THE historic ZANU PF Congress is underway.
Many people prefer to refer to the above congress as a watershed congress which practically marked the end of the economic war between our beautiful country and the West which has been going on for the last decade and half.
This big economic war which just came to an end has left a lot of devastation in its wake.
Most of our key infrastructure such as the railways, irrigation schemes, etc is in tatters, industry is operating at 30 percent, the commercial world is now dominated by foreign companies selling foreign manufactured goods, etc.
In short, things are not looking good.
It is the aim of this article to ask this very important question: “With the ZANU PF historic congress over, where do we go from here?”
In our search for the right answers, we shall try to learn from the experiences of European nations with regards to what steps they took to rectify their economies after those economies were heavily devastated by the Second World War.
At the same time we shall use the same European experience to learn about the pitfalls we must avoid as we go about looking for the right solutions to our economic problems.
“The Second World War seriously dislocated the economy of Western Europe.
“Inflation and the depreciation of many European currencies made it difficult to restore normal economic relations.
“The living standards of the populations dropped.”
Because of the above sad economic situation, the European countries looked up to one of their allies who had no battle fought on her soil for assistance.
And that country was the USA.
The USA was positive and decided to help because this was in its economic interest.
The first thing the USA did was to study the economic situation on the ground in Europe itself.
“They set up a special committee on post-war Economic Policy and Planning which undertook a tour of Western Europe in August – September 1945.
“On November 12, 1945 this committee submitted a report to the USA President recommending: 1). immediate relief to the West European countries to prevent the deterioration of Europe into anarchy disease, and economic stagnation. 2).
“Short term loans to western Europe for the purchase of raw materials, vehicles, and fuel, 3).
“Long term loans for general reconstruction and recovery of the total economies.”
Responding to the above recommendations, “On December 6 1945 the USA granted Britain a loan of US$3.750 billion.
“France found herself in approximately the same position.
“In September 1945 she was granted a loan of US$550 million.
“In May 1946 she signed a number of financial agreements with the USA by which she received a loan of US$650 million from US Export-Import bank.”
To boost the aid to Europe, the USA went a step further.
They put in place what became known as the Marshal Plan.
“In June 1947 the US Secretary of State George C Marshal announced a programme of economic aid for West European countries.
“Known as the Marshal Plan, this programme powerfully influenced the economic development of Europe.”
A conference of 16 West European states took place on July 12-15 1947.
This conference set up the organisation for European Economic Co-operation which was given the assignment of drawing up a report on the resources and needs of the West European countries for the restoration of their economies.
This report and a plan for Western Europe’s economic rehabilitation for a period up to the end of 1951 were completed on September 22.
In the end Europe got the following economic aid below.
“From April 1948 to June 30 1948, Europe got US$5 953 billion.
“From July 1949 to June 30 1950, USD3 523 billion, from July 1 1950 to June 30 1951, US$2 405 billion, and from July 1 1951 to February 29 1952, US$1 110 billion.
“Unquestionably the Marshal Plan gave an impetus to economic recovery in Western Europe.
“Therefore it cannot be denied that this plan was significant to the economic rehabilitation of Western Europe.”
Having looked at how Europe was assisted to achieve economic recovery after the Second World War let us now shift our focus to our own country.
It is our submission that we need a more focused financial aid package along the lines of the Marshal Plan cited above to achieve economic recovery in this country.
Thankfully we already have a plan which has been drawn up – the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-ASSET) economic blue print which clearly spells out what financial resources are required to rehabilitate our country’s economy.
What is left is the funding of the Zim-ASSET.
What happened to Europe for her to recover after the Second World War should also happen to Zimbabwe now.
However, we argue that it will not help our economy recover if financial assistance comes in bits and pieces like what seems to be happening now.
A small sum of money for cattle project here, another small sum for water and sanitation there, etc.
The way to go should be making available loans which should go to specific areas already well articulated in the Zim-ASSET document.
It is therefore very important that now that the ZANU PF Congress has brought with it a feel good factor across the country everyone now wants to do business with us.
It is important that any economic aid that comes now must target specific items on the Zim-ASSET document if we want to make economic progress.
The attitude being adopted by some of the so-called ‘donors’ who first throw away the Zim-ASSET document in the dustbin and then tell us where they want to channel whatever amount they have is not good enough.
They must join us to finance Zim-ASSET which is already in place.
Zim-ASSET is not a cliché.
It is a plan which needs funding full stop.
We must be vigilant against being shortchanged.
Yes we want to get loans to finance Zim-ASSET, but we must avoid accepting conditions attached to the loans that will in the end kill the whole idea of having the Zim-ASSET economic blueprint in the first place.
For example, during the US economic aid to Europe after the Second World War, Britain was asked by the US to have the pound freely convertible for them to get loans.
However, to their cost Britain found that that move “started a drain off British capital.
“The government had to stop the free exchange of the pound and reintroduce control.”
As a matter of fact, the British saw within just one month how dangerous the free exchange of the pound was and immediately put an end to the practice.
On our part as Zimbabweans if we want to get economic recovery then we must be blunt when dealing with each other.
The days of fooling around making money from nothing are over.
It’s time for hard work and cutting out all the crap.
Vices such as corruption and laziness must be destroyed.
We urge the new people that will be put in charge to be action oriented.
The time for making cheap rhetoric is over and the time for ‘chishefu’ in the civil service must go.
However, we must not forget to thank the ZANU PF Congress for ushering in a new era in Zimbabwe which promises many good things ahead.
THE historic ZANU PF Congress is underway.