OPEN ECONOMY: As their ideology slips, let’s keep ours

OPEN ECONOMY: As their ideology slips, let’s keep ours

Throughout mankind’s history, the most effective means of justifying an ideology has been by offering its fair distribution amongst those promised to realise it!

In theology, Biblical Scriptures such as Galatians 3:8 speak: “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed.”
Fast forward to 19th century nation-building, ideology such as the “American dream” found popular traction on the belief that as long as an individual became American, equal opportunity for success would be dispersed.
Now, it is suggested by some that the formation of the European Union is one of humankind’s greater achievements in the present era of modernity.
From its inception, the EU has been hailed for creating a socio-economic union that ideally functions to disperse fair potential for economic prosperity and civic harmony.
Yes, the aesthetics look good. The legislative framework in theory is sound. The representative composition, while skewed, is somewhat balanced in a manner cognisant of relative economic stature. Thus, impartial observation could accept the ideology of a European Union to be a universal light for all it promised to include.
However, a couple of decades in, the EU is crumbling.
It is particularly the imbalanced realisation of its founding ideology that has caused strife for many constituents, leaving them with a growing resentment and animosity towards union.
These imbalances exist at many levels. At the macro-economic level, the currency union has proven more beneficial to the industrial might of Germany, which has enjoyed an undervalued currency, giving it years of trade surplus.
Countries of lesser industrial prowess, but remaining members of the currency union face persistent trade deficits and resultantly lowering internal demand.
This sequence ends with stifled wage growth and stagnant living standards for these marginalised countries in the EU. At the socio-economic level, disparities became more pronounced during what I call the “austerities” —the years in which austerity was the mainstream fad.
At the insistence of a handful of creditor nations, Greek citizens dependent on state welfare, for instance, remain subjected to cuts in social spending and pensions over debt obligations that account for less than 1 percent of the EU’s annual GDP.
This is cruelly at a time the ECB is offering the rest of Europe “helicopter money” through its quantitative easing on social spending and pensions.
At the civic level, since the inception of the EU, Europe has never seemed more stratified along ethnic, religious, and nationalist lines!
While diversity was meant to be the emblem of union, marginalisation has become the eventual reality.
The growing popularity of far right political parties across the continent, consideration of succession from the union by member nations, and anxiety of violence are all reflective of a disintegrating ideology.
These occurrences have a sharp resemblance across the Atlantic where it is dawning to some that the aforementioned “American dream” is reserved from an ever shrinking minority, which now owns as much as the bottom 99 percent of citizens. Western ideology is losing its credibility.
It has never been more fragile in recent decades.
What we can learn from Europe and the United States is that to protect an ideology, governance must sanctify its fair distribution to those promised to realise it!
In Zimbabwe, sincere and socially aware politicians will acknowledge the imbalanced realisation of our ideology of empowerment and socio-economic transformation.
As our country matures, we are meant to be bonded by the ideology of equal opportunity as indigenous Zimbabweans to attain economic empowerment.
As such, governance must always evaluate how well it does in sanctifying this ideology.
Three years into Zim-Asset, the ideology has not yet struck an unquestioned impact on the majority. Instead, our ideology is increasingly vulnerable to perceptions that it only benefits a minority.
For instance, in many sectors of the economy, patronage and insider affiliations still resemble enclosed opportunities for prosperity. Since 2013, unfolding corporate scandals tell a tale of an economy that has been abused by structures of cronyism and preferential positioning.
This has diminished faith that cherished attributes like competence, creativity, and professional acumen can be enough to empower Zimbabweans to one day influence major corporations in our economy.
Also, while many indigenous Zimbabweans were given access to land, very few have been availed effective opportunity to meet the capital intensive livelihood that came with it!
The banking sector has stuttered to embrace small-scale indigenous farmers, and it has found convenient excuse in a minority which has had access to loans rampantly abusing such facilities.
Every so often, revelations occur that favoured individuals had access to loans running into millions of dollars, much of which defaulted; hence banks justify skepticism towards lending to the majority.
Moreover, whilst land was given to A1 farmers, Government is yet to follow through on creating structures that enhance the likelihood that small-scale farmers supersede subsistence and become prosperous agricultural producers.
Such structures include guaranteed markets, production infrastructure, and agricultural interest groups that specifically look out for the economic outcomes of otherwise business illiterate small-scale farmers.
A pillar of our ideology has been the notion that natural resources shall be exploited for the benefit of all Zimbabweans. Perhaps premature to pass conclusive opinion, but the unaccountability of up to US$15 billion from diamond revenue assumes lax vigilance to uphold this promise!
Coupled with our responsiveness, or lack thereof, towards the cancer of corruption has yet to convince the majority that fair and equal benefit from our ideology will be vigilantly protected.
We live in an age where humankind has become increasingly interrogative of ideological validity. Yet, it is at our stage of nation-building that we must be held together by ideology.
Lessons abound in the disintegration of Western ideology playing right in our very eyes.
A similar threat is not too distant in Zimbabwe.
We must make it a priority that the realisation of our ideology of empowerment and socio-economic transformation remains a fair opportunity to all.

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