By Sibusiso Ndlamini
Reforming is a process of improving or changing for the better, especially as a result of correction of legal or political abuses or malpractices.
Economic and political reforms are normally done over a period of time. It is imperative to note that for bolder reforms to be implemented; they must be done on appropriate discussion platforms with consensus from all stakeholders.
Zimbabwe has been castigated by its detractors over the issue of reforms. Some western communities such as the United States (US) and European Union (EU) went to the extent of imposing economic sanctions on the country, imprudently claiming that it should reform.
Since the coming in of the Second Republic, under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, positive economic, political and social reforms have are being witnessed in Zimbabwe, and these are expected to help improve the economic growth of the nation.
It is a fact that the new administration has the country at heart, hence working tirelessly to restore the economic confidence that most investors have in the country. The first economic reform that was brought by the new dispensation is freeing the economic space. When President Mnangagwa declared that ‘Zimbabwe is open for Business’, a number of local and international investors showed their interest of investing in the country.
It is a fact that trade liberalisation encourages economic activity and hence raises production and employment. However, some school of thought argue that, although the expectation may be justified in the long run, it seems somewhat unrealistic to expect immediate benefits since trade liberalisation always implies increased foreign competition, which in turn may lead to the closure of less competitive firms and therefore job losses and income reduction in the initial phase following the trade liberalisation.
In line with the Zimbabwe Is Open For Business policy, it is worth noting that the number of foreign and local exhibitors who showcased their businesses at this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) increased significantly, a step which depicts that the country’s economy is moving in the right direction. This year, 532 direct local exhibitors have been booked compared to 491 from the previous year. From those 532 exhibitors, 16 percent are first-time exhibitors displaying their different products ranging from education services, agriculture equipment to food manufacturing. That evidence alone, tells it all that the Zimbabwean economy is improving for the betterment of its citizens.
As a result of the economic reforms which government is currently implementing, the nation’s economy is certainly poised for growth. Thus, many companies will be expected to re-open and create employment opportunities for the locals.
In 1978, China introduced economic reforms so as to grow its economy. Just like Zimbabwe, China’s major components of reform included agriculture, State owned enterprises, the open door policy, the price system and development of non-state sectors. The economic reform components that were implemented in China, are similar to the reforms being implemented by the government to improve the country’s economy.
Under the open-door policy, which is similar to the Zimbabwe is open for business, China’s foreign trade and foreign investment were encouraged. China’s economy was essentially a closed economy before the economic reforms. In 1978, the total volume of its foreign trade, or the sum of the values of its exports and imports, amounted to seven (7) percent of its national income.
On the political side, Zimbabwe has also been reforming since the new dispensation. The political space was liberated, such that during the July 2018 harmonised elections 23 presidential candidates contested, with more than 50 political parties taking part. In addition, all the political parties freely campaigned in previously ‘no-go areas’ such as the rural areas.
Also, as a way of reforming, President Mnangagwa called upon opposition political party leaders to a national dialogue. Such a move reveals that political reforms are indeed being implemented, as political parties can now freely associate and discuss matters of national interest.
Recently, the President set up inter-ministerial political reform committee to lead on political, electoral and legislative reforms in line with recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry into the August 1, 2018 post-election violence. As it stands, the government has already started implementing the recommendations of the commission, which among other things include paying school fees of children of the deceased.
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission was also assigned by President Mnangagwa to look into the Gukurahundi issue. The government will facilitate the exhumation and reburial of victims of Gukurahundi while medical assistance will be availed for those injured during that time.
There are also a number of laws that are being amended or replaced in line with the ease of doing business reforms. Already there is a new bill, Maintenance of Peace and Order which is set to replace the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). In the new bill, the Zimbabwe Republic Police will no longer be a police force but a police service.
Under the new dispensation, a number of political and economic reforms are progressively being implemented and these will certainly have a positive impact towards the nation’s engagement with the international world and achieving the vision of making the country a middle income economy by 2030.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation