Zimbabwe did not get that ranking because of speeches: it got there because of institutional dysfunctionality driven by consistently bad ideological and policy positions over the years.
In reflection, it will take years to modernise the functionality and investor friendliness of those pertinent institutions.
It is important to note that the current foreign capital being courted is not going to base their decision on the strong profile and goodwill of the yesteryear Zimbabwe.
They will focus on the here and now!
Institutions and Corruption
The transformation and modernisation of government institutions needs to go beyond the budget speech, the impact of such changes should be felt and experienced by the investors, both local and foreign.
Most of these changes are political in nature, and the institutional and systematic weaknesses had become systemic to ZANU-PF, which is still the steward of the same government organisations and departments responsible for those institutions and processes.
In that regard, it would be helpful to consider the words of the European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Phillipe van Damme in the Sunday Mail of 10 December 2017.
He outlined the contributions by the EU to Zimbabwe where he emphasises the importance of political, electoral, judicial reforms and constitutionalism before additional funding is availed to Zimbabwe.
These conditions could prove to be an albatross to the ZANU-PF administration especially given its well-documented stance against any reforms that may threaten its hold on power.
This is particularly so in the wake of the ‘coup but not a coup’ which enabled Mnangagwa to ascend to presidency.
In essence, the same ZANU-PF machinery and personnel that have been at work in the past 37 years, hitherto aided covertly by the military, is still at the helm.
Different result? Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. The markets demand such reforms and the new administration will defy them to predictable results. However, the stated intention to address such inefficiencies is a commendable step towards enhanced competitiveness of brand Zimbabwe.
The budget rightly identified the imperative and overdue need to “…deal with corruption in the economy…” as one of the major policy pursuits of the ‘New Economic Order’. This is an age-old promise whose half-hearted bite can be traced back to the Willowgate Scandal of 1988 and the Sandura Commission, and is symptomatic of how institutional failure has abetted endemic corruption.
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