Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Paralysis by politics of positions


By Bernard Bwoni

Across the national political divide the shift towards jostling for political positions has taken over the real purpose of policy and nation building. The national leadership is rightly enraged by the widespread muddle and that is a trend that urgently needs foregoing for the sake of individual party and national trajectory. That politics is not a career but a service to the people is not just a mere statement but exactly why the people vote in elections. The rush for positions is a clear indication of the malfunction of focus on policy which relegates pressing economic challenges to the margins of national discourse whilst elevating politically-predatory tendencies to the forefront. Zimbabwe is currently facing economic challenges of a magnitude that requires those entrusted into positions of influence to have sleepless nights yet the main preoccupation seems to be rank, order, flashy cars and fancy pants. It is a telling sign of misplaced priorities that under the current macroeconomic and microeconomic environment in Zimbabwe that one’s preoccupation is reduced to mere scramble towards the upper echelons of power rather than addressing the immediate concerns of the ordinary man and woman. The hallmarks of extraordinary leadership was shown when President Mugabe had to personally intervene and dipped into his pockets to address the subsistence challenges of the recently concluded youth conference. All this is indicative of a deep-rooted manifestation of the deliberate neglect of the hard-done-by electorate by this politics of positions.

Whilst the difference between those who serve the self and those who serve others is obvious, it requires those aspiring to positions of national influence to have that basic determination to seal the cracks before the fissures emerge. There is an urgent requirement to redefine the construct of politics from being a trade to that tireless readiness to serve the people. It is understandable that all politicians are of flesh and blood and therefore far from perfect. It is true that those who lose their way are not necessarily bad people and therefore it is up to those who remain focused to refocus others to stay grounded. The state of intentionally remaining anonymous and keeping a cool head is a representation of the required inner spirit and strength to prioritise actual action as opposed to empty words to mislead the people in this covetous and egotistical quest for the now over-subscribed political positions. The rumpus over political positions points to unholy lateral linkages of self-obsessed fixation with politics of profession as opposed to that public duty and enduring commitment to carry forward the hopes and expectations of those who entrusted the politicians with their vote. The country is currently facing what seems like an insurmountable mountain and now is the time to drop that self-serving attitude and to embrace the totally altruistic determination to serve the perennially short-changed citizens. It is this individual inward-looking self-absorption which prioritises the narcissistic wants of the few over the genuine needs of the economically-challenged majority.

This needs to be emphasised over and over again that politics is not a vocation but a public duty and with this duty comes responsibilities, accountability and caretaker opportunity to serve those who voted the politicians into power. People look up to politicians who prioritise persistency, consistency and transparency. The political position is mark of respect from the electorate and the respect is earned not asked for or demanded through this covetous quest for political positions. The electorate want the simplest of things, the basics and practical approaches to the country’s debilitating economic challenges. No sane person cast their vote for squabbling and unconcerned aspirants. All aspiring public officials must give weight to a renewed commitment to politics geared towards serving the country’s long suffering citizens and shy away from this extortionate pursuit of positions. There must be a political commitment and a genuine willingness to serve the people.

Politics is not just a gateway to affluence and bounty but requires those who enter into this service for the people to have both reflective and affective emotional intelligence. That simple respectful and genuine acknowledgement to serve is a sure way to endear aspiring officials with the grassroots. Those who are clamouring for political positions have a duty and responsibility to the citizens of this country and they must address those pressing issues which have incapacitated many in Zimbabwe. It is that simple and that is why people vote. President Mugabe has led by example, our heroes led by example and all these new aspirants must learn from the pioneers. These hustle and tumbles for political positions will not endear the electorate. Political harlotry is ‘rubbish’ to say the least and political refuse belongs nowhere else other than the political dustbin of history. Now is not the time to scrummage for political positions but the time to hit the ground running and tackle the basics that drive up the nation. There is an urgent need for national dialogue on practical and sustainable ways of cutting the disproportionate government spending, ways of reviving the country’s industrial base, ways of retooling the country’s in-need-of-repair infrastructure and how to make life better for all the citizens of this country. The scurry for political positions is not in any way associated with that sensitivity to the plight of the downtrodden citizens of this country and those who are rushing for the positions have deliberately put misery-repellent plugs to the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. As President Mugabe rightly put it "You are as, more also, just rubbish as the person who has given you the money; both of you, the giver and the given are alike."

Bernard Bwoni can be contacted at bernardbwoni.blogspot.com
 
 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Embracing the core of the ‘Buy-Zimbabwe Culture’


By Bernard Bwoni

“Can’t you find better ways of making your money than importing water? Can you justifiably boast that you have made it, when you have just made money from importing water?” he asked. “My heart bleeds when I go through national statistics because what we are spending on imports could have been channelled towards the local industry’s recovery process.” “As long as we export raw materials we will never be a rich country. We will forever be a developing country. When you are a net exporter of raw materials all the time, as a country we are specialising in being poor,” These were substance-abundant words from one of the ‘Real Best Ministers’ in government to date, Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa. This is can only be described as progressive and forms the nucleus of the ‘Buy Zimbabwe Culture’ that has the potential to propel this country to its overdue and inevitable economic transformation.

 The competiveness of the local manufacturing sector in Zimbabwe has been diminishing in the face of stiff competition from cheaper imports from much larger manufacturers from South Africa and from the Far East who benefit from economies of scale. What Minister Chinamasa is alluding to is the fact that this unfortunate trend of over-reliance on imports will lead to under-utilisation of local capacity, lead to even more unemployment, fiscal challenges and Zimbabwe will not get the opportunity to realise its full manufacturing potential. It is regrettable that Minister Chinamasa is reluctant to intervene legislatively to stop imports.  Minister Chinamasa let me take you back to 1776 when Adam Smith, in his ‘Wealth of the Nations’, advised the Americans not to “artificially promote manufacturing industry and argued that any attempt to stop the importation of European manufactures would obstruct instead of promoting real wealth and greatness”. The Americans however did not listen to Adam Smith’s advice but rather to their then Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton who argued that American industries were still in their infancy and as such could not be expected to compete against the mature industries in the more advanced economies without an initial period of deliberate government promotion and protection. And the America we see today owes its economic and political glory and dominance to the economic policies of Hamilton.

The value of protecting infant industries has been vigorously defended since the 18th century by economists such as Alexander Hamilton in 1791 for the USA trade policy. Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector is emerging from over decade of a downturn and thus unrealistic to expect it to compete against the mature industries in the more advanced regional and advanced international economies without an initial period of deliberate government promotion and protection. The country’s manufacturing sector is in a dire state due to in-need-of-revamp infrastructure as well as shortage of capital, electricity and water. Most companies are operating at very low capacity due to the effects of the economic sanctions placed against Zimbabwe. The key is for local textile manufacturers to focus on competiveness as the ultimate long-term objective but government needs to initially offer the sector a period infant industry protection as they build up their competiveness. There is no competitiveness build on fragile foundations.

 The Zimbabwe manufacturing sector is emerging from over a decade of a sanctions-induced decline and as such in its infancy. The manufacturing sector in Zimbabwe cannot be expected to compete against the mature industries in the more advanced regional and advanced international economies without an initial period of deliberate government promotion and protection. It is going to take time and more importantly investment in technological capabilities for manufacturing companies in Zimbabwe to absorb advanced technologies. Without this initial period of protection the sector is going to struggle to survive the international competition. The revival of the manufacturing in Zimbabwe requires some level of government protection and subsidies at the initial stages so that we can absorb the technologies and learn to complete in the global market.  Zimbabwe is currently coming from a 14 year economic slump and a period of at least 5 years of strategic protection of the country’s manufacturing sector is necessary to give it that stability to be competitive. It is easy to say that the key to industrialisation is competiveness not protectionism but a baby has to learn to crawl before they can walk. Economic literature considers that import restrictions of any kind create an anti-export bias by raising the price of importable goods relative to exportable goods.

It is important to make a strong argument that premature trade liberalisation has been a failure and characterised by negative economic growth in per-capita terms and collapse of manufacturing with our domestic production swamped by cheap imports as capacity utilisation has dropped to low levels. With very few exceptions, tariff cuts and other measures of trade liberalisation have not brought about the anticipated economic growth and, in a lot of cases, have in fact brought economic collapse. Free trade is one of those theories that is logically consistent with itself but not in the real world as it has not been universally linked to subsequent economic growth. This is evidenced by the economic chaos unleashed by the structural adjustment programmes of the early 1990s in Zimbabwe and other developing countries. Without some sort of infant industry protection the economy will have little hope of diversifying through industrialisation and accelerating growth on a sustainable basis. Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector, in this early stage of revival, would benefit from this critical period of protection to enable it to maintain output and employment and this will subsequently spearhead economic growth. Minister Chinamasa has those keys just like Alexandra Hamilton and it is up to him to unlock this potential by locking away the threat that is liberalisation.

bernardbwoni.blogspot.com

 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Unlocking Zimbabwe's youth potential

 Zimbabwe’s future is inseparable from the future of the young people. Youth is a withering aptitude that requires harnessing; it is not a question of years but a life yet unaffected by lethargy and tragedy, living on hope not just memories of the good old times.
Youth brings with it that zest and thirst for learning, that hunger and drive that has slowly been stagnating with age in a number of officials. The key is to merge experience, education and expertise with that youthful drive. The active participation of young people in government and decision making is critical in ensuring that their raw knowledge, skills and energy are harnessed appropriately for the development of the country. The young ones of today are the future leaders and elders of tomorrow, they need examples not disparagers.
Strengthening youth structures and networks and ensuring that they have the right skills and information needed to be involved in public policy and national planning processes is critical to national development. Empowering the youth of Zimbabwe should not be just about mere talk but tangible action to drive up national processes and make young people of this country valued and productive citizens. It is the simple things that matters to the young people of this country and it is the simple gestures that endears the older generations to this vital national component. Elected officials have a duty to prioritise the youth and a commitment to make things simple for the young people to feel empowered and valued in Zimbabwe. The youth of this country are first class citizens as everyone else and they deserve a chance to realise their full potential, to be heard and to make a difference for the good of the Zimbabwe. The young have the unique and raw ability to be talented and innovative trouble-shooters as opposed to lethargic unproductive. The government owes it to the young people of Zimbabwe to trust them into senior positions in some of the strategic national sectors to drive up national proceedings. This is the time to train the young people of Zimbabwe and engrain the Zimbabwean spirit, the love Zimbabwe psyche for the growth and progress of the country as a whole.
Zimbabwe has an educated population and the young people of Zimbabwe have to feel empowered and able to engage positively with governance structures. That the young people of this country are the future leaders of tomorrow is not just a mere statement because they indeed are the future leaders of this country.  Of course national security and national preservation is paramount and takes priority over all else. The country however has to positively continue mobilising this youthful vibrancy and verve.
The young people of this country do possess the power and potential to address some of the considerable social, political and economic challenges currently facing Zimbabwe. The key to start unlocking the untapped potential of the young people of Zimbabwe is to start acknowledging them as productive citizens of the country and not putting them down at any level. There is huge potential locked up in the youth of this country and the government has a responsibility to harness this yet-to-be-realised possibility. The young people need to be listened to, offered the necessary support to grow, encourage rather than put them down, praise them when they make progress, reprimand when they make mistakes but not chastises permanently and recognise that everyone deserves the chance to succeed. There is a place for wisdom of the elderly and the energy of youth. Sometimes there is no point in recycling the same old tried and tired seniors at the expense of the hungry and expectant youth.
The young people of Zimbabwe deserve the chance to prove their worth in senior positions. Zimbabweans are the most enterprising, hard-working, creative and innovative sons and daughters of Africa and all they want are systems and services that function. Being young is not a crime but a country-defining prospect. The key is to reconcile the wisdom and knowledge of old age with the strength and fearlessness of youth. It is retrogressive to underestimate the true potential of the young.

Bernard Bwoni can be contacted on bernardbwn@aol.com

 

 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Mr Obama, its not African 'excuses' but trauma of colonialism and slavery


By Bernard Bwoni
 
Mr Obama’s recent remarks that Africa should not make ‘excuses’ for the continent’s economic woes based on history of colonialism were not only unfortunate but quite insensitive. Not sure if Mr Obama has deliberately developed selective amnesia to realise that the wealth accumulated by the country he now leads has been through the blood and toil of those from the cradle of mankind. Here is the leader of the free world who has been mum to the unrestrained bombardment and culling of innocent civilians in Gaza yet wants to walk the moral high ground and lecture the historically and perpetually traumatised Africans on morality and righteousness. Africa’s socio-political and economic problems are a direct by-product of slavery and colonialism. The African generation post slavery and post colonisation is a traumatised one with equally affected and arrested prospects for development. The generation pre slavery and pre colonisation was the continent’s most innovative and progressive. This is a generation that did not live on borrowed values, borrowed traditions and borrowed existence, a generation that smelted and forged iron. What we are left with is an educated bunch whose greatest invention is a dusty path towards the nearest Aid Agency assembly point.  The African continent has no choice but to completely divorce itself from the disastrous construct of dependence on aid and firmly root itself into the tangible Mugabe-inspired trajectory of economic emancipation. It is only via total economic emancipation that Africa is going to upgrade the lives of its permanently deprived citizens. Whilst at it Mr Obama should have a look at the contents of ZDERA 2001 and if he is so concerned about resolving the continent’s economic difficulties the first step is to not to slap an African country with sanctions for addressing historical inequalities through redistribution of land and wealth. The continued day-in-day-out struggle for basic survival is just not acceptable in this resource-rich continent. Africa is extraordinarily blessed with abundant natural resources. Africa has a cause, a just cause for that matter and downplaying colonialism and slavery is not going to address the multifaceted problems that bedevil the continent but merely mask them. Mr Obama should know better that forcing the biased neo-colonial model whilst equating slavery and colonialism to ‘excuses’ is not going to develop Africa.

Africa is ready for its re-ignition, its reorganisation and justified and dignified re-emergence following the twin evils of slavery and colonialism. The idea of the African re-ignition and reorganisation has continually been frustrated and countered with colonial coercion and more recently neo-colonial craftiness. It seems Mr Obama’s remarks were aimed at containing the African quest to free itself from the one-sided and overly dependent relationships and move towards mutually favourable and respectful development partnerships.

Africa is not going to benefit from neo-colonial point-men camouflaged in the Dark Continent pigment but from the visionary flame of the Mugabe-inscribed people orientated policies of land reform and economic liberation. The people of Zimbabwe, the people of Africa subscribe to this vision. Africa is on a journey, an African journey and a journey that requires Africans and them alone to carry them forwards and no charitable champion is going to command the survival of the continent with no motive of their own. Not even Mr Obama. No selfless knight in shining armour is going to descend from lands afar and rescue Africa from this permanent predicament that has continued to stall the continent’s long overdue development. Mr Obama, Africa does not make excuses but suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder following years abuse and misuse by the very country you lead today.


bernardbwn@aol.com/  bernardbwoni.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Tsvangirai’s London Trip: big fuss over a trifle


By Bernard Bwoni
31st July 2013 was a defining and watershed moment in the history of Zimbabwe. The country held peaceful and democratic elections under the new constitution, yet another milestone and extraordinary moment in the history of the country. The elections saw the end of the contentious Government of National Unity and saw the overdue re-emergence of the revolutionary party to put into place its potent people orientated policies. The elections were won decisively, freely and fairly and even the then MDC-T Secretary General Tendai Biti was honest and conceded that they lost because they were ill-prepared, lacked a convincing strategy and lost to the well-oiled ZANU-PF party. The revolutionary party won two thirds of the majority and has embarked on a country and continent-defining programme. The elections were widely endorsed by the African election observers from SADC, AU and COMESA as free, fair and credible and instantly condemned by the EU and USA who did not participate in the monitoring of the elections.
The ruling party forged ahead putting into place the details of their election manifesto into place. The economic blueprint, Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) was presented to the country to provide clarity and guidance on mapping a way forward. Under the provisions of the Zim-Asset framework there is clarity in terms of national and economic direction. There are four clear clusters of food security, nutrition, social services and eradication of poverty, and from these there are subsectors such as value addition and beneficiation, infrastructure development and others. These clusters provide guidance and direction on how the revolutionary party will be proceeding in the economic transformation of Zimbabwe.
Fast forward to 25th August 2014, a few days before the anniversary of the 31st July 2013 elections, along comes one Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and the venue is Chatham House in London. The expectations were high as Tsvangirai was coming to historically expected home of the most passionate of Tsvangirai’s supporters. Well, so we all thought.  The usually eager and celebrity-creating British media was uncharacteristically mute about Tsvangirai’s visit. There was no fanfare, there was no tea at Number 10 Downing Street with Mr Cameron and there was no pass out parade at Buckingham Palace in honor of this nearly Nobel Prize winner. Well he did manage to shake hands with the Lord Mayor of Birmingham and not many, even in Birmingham have heard of him. There were some claims that he turned down an invitation to appear on the BBC’s Hard Talk for fear of being given a hard time about the disintegration of the regime change project and the election loss in 2013. Well if you believe that then cows can fly. But the bottom-line is that Morgan Tsvangirai was totally left out in the cold by the British media, British politics and relevant stakeholders to the regime-change agenda. Tsvangirai’s visit was a non-event; even Ras Pombi drew double the crowd that attended the MDC-T leader’s rally in Birmingham.
The UK has been the Centre of opposition politics since the onset of the regime-change agenda and their supporters have been more prominent. The expectation was that the venue is Birmingham was going to overflowing with supporters from all Counties but in fact the venue was as empty as Tsvangirai's pockets. The Birmingham Gala was attended by a measly 97 strong crowd, most who were from his entourage and MDC-T UK Officials. The dinner was £20 per head and if you do your mathematics right factoring in non-paying delegates, cost of venue and other overheads then it is highly likely no amount of money was raised from this social function. In fact there is a high likelihood of a loss having been made.  As stated before the venue was as empty as his party’s pockets.
The progressive and potent ZANU-PF UK chapter has been drawing way bigger crowds than Mr Tsvangirai’s hyped much ado about nothing London show. The UK which has traditionally been seen as a predominantly opposition fortress has been witnessing some statistically significant changes in Zimbabwean political demographics. At a time when MDC-T UK support has been rapidly shrinking, there has been a sudden surge in ZANU-PF support in the UK. The UK chapter of ZANUPF has seen several branches being launched country-wide and has also gone international with the Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg (BENELUX) launch in Amsterdam recently. More branches are earmarked for the mainland UK counties and offshore for the responsive and people-focused ZANUPF in the UK. The demand for ZANUPF cards and registration in the UK has gone viral. The difference between the two political outfits, ZANUPF-UK and MDC-T UK is that the former focuses precisely on policy, people orientated policies and there is clarity in terms of strategy and goals whilst the latter (MDC-T) focuses on demonizing the former (ZANUPF).
Tsvangirai’s London trip was an inspiration to none, a hollow and pointless exercise. He started off his London ordeal with a lifeless speech at the Chatham House Think-tank. The address at Chatham House was predominantly a whinge about what the government is not doing and no genuine attempt at presenting a shadow strategy to the country’s economic challenges.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Stop tarnishing Zimbabwe's name!


By Bernard Bwoni

Is it that some opposition legislators have no awareness of the economic implications of their public utterances and negative speculation about the country as a whole? Any negative speculative statement and scaremongering forecasts have very damaging effects on the economy as a whole. Hence why you find in other parts of the world any small detail about the country will have far-reaching effects throughout the economy and often sees stock markets crashing down. The fragile Zimbabwe economy does not need these echoes of doom at the moment. Everyone is fully aware of the colossal task ahead. This is a country where a Finance Minister (Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti) would publicly declare that the country had only US$217 left in its coffers and expect the country’s image to remain unaffected.  Now Mr Biti has come out again making more unsubstantiated claims that ‘the country’s economic crisis will last another ten years’. As the First Lady rightly put it, people like Mr Biti think they know it all. But then Mr Biti has no empirical evidence to back his claim as it is mere conjecture. Everyone is aware of the economic challenges and instead of these constant echoes of doom and gloom legislators should put forward solutions. Of all countries in the world Zimbabwe has taken more negative press internally and externally than any other country since time immemorial.

Now another opposition legislator, Settlement Chikwinya told parliamentarians of the ‘precariously low’ grain reserves in the country and that it was imminent that the country would soon face starvation. He went to suggest that this looming ‘imminent starvation’ was directly linked to the country’s necessary land reform programme. A statement like this must be backed by empirical evidence for it to be taken seriously.  This is an unsubstantiated and random claim without any figures to back it and from legislators we expect more. Maize production in the country has been on the rebound and it is important to wait for the official figures so that legislators like Chikwinya can back their claims. Maize production for 2014 has had a 65% growth rate from the 2013 levels (FAO, 2014). The agriculture sector is recovering and signs are positive. So these highly opinionated speculative statements from the likes of Chikwinya are irresponsible, unfortunate, unnecessary and untimely. What is the point of creating uncertainty and panic? The general macroeconomic environment in the country has been affected by this negative speculation, the effects of the economic sanctions against the country and a number of other associated factors. As a result of the above the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe is currently under-funded, under-resourced and operating in very difficult macroeconomic environment. Legislators like Mr Biti and Mr Chikwinya need to urgently stop merely focusing on the symptoms of Zimbabwe’s economic problems and start focusing on tabling solutions.

Bernard Bwoni can be contacted on bernardbwn@aol.com/  bernardbwoni.blogspot.com

 

 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Economics of maize production in Zimbabwe



By Bernard Bwoni

Maize production is an important component of food security and livelihood for smallholder farming communities of Zimbabwe. The majority of smallholder farmers grow maize primarily for subsistence using conventional farming methods. Prior to independence the large-scale commercial production was characterised by high-value crops such as tobacco which accounted for around 51% of the total large-scale commercial production, intensive use of capital which accounted for 34% of output and 42% of input use communal farms were characterised by more labour intensive production which accounted for 52% of total production and minimal use of inputs accounted for only 18%. The smallholder production was mainly dominated by maize and cattle which together accounted for more than half of the smallholder agricultural production and this was mainly directed for home consumption. Although smallholder maize production accounted for 63% of total maize production it contributed only 40% of the marketed supply. Large-scale commercial farm maize production accounted for 4% of total maize production yet it contributed 60% of the marketed supply. This is a very important point to counter the basket-case baloney. The smallholder black indigenes fed themselves and their beautiful off-springs from the dust-patches they were coerced into by the unforgiving settlers.

Large-scale commercial tobacco accounted for 51% of total agriculture production and contributed 100% of total marketed tobacco production. This was exclusively an all white affair. Cattle accounted for 9% total agriculture production in LSC farms and 26% of total agriculture production in the smallholder farms and contributed 64% and 36% of total marketed production respectively. Maize accounted for 1.1% of gross national output and contributed 1.5% towards the Gross Domestic Product. Tobacco accounted for 5.49 % of gross national economy and contributed 6.6% towards the GDP. These figures are from the Zimbabwe National Account from 1991. These figures serve to remind us that cereal production on the settler farms was far less than on the smallholder agriculture sector which was manned by the black indigene.

Between 1977-1979 and 1985, cereal production in Zimbabwe increased by 80%. The production of maize, the country’s principal cereal staple, more than doubled during this period. Following the 1986 harvests Zimbabwe held 1.8 million metric tonnes of maize in national stocks, 3.5 times the highest level achieved during the 1970s. The largest share of maize production gains were contributed by smallholder farmers. These farmers had previously participated only marginally in producing maize for the market. During the 1970s, between 5000-6000 large-scale commercial farmers delivered over 90% of the maize sold in the formal sector market. Approximately 750000 smallholder farmers contributed 5% and 8000 small-scale commercial farmers marketed the remaining 5%. While commercial maize production increased by more than two thirds between 1980 and 1985, smallholder maize production increased threefold. From 1985 onwards smallholder farmers started producing over 50% of the country’s maize and delivering over a third of that production to the Grain Marketing Board of Zimbabwe (GMB). From the beginning of the 1970s to 1986 Zimbabwe’s maize production trends are characterised by extreme variability primarily associated with the incidence of mid-season dry spells and drought, declining harvests during the middle part of the 1970s, followed by a sharp increase in production to record high levels and a significantly rising smallholder sector contribution to national production particularly after the land reform of the early 1980s. In 1972 national maize production in Zimbabwe was over 2.3 million metric tonnes and three quarters of this harvested by commercial farmers. While smallholder farmers planted two thirds of Zimbabwe’s maize area, yields were only 16% of commercial sector levels. However it is important to emphasise that smallholder farmers were mostly concentrated in the specially created Native Reserve areas they had been forced into under the Land Apportionment Act of 1930. The Land Apportionment Act was probably one of the most repressive pieces of legislation by the colonial government of Rhodesia. It entailed that over half of all land in Zimbabwe was exclusively reserved for the white settlers. The settler population only accounted for 2% of the total population. The Land Apportionment Act of 1930 took away the right of indigenous black people of Zimbabwe to purchase land anywhere in the country. All indigenous people were moved into the Native Reserve Areas which were areas considered unsuitable for intensive agriculture and more than a third of the allocated land was in areas considered to be unsuitable for any agriculture other than livestock rearing (Rukuni, 2006; Moyo and Chambati, 2013)

Between 1972 and 1979 maize production maize production suffered a sustained decline as the war of liberation intensified. Commercial agriculture declined by more than 55% as a result of a 35% decline in crop area and a 30% decline in yields ( FAO, 2013). Between 1979 and 1984 both commercial and smallholder production first increased sharply to record levels then declined sharply during the 1982-84 droughts. By 1981, a year after independence commercial maize area planted had increased by more than 50% while smallholder maize area cultivated increased by almost 70% and maize yields increased by almost 50%. By 1986 total smallholder farm maize production increased an additional 55% above the 1981 levels and rising above the large scale commercial farm output (FAO, 2013). Smallholder farmers harvested almost 60% of Zimbabwe’s total maize output while commercial sector maize output continued to decline. During the 1970s commercial farmers sold 70-75% of the production to the GMB.

The per capita maize production showed signs of continued decline in the 1990s and this was attributed to significant decline in yields over the years from 1500kg/hectare in the early 1990s to 500kg/hectare in 2000 (Government of Zimbabwe, 2002). Agricultural productivity continued to fall in the smallholder sector due to continued pressure on land and land degradation as a result of years of erosive cultivation, declining soil fertility as farmers.

In 2000 maize production yield was 1488kg/hectare declining to 286.7kg/hectare in 2008 due to the effects of the illegal economic sanctions imposed on the country. From 2009 the sector has shown signs of recovery and latest figures from 2012 show a yield of 1041.7kg/hectare. Area under maize cultivation increased from 799430 hectares in 1979 to 1416700 hectares in 2000. In 1979 maize production quantity was 1141916 tonnes and in 2000 had nearly more than doubled to 2108110 tonnes. Production showed some signs of decline during that contentious period of the Fast Track Land Reform from  2000 through to 2008 where production was 496000tonnes. However maize production figures have continued to surge and in 2011 it was 1500000.

Bernard Bwoni can be contacted on bernardbwn@aol.com/  bernardbwoni.blogspot.com

Tsvangirai’s uninspiring Chatham House monologue


By Bernard Bwoni

Tsvangirai’s address at Chatham House was as inspiring as an empty bottle. It was hollow and substance-free to be more precise. He started off by talking about the ‘’debilitating economic problems Zimbabwe is facing which are ‘supposedly’ symptomatic of a deep-rooted political crisis stemming from a disputed election’’. What? The election was exactly a year ago and Tsvangirai is hanging on to a done deal convincingly, freely and fairly won by the ruling party. Even Tsvangirai’s then Secretary General Tendai Biti was honest and admitted that they lost to the well-oiled revolutionary machinery and that the MDC-T was ill-prepared, lacked a convincing strategy and was totally out-manoeuvred. The elections were widely endorsed by African election observers from SADC, AU and COMESA as free, fair and credible and instantly given the not-credible seal of approval by the EU and USA. Instead of Tsvangirai coming forward and laying down his proposed strategy for the country’s current economic challenges his address was a mishmash of sweeping statements minus any specifics. It was his usual ‘stolen election mantra’ and a veiled invite for further interference from what he casually terms ‘the international community’. He dragged on about the past elections, the so-called disputed polls and his futile and meaningless quest for the voters roll to be made public.

The Chatham House address by Tsvangirai was clear as mud, to put it kindly it was tired, devoid of any substance and pointless all together. How is Zimbabwe going to benefit from this lacklustre lecture, a repetition of the usual MDC-T themes of demonising the ruling party and mobilising western support for own self-serving motives? It sounded like a manipulative child enlisting the favours of a parent by telling on others. The whole address was predominantly about what the government is not doing and no mention whatsoever of what the government should be doing to improve the economic fortunes of the country. There was no presentation of the shadow strategy to the country’s economic woes. It seems the speech was specifically meant to appeal to his usual donors and ‘international community’. It was all doom and gloom and this is from a man who was in the government of national unity for five years and the economic challenges he was going on about he failed to address when he had the opportunity then.

Tsvangirai went on to lecture the audience on how ‘Zimbabweans have no faith in the government in Harare because they know they did not vote for it’’. I am not sure if Tsvangirai is aware that over 60% of Zimbabwe’s electorate voted in favour of the ruling party? I am not sure if his entourage told him? The opposition disputed the election results and were well within their rights to challenge the result and file a petition at the Constitutional Court which upheld President Mugabe’s victory. The International community (another term for the US and Europe) expressed and have continued to express reservations publicly on the ‘credibility’ of the electoral process which has meant delays in their re-engagement with the Zimbabwe government. During this dreary address Tsvangirai provided details of what he fondly termed ‘’global players and stakeholders’’ and what they had to say about the supposedly ‘disputed’ election. The names were exclusively ‘international’ and included US Secretary of State John Kerry, Former UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Germany Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and of course the ever-submissive government of Botswana. This list is telling and true reflection of Tsvangirai’s naivety and unhealthy preoccupation with what he terms ‘the international community’. The names Tsvangirai provided here are from countries that did not participate in the monitoring of the general election. There are no names of the African countries that actually monitored and concluded that the elections were free, fair and credible. Tsvangirai’s address was not reassuring, at most a public quest for readmission to the elite neoliberal circles he so thrives in. Here is a man regurgitating the party line of ‘chaos in Zimbabwe, come and rescue us those from the ‘international community’

Tsvangirai also made a futile attempt at mentioning the state of the economy and here is where lines should be drawn and Tsvangirai should stick to what he knows best. I have no idea what that is but he should stick to that. In his address he provided the audience with some spurious and ill-researched economic indicators from the World Bank’s Doing Business Report ranks. He confidently tells the audience that Zimbabwe was 133 out of 143 countries and your point Mr Tsvangirai? What Tsvangirai does not realise about these Doing Business indicators is that they are highly subjective and not symptoms of the economic downturn facing the country. He also made some sweeping statements about the liquidity crunch, FDI flows into the country and he also mentioned a US$1 billion figure that was ‘spirited out of the economy barely a week after the election’. What Tsvangirai did not address was his continued stay in the state provided dwelling in the plush and leafy Harare Dales and his expensive playboy lifestyle on the high seas. Now those are economic indicators worth exploring from a man who claims to be the champion of the economically abused Zimbabwean people.

In the final part of his address Tsvangirai made some frail attempts at ‘mapping a way forward’ and his first statement was about national dialogue and from that he seemed to be eluding to another government of national unity. Tsvangirai termed it ‘an internationally brokered national dialogue of all stakeholders’ and we know very well who he is referring to when he talks about the ‘international community’. He chastised the government’s Look East policy saying it had not yielded direct financial support. Hence why earlier it was indicated that Tsvangirai should stick to what he knows best whatever that is. It is an open secret that China is currently the country’s biggest source of FDI. Figures from the World Investment Report (2013) indicate that FDI inflows from China in 2013 amounted to in excess of US$400 million whilst those from the EU countries fell below the US$100 million mark. Even the EU has been borrowing money off China. So Mr Tsvangirai I ask again, under those circumstances would you not look east?

Tsvangirai continued with his painfully tedious monologue about dialogue and re-engagement with the EU yet seemed oblivious to the fact that the government of Zimbabwe has remained widely open to positive re-engagement with all its international development partners, former and present. Following on from the landslide victory in 2013, the government has put emphasis on economic revival. There has been a genuine commitment to address the issues of re-engagement with the ‘international community’, employment creation and regenerating the desolate and dilapidated infrastructure. The finance minister Patrick Chinamasa recently went to the IMF and World Bank as part of the re-engagement process and to reopen lines of credit and attract the much needed direct foreign investment. The IMF has placed Zimbabwe on a Staff Monitoring Programme (SMP) as a condition for re-engagement with Zimbabwe if successfully implemented. The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry delegation was also recently on EU wide re-engagement drive.

Lastly Tsvangirai went on to lay down ‘the conditions’ for the removal of sanctions saying ‘removal of sanctions without a framework that plods and entices the nation towards full democratic values’. This is very disturbing and we have history to back this claim. The sanctions are illegal and should never have been imposed in the first place. It is Tsvangirai and clueless lieutenants who advocated for these devastating economic sanctions and when he starts like this the nation should seriously start to worry.
Bernard Bwoni can be contacted on bernardbwn@aol.com/  bernardbwoni.blogspot.com

 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Tsvangirai’s morbidly ‘nostalgic’ obsession with Rhodesia


By Bernard Bwoni
Morgan Tsvangirai is comatose to the disturbing and misleading ploy of the elite behind the false and fraudulent regime change agenda that has been evidently on the table since the inception of the Movement for Democratic Change fifteen years ago. This is an external grand-master plan fronted by na├»ve novices of the local opposition ranks, an agenda that was convincingly dismantled in the last general elections yet it remains stealthily and solidly intact in pending postponement. An unwelcome and disturbingly dark agenda that was totally toppled when the smooth revolutionary collectiveness freely, fluidly and fairly freewheeled past the opposition formations with convincing flawlessness. The level of excellence was unmatched, could only be defined as refined and reflective. But then Morgan Tsvangirai’s unhealthy obsession with Rhodesia is expected of a man of such starry-eyed inclination and uninspiring nation-building track-record. This right here is the man who aspires to be at the helm of Zimbabwe, leading the downtrodden and economically-deprived people towards economic prosperity and emancipation. Yet all Mr Tsvangirai wants for all Zimbabweans in a return to the ‘good old Rhodesian days’ when he used to be left paralytic on his bosses’ brew for one Rhodesian dollar a pint. This is the man the opposition ranks in Zimbabwe have tasked with the tall order of leading Zimbabweans towards the final destination of total economic emancipation.

Here is a man who advocated for the criminal economic sanctions that have ravaged the Zimbabwean spirit in its entirety. A national burden that could have been avoided had Mr Tsvangirai and his local opposition formations not advocated for these devastating economic sanctions that has caused so much distress and destruction for the people of Zimbabwe. But then Mr Tsvangirai is only of humbly modest education and finite intellect, heedless of the counterproductive nature of his association with groups and individuals who have very specific ideas about a Zimbabwe where the status quo of ownership should remain undisturbed. What we have in Mr Tsvangirai is a man who is prepared to put Zimbabwe on the open neo-colonial hub for his frightening fixation with the one dollar Rhodesian brew. It is mindboggling why some Zimbabweans are willing to entrust their futures with such flawed opposition politics. What exactly will Mr Tsvangirai and his dysfunctional opposition ranks offer for the people of Zimbabwe who have been through so much economic trauma?

Morgan Tsvangirai legions of shortcomings are indeed a precise reflection of this unhealthy preoccupation with the one dollar for five bottles of Rhodesian beer, his yearning for the neoliberal hand that firmly holds him and his heavily self-compromised sense of national duty and pride. There is urgent need for self-introspection and Mr Tsvangirai to start putting this country ahead of his senseless and headless quest for the top job in Zimbabwe whatever it takes. The man proudly recalled the good old Rhodesian days with nostalgia and with no shame confidently spoke of the days when the indigenous Zimbabweans were mere labours on farms and in the mines. There is a condition called the Stockholm syndrome, which is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors to the point of defending them. The victims become emotionally attached to their captors. Mr Tsvangirai clearly presents with symptoms indicative of this syndrome.  Mr Tsvangirai has gleefully and willingly associated with the former captors of this country, those who have historically relegated the indigenous people of Zimbabwe to the margins of the country’s economic core. Here is a man who would gladly reverse the highly successful land reform in Zimbabwe to appease those who hold his hand. The former captors have enlisted the free services of the likes of Mr Tsvangirai by funding and propelling to the dizzy heights of political prominence. Some within the opposition ranks actually began to believe they were serious nation builders. Some were earmarked for the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ and even honoured with The French Legion of Honour Awards. All for the preservation of the status quo and privileges of pre-1980. A pact to defend the Rhodesian cause. This may sound harsh but there are indications of a low self-esteem and an inferiority complex. These are the same victims who wined and dined with former Selous Scouts and other ‘international’ elite circles, golfing in the South of France, guest of honour at Rhodesian Commemorations and shunning Zimbabwean Independence commemorations yet are found in Normandy commemorating poppy day..

Mr Tsvangirai needs to seriously start reflecting on his personal indiscretions not defend those at whatever opportunity he gets. During his address to the dwindling party supporters at the Bulawayo Small City Hall Mr Tsvangirai was up in arms against renewal faction leaders Mr Biti and Sipepa Nkomo over their own respective romantic transgressions. It is quite disheartening that the only defence he has for the ruinous ramifications of his womanising ways is a childish tit-for-tat public spat with his erstwhile collaborators. Instead of this pathetic self-preservation stance Mr Tsvangirai as a national leader must fully take responsibility for his individual infidelities. Mr Tsvangirai totally deserves the backlash he got for his multiple girlfriends and the unashamed stance on his numerous ‘open-zip, shut-mind’ moments, the sanctions which his party advocated for and his dubious associations with those who have deadly agenda against Zimbabwe.

Bernard Bwoni can be contacted on bernardbwoni.blogspot.co.uk

 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Custodians of Zimbabwe's Glory and Prosperity


By Bernard Bwoni

“Honourable Paradza's last question was whether l was surprised that a 28 year old was employed. No, l was actually happy l hope we can have more. “This country has a lot of young people who deserve to be given their chance just as l think there are a lot of female professionals who deserve their chance’’. These were some of the most progressive words ever uttered by a public official in Zimbabwe in a very long time. The Minister of Information Jonathan Moyo was responding to Paradza who had questioned the appointment of a 28 year old as Editor of the Sunday Mail. Mr Paradza’s comments were well intentioned but the reality is that age should never be used to relegate the youth of this country to second class citizenry. Zimbabwe’s future is inseparable from the future of the young people. Youth is a withering aptitude that requires harnessing; it is not a question of years but a life yet unaffected by lethargy and tragedy, living on hope not just memories of the good old times.

Youth brings with it that zest and thirst for learning, that hunger and drive that has slowly been stagnating with age in a number of officials. The key is to merge experience, education and expertise with that youthful drive. The active participation of young people in government and decision making is critical in ensuring that their raw knowledge, skills and energy are harnessed appropriately for the development of the country. The young ones of today are the future leaders and elders of tomorrow, they need examples not disparagers.

What Information Minister Jonathan Moyo brought to the forefront is crucial and requires dialogue and urgent action plans on the part of government.  Strengthening youth structures and networks and ensuring that they have the right skills and information needed to be involved in public policy and national planning processes is critical to national development. Empowering the youth of Zimbabwe should not be just about slogans and politicking but tangible action to drive up national processes. It is the simple things that matters to the young people of this country and it is the simple gestures that endears the leadership and the elders to this vital national component. Elected officials have a duty to prioritise the youth and a commitment to make things simple for the young people to feel empowered and valued in Zimbabwe. The youth of this country are first class citizens as everyone else and they deserve a chance to realise their full potential, to be heard and to make a difference for the good of the Zimbabwe. The young have the unique and raw ability to be talented and innovative trouble-shooters as opposed to recycled and lethargic unproductive palm-greasing elders, no offence intended. The government owes it to the young people of Zimbabwe to trust them into senior positions in some of the failing parastatals and government departments to drive up national proceedings.

 Zimbabwe has an educated population and the young people of Zimbabwe have to feel empowered and able to engage positively with governance structures. That the young people of this country are the future leaders of tomorrow is not just a mere statement because they indeed are the future leaders of this country. It is an open secret that our current leaders are getting on a bit and naturally they are going to be replaced. The replacement is going to come from the youth of this country. From an age point of view there is absolutely nothing wrong with a 28 year old being an editor all things being equal. Of course national security and national preservation is paramount and takes priority over all else. The country however has to positively continue mobilising this youthful vibrancy and verve.

The young people of this country do possess the power and potential to address some of the considerable social, political and economic challenges currently facing Zimbabwe. The key to start unlocking the untapped potential of the young people of Zimbabwe is to start acknowledging them as productive citizens of the country and not putting them down at any level. There is huge potential locked up in the youth of this country and the government has a responsibility to harness this yet-to-be-realised possibility. The young people need to be listened to, offered the necessary support to grow, encourage rather than put them down, praise them when they make progress, reprimand when they make mistakes but not chastises permanently and recognise that everyone deserves the chance to succeed. There is a place for wisdom of the elderly and the energy of youth. Sometimes there is no point in recycling the same old tried and tired seniors at the expense of the hungry and expectant youth.

The young people of Zimbabwe deserve the chance to prove their worth in senior positions. Zimbabweans are the most enterprising, hard-working, creative and innovative sons and daughters of Africa and all they want are systems and services that function. Being young is not a crime but country-defining prospect. The key is to reconcile the wisdom and knowledge of old age with the strength and fearlessness of youth. It is retrogressive to underestimate the true potential of the young.


Bernard Bwoni can be contacted on bernardbwn@aol.com

 

 

Monday, 30 June 2014

Open Letter to Minister Bimha


Honourable Minister Bimha, I would like to bring your attention to the situation prevailing in the country where capacity utilisation in the textile manufacturing sector has plunged from 44% in 2012 to 39.6% in 2013 and still declining. For the local manufacturer competiveness has been diminishing in the face of stiff competition from cheaper imports from much larger manufacturers from neighbouring South Africa and from the Far East, mainly China who benefit from economies of scale. The country’s manufacturing sector is in a dire state due to poor infrastructure as well as shortage of capital, electricity and water. Most companies are operating under 40% of their capacity

The textile manufacturing sector in Zimbabwe is wholly owned by Zimbabweans who own the majority of the companies. Over the past few years there has been an influx of indigenous clothing manufacturers, however only a very small number, less than 10% manufacture for export despite the growing regional market and inroads in past years into new markets mainly in Europe and America.  There is a great deal of opportunities to develop this side of the industry through investment work with a sound marketing base.  The sector has a highly skilled clothing sector which is able to produce clothing to world standard requirements for export and importantly at competitive prices. The textile industry has gone through a severe down period and requires investment in new technology which will enable it to compete with imports into the Southern African region and the Far East. It is important for local textile manufacturers to focus on competiveness as the ultimate long-term objective but government needs to initially offer the sector a period infant industry protection as they build up their competiveness.

Honourable Minister, the current tariffs on finished dyed and printed fabrics at 10% is detrimental to the country’s textile manufacturing sector as we are allowing a finished product into the country which does not require value addition. The duty on spare parts for machinery is currently pegged at between 15% and 40% is also highly prohibitive. According to the Zimbabwe Textiles Manufacturers Association (2014) the current duty exemption structure which allows clothing factories to import finished fabric at 0% duty goes against the principle of industry infant protection. It would be very difficult to revive the ailing textile manufacturing sector by allowing downstream firms to import duty free fabrics that should be made locally.

Honourable Minister, let me start by acknowledging the fact that all economic theories are based on restrictive and unrealistic assumptions and thus not absolute. However that does not diminish their relevance to economics. Paul Krugman’s New Trade Theory predicts that as trade barriers are reduced, increasing-returns industry concentrates in the large market (Brulhart, 1998). However empirical historical and modern day evidence clearly shows that it is nearly impossible for a developing economy like Zimbabwe to develop without some form of trade protection and subsidies (Chang, 2007). Evidence shows that trade liberalisation works only when it happens gradually and selectively as part of a long-term industrial policy (Rodriguez and Rodrik, 1999). Even Krugman has changed his position on free trade over time but he retains his position on competitiveness (Brulhart, 1998). New trade theory is often based on assumptions such as monopolistic competition and increasing returns to scale and that all firms are symmetrical meaning that they have same production coefficients (Krugman, 1995). The same theorists have however relaxed the assumption of constant returns to scale and some argue that using the protectionist measures to build up a huge industrial base in certain industries will then allow these sectors to dominate the world market. The value of protecting infant industries has been vigorously defended since the 18th century by economists such as Alexander Hamilton in 1791 for the USA trade policy (Chang, 2007). Some economic theorists have argued that protectionist policies facilitated that development of the Japanese auto industry in the 1950s when quotas and regulations prevented import competition and Japanese companies were encouraged to import foreign production technology but were required to produce 90% of their parts domestically within 5 years (Grubel and Johnson, 1967).

 

Honourable Minister Bimha, one of the greatest economists in the world, Adam Smith in his book Wealth of the Nations (1776) advised the Americans not to ‘artificially promote manufacturing industry and stressed that any attempt to stop the importation of European manufactures would hinder instead of facilitate the progress of their country towards real wealth and greatness (Chang, 2002). The developed countries that have succeeded in developing their economies have not exactly followed Smith’s advice. Against the urgings of Adam Smith (Chang 2007) the first US Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton (Hamilton, A.1791 [2001] proposed a policy package that would provide tariff protection and government subsidies to the country’s emerging manufacturing industries. Honourable Minister, given that our textile manufacturing sector is emerging from over 10 years of a downturn thus in its infancy, cannot be expected to compete against the mature industries in the more advanced regional and advanced international economies without an initial period of deliberate government promotion and protection. It is going to take time and more importantly investment in technological capabilities for textile manufacturing companies in Zimbabwe to absorb advanced technologies. Honourable Minister, without an initial period of protection the sector is going to struggle to survive the international competition.

 

Protectionism versus Competiveness

Honourable Minister the revival of the textile manufacturing in Zimbabwe requires government protection and subsidies at the initial stages so that we can absorb the technologies and learn to complete in the global market. It is easy to say that the key to industrialisation is competiveness not protectionism but a baby has to learn to crawl before they can walk. Economic literature considers that import restrictions of any kind create an anti-export bias by raising the price of importable goods relative to exportable goods (McCulloch, Winter and Cirera, 2001). The argument from new economic theory is that the removal of this bias through trade liberalisation will encourage a shift of resources from the production of import substitutes to the production of export-orientated goods (World Bank, 2003). Honourable Minister, as you are aware free trade is one of those theories that is logically consistent in theory but possibly not in the real world as it has not been universally linked to subsequent economic growth. This is evidenced by the economic chaos unleashed by the structural adjustment programmes of the early 1990s in Zimbabwe and other developing countries. Without some sort of infant industry protection our economy will have little hope of diversifying through industrialisation and accelerating growth on a sustainable basis. Our textile manufacturing sector in this early stage of revival would benefit from this critical period of protection to enable it to maintain output and employment and this will subsequently spearhead economic growth.

 

Increasing Returns to Scale

Honourable Minister it has been argued that the distinction between international and regional trade economics is no longer valid in a world where boundaries based on economics are becoming increasingly different from political boundaries (Brulhart, 1998). Returns to scale explain the behaviour of rate of increase in the output or production to the subsequent increase in the inputs (Johnson, 1982). All things being equal, lowering the tariffs as has happened in the textile manufacturing sector has indeed made imports cheaper benefiting the consumers, however this has had a negative impact on local manufacturers who have been exposed to the import competition. It is true that increased import competition may make domestic producers more efficient and the current situation prevailing in the textile industry the assumption is that everyone would be better off. However the stack realities on the ground are not necessarily taken into account by new economic theory.

 

Economies of Scale

Economies of scale cannot be achieve without entering the export market early on and if the country gets the production scale wrong the unit production can easily double (Johnson, 1982). However when there are economies of scale it is also possible that countries may be locked in to disadvantageous patterns of trade (Brulhart, 2008). Krugman’s argument that trade is largely shaped by economies of scale is relevant due to the fact that those sectors with most production will be more profitable and will therefore attract even more production (Krugman, 1982). Honourable Minister, from Krugman’s argument it is evident that for our local textile industry to revive successfully that depends on their ability to raise productivity to serve the domestic market and with economies of scale in the long run, stimulate exports.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

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Proposed course of action to take

Honourable Minister, it is important to make a strong argument that premature trade liberalisation has been a failure and characterised by negative economic growth in per capita terms, collapse of manufacturing, our domestic production swamped by cheap imports as capacity utilisation has dropped to alarmingly low levels. Let me briefly touch on the success story of China which has shown that while some trade liberalisation may be necessary and beneficial, in the early stages of development some form of protection is necessary. With very few exceptions, tariff cuts and other measures of trade liberalisation have not brought about the anticipated economic growth and in a lot of cases have in fact brought economic collapse. Honourable Minister it is important to note that China’s economic success story in the 1990s took place on the background of tariffs over 30% (UNDP, 2003, pg. 29) and Zimbabwe’s current tariff of 0% on textile imports will not stimulate the textile manufacturing sector but rather stifle it. The relationship between trade policy and growth is likely to be different in terms of structure for countries at different levels of development (Chang, 2007).


In the 1950s most of the now developed western economies and more China and Taiwan in the 1980s had very high tariff rates averaging 30-40% and protectionist policies in place in the initial stages of their development. As they have developed their economies they have substantially reduced their tariffs because they can compete in the world market. Brazil has kept imports very low by imposing very high tariffs which have stimulated their manufacturing sector and exports and in 2013, the European Union took legal action against Brazil’s high import tariffs on European imports (Jones, 2013). Honourable Minister my proposal is going back to basics if we are to revive our textile manufacturing sector. The concerns expressed by the Zimbabwe Textiles Manufacturers Associations are genuine concerns based on the realities on the ground. Economic theory can help us understand the realities on the ground, however the practical realities on the ground offers us an informed inference into the economic discourse. Krugman stresses the changes in the distribution of income among the developed economies as key to understanding and accounting for the evident expansion of trade in relation to income (Brulhart, 1998). Thus as there is some form of equitable distribution of income, the model predicts that trade volumes should rise (Krugman, 1995 cited in Brulhart, 1998). Honourable I am intrigued by the fact that the USA, the UK and other EU developed economies, Japan, China and more recently countries like Brazil have used an industrial development strategy in which industry protection was key and the most important component in the earlier days of their economic development. I strongly believe that an initial period of protection for the textile manufacturing sector in necessary and as the Zimbabwe Textiles Manufacturers have lamented, tax rebates for manufacturing inputs especially for spares and machinery parts imports and those inputs used in the textile production to encourage the emerging industry.


Our infant industry protection needs to be combined with an export strategy as export earnings are crucial in allowing the textiles sector to upgrade its economic activities as export earnings will provide the means to purchase advanced technologies and machinery and machinery spares and parts. Honourable Minister, the country’s manufacturing sector has a fundamental right to reconstruct a new future through an initial period of industrial protection and subsidies.