Learning from Mugabe years

 

The Brenthurst Foundation: We are at the frontier of new ideas and innovative actions for strengthening Africa's economic performance.

Discussion Paper 7/2017

When the Music Stops

Learning from the Mugabe Years for Zimbabwe’s Economic Future

By John Robertson, Robertson Economic Information Services, Zimbabwe

Contents

Executive summary . . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 3

Introduction .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 4

Zimbabwe’s recent history: key indicators and developments .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 5

What we have learnt: assessing key areas of economic activity . . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 8

Manufacturing: intrinsically linked to agriculture .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 13

Imperatives for recovery . . .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 21

Fixing flawed institutions .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 23

Conclusion: challenges for President Mnangagwa .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 24

 

Executive Summary

Zimbabwe was once a leading economy of Southern Africa with a thriving agricultural sector, an investment haven with a burgeoning and educated youth. The country has since experienced disastrous economic decline.

Controversial economic policies, such as the accelerated land reform programme and the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, aimed to isolate market forces and place the economy into the hands of the ruling party, have undermined the market basis of the economy.

Recent political change provides hope of a new policy direction. Moreover, Zimbabwe still possesses vast mineral and agricultural potential, as well as a skilled and innovative population which the Zimbabwean government – if receptive to reform – can capitalise on.

Considering the country’s ongoing leadership changes, this Discussion Paper charts key developments that led to Zimbabwe’s economic decline. It further identifies the lessons learned, and presents three main challenges for economic recovery that the incoming President will face:

1) reaffirming respect for investors,

2) passing constitutional amendments in favour of property rights, and 3) deferring to market forces.

To read the 26 page report, click on the following link:

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About the Author

John Robertson was born in Bulawayo in 1937. He first trained as a radio and television technician with the Royal Rhodesian Air Force, and then with a Bulawayo company, Fenner Brothers. After 10 years in industry, John enrolled as a student at the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland to read for an economics degree.

On completion of the degree, John moved to Salisbury as financial correspondent on The Rhodesia Herald, becoming Financial Editor a few years later. After nine years in journalism, he joined First Merchant Bank as their chief economist, where he spent the next sixteen years.

In 1994 he formed his own economic consultancy, since when his clients have included many large Zimbabwean and multinational companies and several embassies.

He is a Past President of the Zimbabwe Economics Society and of his Rotary Club, and served for many years as Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce. He is a director of several companies and a frequent contributor to radio and television news programmes.

Published in November 2017 by The Brenthurst Foundation - E Oppenheimer & Son (Pty) Ltd

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