Dr David Hamadziripi, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to South Africa, believes that the current turbulence that Zimbabwe is facing will usher in a new dawn for the troubled country.
Dr Hamadziripi was speaking at the University of Johannesburg Centre for Africa-china Studies, where he was giving a presentation on A New Dispensation Tackling Accumulated Challenges: Understanding Zimbabwe’s Future Prospects.
Joining him on the panel was Prof Chris Landsberg as the respondent, a Professor and South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChl) chair of African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at UJ, and as the moderator was Dr Nolitha Vukuza, the Senior Executive Director in the Vice Chancellor’s office at the University of Johannesburg.
Dr Hamadziripi’s presentation offered little new information about the current state and the future prospects of Zimbabwe. He touched on the new President, the reform plans, the drought situation, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), Investments and their partnership with China.
“Zimbabwe is a country that is polarised by its past circumstances,” explained Hamadziripi.
“It’s important to note that Zimbabwe is a country that has been surviving without any major investments for more than 20 years.
“In order for the country to thrive again, it needs investment in all its sectors. And with the current reform plans, the country will see a greater future.”
Even though Hamadziripi acknowledged the shortcomings of the Zimbabwean government, his main focus was how the new president Emmerson Mnangagwa and his administration were hard at work trying to secure foreign investors.
“Due to the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by countries like the United States (US) and Canada, and others. The country now struggles with cash shortages, poor infrastructure, unemployment and electricity power shortages.
“But with the reform process, the president is working tirelessly to secure investments because currently Zimbabwe is in arrears with the World the Bank and African Development Bank and cannot take any loans.
“The introduction of the Zimbabwean Dollar as the sole currency is also one of the solutions to save the economy of the country.”
However, Hamadziripi added that the problem in Zimbabwe was that some of the political parties in the country do not want to follow the government process and are calling for foreign intervention.
But he strongly believes that if the country would follow the reform plans, Zimbabwe would be open for business soon.
However, Prof Chris Landsberg was sceptical about the future prospects for Zimbabwe that were presented by Hamadziripi.
“Zimbabwe in the 80s and the early 90s, was definitely a role model country, but the politics of the county in the later years certainly took a toll on the country,” said Landsberg.
“What’s important to learn from Zimbabwe is that after it gained independence there was a short window of opportunity, which every country seems to have that goes through a subsequent transition, that offers the opportunity for greater change and transformation.
Zimbabwe lost the opportunity after it gained independence and it’s never ever recovered from that.”
Landsberg also blamed the Southern African Development Agency (SADC) for not intervening and trying to assist countries in the Southern region that are experiencing great difficulties, like Zimbabwe.
“I am very critical of SADC. They are incapable of addressing the ongoing conflict in Lesotho, let alone making a difference in Zimbabwe,” said Lansberg.
“One of the greater ironies of SADC is that SADC resides over the most stable region but it’s been reduced to nothing but a mere administrative body.
“We definitely have to rethink, the purpose, the power and the authority of our own regional body.”
Landsberg concluded by saying that there seemed to be a trend in the southern region of countries redressing in order to attract foreign investments.
“There is an obsession in our region with the phrase: “Open for business”.
“There seems to be a mentality that we do these changes in efforts to impress the foreign investor because the foreign investor is going to save us from ourselves.
“But what Zimbabwe could do now is embark on a genuine internal driven transition if it wants to survive.”