OPEN ECONOMY; Thank you war vets for freedom of choice

It was a heart-warming sight on Thursday morning as we watched war veterans gather at the City Sports Centre in Harare.

It presented an imagery of commitment to a vision, particularly one of achieving independence and leaving future generations, like us, with more options of choice presented by self-governance.
Choice is a gift that future generations have been given by our war vets. However, it is also a great responsibility.
When future generations have discretion of making independent decisions as a nation, those decisions can either produce prosperity or despair.
A few months ago, this column dedicated ample time on asking what economic system Zimbabweans perceived as being desirable to the country’s virtuous continuity.
Such an economic system would be premised on achieving guided socio-economic ideals of empowerment and socio-economic transformation that bind us as a nation.
Discourse of that kind has struggled to surpass our very much polarised and highly politicised internal manner of deliberation as a country.
Incumbent governance should realise that any space for polarity is only created by a failure to reserve the credibility of ideology.
This happens when the promises enshrined in an ideology have not achieved a broad impact on people for that ideology to supersede polarised critique.
Moreover, unattended matters of rampant corruption, legislative and institutional abuse and extractive political interactions all discount the sanctity of ideology.
Government has not been adequately attentive to these matters, especially in enforcement and punitive action.
In effect, Government has not done a good job protecting our ideology.
Swift to capitalise on this, external entities of opposing ideals easily gain greater credence amongst our very own constituents.
Unfortunately, in Zimbabwe’s case, external perspectives have effectively influenced a view that our ideology is somewhat deficient and economically impractical.
The Economist magazine, of extreme capitalist conviction, has been on an onslaught to discount our aspirations, further adding to perceptions that we are an intolerant and exclusive nation worthy of being a pariah state.
This is ideologically far from the truth.
Zimbabwe strives to be a civilisation and not a tribe.
Gianpiero Petriglieri, a Professor at INSEAD, once reflected on the differences between a civilisation and a tribe. A civilisation is an open society grounded on a chosen way of life set on progressive ideology.
A tribe, on the other hand, is an enclosed intolerant society of radical, yet retrogressive ideology.
That is not us!
We are a civilisation aware that through the commitment of our war veterans’ vision, we are able to choose our own economic system guided by a progressive ideology of empowerment and socio-economic transformation — if only Government starts to act in a manner that protects our ideological credibility.
While I cannot choose for the nation in its entirety, I would suggest that we pursue a moderate form of capitalism, especially as it relates to the reward of impulses that motivate innovation, creativity and socio-economic improvement.
These are impulses we should value, and they must be rewarded with the opportunity of wealth accumulation — whether personal, corporate or institutional.
It baffles a lot of people to imagine differentiating capitalism as an economic system.
Perhaps the predominance of superficial understanding that capitalism is simply about profit-seeking clouds any imagination of it as a system.
Ironically, it is the nations that have benefited from conventional capitalism that are beginning to question its sustainability as an unfettered economic system.
For instance, a few months ago, French President Francois Hollande declared an economic state of emergency and ordered the rethinking of France’s whole economic management.
In the United States, a record debt of $1,2 trillion in student loans is outstanding and worryingly, 43 percent of graduates cannot even start to make payments.
Employment opportunities for youth have dwindled to a new sharing economy where skilled people are reduced to being cab drivers and apartment leasers.
In Japan, an entire generation of retirees faces the prospect of shrinking pensions because of lower real wages earned by active labour.
Closer to home, the Africa Rising narrative reached a horrific crash when the commodity boom phased out, leaving many of us in debt and socio-economic despair.
World over, conventional capitalism has failed. Every month, the IMF revises its global growth projections downwards.
It was rather telling that recently leaked Panama Papers showed that the world’s richest people are hiding their wealth in shadowy corners of the world.
Setting aside the criminal aspect of it, perhaps the story tells of winners of an unfair economic system that is not only unsustainable, but the benefactors feel compelled to store their gains away from everybody else.
As Zimbabweans, we must shift from polarised and politicised discourse to realise that our present duty, especially as a generation, is to at least focus our arguments on an improved economic system of capitalism.
For instance, we should search for our own definition of what a business enterprise is, and what expectations it should have in our economy.
Furthermore, we should evaluate the institutional representation of enterprises. At numerous Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce conferences, I find young entrepreneurs excluded, yet they lead enterprises of the future.
Likewise, we should choose how we define corporate leadership as a whole. What is a leader and what expectations of reward warrants leadership?
As a generation, we should define what innovation is, how it can contribute to our betterment and ultimately match its reward to its socio-economic contribution.
Our economy is seriously lacking social safety nets, and that is a decision based on how a country chooses to design its economy.
Careful attention to many of the war veterans on Thursday would pick up that social safety nets should be a significant focus on how we decide to advance our economic management.
This coincides with the idea of wealth distribution.
As years go by, Zimbabwe will begin to have individuals amassing great wealth.
That is not wrong, however, we need to decide on guidance which will mould our perceptions of wealth and its societal influence in our socio-economic existence.
My personal conviction is that by emphasising the humanistic impulses within capitalism, we can make it better for ourselves.
However, concededly, I am speaking from a point of a chosen ideology.
Thus, on that premise, Government must act convincingly to protect the purity of that ideology.
Perhaps then Zimbabweans can move forward and debate on the choices availed to us by the war veterans!

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