17 January 2019

Zimbabwe: Citizens Must Complement Govt Efforts

Benjamin Chivandire and Wallace K. Musakanyi

The word Government is the talk of the day whenever issues of economic development, employment and investment are being discussed in the public spectrum.

The Government is viewed and expected by citizens to be the sole provider of employment, and the driver of economic development, not knowing that it's a reciprocal relationship in which citizens play a special role needed to unlock economic prospects of the country.

The shortage of foreign currency is our everyday anthem, but what are we doing as responsible citizens to solve it?

The footprints of our former colonisers are still vivid in our economic spectrum, and entrenched in our DNA 39 years after Independence. The British's capitalist economic setup, which we inherited, brainwashed our minds and reduced indigenous people, even those who managed to get university education to become mere employees after completing studies.

The British were the sole entrepreneurs and businesspeople, who were legally mandated to become the owners of the means of production, that is, large scale farms, industries and mines among other businesses.

Blacks were only expected to be mere employees, hence, they were labourers in plantations, industries and miners. Those who had managed to get educated would become supervisors and foremen at European owned enterprises. Very little room for entrepreneurship was available for blacks in public transport and retailing.

This is the same mentality that is still ensconced in the minds of many Zimbabweans regardless of level of education. The dream to be innovative and being entrepreneurs is minimum, but all they want is to be mere employees. Citizens are prepared to spend thousands of dollars to get quality education be it locally or abroad, and come back home and beg for employment.

We have thousands of accountants, economists, marketers and social scientists, who are pressuring the government to be employed not knowing that with a blend of the education they have attained and vast resources our country has, they can come up with something which can sustain them and even produce surplus, which generate the foreign currency which everyone is clamouring for.

Another belief which is a major setback to Zimbabwe's economic success is the corollary belief in formal employment and white collar jobs as the only viable sources of employment. Many Zimbabweans missed great and life-changing opportunities because they wanted formal jobs where they could wear suits from Monday to Friday, casting a blind eye towards other innovative and productive avenues.

What is needed for the country to realise and attain full economic growth is innovation, especially by those who have been fortunate enough to get tertiary education. Others like Mark Zuckerburg of the United States of America, the founder of the most used social network, Facebook, did not wait for the government to provide a job for him. Instead, he invented Facebook and is now a billionaire employer.

We need our own Zuckerburgs and Bill Gates in Zimbabwe, who can make our economic turnaround possible.

Rather than cry for employment from the Government, it is advisable for citizens, who are armed with business ideas to utilise a plethora of facilities, which the Government has established to start up their own businesses and create employment rather than to spend year clamouring for it.

As Jack Kemp, an American Politician once remarked "economic growth doesn't mean anything if it leaves people out". In that same vein the Government last year established the Youth Empowerment Bank and the Women's Development Bank so as to empower and uplift youths and the women respectively. Instead of simply criticising, Zimbabweans must realise and effectively utilise these empowering platforms to further the interest of the nation, which is to spearhead economic development. It is worrisome that the youths of this generation are very creative when it comes to music, but reluctant when it comes business.

It is also advisable for job seekers to partner with the Government through the various programmes and policies it is embarking on rather than seek formal employment. Government is open to individuals, who are willing to partake in programmes like the Command Agriculture, and the President also offers free inputs under the Presidential Inputs Scheme. Those who want to start up their own projects can come on board and join hands with the Government since agriculture and mining are lucrative ones. Other projects like fashion designing are self-reliant programmes, which allow individuals to earn a decent living if harnessed.

Citizens, the private sector and both local and foreign investors must complement Government efforts to make sure that economic development is attained in programmes that generate foreign currency. It is Government's duty to improve the livelihoods of citizens. However, the Government cannot do this alone.

It is not feasible for Government departments to consume all graduates from tertiary institutions, hence they should partner with the private sector and the international community through creation of an environment which is viable for investment. Thus, opening Zimbabwe for business.

The Government has widened the economic landscape so as to accommodate individuals, who are willing to contribute to the economic makeup of the country.

Laws like the Indigenisation Policy, which chased away foreign investors were amended to remove the provision which required 51percent of shares to be granted to indigenous Zimbabweans. This was scrapped so as to lure investment as well as complementing efforts of the Government since it cannot employ all the people alone.

This article is a clarion call to all Zimbabweans that it is high time we step out of the comfort zone, and be innovative enough to start something tangible. It is possible to generate foreign currency, but the truth of the matter is unless we become innovate we are going to hold the economic prospects of our country at ransom. The resources are there at our disposal and our Government stands ready to explore opportunities and put in place measures for facilitating entrepreneurship, as it is through this that we can realise our goal of increasing production as well as buttressing our economy.

Let us not wait for the Government to put food on our tables.

Benjamin Chivandire and Wallace K. Musakanyi are University of Zimbabwe Political Science students and writers. They can be contacted on [email protected] and [email protected]

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