Zim Civil Society Drafts New Economic Blue-Print, Says ZimAsset Flawed

By Sij Ncube

HARARE, September 23, 2015 – Zimbabwe’s civil society has drafted an ambitious economic blue-print dubbed Zimbabwe Social Market Agenda for Recovery and Transformation (ZimSmart) it perceive as the panacea to the country’s economic crisis, saying Zanu PF’s present policy is fundamentally flawed and unable  to revive the comatose economy.

President Robert Mugabe in October 2013 unveiled the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset) following his controversial election in July the same, ostensibly to guide national economic development.

But in its economic print unveiled in Harare Monday, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a loose grouping of 84 local non-governmental organisations, said more than two years after Mugabe’s re-election the national economy still faced challenges, among them low productive capacity from the supply side of the economy, massive de-industrialization, informalisation, low economic growth rates, unemployment, poverty, poor social services, poor revenue inflows and a ballooning debt close to US$10 billion.

It said ZimAsset’s main weakness is the failure to explicitly recognize that constitutional democracy, the rule of law and economic development are mutually reinforcing in the 21st century especially in the context of Southern Africa’s geo-politics.

“The economic crisis has been exacerbated by the professional decay of state economic institutions, failure to democratize the politics, breakdown of the rule of law, disregard of property rights, weak enforcement of the constitutional bill of rights, poor political leadership characterized by the ‘will to power’ rather than the ‘will to transform’. We restate that in the current global wave of democratisation in Southern Africa, without a functioning constitutional democracy, sustainable economic development is not feasible,” reads part of the document made available to Radio VOP.

“Going forward, Zimbabwe’s civil society submit to the nation a ‘menu of economic ideas’ that can help Zimbabwe to resuscitate the economy under the current political situation. The process to come up with the ideas involved wide consultations with key stakeholders, a review of civil society economic blue-prints, previous Government economic programs and field surveys,” it added.

Philani Zamchiya, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition executive director, said civil society’s overarching vision is to see a democratic-developmental State and the goal is to create a Social Market Economy, saying the fundamental idea is based on the progressive principles of a free market economy but augmented by active State intervention in coordinating, facilitating and providing support and supplemented by a caring Government that ensures the social protection of all its citizens.

“Each of these issues needs to be seen within the context of constitutionalism and participatory democracy. The Civil Society economic blueprint is therefore, part of an effort, to address the key issues of economic, political and social challenges and in the process lay the national foundation for a transformative leadership culture that will lead to a progressive democratic-developmental State,” said Zamchiya.

 The aspirations embodied in ZimSmart that civil society seeks to advocate for include:

  • Constitutionalism plus Public Leadership & Governance reforms
  • Economic  Institutions reforms
  • Productive Sector reforms
  • Macro-Economic reforms
  • Socio-Economic Transformation&
  • Infrastructural Development reforms

Rejoice Ngwenya, the director of policy dialogue think-tank, Coalition for Market and Liberal Solutions, has described the document as a well-crafted but said the implementation would be a challenge.

“It’s an absolutely exciting document that was written by individuals with a lot of passion and depth,” said Ngwenya