Harare, November 10, 2013- President Robert Mugabe’s government is needlessly constraining itself and, in the process, making the lives of ordinary people unbearable by refusing to concede that Zimbabwe is literary a Least Developed Country (LCD), an economist has said.
Prosper Chitambara, an economist with the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ), said all fundamental indications showed that the country should be classified as a LDC.
“A cursory look at the economic fundamentals obtaining in Zimbabwe at the moment will show that this country is very much a Least Developed Country. The economic benchmarks typify an LCD without question,” said Chitambara.
France announced last week that it was likely to write-off millions owed by some highly indebted country, among them the strife torn Somalia, Chad and crisis-weary Zimbabwe as well as Sudan.
Chitambara said Zimbabwe could benefit from the ‘Everything But Arms’ (EBA) policy by the European Union (EU) that allows LCDs to export into the EU market all non-militaristic products with little restrictions.
“Countries like Zambia and Malawi that, at one time were economically smaller than us, have benefited from the EBA policy and their economies are now practically better and bigger than ours in terms of their gross domestic product and ability to create jobs,” Chitambara said.
“Zimbabwe would be able to export to the European market without any trade restriction because there will be unhindered access.
“It is difficult to find any economic reason why our leadership and in particular the government is reluctant to have the country declared a Least Developed Country.
“It is politics and nothing more. It is pride that they do not want to be seen admitting the mighty have fallen and Zimbabwe’s economy is in the doldrums but that is the reality.”
Once considered Africa’s bread-basket, Zimbabwe has been on a downward economic spiral over the last decade or so which that left what was Southern Africa’s second biggest economy on its knees.
President Robert Mugabe, in power since majority rule from colonial master Britain 33 years ago, has blamed sanctions imposed by the West over human rights abuses and electoral fraud for the economic problems.
But his critics blame poor economic policies by his government; a situation they say was compounded by the chaotic agrarian reforms which were meant to redress colonial land imbalances but also led to a collapse in agricultural production.