Zimbabwe: key factors to prosperity (part 1)
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We are all looking forward to the end of the GNU in Zimbabwe and its culmination must inevitably result in the construction of a new social order based on the accepted customs of any modern democracy. Central to a new dispensation must be personal liberty and the right of every Zimbabwean citizen, regardless of color or race, to pursue happiness under the protection of a new constitution.
We must however ask the question: Will the transformation of Zimbabwe into a modern democracy necessarily lead to the economic freedom of Zimbabweans? My question is triggered by the fact that, in South Africa, despite the existence of democracy, South African blacks are still not economically emancipated. It is obvious that democracy alone does not necessarily result in economic freedom therefore we need to consider the necessary actions that we must take if it is to be so.
In my opinion, the key factors that are fundamental for our country to achieve a better future include leadership accountability, the efficient collection and allocation of financial resources, the use of technology to accelerate economic development and the respect and preservation of human capital so that all Zimbabweans have the opportunity to live up to their full potential.
In this first part I want to deal with the issue of leadership accountability.
I think that South Africa has shown us that a vibrant and free press, a strong opposition and the unencumbered activities of the public protector go a long way in deepening democracy and ensuring that political leadership is more accountable to those they seek to represent. It has also shown us that without intervention, economic transformation cannot be taken for granted.
Historically, in Zimbabwe, we have never really had a situation where those in public office are accountable to the communities they represent. As a result, despite our political independence from colonialism, economic and political power has continued to be concentrated in the hands of the politically connected resulting in the marginalization of the majority and arrested economic development. In addition we have in the past assumed that democracy is merely the right to vote after which we left our fate in the hands of elected politicians.
In creating a new democracy, it is important that we alert Zimbabweans to the reality that democracy begins with the vote but requires their continued activism if it is to be deepened. We must also alert them that economic emancipation requires their individual effort and participation.
In my opinion any democracy can fast deteriorate into an oligarchy where a few selected individuals exercise power on behalf of many unless we insist in a government that is accountable. This in my view will be the cornerstone of a new democracy in Zimbabwe.
The conditions necessary for us to have an accountable government in addition to an independent judiciary are; a strong and organized opposition in parliament, a free press and the existence of a public protector.
Tyrannies emerge as a result of centralized power and our experience must surely teach us better. Attached to them is the emergence of an economic cabal that seeks to maximize its economic advantage and to complete them, is the stifling of public debate, free speech and a restricted media.
Unfortunately these conditions exist in Zimbabwe today but it is entirely up to us to ensure that the end of the GNU brings with it new conditions and new standards of governance.
The future has to be significantly different from our past and now is our opportunity to create that future.
Vince Musewe is an independent economist based in Harare and you may contact him on email@example.com
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Source: Vince Musewe
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