Last week, after a long day of running around with work-related business, I decided to relax by watching a play. A good place for me that day was Theatre in the Park, located in Harare Gardens; the venue hosts theatrical plays including dramas, music, and all forms of arts; companies and event organisers also prefer to hire the venue for different reasons. I was at Theatre in the Park to enjoy one of the State of the Nation series; theatrical plays and discussions about the state of Zimbabwe as a country. This one was about the Zimbabwean dream. The audience engaged to narrate what they hoped for about Zimbabwe. As I listened to what Zimbabweans were dreaming for, I asked myself, is the Zimbabwean dream shattered or it’s just panic from my fellow citizens? Is there hope for a better Zimbabwe after the removal of Robert Mugabe – a man who is currently raising debate after passing away last week?
The Zimbabwean Dream
But what could be the Zimbabwean dream? Before the play, audiences were made to write down their dreams and submit for reading after watching the play. One of the dreams on the note was a Zimbabwe with peace and tranquillity. Another note says good leadership without corruption.
“I want Zimbabwe to be a hub where talent is nurtured where people can realise their dreams,” says another note.
Some of the dreams pointed women empowerment and their rights, harmony, proper jobs, economically vibrant country, prosperity, infrastructure development, democracy amongst other subjects of discussions. This may point to the hopes from various walks of life in a country.
Zimbabwe government has dreams also. The dream of the government is to have an upper-middle-income country by 2030. Other dreams include the success of the re-engagement program with the west, removal of sanctions, an end to corruption and success in the Transitional Stabilisation Program (TSP).
The Possibility of the Zimbabwean Dream
Basing from the after play discussions, people feel that the Zimbabwe they hope for after the removal of former President Robert Mugabe has not been fulfilled. The reason behind this could be hard economic conditions currently facing the country amongst other questions related to democracy.
As for the government dream; Vision 2030; experts believe that such a quest can be achieved. Economists like Eddie Cross believe that Zimbabwe will be the fastest-growing economies next year which may make the 2030 vision achievable. Cross according to the local press, said if there is fiscal discipline in the country then the vision 2030 could be achieved.
The hope of a re-engagement with western countries has however hit a hard rock. Zimbabwe, after decades of isolation with western countries, hopes to re-engage. Such re-engagement is expected to help pull investors with capital and job opportunities for the nation. Western countries raise human rights issues, in particular, the security sector’s reaction to demonstrations, which come with violence and looting. There have been allegations of abductions levelled against state agencies; government officials say abductions are stage-managed. At a launch, Zimbabwe President had an unfriendly exchange of words with the European Union over abductions and this threatens re-engagement program.
Related to the re-engagement program is the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe wants sanctions “imposed” by the West gone. The argument is that such sanctions hurt the economy by closing doors for the African country to get funding opportunities as well as investment into the nation. West countries say such embargoes are targeted on certain individuals hence they cannot affect economic progress in Zimbabwe. Western countries say there should be reforms for sanctions to be removed, this includes the realignment of the constitution to the law. In contrast to Zimbabwe’s efforts, the United States of America added more sanctions targeting a general in connection to the death of six people on 1 August. European Union also extended sanctions in Zimbabwe citing the issue of reforms. Such developments erode Zimbabwe’s hopes of sanctions being removed under the current government.
The Zimbabwe government’s hope of an end to corruption can be witnessed by the arrests being made and the formation of a fresh Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to fight and end the malpractices. Zimbabwe also launched an anti-corruption campaign which empowers judges and Zimbabweans in general to fight the crime. Critics, however, question the government’s will to end corruption stating that arrests being made to government officials relating to corruption are cosmetic.
One other hope for Zimbabwe is in the success of the Transitional Stabilisation Program (TSP). Running from 2018-2020 the TSP is meant to transform the economy of Zimbabwe which has not fully recovered since its downfall in 2008. Describing the TSP, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the process will be painful. Austerity measures put in place as part of the TSP would witness taxes going up hurting the people as the government moves to close the fiscal deficit against the rising debt. The pains that come with the TSP, however, have resulted in violent demonstrations in towns and cities of Zimbabwe. Human life and property have been lost in the process.
In summary, Zimbabwe’s dream seems impossible with the current challenges facing the country. Corruption and sanctions can bring down the country’s dream of prosperity and returning to be the breadbasket of Africa.