ZIMBABWE 2018: How could a partnership between Citizens, Commerce, Government, and International Agencies help build a Developmental (and Democratic) State?

A Developmental (and Democratic) State under conditions of rapid globalization is possible in Africa if driven by three freedoms: (1) Freedom of association and thought, (b) Freedom to engage in commerce without hindrance, and (c) Freedom from grinding poverty.  The challenge for Zimbabwe, like many other African countries, is how to create the necessary conditions for its citizens.

“Role of Development and Technical Partners in the new Zimbabwe” - Taking Zimbabwe Forward[i]

Who are these partners?

A. Development Partners

1.     Multi-lateral (where Zimbabwe is also a member with other countries)

2.     Bilateral (where Zimbabwe is in relationship with another country)

B. Technical Partners

1.     UN Agencies (mainly technical)

2.     Aid Agencies representing governments (traditional donors)

3.     Development Banks (International and Regional)

4.     Investment firms (traditionally privately owned, but now often with both private and public funding)

 Preconditions for moving forward

1.     Knowing where we are

2.     Knowing where we have been

3.     Knowing where we want to go

1. Zimbabwe today

Is receiving limited humanitarian assistance from industrialized countries via UN Agencies.

Is indebted to all the major Development Banks (International Financial Institutions and Investment Banks): Defaulted and in Arrears.

Is attracting low domestic and international investments

Is experiencing low productivity in the economy (agriculture, mining, manufacturing in particular)

Is spending more than its revenue (with high and growing budget deficit)

Is experiencing low liquidity associated with high deficits and a desire to avoid hyperinflation.

Is in the midst of positive atmosphere and goodwill (local and international) to new government

Is faced with high expectations from population yearning for improvements in its economic fortunes

2. Where Zimbabwe has come from

From a prolonged stand-off between Zimbabwe Government and some international players over policy positions (primarily over property rights and concerns over “democratic deficit”)

From a background of big gaps between intentions (policy statements) on the one hand and policy follow through (implementation) on the other.

3. Where Zimbabwe wants to go

Direction as sketched in President E.D. Mnagagwa’s Inauguration address is for domestic and international partners to understand that:-

- Land reforms are as irreversible as they were inevitable

- Government plans to compensate white farmers for land

- Strong pillars of democracy are necessary

- Debts need to be sustainable, serviced, and settled

- Investments will be safe in Zimbabwe

- Intentions are to create jobs

4. Why development and technical partners want to get involved

Development and Technical Partners justify their involvement on the need to:-

1.     Support economic growth that brings benefits to the population

2.     Bring relief to the under-served and under-privileged

Investment Partners on the other hand generally justify their involvement on account of potential returns to their investments.

With the rapid economic growth of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) led by China, combined with modest economic growth in traditional Western Donor countries; bilateral funding has become more important than multi-lateral sources of development finance.  There is a shift from the idea of Development Partners (in the framework of development charity) to one of Partners in Development: emphasising the Mutuality of Benefits arising from development cooperation (for instance the growing greater linkage between aid and trade).  There are two major implications arising from this shift for traditional aid Recipient Governments in Africa:

1. The necessity to develop greater internal capacities to manage development projects; which includes setting out priorities, planning, negotiations, implementation, and accountability; and

2. Urgent need to create conditions for citizens and commercial enterprises (both private and public) to engage in activities for profit.

5. The implication for African countries to move away from the old colonial and post-colonial Dependent State to a new Developmental (ideally also Democratic) State in a rapidly globalizing world.

The foundation for this new environment, dominated by Developmental Democratic States, is the facilitation of three basic freedoms:-

1. Political freedoms: for citizens to associate and select representatives (democratic element)

2. Economic freedoms: for citizens to produce and engage in commerce (developmental element)

3. Freedom from grinding poverty: for citizens to access food, health, water, education, sanitation, and other services (inclusivity dimension)

For 2018, expectations are that the changing Zimbabwe Government will in this regard tackle four key issues:-

1. Bring finality to stability in property rights (both agrarian and indigenisation) within in a democratic and developmental framework that fosters economic growth.

3. Implement policies that facilitate domestic investments, and then attract foreign (including diaspora) investors as Partners in Development.

3. Allow citizens to engage in trade and commerce without policy or bureaucratic hindrances, to underpin the developmental and democratic nature of a new economy.

4. Implement safety nets targeted at the poor and vulnerable to foster greater inclusivity.

In view of the above, Partners in Development (Citizens, Private Companies, Public Agencies, and Governments) are waiting for the Zimbabwe Government to articulate its plan with measurable milestones; and then demonstrate implementation progress in a way that reconciles the demands of Citizens and Commerce on the one hand with those of the State on the other.  Then all these Partners in Development will come to the party!


Mungai N. Lenneiye (t. @udugunation; blog udugu.org/acacia-talk/), Founder Trustee, Udugu Institute: For a Better Innovated Africa.  Udugu Institute promotes innovation in Institutions, Systems, and Technology (IST).  This note is an example of how Systems Innovation can be approached.


[i] Talk at AMH Conversations, Thursday 30 November 2017, Celebration Centre, Harare