Zim not ready to be a developmental state
ZIMBABWE is not yet ready to become a developmental state due to weak policies and lack of
leadership, analysts have said.
A developmental state is one where the government drives macro-economic policies that promotes
growth, development and industrialisation. Several countries such as China, Singapore, India, Thailand,
Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea, Philippines, and Indonesia are all categorised as developmental
Mungai Lenneiye, Udugu Institute founder, said while Zimbabwe has good policies, the southern African
country is found wanting when it comes to implementation.
“Successful developmental states do seem to use regulations to manage competing elite groups – local
and international – so that State Enterprises deliver services to the many, not to the few,” he said.
“Unfortunately, African parastatals were created after World War II to facilitate the transfer of surplus
from African producers to white producers; we inherited them at independence but did not change their
reason for existence – which makes these parastatals across Africa not fit for purpose. My thesis is that
any African country that wants to build a developmental state has to redefine the role of State
Enterprises away from surplus transfer from the many to a few; and become agents for the most
efficient service delivery.”
Mungai, who was addressing an online platform organised by the Zimbabwe Coalition of Debt and
Development (Zimcodd), also indicated that Zimbabwe needs strong political will to increase production
in most sectors of the economy.
“Zimbabwe can do it, but it has several obstacles to overcome such as massive de-industrialisation,
increasing poverty levels, unemployment and policy inconsistency,” the former World Bank country
director for Zimbabwe said.
Analysts also argue that a developmental state not only refers to the collective economic and human
development, but also describes the state’s essential role in harnessing national resources and directing
incentives through a distinctive policy-making process. The state has a role as a partner with the private
sector in the national industrial transformation.
Nqobizitha Mlambo, an executive with Zimcodd, said Zimbabwe cannot be a developmental state due to
prevalent of weak institutions.
“We have a captured state emanating from the conflation of the military, party and the state. In
addition, the state is also captured by parasitic business elites who have emasculated the state’s ability
to exercise its autonomy and independence,” he said.
“A developmental state does not tolerate corruption, but in Zimbabwe corruption is the order of the
MDC Alliance legislator James Chidakwa also agreed with Mlambo’s assertion that the country was
struggling to deal with corruption.
“This government has an appetite to spend and most of the expenditure is taken away by corruption. A
good example is Command Agriculture. To date the government has used more than US$7 billion on
command agriculture to no avail,” he said.
“We have shortages of maize and Wheat and it’s an unforgivable sin given the huge amounts we have
spent on Agriculture. Parliament as we speak is seized with a Financial Adjustment bill, which seeks to
condone unauthorized expenditure by government of more than US$10 billion. With lack of
accountability and transparency in the manner we deal with our fiscus, Zimbabwe is heading to worse
situations than the 2008 crisis.”
During the hyperinflationary period in 2008, the country’s gross domestic product plummeted by nearly
40 percent, while nearly half of the manufacturing industries closed shop.
Economic analyst Francis Mukora said the foremost requirement for Zimbabwe to be transformed into a
developmental state is to recognize that a long-term vision based on consensus is necessary.
“Political regimes may come and go but the development ethos and vision must persist over the long
period. The advent of a new political regime must not torpedo the existing development programmes
simply on account of political animosities between political parties or even among leaders within a
political party. There has to be developmental state persistence,” he said.
“To achieve the above, there has to be a serious dialogue among all stakeholders including, in particular,
political parties on the formulation of a common development vision and an assurance that no matter
which party or leader comes to power, this vision will continue. In other words, there has to be a long-
term development compact that there will be a long-term phase of unbroken political will to follow
Mukora also called for a constant monitoring of changes happening in a dynamic globalised world and
adapt with those changes.
“There has to be huge and concerted efforts to build state capacity to implement development policies.
For this there is need for huge investments in providing quality education and health care. Zimbabwe
can take a cue here from Botswana, which spent 20 percent of its annual budget on education,” he said.
Angellah Mandoreba, Zimcodd’s information and communications officer, also weighed in and said
Zimbabwe requires prudent fiscal policies in ensuring sound and efficient public finance management
(PFM) for the nation to become a developmental state.
“Despite the existence of a comprehensive legal framework governing the mobilisation and utilisation of
public funds in Zimbabwe, compliance is very low and the state of PFM is in shambles,” she said adding
that management of public funds was characterised by poor governance, systemic corruption, rampant
abuse of public resources and illicit financial flows – a sign of the lack of rule of law and lack of
“The macroeconomic challenges bedevilling the country are a sign of ineffective public finance
management system. Effective management of public funds is therefore necessary for sustainable
development and socioeconomic transformation.”