Mugabe ouster will not solve problems

HARARE - Mainstream MDC legislator Eddie Cross published an article on The Need for a New Road Map before Christmas last year.

In it he made a brilliant comparison between the economic changes over the past three decades between China and Zimbabwe, during which China has increased its Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) and per capita income and become the workshop of the world while Zimbabwe’s GDP and per capita incomes have shrunk.

This is true.

He ended his article with a short paragraph where he appears to place responsibility for these developments on leadership, specifically the leadership of President Robert Mugabe whom he excoriates for being “cold and distant” and requiring “loyalty” from his followers.

I find Cross’ analysis very superficial.

Yes, China has done very well.

Yes, leadership is very important. But once again, we have the Tsvangirai-MDC take that if Mugabe and Zanu PF are removed, all would be well in Zimbabwe.

This focus on a leader and a personality as the main problem in Zimbabwe is seriously misleading. The changes in China did not only depend on a personality.

Of course, we should judge cats on how well they catch mice.

That phrase by Deng Xiaoping is true, too. But how can we simplistically say that “regime change” will change everything?

One personality and one political party cannot change everything.

What led to China’s success is a little more complex than just a change in leadership.

Note, of course, that the political party in power did not change in China: Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping both belonged to the same party, and in many ways, their key policies remained the same.

What Deng managed to do is to apply those policies to the world economy, while Mao concentrated essentially on internal policies. Both were correct for their times. China’s success was due to the following: The Chinese modernised their industries.

Their economy was one of the most backward in terms of industrial technology and management in 1979 when Deng took power. I can say they were more backward than Zimbabwe’s technologies in 1980.

Deng managed to begin the process of modernisation, sending 10 000 students to the United States to bring back the best industrial technologies and introducing China to modern management systems.

These 10 000 students did well, and they are the core of today’s industrial system.

He applied the Singapore and Japanese model to China.

Zimbabwe’s problem is that our industries are still stuck in the technologies and management systems of the 1940s and 1950s.

Zimbabwe is certainly not technologically or managerially competitive compared to South Africa and China, our key industrial competitors.

China’s agricultural policy was based on food sovereignty and self-sufficiency from the 1970s onwards.

Zimbabwe was self-sufficient in food in the 1980s, but this changed as a result of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme in the 1990s.

Food production got worse under hyper-inflation when fertiliser, seeds and the guaranteed Grain Marketing Board failed.

While the MDC and its supporters blame this on the land reform programme after 2002, actually the problems began a decade earlier.

It should be noted that China had one of the most drastic land reforms.

So did Japan and all the other East Asian countries that have done so well over the past three to four decades.

Availability of cheap food for all has been a characteristic of all the East Asian economies which succeeded in industrialisation.

The US opened its markets to Chinese products. Today if you go to the US, almost everything in every shop is made in China. This was equally true for Japan and other East Asian countries when they industrialised some decades before China: they benefited from the US market which is the largest globally.

Africa, and especially Zimbabwe, does not enjoy such open access to the US market.

Sanctions, comprising closing of the US and European Union markets, and curtailing Western banking facilities, have affected Zimbabwe seriously.

Almost all African countries, including Zimbabwe, concentrate on exporting minerals and agricultural products. In Zimbabwe’s case, we are exporting raw ore and tobacco, both unprocessed.

If Zimbabwe can persuade other mineral producing countries, especially our neighbours, to insist on beneficiation of mineral products, we can succeed.

On our own, this is unlikely. China managed to get almost the whole population educated up to Grade 9 under Mao.

The large population of China (1,3 billion) compared to the very small population of Zimbabwe (less than 13 million today) gives a very different labour market. China has a rich labour resource.

It also means that China has a huge domestic market.

Zimbabwe is seriously short of labour, exacerbated by the exit of more than two million to South Africa and Britain.

The minimum wage in the capital Beijing in 2012 was $150 a month, and it is much lower in rural areas.

*Chung was minister of Education in President Robert Mugabe’s Cabinet from 1988 to 1993.

Comments (7)

The article has fallen short in identifying the problem. The writer did not give explanation as to how the economy can improve. She indirectly admits that government is central to the problem facing the country. It is not a question of which party or leader is in power. The issue is on Government Policy. Period. Under the circumstances, the investor is skeptical of investing in the country. What I also find difficult to comprehend with is the issue of the sanctions to do with external debt burden. The country is in arrears with all financial institutions, hence failure to access lines of credit. As the writer points out, the Structural Adjustment Programs were central to the country not being able to produce enough for the nation. But the question is, what was the reason for such programmes? In any case, the Government did not follow the ESAPs holistically. The truth is political decisions were prioritized to economic decisions. It is high time that the nation, especially the government, acknowledges its failures to this blame game. I recall years back when President Mugabe at one time acknowledging that his government had not done well on the economic front, lest we forget.

Gushungo - 24 January 2014

Nothing is said about the secret deal that Chinese and Americans signed during the Mao era. Americans agreed to outsource their industries to China is Chinese workers won't strike for higher wages

James - 24 January 2014

Lets agree with some of the points made by Fay Chung that the comparison between China & Zimbabwe is probably not he best. I would rather compare ourselves with Namibia for instance. No need to go into detail the facts speak for themselves. I also disagree with her contention that the changing of a leader or party wont make a difference. Look at Zambia today once they managed to rid themselves of Kaunda or South Africa after the Nationalist party was ousted. A word of caution - there is need for RSA to rid themselves of the present leader & party or they face the increasing possibility of a bleak future

saundy - 24 January 2014

End of Robert Mugabe The current president of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe will die on Monday, the 3rd of February 2014. Actually I had a dream on the 20th of January 2014 that Mugabe will die on his sleep. This death will not result from poisoning, gun shot, physical strangling basically there will be no foul play and it will be strictly natural death. This prophecy concludes that Mugabe will demise as a result of natural causes. Ndini; Tichatonga Mambo (Zimbabwean)

Tichatonga Mambo - 24 January 2014

I used to respect Fay. But she is lost for now. Who does not know that if the MDchad been awarded its wins in 2000, 2005, 2008 and 2013 the country would have been a better place to live in? The EU and the USA would have brought donor funds and all would be happy. Regime change is actually the best thing that should happen to this impoverished nation. Fay has to support the status quo just like Jonathan Moyo because she is part of the system. Its so sad

George Marange - 27 January 2014

what wins are you talking about?thats what this column is talking about having bob n zanu out will not solve the problem.the enemy here is the west,this is the reason why we still beg for donor support yet what makes them rich is the resources they come loot here, we black people need to change,colonisation brainwashed us to be content with working for smeone kuti murungu ndiye ega ane order iwe munhu mutema hauna order,yes zanu has messed up but if they implemented their policies well and with discipline sure things would be better,to bad mdc is driven by the west and there sure will b a conflict of interests because we have people influential in industry who are paid to make things bad to force the electorate.we need to change a serious change in attitude even if mdc comes to power oneday we need to stand and do things ourselves not be beggars,oti states inopa chikafu mahara iwe iyo isingawani anythn?sad africa has too many puppets if nt all except bob,this explains all the civil unrest in other parts of africa were u have french troops comin in to "stabilise" the situation yet we have a so called African Union basa ravo ndereyi,sad we have people who cry for puppets,time we looked deeper and the real problems at hand

black and proud - 28 January 2014

Black and Proud - really? You forgot to add STUPID for writing such drivel!!!

saundy - 29 January 2014

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