The Herald (Harare)

9 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Political Parties and Blueprints

opinion

Many ordinary people are baffled by endless announcements and theories on how the economy should be made to register appreciable growth to eliminate poverty. The evangelical or pentecostal pastors have weighed in, claiming that money is coming down like manna.

The question that must be asked like they say in the United States: Where is the beef? Meaning, yes, there may be ideas, but where is the substance from all the talk? Political parties will come up with various blue prints, but the very parties fail to run their own businesses.

I have always wondered why trade unions go on strike citing low salaries, but with all the money they collect from their members, they fail to set up their own businesses, such as, supermarkets where their members could buy food at lower prices than the supermarkets run by their capitalist employers.

There is a difference to being a worker and an investor who expects profits. With all these economic theories being thrown around, the missing link is the investor's views on how to grow an economy. In France, the new Socialist government came to power on the promise of economic growth not austerity measurers implemented in the European Union.

But, this has become elusive with carmakers in France and other businesses retrenching workers in order to compete in the global market. The policy of attracting investment from abroad as suggested by some parties has proved elusive as a vehicle for creating employment or growing the economy.

However, governments which encourage their own people to become entrepreneurs have succeeded in growing their own economies.

It is rather myopic to say that the power of prayer can make your bank account grow or that gold can be picked up like stones in 2013. Such claims have left many people confused or perplexed about the motives of the churches making such predictions. Even to tell the people that they need not invest their resources, but wait for foreigners to bring in money to create jobs is just misleading the people.

But, politicians being what they are, whose sole purpose is to retain power or to achieve power, will say anything as long as there are listeners to influence and believe the impossible. I am reminded of a gardener in my suburb who has turned to urban farming to supplement his wages.

He and his young family are what Zimbabwe should be proud of. There are many entrepreneurs everywhere in the country who, with little support, would create jobs and grow the economy. It is called empowerment of the people. What I find difficult to understand is the concept of indigenisation as a way of creating employment or growing the economy.

Buying into a company with extra resources will expand the operations of that company and at the same time, create jobs. There are many black indigenous people who have a lot of money which they can invest in viable companies.

There are also companies that are owned by Government, always referred to as parastatals in which the indigenous people could pour their money into to create more jobs. Why has the inclusive Government not persuaded the people to invest in these companies?

Now, we read about separate economic policies as we gear for elections. Surely, the four years of this inclusive Government should have brought prosperity to the country instead of bickering over the constitution.

If it is just attracting foreign investment, why do we have to go to elections to attract foreign money? Some political parties can attract foreign money to fund their activities but not for companies. It does not make sense.

The ingenuity of the entrepreneurs must be harnessed using the resources available in the country from surplus funds held by insurance companies and banks. The task of political parties is to create an environment conducive for people to invest their money to grow the economy.

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