ZIMBABWE has potential to achieve a US$100 billion economy earlier than 2020, despite a ballooning external debt overhang and only requires right leadership and personality, a former finance minister has said.
The country's external debt of over of US$10 billion has dented Zimbabwe's access to international funding and is hampering development as the country cannot borrow to spur economic growth.
Former Finance minister and Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader, Simba Makoni said that the country was endowed with vast mineral and human resources that only require "right leadership and the right personality" to help turnaround the economic fortunes.
"We can actually achieve a US$100 billion economy before 2020 if we do the right things -- it's feasible in this economy," Makoni said.
He said the chaotic land reform programme carried out by President Robert Mugabe in 2000 had immensely contributed to the meltdown that has characterised Zimbabwe's economy in the past few years.
"In 2002 we produced 240 million kgs of tobacco before we had taken the land. We produced 2,4 million to 2,5 million tonnes of maize from the communal areas not from the commercial farms. We produced 350 tonnes of cotton from Gokwe Muzarabani, Chiredzi, Mwenezi and today there is completely nothing," Makoni said.
"Let's remove the impediments that inhibit citizens from doing things for themselves, don't arrest business managers for running their businesses, and don't take away the little money that has been hard earned by citizens from their accounts," he said.
'People now expect govt to provide everything'
Simba Makoni bemoaned the death of a spirit to work by most Zimbabweans who are now used to quick money, adding that there was need to encourage people to work.
"Commitment to work is one area that l have seen a big difference between who l call the old Zimbabwean and the new Zimbabwean.
The old Zimbabwean was proud to work for themself, the old Zimbabwean would wake up at dawn going to the fields, today the new Zimbabwean waits to be given by the government," he said.
Eight years ago, government hounded some business leaders out of the country through flimsy charges such as alleged foreign currency externalisation.
Some of the business people that fled the country include James Makamba, James Mushore, Julius Makoni, Gilbert Muponda, Francis Zimuto and Professor Mtuli Ncube who is now a South African citizen and African Development Bank chief economist and vice-president.
During the hyperinflation environment, the central bank raided foreign currency accounts of non-governmental organisations and individuals to meet the country's pressing commitments. The accounts holders are yet to be refunded.
The current size of Zimbabwe's economy has been estimated at US$10,5 billion.