africa Economy Elections Government Opinion Zimbabwe

Opinion: Zimbabwe elections – Where are we going now?

In April 1980, joyful crowds gathered around Zimbabwe to celebrate the country’s independence from colonial rule. It was a moment of change and, the people positively anticipated nothing but greatness for the country.

Fast forward to the early 2000s, the country’s economy had taken a different turn and, the government struggled to respond to the early signs of an economic meltdown. Land reforms did not only affect farmers but also ordinary people in Zimbabwe. As a result, most farms were vacant and the farms that were still operating could not produce enough to supply the whole country. It became such a problem that people stood in long queues in the early hours of the morning just to buy a loaf of bread.

At the time, the Zimbabwean dollar had began depreciating causing uncertainty on the economy. Interestingly, the government thought printing more money would fix the crisis. Instead, inflation rose from 55.22% in 2000 to a staggering 79,600,000,000% in 2008, forcing the government to abandon its own currency.

The state of the health system is unbelievably deplorable, medicine is out of reach, even when medicine is available only a few can afford it. Also, the education system no longer function efficiently and teachers are underpaid.

Today’s election means more than just casting a vote but people will need to be patient as the country’s problems cannot be fixed overnight. The new government will need to distance politics away from the economy otherwise, history will continue repeating itself.

Currently, Zimbabwe imports more than it exports, it is important that the new government concentrates on making the economy competitive again. Youth unemployment needs urgent attention, it’s a shame that many well-educated young people are unable to find decent employment.

For Zimbabwe to progress, a pluralistic approach to policy-making is necessary. In order to encourage participation from civil society groups, businesses and international organisations. Preserving economic growth will require more than just sound policies, it is essential that the new government provides assistance to businesses and farmers.

The majority of qualified doctors and nurses left Zimbabwe for a better life overseas in the early 2000s. I am certain they would want to return to their home country, it will be sensible to provide funding to the health system to improve current conditions as well as, attracting experienced staff.

Zimbabwe’s debt is estimated to be over $7 billion, post-election there will be no option but to borrow more, these funds should be allocated to the education and health services as well as, subsiding small farmers with little access to funding.

It’s a big mistake to consider Zimbabwe’s bond note as a currency, it is not recognised on financial markets across the globe. Until the currency becomes competitive the country needs to inject more U.S dollars into its economy.

In the words of Samora Machel, ‘a luta continua’ which translates to the struggle continues, August 4th, Zimbabwe will announce a new president. Whether it is Chamisa, Mnangagwa or Mujuru, people are desperate for change.

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