The Sunday Mail
Richard Runyararo Mahomva
Zimbabwe’s engrossment in endorsing the Continental Free Trade Area agreement alongside at least 43 other countries shows the new administration’s commitment to Pan-African-driven development.
Harare’s high-level representation at the recent Kigali Summit erased the misgiving that Zimbabwe’s wide-cast policy towards harnessing economic prospects via FDI is predominantly neo-liberal.
This followed the Davos campaign, revision of the indigenisation policy framework and declarations of an open trade policy.
Zimbabwe’s nod to this convention substantiates its proactive pursuit of Pan-Africanism.
Moreover, this situates Zimbabwe’s foreign policy within a liberating ideological framework which feeds into the collective destiny that Africa seeks against a background of imperial annexation and exclusion.
Paul Zeleza (2009), a post-colonial intellectual, defines Pan-Africanism as “black internationalism” founded on historically-driven consciousness of a shared condition of oppression and a resolute self-determination path for intellectual, cultural, political and economic solidarity of the formerly colonised.
Zimbabwe’s commitment to the AfCFTA arrangement is an ideological devotion to the founding tenets of mediating unity, peace and prosperity.
Consequently, the development pathway underpinned by pan-Africanism exploits trade as a resource for promoting development.
This position is involuntary, inspired by decades-long aspirations of Africa’s unity by doyens of pan-Africanism. Therefore, Zimbabwe is reliving the lasting values of the continent’s quest for political-economy liberation and enduring unity.
This conveniently comes at a time Government is making hallmark strides in soliciting alternatives to coloniality of capital.
As such, Zimbabwe’s Kigali oath substantiates the point that no shadow of doubt must be attached to the country’s consistence to the values of African liberation.
Harare’s participation in this process is worth appraising as it reflects how much authorities are alive to the erstwhile aborted progressive path to liberalising markets, which culminated from miscalculated and blind adherence to colonially-set territorial integrity.
The superficial inclines to issues of cosmetic flag independence have also worked to the demise of African self-determination.
This is why some countries on the continent are still hesitant to be part of this protocol regardless of its commonsensical merits to the unity, peace and prosperity agenda.
Their hopes for development are pinned to the illusion of being Western protégés.
This milestone achievement towards continental economic growth has its recent trace to the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
A decision to create an AfCFTA was adopted during that session in January 2012. The Action Plan on Boosting Intra-Africa Trade was conceived in the interest of promoting trade policy-making; finance mechanisms; facilitation and information dissemination, productive capacity development, trade-related infrastructure provision and factor market integration.
The main thrust of this initiative was to integrate 54 African countries towards open trade to create continental capital growth whose GDP then was approximately US$3,4 trillion. Underlining objectives of the AfCFTA include:
◆ Creating a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of businesspersons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union;
◆ Expanding intra-Africa trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation and facilitation regimes and instruments across regional economic blocs and across Africa in general;
◆ Resolving the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expediting regional and continental integration processes; and
◆ Enhancing competitiveness at industry and enterprise level by exploiting opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources.
Africa’s coalescence around liberalising markets will not only promote skills exchange, but raise the continent’s profile in terms of domestic poverty-eradication, if well-implemented.
There is no doubt that through this initiative, Zimbabwe is set to benefit immensely.
At the same time, this is just not about Zimbabwe’s independent interests, but also about the country’s mandate to equally export its wealth of craft literary and craft-competency.
In the process, footprints of our economic interaction will be of service to historically-shared needs of influencing continental development.
Zimbabwe has a mandate to influence and shape the character of trade and commerce in Africa so as to make the continent highly-competitive in its primary and tertiary industrial processes.
Mugodanko (2015) argues that intra-Africa trade has been the lowest of any region in the world at 10 percent while intra-regional trade in Europe has been at 60 percent.
This makes it imperative to increase intra-Africa trade to complement existing remittances drawn from diverse domestic national incomes.
Southeast Asia intra-regional trade is 30 percent and South America’s is 21 percent.
In Latin America, the free trade area system has been used as a model for nurturing innovation and standardising export quality grading processes.
Intra-regional trade has become a viable medium for collective determination of the export pricing of commodities produced within that region to other international trade actors.
Therefore, through the free trade system, Zimbabwe can take advantage of its cordial ties with other Sadc countries to collectively enhance the region’s strategic industrialisation, particularly in the area of mineral processing.
This might successfully prop up the region’s mining sector, thus increasing member states’ respective GDPs, in turn leading to structural transformation and socio-economic development.
However, at regional level, we will be able to determine how much we give away minerals from Sadc.
This collective approach to liberating trade zones is essential in setting viable mechanisms to hedge rampant regional illicit trade, capital externalisation and spurious preference trade arrangements, which evade collective trade dictates.
This will certainly abet Africa in curing its exploitative dismemberment through the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership of Asian countries, the EU-US Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and EU Comprehensive Economic.
With the AfCFTA, Africa may now have a defined and comprehensive position to shape policy in the World Trade Organisation.
In a way, this emphatically speaks to how Zimbabwe is endowed with the mandate to posit rational commands to the function and process of globalisation on behalf of Africa.
This is an opportunity for Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa to reposition their agenda within the exploitative terms of the international political-economy.
Zimbabwe and the rest of the post-colonial world have a mandate to safeguard common interests within the broader neo-liberal and globalisation dilemma.
The history, the values and the aspired destination of African countries provides the inimitability that will determine the parameters and standards of fostering growth through the CFTA.
Richard Runyararo Mahomva is an independent researcher and a literature aficionado interested in the architecture of governance in Africa and political theory. He wrote this article for The Sunday Mail