Forget the propaganda, Zimbabwe is rising!

By Moses Magadza


Harare – As Zimbabweans brace for a general election later this year, there is overwhelming
evidence even to the average pedestrian that the Second Republic under President Emmerson Mnangagwa is at work
and delivering.

I arrived in Zimbabwe recently after many years in the diaspora. I have been travelling up and down the country
since then. What I have seen and experienced is starkly different from narratives outside the country. Things are
actually working!

It is apparent that Zimbabwe is rising slowly but surely and – most importantly – in the hands of her citizens.

Let us face it: in any economy, there are five fundamental things needed for growth and development. First, is
infrastructure. A country needs roads, power generation equipment, buildings, fuel, dams, bridges, railway systems
and ports of entry and departure like airports that work efficiently.

Second, a country needs natural resources that can be harnessed. In this regard, Zimbabwe is well-endowed with
large tracts of fertile land and clement weather. Word on the street is that even the possibility of oil and gas production is high, raising great expectations.

There is abundant sunlight which can be harnessed for clean energy, an imperative given that all over the world, over three million people, mostly women and girls, die annually from smoke inhalation while cooking using firewood.

In terms of geographic location, globally, Zimbabwe is ideal for serious farming. It has been said that Zimbabwe has fallen from being the bread basket of Southern Africa to a basket case. The plain fact is that Zimbabwe was never the bread basket of Southern Africa. There is no record of Zimbabwe ever producing more maize than South Africa. Granted, the country used to be food-secure. It is now well on the way to being food-secure again thanks to the land reform programme.

Zimbabwe has many important minerals, forests, surface and underground water bodies, all of which are critical for
economic development.

Third, a country needs healthy, educated and skilled people. Incidentally, Zimbabwe has a strong human capital.
Fourth, a country needs a legal system that works. It needs rule of law.

Fifth, it needs a financial system, culminating in a stable currency. It needs access to offshore funding and so on.
The above indicators are fundamental and for Zimbabwe, many of them had collapsed over the years.

With respect to infrastructure, it is fair to say that the Second Republic has made significant strides. Some roads have been improved. The road from Harare to Beitbridge is a case in point and the Beitbridge Border Post is one of the best I have seen in 30 years of travelling around as a journalist.

The tarred road from Harare to Beit bridge is beautiful, barring a few patches. One needs to drive on it to appreciate it. Similarly, the Plumtree-Mutare Road is fine-looking, having been fixed. Some roads in Harare which are strategic are being repaired.

Power cuts are still there and there are shortages of potable water in some places but some people say the situation is improving.

In the shops of Harare and other cities, I was pleasantly surprised to find shelves fully stocked with a wide variety of affordable quality products, most of them produced locally. There are no shortages of food and there are no fuel queues anymore. The other day I arrived at a service station and a cheerful petrol attendant asked me: “Tozadza here, mukoma? (Full tank, my brother?).”

In terms of agriculture, Zimbabwe has lately been producing a lot of maize, soya beans and loads of wheat. Thanks to the land reform programme which put vast tracts of land in the hands of Zimbabweans, production of small stock and poultry has spiked.
So much is being produced on the land by small-scale farmers that the sight of people selling high quality tomatoes, vegetables, sweet potatoes, chickens and watermelons, to name but a few, has become common. Recently a happy beneficiary of the land reform programme Tirivanhu Mutyasira posted photographs of him lying on a heap of
harvested maize, in his field and with his cattle and chickens on Facebook.

In rural areas like Murehwa, heart-warming tales of hitherto penniless villagers now earning thousands of US dollars from small-scale tobacco farming and tomato production abound.

Countless old village houses are being replaced by beautiful four or five-bedroomed solar-powered houses in many parts of the hinterland.

In terms of investment by Zimbabweans into their own country, I was struck while driving through Harare by the
mushrooming of commercial buildings including service stations. So many new developments which allow better
quality. All these things are there for anybody to see.

Even my home city of Mutare has changed for the better and those in the know say it is not only happening in big cities but all over the country.

So what do these positive changes signify? They signify capital moving into the country. Increased investment. Some people are now deploying their capital in Zimbabwe. Small wonder that in 2021, Zimbabwe was the 10 th fastest growing economy in Africa.

Not long ago I read that Zimbabwe had done some work to launch a satellite into space. This is commendable. On the
education front, innovation hubs are being developed.

Last week while driving along the Harare-Murehwa Road I saw so many centre pivots. There were more on the road to
Mazowe. I do not recall a time when Zimbabwe had so much irrigation infrastructure. With centre pivot irrigation, yields can increase in quantity and quality.

Of course I am not to suggesting that Zimbabwe is completely out of the woods, economically. I am kicking at claims that things are going backwards. On the contrary, a lot has been done and is still being done. That is encouraging. It would be naïve for anyone to think that Zimbabwe’s economy could have been resurrected in the past five years.

A process of repairing the damage done to the economy needed to begin, leading into a stabilisation phase. Runaway
inflation needed to be brought down and eventually stabilised.

Expectations are that production and Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product will continue to improve. As stated above,
already many of the products on the shelves in supermarkets in Zimbabwe are now locally produced.

Industries are starting to open. Some people were expecting to see traditional industries being resurrected. There are now innovative entrepreneurs and new businesses doing different things!

It has been 20 years since the Zimbabwean economy collapsed and since then, things have changed. Technology
has advanced. It would be unrealistic to expect businesses that closed 20 years ago to open as they were two decades ago now.

I find what is happening in our country now good and very encouraging. When citizens of countries that celebrated when- Zimbabwe was put under crippling sanctions begin coming to the country sniffing around for investment, it might be time for locals to sit up and smell the coffee.

I was told that trains are once again bringing goods into the country, even from as far as Maputo. That is interesting.

Tourism is booming again. In Victoria Falls last week a tour guide told me tourists are visiting again, driving roaring business in that sector. The hotel industry has improved.

One thing is certain: the economy of Zimbabwe is not going backwards. When it really stabilises and starts growing, it will benefit those who grasped prevailing opportunities. As citizens we need to be part of this renaissance and to be strategically positioned to play a part.

Entrepreneurship has changed the fortunes of many countries.

Many Zimbabweans now prefer to do business on their own.

Their businesses need to continue formalising and start being accounted for in the nation’s books in terms of tax and so forth. When that happens the economy will grow even more.
The Zimbabwean economic ship is being built while it is being sailed and the shore does not seem to be too far away.
The time to get involved is now!

Moses Magadza is a Zimbabwean, a multiple award-winning journalist and a doctoral candidate.

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