension support. Others have moved on to different businesses or left the country. This is about acknowledgement, reconciliation and justice.
In a period when there have been currency changes, hyperinflation and dramatic shifts in the economy, valuation will always be an approximate science. While some will continue to contest the land reform in whatever court or tribunal that will hear them, most want resolution – and soon.
Resolving the compensation issue is essential not only to provide redress for those who lost their farms, but also to reduce uncertainty, encourage investment and unlock potential for growth and development.
Mnangagwa’s commitment is a good sign. But it now needs to be seen through, and urgently.
Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been cautiously welcomed with the hope that he will place Zimbabwe on a more democratic trajectory. He has spoken of a new democracy “unfolding” in Zimbabwe.
But this is wishful thinking.
There are three major barriers to a decisive break from the corrupt and dysfunctional political system that has been playing out in Zimbabwe: the ruling Zanu-PF, its president and what’s been their main sustainer – the military.
None would want to oversee real change because facilitating democratic rule with real contestation for power would mean running the risk of electoral defeat. This would endanger the networks of self enrichment that have been put in place over decades.
Instead, the next few months will see Zanu-PF, Mnangagwa and the military continue to block democracy as they seek to hold onto the power.
The nature of Zanu-PF
Zanu-PF presents a formidable obstacle to democratic progress in the country. Zimbabwe has maintained the outward appearance of a multiparty democracy since independence in 1980. But it’s effectively been a one-party dictatorship.
The party brings a zero-sum game mindset to politics: it must always prevail, and its opponents must be crushed rather than accommodated. Opposition parties formally exist but they have not been allowed to win an election. Should such a possibility arise – as it did in 2002, 2008 and 2013 – elections will be rigged to preserve the status quo.
Zanu-PF provides the most egregious example of the culture of exceptionalism which has characterised the liberation party in power. These include:
the belief that its entitled to rule indefinitely,
its refusal to view itself as an ordinary political party,
its conflating of party and state, and
its demonising of other parties as ‘enemies of liberation’ seeking to restore colonialism or white minority rule.
The way in which Zanu-PF has colonised the state over almost four decades means that there is a vast web of patronage networks that have been entrenched to facilitate the looting of the state’s resources. Democratic change and clean government pose a mortal threat to these networks and such privileges are unlikely to be surrendered without intense resistance.
The new president
Mnangagwa’s ominous record makes it difficult to build a persuasive case that he represents a new beginning.
He served as Mugabe’s “chief enforcer” until November 2017. He was pivotal to the collapse of the rule of law and the implosion of the Zimbabwean economy. And he has been a central player in the gross human rights abuses that have characterised Zanu-PF rule. This includes the killings in Matabeleland killings in the 1980s. This is a past for which he has refused to acknowledge any responsibility.
His more conciliatory language has not matched his actions. After becoming president he appointed an administration of cronies, military hardliners and ‘war veterans’.
The appointments appeared to consolidate the power of the now dominant faction of Zanu-PF: the old guard securocrats who routed Grace Mugabe’s equally malign G40 faction through the barrel of a gun rather than democratic processes.
Having waited such a seemingly interminable length of time to land the top job, it is difficult to envisage Mnangagwa now placing his hard earned spoils at the mercy of a programme of democratisation.
The Zimbabwean Defence Force’s role in the removal of the president means that it has secured a place for itself as a privileged political actor and overseer of the entire political system.
The defence force has never been a neutral custodian of constitutional rule. Instead it has always been a highly politicised extension of the ruling party, a party militia in effect.
Previously its role was confined to repressing the ruling party’s opponents and maintaining the party’s dominance. The principle of civilian rule was respected even if this model of civil-military relations failed to meet any reasonable democratic standards. But with the coup, the military crossed a line. They determined the outcome of power struggles within the ruling party itself.
In the same way that the military has been politicised, the political system has been heavily militarised. This can be seen in the several key military veterans who have been appointed to the cabinet as well as Mnangagwa being the military’s candidate for the presidency. Essentially this is the civilian face of quasi-military rule in Zimbabwe.
What this points to is an effective “barracks democracy” emerging in Zimbabwe. The military has secured a veto over the leadership of the ruling party and over the wider political process. It also reserves the right to reject election results that it does not approve of, or to take action that could prevent such results materialising in the first place.
To see the military’s removal of Mugabe as an overriding good ignores the fact that it has no concept of the national interest, or that it views that national interest as synonymous with its own and Zanu-PF’s.
It is dangerously naïve to expect such a force to help facilitate genuine democratic transition when its entire raison d’etre has been to preserve one-party rule (under a leadership of its choosing), to disable meaningful opposition and to preserve its own corruption networks.
True democratisation – as opposed to merely maintaining the procedural forms of democratic government – is anathema to Zimbabwe’s ruling party, its president and the military.
It is evident that their task is threefold over the next few months. They have to secure support for a measure of liberalisation; arrest political enemies for corruption rather than tackling corruption per se; and provide a smokescreen of a largely vacuous democratic rhetoric.
The hope is that this will be sufficient to secure aid, investment and an endorsement by external donors while virtually nothing changes in the actual power relations inside the country.
Anyone committed to democracy in Zimbabwe -– whether inside or outside the country – should begin mobilising against this project sooner rather than later.
Retired army chief Constantino Chiwenga, who led a de facto coup last month that ended Robert Mugabe's 37-year rule, was installed as Zimbabwe's vice president in Harare on Thursday.
Chiwenga, who led the military in a de facto coup that brought Mnangagwa to power, is the latest in a string of military leaders to be elevated to government positions. President Mnangagwa, who did not give a speech at the swearing-in ceremony, ,told journalists that his deputies will have to drive the performance of the new ministers.
"They have to drive the ministers. The performance of ministers will be reflected by the supervision they give," said Mnangagwa.
Chiwenga also told journalists that: “What I can tell you is that there will be teamwork . We are going to work as a team and we will deliver.”
Mnangagwa, who is under pressure from opposition parties and the public to implement political and economic reforms, has ordered his new ministers to come up with 100-day ‘quick-win’ plans.
Hefty pension for Mugabe
On the Thursday, Mnangagwa granted Mugabe full diplomatic status and a staff of 23 as part of his pension.
In a government gazette, Mnangagwa said former presidents who have served at least one full term will have six security personnel, two each of drivers, aides, private secretaries and office attendants as well as a fully furnished office.
Mugabe has been living at his private home in the plush Borrowdale suburb even while he was president and his new pension entitles him to "payment of a lump sum which is equal or equivalent to the value of the private residence,” according to the gazette.
The former leader has a reputation for extensive international trips, but his pension allows him four trips outside the country travelling first class at public expense. He will also be provided with a diplomatic passport. He visited a hospital in Singapore for his first trip outside Zimbabwe since he was ousted from office, apparently for medical checks, two weeks ago.
- The Source
Farmers in Zimbabwe are anxiously watching their crops, fearing the return of a plethora of new pests that recently spread to the southern African nation and devastated harvests this year.
Many cannot afford pesticide - or lack the knowledge - to control fall armyworm, tomato leafminer, cotton mealybug and other newcomer pests that arrived as climate change creates warmer, more conducive conditions.
"We don't know what is happening," said Lovemore Muradzikwa, a small-scale maize farmer in the Mafuke area of eastern Zimbabwe, who said he has already seen some of the pests return. "There are small worms destroying our crops. They are eating even wild plants. We don't know what they are," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Shifting weather patterns linked to climate change - including longer droughts and more intense rainfall - are making farming more uncertain across much of southern Africa. And the arrival of new pests - some of them adapted to the changing conditions - is making life even harder for the region's embattled farmers.
"A few farmers have done research about these pests and many poor farmers don't know what to do. We don't know why we are now experiencing these pests which we never experienced before," said Muradzikwa.
Fall armyworm destroyed 20 percent of the country's maize crop last season, according to government figures, at a time when the country was recovering from devastating drought that had left more than 4 million people dependent on food aid.
The pest is a native of the Americas and was first spotted in Africa in 2016. It has since spread across the continent. Zimbabwe's Deputy Agriculture Minister Davis Mharapira said the country is prepared for a possible outbreak this season.
"Our agricultural extension officers are on the ground teaching farmers across the country about fall armyworm. We are advising farmers to report any sightings of fall armyworm as soon as possible," Mharapira said in a telephone interview.
Fall armyworm was first seen in Zimbabwe in September 2016, and became more prevalent in January and February when it was spotted across the country, according to a joint report by the government and U.N. agencies. Some farmers "resorted to handpicking and squashing the worms in an attempt to control them", or used pesticides. But 60 percent of farms affected by the pests did not take any measures to control them, resulting in extensive damage to crops, the 2017 Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report said.
Many countries in Africa have reported other new crop pests and diseases including banana bunchy top virus in Mozambique, South Africa and Malawi, and maize lethal necrosis in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, and elsewhere. Globally, the spread of pests and diseases across borders has increased dramatically in recent years with trade playing a role as well as climate change, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
Lawrence Nyagwande, a plant expert and the Manicaland manager of Environment Africa, a non-governmental organisation, said climate change in Zimbabwe was creating warmer conditions conducive for new crop pests and diseases.
"Agriculture extension officers must work hard to educate farmers about these new pests," he said.
Blessing Zimunya, a farmer and traditional leader in Chitora area, south of Mutare in eastern Zimbabwe's Manicaland Province, said farmers fear the return of fall armyworm this season.
"We are not sure yet whether we will face the same armyworm problem this season. Many farmers were caught unawares ... Farmers do not have knowledge about these new pests," Zimunya said.
(Reuters) Reporting by Andrew Mambondiyani, Editing by Alex Whiting
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has revealed how he walked for more 30km to cross the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique in an apparent escape from his assassination by former President Robert Mugabe's "hunting dogs", reports said.
Mnangagwa said this in Pretoria where he addressed Zimbabwean nationals, who fled economic decline and political turmoil in the southern African country.
"I came here to pay homage to my brother President Jacob Zuma. I spent a good 16 days as a 'Diasporan' here in South Africa after walking some 30km crossing the border into Mozambique. After I had been fired around 4 o'clock (on November 6), intelligence had made me aware of the next move intended to eliminate me," NewsDay quoted Mnangagwa as saying.
"Fortunately, I found a [business] card in my wallet which bore the name of a colleague here, (Justice) Maphosa, whom I phoned and he picked me. I came here and I was well-looked after."
Mnangagwa fled to South Africa after Mugabe dismissed him during factional fighting in Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party. The firing prompted a backlash against Mugabe and Mnangagwa returned to Zimbabwe, where he was sworn in as president.
Mnangagwa's finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said that the president had been stripped of his security "both physically and at his house" immediately after his sacking from government.
"This showed his security was not guaranteed, hence, he had to become a refugee here [South Africa]," said Chinamasa.
Mnangagwa also revealed that he had been in "clandestine" communication with President Jacob Zuma during his stay in South Africa, a New Zimbabwe.com report said."I had good communication with the leadership here, not openly, you understand," Mnangagwa was cited as saying.
Vehicles using the Victoria Falls bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia will have to pay up to $30 in toll fees from next year, as the two countries say they need to raise funds to maintain the facility.
The two neighbours share the 110 year old bridge, whose maintenance is carried out by the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and Zambia Railways (ZR). In a statement, issued on Friday the Emerged Railways Properties, a joint company owned by NRZ and ZR said the toll fees will come into effect from January 1.
“Following the enactment of Statutory Instrument 171 of 2012 in terms of Section 6 of the Toll Roads Act (Chapter 13:13) published in the government gazette dated 2 November 2012, all motorists traversing the Zambia-Zimbabwe border of Victoria Falls are hereby notified the Emerged Railways Properties will commence the collection of Toll Fees for the use of the Victoria Falls Bridge effective 1 January 2017,” the statement reads.
The Road Transport and Safety Agency (RATSA) will collect the fees on behalf of the two governments at the two border posts and entry points to the bridge. Haulage trucks will pay $30 while buses and mini buses which are mostly used by tour operators on a daily basis will fork out $7 and $5 per entry respectively.
Heavy vehicles will part with $10 while taxis and small vehicles below two tonnes will be exempted, according to the statement. The bridge, said ERP in the statement, is key to the socio-economic life of both countries as well as the SADC region hence the need for regular maintenance for it to cope with increasing levels of traffic.
“It is against this background that the government of Zambia and Zimbabwe have resolved to put in place the requisite legal instrument for the tolling of the bridge. The Victoria Falls toll fees will be used specifically for the refurbishment and maintenance of the bridge in order to guarantee its long term existence.”
The bridge was constructed in 1905 by the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company and is the gateway to the Sadc region.
Who would have thought that this year would end with Robert Mugabe having lost the presidency of both the governing Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe? None could have foreseen such a development being the work of his ruling party’s inner circle.
The whole development is clearly a product of internal Zanu-PF tensions and actions. The military top brass involved are old standing Zanu-PF cadres that have propped Mugabe up for decades. Emerson Mnangagwa, who has been sworn in as his successor, has been Mugabe’s right hand man for 37 years.
Zimbabweans have every right to celebrate the end of Mugabe’s long and disastrous reign, but they would be wrong to assume that this is the end of their political problems. The same Zanu-PF leadership has taken control of this transition, making it an intra-party matter rather than a national opportunity for deepening democracy as many hope.
Mnangagwa’s first priority will be to ensure consolidation of Zanu-PF power. He may do so by positioning Zanu-PF as a born again party committed to change. He may seize the opportunity to introduce real changes in the conduct of Zanu-PF and government leadership, in economic policies and in rebuilding the social compact by showing greater maturity in relations with other political parties and civil society.
But, as reports surface about the harassment of some of Mugabe appointed ministers and their families at the hands of men in uniform, we are reminded that the military should never be encouraged to manage political problems because they are likely to cross the line of civil-military relations. Excessive use of military power is likely to follow.
Mugabe the survivor
Mugabe has survived many attempts to get rid of him before. These include the efforts of the previous opposition Zimbabwean African People’s Union (Zapu) under Joshua Nkomo in the 1980s, through to the Zimbabwe Unity Movement in the 1990s and to Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the 2000s. All these efforts failed because Mugabe has, at times, been popular, at times cunning and at times ruthless in preserving power – for himself and the Zanu-PF.
At times reliance on patronage of indigenous systems of leadership helped Mugabe and the party ward off challenges. Over the past 15 years, Zanu-PF has relied on the crude use of state power, draconian security measures and brutality on the streets.
It has also resorted to buying popularity through measures such as the violent land restitution process between 2001 and 2007.
After 2007, Zanu-PF and Mugabe had to contend with a regional mediation process by the Southern African Development Community after an election they lost, but which the MDC did not win by margins needed to form its own government. Zanu-PF responded by unleashing violence and brutality on opponents. Power sharing, which gave the MDC and its leader Morgan Tsvangarai an opportunity to position themselves as alternatives, saw Mugabe and Zanu-PF play every trick in the book to preserve power.
After Zanu-PF narrowly won the 2013 elections, it seemed that Mugabe and his party had finally prevailed. But the power battles turned inward, as party factions jostled over who would succeed Mugabe.
Zanu-PF power struggles
Various factions in the Zanu-PF have crystallised into two main camps.
The first is Mugabe and his henchmen of the so-called Zezuru group, including top heads of security forces who had wanted Mugabe to continue for a long time. They favoured Solomon Mujuru before he died and later Mnangagwa as a successor.
The second was made up of younger, rather flamboyant group of mainly men around Mugabe Zanu-PF politicians who had gained power and influence in the civil service. This group was known as the G-40. In the past few years this group backed Grace Mugabe as her husband’s successor.
Things have hung in the balance with the G40 gaining momentum because they could influence Mugabe’s judgement and decisions through his wife and nephews. This group could make a call who needed to be fired or isolated – and the president would act accordingly.
For example, when moderates in the Zanu-PF and war veterans touted Vice President Joice Mujuru as possible successor to Mugabe, the G40 aimed a barrage of insults against her and publicly declared that her time was up. Shortly afterwards Mugabe fired her and got her expelled from the party. This deepened divisions within Zanu-PF and intensified concern about the G40 and Grace Mugabe.
The last straw was the firing of Mnangagwa and threats against chiefs of armed forces.
Believing that Mugabe was being manipulated by the G40, the military stepped in to weed out those around the president. What they wanted was to persuade Mugabe to go and for Mnangagwa to replace him in as peaceful a process as possible so as not to destabilise Zanu-PF’s hold on power. The military showed great patience as it set about achieving this outcome.
New forces versus old
Mugabe is gone. A faction of the Zanu-PF that had gained currency around him is being squeezed out of every space in Zimbabwe. A new faction under Mnangagwa is in place.
Mugabe stands as a shadow of continuity behind leaders who have been around him for decades and who have now been entrusted with the renewal agenda. Mugabe has left, but what’s been called Mugabeism remains: both the positive side of vehemently defending the sovereignty of Zimbabwe and the negative side of the brutality of state power.
Mnangagwa and the military have lavished him with generous post-retirement packages, honoured with a holiday in his name and praise. The interim president has warned the deposed G-40 faction of Zanu-PF to return stolen state monies or face the law.
A clean break with Mugabe’s heritage of violence and crude dominance will have to wait even beyond elections next year. Zimbabwean citizens have been energised by their role in removing Mugabe. They would do well to remain vigilant, to press for more fundamental changes in the way the state behaves and insisting on democratic processes in economic policies. Otherwise they will continue to live under one Zanu-PF faction to another without real change in their lives.
When the first reports appeared of military tanks approaching Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, questions started flooding my mind: would this mean a transition in power? And would it be a transition of the kind regarded as “model” transitions – transition from dictatorship to democracy?
Ever since it became clear that Emmerson Mnangagwa would be inaugurated as the next president, there are fears that the country wouldn’t go through a genuine transition, that one dictator might simply replace another as was the case in Egypt.
Transitional justice is a term coined by the scholar Ruti Teitel in 1990. She defined it as a form of justice that could address the legacy of human rights violations and violence during a society’s transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic one. Transitional justice refers to the ways in which countries emerging from periods of conflict and repression address large scale human rights violations so numerous and serious that the normal justice system is unable to provide an adequate response.
Transitional justice has become a vital part of modern peace building efforts alongside disarmament, security sector reform and elections. The United Nations views it as the full range of processes associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses with a view to ensuring accountability, serving justice and achieving reconciliation.
It encompasses issues such as whether the perpetrators of serious human rights violations under a previous regime should be prosecuted or pardoned. It also involves looking at reparations, institutional reform, public recognition of violations and whether and how investigations should be initiated to uncover the truth about past violations.
It’s still unclear whether Zimbabwe will manage an effective transition to participatory democracy and freedom. But the current signs are not encouraging.
Transitional justice in Zimbabwe
After three decades of state sponsored violence, there is an acute need to break the culture of impunity that has become entrenched in Zimbabwe. The steady erosion of human and political rights has further led to a lack of faith in the rule of law.
Early excitement about prospects of transitional justice in Zimbabwe has already been dampened by the agreement struck between the military and the outgoing president. The deal entails exempting Robert Mugabe from prosecution for crimes committed during his 37 years in office. The immunity deal reportedly covers numerous members of Mugabe’s extended family, including his stepson and nephews. It may also include senior ruling party officials detained by the military as well as those who are currently overseas.
This immunity agreement creates grave doubts about the legitimacy of the foundation on which the new Zimbabwe will be built.
It’s clear that the agreement violates international law. Under Mugabe’s rule opposition supporters suffered harassment, intimidation, forced removal and death. Crimes against humanity were also committed. There are also strong allegations that Mugabe ordered his opponents to be tortured. International law holds that to be guilty of torture, it isn’t necessary that a person should have directly participated in torture. Ordering torture is sufficient to warrant conviction.
There are other reasons to doubt whether Zimbabwe’s new leadership is interested in pursuing transitional justice. For example, would they be prepared to look back at post-independence crimes such as the Gukurahundi massacre in Matabeleland that claimed the lives of 20 000 people? Given Mnangagwa’s prominent role in this massacre it’s highly unlikely that official attempts will be undertaken to uncover the truth of this massacre.
Measured against the South African transition, it is already clear that the “transition in Zimbabwe” is imperfect. This is because it lacks democratic legitimacy. Unlike the wave of transitions from socialism to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the Zimbabwean transition, at this stage, does not look as if it has the potential to truly liberate Zimbabwean citizens and to convey them into a state in which human rights are supreme.
Free passage for Mugabe
Former Zimbabwe finance minister and opposition party member Tendai Biti said in a recent interview with South Africa’s Sunday Times that there was no point in prosecuting Mugabe. He said:
we cannot let the past continue to hold the future, and Mugabe is in the past… He must be given the right of free passage…
But Mugabe does not deserve a “right of free passage”. To award him this right would be to make a mockery of the principles of international law, transitional justice and the ongoing suffering of millions of Zimbabweans.
Biti emphasised the importance of economic growth and transformation. As a former finance minister he should know that financial prosperity cannot be separated from social cohesion and respect for the rule of law.
Long in coming but swift and relatively painless when it happened, the downfall of Robert Mugabe offers Zimbabwe a once-in-a-generation opportunity to recalibrate its hitherto dire trajectory. The transition comes with myriad challenges and opportunities, the handling of which will ultimately determine what direction the country takes. Here are four key ways that the new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, can get it right.
1. Strike a new political settlement
The lesson of Zimbabwe’s past 20 years is that a toxic political environment is a severe impediment to the economic development. Political risks create uncertainty and keep sorely needed investment away. A key priority must therefore be the creation of a more inclusive political settlement. When the time came, Zimbabweans from all walks of life were ready to come out and clamour for a fresh start – their “ideals” clearly unified them and need to be harnessed to something concrete out of them.
Some of the provisions needed to do this are already in the constitution, and simply unimplemented. Others, however, need to be negotiated within and among all political actors. Equally, it’s important Zimbabwe doesn’t rush into new elections, but instead creates the conditions necessary for free, credible and fair ones in the future. Properly managed elections are not a magic wand, but they will go a long way in reducing the socio-economic costs of political risks associated with instability.
2. Reduce poverty and promote inclusive growth
Zimbabwe has never fully recovered from the economic crisis that peaked in 2008. GDP growth rebounded to 11.9% in 2011, but declined to an estimated -2.5% by 2017. Formal sector jobs have shrunk significantly over the last two decades. A 2015 report showed that of the 6.3m people defined as employed, 94.5% were working in the informal economy, 4.16m of them as smallholder farmers. The formal sector, meanwhile, accounts for just 350,000 people.
This means a majority of Zimbabweans can be classified as “working poor”, doing precarious work with irregular incomes in agriculture and the informal sector. Poverty levels remain high: around 72% of Zimbabweans now living in chronic poverty. The challenge is to generate national and individual wealth, while also making sure a lot more people benefit from growth than have done over the past two decades.
Currently, the service sector contributes the most to GDP. While mining and the service sector have earned the country much-needed foreign currency and contributed significantly to GDP growth, they can only do so much alleviate poverty in a country where a majority of people still live off the land.
3. Make agriculture work
To start reducing poverty as soon as possible, the government needs to get the agricultural sector working again.
When agriculture does well in Zimbabwe, the knock-on effect is remarkable. It not only raises rural incomes (thereby reducing poverty) but also creates more manufacturing jobs in the cities and small towns as the “agriculture-induced” demand for goods and services rises. It also expands the tax base and enables Zimbabweans sitting on productive assets to contribute to building the economy.
The good news is that, while other sectors of the economy will take more time to develop, this is one area that can provide some quick returns. Productivity needs to keep rising and support must be provided for people who have access to farmland, but are currently too poor to use it effectively.
Getting agriculture to work ought to be a core priority. Given the nature of structural changes (particularly the emergence of opportunities through global value chains) a key starting point must be an agricultural review commission to investigate current conditions for smallholder agriculture and recommend new policies required to transform in the sector.
4. Unlock investment
With abundant natural resources and a relatively literate population, Zimbabwe is well-placed to attract a large share of the investment being funnelled through South Africa into the rest of the continent.
The country’s mining industry, for one, has already proven its capacity to attract investment, provided global commodity prices recover as expected. But even then, that will depend upon cleaning up Zimbabwe’s toxic political environment and confused policymaking, both of which increase costs for investors.
The country could also benefit from opportunities in the emerging digital economy, but again, this will mean prioritising and maintaining investment in bureaucracy and infrastructure.
All this will require huge sums of money, which the government may not have at the moment. Still, perhaps this new beginning is at least an opportunity for constructive dialogue with the donor community, something Zimbabwe struggled to manage while Mugabe was at the helm. If Zimbabwe gets the politics right, there is every reason to be optimistic that this promising country will flourish at last.
New Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Friday pledged to revive Zimbabwe’s moribund economy and create jobs for its unemployed masses in a speech to mark his inauguration. Mnangagwa also said the 2018 elections would go ahead and promised to restore financial and economic stability.
Emmerson Mnangagwa was on Friday sworn in as Zimbabwe’s third president by Chief Justice Luke Malaba to loud cheers at a packed National Sports Stadium, marking the end of Robert Mugabe’s nearly four decades rule and a new chapter for the southern African country.
Less than three weeks after he fled the country to escape ‘threats’ on his life, Mnangagwa stood on the podium to pledge uphold the constitution of Zimbabwe and to protect the rights of its 16 million citizens.
“I will devote myself to the wellbeing of Zimbabwe and its people,” he pledged and to ‘oppose whatever that will harm Zimbabwe.”
Mnangagwa, for over 40 years one of Mugabe’s closest and trusted lieutenants, declared upon his return to the country that Zimbabwe was entering a new era of democracy.
He becomes the third president of Zimbabwe after Canaan Banana and Robert Mugabe, the second executive president after Mugabe, to take office.
Mugabe, who ruled with an iron fist during his often tempestuous reign, resigned on Tuesday, three months before his 94th birthday as parliament debated a motion to impeach him, one week after the military took over control of the country.
Mnangagwa is taking over just months away from an election in which he will be the ZANU-PF candidate. A shattered economy marked by empty banks and silent factories awaits Mnangagwa while restoring investor confidence will have to be at the top of the agenda.
The buy-in of the international community will be key and so far the noises from key allies have been positive. Mnangagwa has already spoken of receiving pledges of support’ from the international community, an abomination under Mugabe but can only be good for him.
Credit: The Source