OPEN FORUM: Different approaches to economic turnaround

OPEN FORUM: Different approaches to  economic turnaround
President Emmerson Mnangagwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

By Simon Bere
THE first important part towards a successful economic recovery is getting the theory correct and to put in place the metastrategic fundamentals for the recovery.
Before the new dispensation, Zimbabwe was largely well known globally for its isolationist economic policies; for not accepting any criticism; and for working against itself through serious political infighting.

Now there is great hope among Zimbabweans and the international community that with the coming in of the new political dispensation under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s economy will finally come out of the woods.
At least in tone, language, general attitude and some action, President Mnangagwa has not disappointed and has clearly departed from Zimbabwe’s past.
President Mnangagwa has already invested a lot of time and energy on a diplomatic offensive and has invited investors to Zimbabwe.
His economic thrust is encapsulated in his mantra: “Zimbabwe is open for business.”
Government may have the desire to see Zimbabwe’s economy recover as fast as possible, but whether or not the economy recovers and whether it recovers fast enough depends on the approach.
While there are many possible approaches, known and unknown that can be used, all of them fall into two categories: The hit and miss and the well planned approach.
The hit and miss approach is one in which Zimbabwe will attempt at economic recovery not by using a well-defined, coordinated economic recovery plan, but through a free for all, anything goes approach in which activities for economic recovery are spontaneous, sporadic and not deliberately formulated at the strategic level.
With this approach, neither the economic trajectory nor the end goal or end result is predetermined and economic players are invited to the party and play whatever role they wish and in whatever way they can.
All investors are invited to invest in the economy in whatever sector they wish, for as long as they invest in the country.
This approach has some advantages in that it gives potential investors freedom, but it helps very little for a country that wants to build an efficient, effective and highly productive economic system.
Lack of a deliberate economic plan often leads to serious inefficiencies, deficiencies and flaws that can make economic recovery slow and difficult if not totally impossible.
The chances of successful economic recovery under this kind of regime are very slim. The deliberately planned approach, also called the strategic economic recovery approach, is, however, based on calculated and careful economic planning.
Under this approach, the basis of all major economic activity is a well-developed, comprehensive recovery plan and a widely shared strategy for successfully implementation.
In some cases such an approach involves the crafting of a clear, bold, shared economic vision which becomes the focal point for the nation.
This strategy has many advantages over the adhoc approach, most importantly in that it provides clear desirables, a trajectory as well as control over economic outcomes.
Another major advantage with the deliberately planned approach is that it can give Zimbabwe the opportunity, not just for economic recovery, but for building an efficient economic system.
All highly successful economies have high performance systems and not a mumbo jumbo of discrete, random, spontaneous and sporadic economic activities.
The problems with government single-handedly taking charge of the economic recovery effort are numerous.
One of them relates to capacity, both intellectual and physical.
Limited capacity does not mean that government is intellectually dull and physically lazy; it simply means that government is made up of a small number of individuals and given the task of economic recovery such a small number is unlikely to cope with the magnitude of the demands required.
In addition, it is also difficult for a small number of people to possess all the skills and capabilities required to effectively deliver a successful economic turnaround.
The best metastrategy for returning Zimbabwe’s economy to prosperity and growth is shared economic leadership in which all stakeholders play, in a synchronised way, their roles and contribute their inputs towards a shared destination.
Simon Bere is a metastrategist contactable on email simonsbere@gmail.com

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