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Four things Mnangagwa can do to revive Zimbabwe’s economy

Suggestions on what President Emmerson Emmerson Mnangagwa should do to revive Zimbabwe’s economy continue to pour in. We will publish as many as we can. This, however, does not mean that we agree with the proposals but we believe it is better to know the ideas to be able to select what is most beneficial for a new Zimbabwe. Below is what American economist Steve Hanke thinks:

Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new President of Zimbabwe, will have a hard time digging his country out of the economic hole that it fell into during the 37 years it was led by Robert Mugabe. But it can be done.

During Mr. Mugabe’s reign, all economic activity was dependent on political decisions, which enhanced the prizes of political power and the stakes in the fight for it. State-owned enterprises, capital controls, price controls, import controls, one-time mining fees and a plethora of regulations wrapped Zimbabwe in a giant ball of red tape and destroyed the economy.

Measured by real gross domestic product per capita, living standards are now only 78 percent of what they were when Mr. Mugabe assumed power in 1980. When one looks at agriculture, for instance, the erosion is clear. Zimbabwe used to export maize; now it is an importer. Since the land reforms of 2000, the value of farm production has shrunk by 45 percent.

The fiscal picture is not a pretty one, either. Budget officials took to heart the sentiment behind Mr. Mugabe’s rhetorical question in 1997, “Have you ever heard of a country that collapsed because of borrowing?” Zimbabwe’s annual budget deficits averaged 5.4 percent of G.D.P. during Mr. Mugabe’s tenure, with the current deficit at a whopping 11.2 percent. The result is a mountain of bad debts and arrears.

The collapse shows up in every international rating of the economy. In the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 index, Zimbabwe ranks 159 out of 190; in the Fraser and Cato Institutes’ Economic Freedom of the World listing for 2017, Zimbabwe is 144 out of 159; and in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index for 2017-2018, Zimbabwe ranks 124 out of 137.

When it comes to specific sectors, the picture is just as dismal: In the Fraser Institute’s Investment Attractiveness Index 2016 for mining, Zimbabwe ranks 96 out of 104.

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