By Saul Gwakuba-Ndlovu
THE revival of Zimbabwe’s economy is the nation’s topmost priority, and must, therefore, be given the public attention it deserves.
National economic development is not achieved through miracles but by planned production and marketing programmes.
Zimbabwe follows a free enterprise system whereby market forces determine what investors, industrialists and entrepreneurs produce, for how much the products or services will be sold, when and by whom.
Distribution of products and services is under the control of private industrial or commercial undertakers, very much unlike in a socialist system where the state owns and controls the means of production as well as the distribution system.
To revive the Zimbabwean economy, we need to prioritise production.
That should go hand-in-hand, of course, with marketing, that is to say, anticipating market needs and making goods or services accessible to those who want them, also having money and authority to spend it.
Currently, Zimbabwe imports a large variety of even those consumer goods that can be produced within its own borders. Rumour has it that some extremely irresponsible potential industrialists dismantle some of their factory machinery and sell the bits and pieces as scrap metal.
Such good-for-nothing people belong to maximum security prison where they should remain under lock and key without hope for any remission or pardon.
The most realistic way to revive Zimbabwe’s national economy is to start factory production at district level, with every town producing goods whose components are preferably from wards.
If the product’s raw material is procurable outside the district, a reliable supply source should be established.
Zimbabwe has more than 50 districts under administrative capitals.
There are additional urban centres in those districts.
Our aim should be to have at least a factory in every such urban centre.
The most economically ideal aim of each of such factories would be to supply the local market.
That could be the case with construction material such as window frames, door frames, roofing timber, burglar-bars, Venetian blinds, roofing asbestos or iron sheets.
Towns such as Plumtree, Chinhoyi, Karoi, Victoria Falls, Mutare, Nyanga, Nyamapanda and several others, can be involved in the export market since they are near Zimbabwe’s neighbours such as Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique.
The export market can most certainly help Zimbabwe’s Gross National Production (GNP) by its earnings which means a great deal to the national economy’s growth.
Economic development at district level can be achieved easily and quickly with the full guidance of the administration, councillors, MPs and traditional leaders.
Zimbabwe can take a leaf from Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Nordic countries where every urban centre has a factory that specialises in one or another product, or has a service industry or industries.
In Zimbabwe, a good example of such a town is Kadoma where some building hardware is made manually by highly skilled engineers in Rimuka, a high density suburb.
It is most likely that similar industrial activities also occur in some of the district towns.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) could assist in the marketing of the products by helping the people involved to exhibit their goods at Zambian, Botswana and Mozambican international trade fairs.
The construction industry is quite active in Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa.
Zimbabweans who produce construction materials need to apply for export licences and venture into those markets.
We have all along been talking about potential markets in the SADC region without saying anything about markets further afield, even overseas, an exciting possibility that can be tried.
Zimbabwe’s commercial farming is another economic sector with capacity to grow, and with it, the national economy can go a rung or two higher.
Additional acreage should be granted to tobacco farmers on favourable conditions because they are the geese that lay the golden eggs.
They generate employment, albeit seasonally.
These farmers must also be granted favourable terms on bank loans to enable them to purchase chemicals, equipment, procure sufficient labour and transport expenses, especially in view of the presently high fuel costs.
Farmers in this agricultural sector owe it to the Zimbabwean nation to perform much better in terms of their earnings than they did last season.
The mining industry needs to be brought back from the panning jungle to the environment of lawful shafts.
It is currently unrealistic to consider gold panners as a practical factor in Zimbabwe’s economic development strategy.
Meanwhile, the legally registered mining companies, including new ones, should be most strongly encouraged to produce more by expanding their operations.
Employment creation is one way they contribute to Zimbabwe’s economic well-being.
The other is by earning foreign currency.
Established mining organisations contribute to the country’s social welfare by the residential and sports infrastructure they build for their workers.
The more social infrastructure is built, the more economic worth is Zimbabwe, and the more economically productive workers become.
Foreign investments should be sought by Zimbabwe in all the four corners of the globe.
Opinion may differ on whether the state should partner some of the investors, and if so, to what extent, and on what conditions.
Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, is known for phenomenal industrial growth, especially the textile sector on the basis of private public partnership (PPP).
An absolute monarchy, Eswatini’s economic development strategy is initiated and guided by royalty.
Like all human-created policies, it has its weaknesses and strengths.
Zimbabwe, a republic, can borrow from that strategy in spite of its royal origins and objectives.
We know that industrial towns such as Matsapa have sprouted overnight, and are generating thousands upon thousands of jobs for Swazis, transforming their socio-economic mode of existence from a quasi-traditional twentieth to a modern twenty-first type.
PPPs give security to the private investors and tangible socio-economic tangibles to the state (the public).
The Government would be well-advised to streamline its economic policy all round in order to promote PPPs.
We wind up this article by looking at tourism, a sector that earns national revenue from natural creations, cultural activities and beliefs, social services, scientific knowledge and human architectural achievements.
Safaris are tourism’s sub-sector and benefits operators at the expense of the generality at large.
In Zimbabwe’s case, safari operators create employment albeit for a very few.
It could be of importance to the nation if the safari sector were wholly owned and operated by communities, preferably local municipal councils, and not by private individuals.
That is because wildlife is owned by the nation as a whole and not by an individual or individuals.
They are like air and rain.
However, those who breed wildlife such as ostriches for export either live or meat and other by-products should be encouraged because their earnings add to the national wealth of the whole country, and thus to the economic growth of the nation.
Saul Gwakuba-Ndlovu is a retired, Bulawayo-based journalist. He can be contacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email, firstname.lastname@example.org