Zimbabwe is in need of drastic rejuvenation and reinvention across political, economic and social domains following the ruinous reign of Robert Mugabe, says the country's former finance minister, Tendai Biti.
Addressing a packed hall at the Daily Maverick's "The Gathering" in Sandton on Thursday, Biti reflected on the evolution and destruction of Zimbabwe's political system, economy and social contract under Mugabe.
After 37 years, Zimbabweans are "fighting a war that never ended" and are in search of a "new contract with those in power and with power itself", he said.
"You don't know what it's like to live under a dictator," says Tendai Biti. "He gets into your skin, he gets into your underwear." Hence, despite all the troubles & fears of the new Zimbabwe, the jubilation on the streets. #NandosDMGathering— Gus Silber (@gussilber) November 23, 2017ADVERTISEMENT
Biti's address -- which included detailed analysis of how "multiple crises converged" at one moment to trigger the military coup -- concluded with 10 key objectives to ignite restoration and revival in the embattled nation:
1. KEEPING PEACE AND STABILITY: Biti lauded the peaceful nature of the military intervention, and stressed that both peace and stability must be maintained in the southern African nation, even if that means Robert Mugabe is given free passage out of the country.
"If Mugabe wants to go to Singapore, he can go," he said.
2. RESTORING THE SOCIAL CONTRACT: Zimbabweans are in need of a programme of national healing after years of terrible suffering. The nation is "tattered and torn... homes are broken... and we've become the divorce capital of sub-Saharan Africa". A new social contract would need to be developed to enable restoration.
Biti: Crisis in Zim now is a crisis of under-accumulation -- excess capacity, non-existent demand but shops full. In '08, it was a crisis of over-accumulation -- nothing in the shops. #NandosDMGathering— Marc Davies (@MarcDDavies) November 23, 2017
3. ECONOMIC REFORMS: Recovery of a broken economy, he said, would not function without "major budgetary support from the international community". Apart from recapitalisation of the economy, which necessitates foreign direct investment, macroeconomic stability would also need to be restored. This means returning to "balancing the books" and departing from deficit financing.
Reforming parastatals and Zimbabwe's public service, liberalising its capital account, revisiting the commodity sector and resolving the country's debt crisis -- spending virtually all of its money on servicing debt -- are paramount, he said.
Zimbabwe's road and energy infrastructure, he said, is in dire straits. That includes energy infrastructure that should have been decommissioned decades ago. "We need energy urgently and new infrastructure. We've got a [large] road network of which only 10% is paved. With respect to the Democratic Republic of Congo, we've become the pothole capital of the region," he said.
4. ATTEND TO THE UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
5. BUILD NEW INSTITUTIONS AND STRENGTHEN THOSE ALREADY EXISTING: This includes revisiting principles of decentralisation and devolution of power in the country, "even though Zanu-PF never wanted it".
6. HARMONISE LAWS WITH NEW INSTITUTIONS
Biti: You as South Africans must be very proud of your institutions and your constitution. You don't want what is above the Limpopo border. #NandosDMGathering— Marc Davies (@MarcDDavies) November 23, 2017
7. ATTEND TO ELECTORAL REFORM
8. PUT A FULL STOP TO THE LAND QUESTIONS: Biti said the land market in Zimbabwe needs to be restored. "Every owner must have a title deed, so they can borrow from the bank. We also have to have a land-reform audit," he said.
9. REFORM THE SECUROCRATIC STATE
Biti: In 1980, guerrilla movement didn't demilitarise. Zim has remained a securocratic state till the present moment. Ruling party and state conflated. #NandosDMGathering— Marc Davies (@MarcDDavies) November 23, 2017
10. RETURN TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY: "We have to make peace with Washington, Brussels, London, with the boys and girls with money in New York, San Fransisco... and Sandton," he said.
"We have to find a new relationship with Beijing — one based on equality and respect — as well as with New Delhi, as India has become so important".
"These are the key things we need to do to get Zimbabwe on track. I'm very hopeful and optimistic," Biti added.
Robert Mugabe, the baobab tree, has "been removed and will be replaced by an Acacia tree," he said.
"We can't allow a baobab again".
The new Zimbabwe should be premised on justice, equality, respect and freedom to pursue happiness, Biti concluded.