Economic revival committee needed

Opinion Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu
WHILE we celebrate our country’s 35th independence anniversary, Zimbabweans living in South Africa are gripped by mortal fear of being attacked by mobs of xenophobic black South Africans who are accusing them of grabbing their jobs and business opportunities. Not only black Zimbabweans are targeted by black South Africans, but so are Ethiopians, Somalis, Congolese, Malawians, Nigerians and other African aliens.

More than one million Zimbabweans live in South Africa. Hundreds are deported monthly because they are in that country unlawfully. Some Zimbabweans are formally employed, some are self-employed, some are not employed and roam that country’s urban centres and some rural areas.

That they are a burden to South Africa is shown by the large number of monthly deportees, a fact that was also officially acknowledged by President Robert Mugabe during his recent state visit to that country.

Large numbers of Zimbabweans are found in many other countries such as Botswana, Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Zambia, Swaziland, Malawi and Mozambique.

Reasons for Zimbabweans leaving their country are generally twofold: to seek employment and or to get away from either insecure or unfavourable social environments. Another reason for people to leave their own country pertains to dependants such as minors and elderly people who may wish to be with sources of their maintenance.

Unemployment is found where the number of employable people exceeds the number of available jobs. Employable people are born. If a country’s population increases faster than the rate of the increase of jobs, unemployment is bound to become unmanageable sooner or later.

Another cause of unemployment is disinvestment or hostility towards investments, a situation that causes investment capital to fly to much more favourable socio-economic environments.

Employment is generally offered by a country’s government when it creates ministries manned by civil servants. Local government authorities also create employment, so do parastatals, the agricultural and mining sectors.

Industrial and commercial enterprises also fall under the umbrella of investors. Domestic servants fall under family and household employment, a sector whose rate of employment fluctuates with that of industry, commerce, the civil service and local government (municipal) authorities, the service industry, the agricultural and mining sectors.

Self-employment includes church administration, a cultural sector that attracts a much larger number of service-seekers than that of gainfully employed service-givers.

Vending is also a form of self-employment, but its level of employment depends on two important factors: the amount of capital injected into the vending project, and the viability of the target markets: the higher the invested capital, the higher the possibility of generating business, and consequently the higher the rate of self-employment.

If the invested capital is little, so will be the level of self- employment. That would result in under-employment, in effect. If an undertaking’s investment does not result in returns that qualify for national taxation, its type of employment is virtually non-existent.

In Zimbabwe, commercial and industrial investments were blown up by the 2008 runaway inflation. Unemployment is growing in Zimbabwe as investment is shrinking. What should be done to reverse this tragic trend?

Zimbabwe has at least 10 universities most of which have very highly qualified economic academics. If the Zimbabwean government can appoint a national economic revival committee comprising academics from, say, each university and instruct that committee to work out an economic revival programme covering a period of, say, five years, surely the country could achieve some economic benefits.

While such a committee is looking deeply into the country’s economic woes, the government could invite investors to develop industries such as fisheries, cheese production and timber lumbering.

With some planning, Binga can be turned into a fish – canning town with the use of cans made from the Kamativi tin mine. Zimbabwe’s amicable relations with China and several other eastern lands should enable the country to export tinned fish to those nations.

In Matabeleland South, goats can be reared as a commercial undertaking, and their milk could be processed into cheese at a Gwanda – based factory, to be exported to some European countries.

Poles from, say, the Matobo (Kezi) District can be harvested for export to desert states such a Namibia, the Sudan and Egypt. Meanwhile, while poles are felled more trees could be planted on a large scale, creating ample employment. Such projects can generate some employment, and reduce the number of Zimbabweans who leave the country to seek employment abroad where they are used as scapegoats as is the case in South Africa at the moment.

The Government would be very well advised to design and promulgate a national birth – rate control policy. Was it not disturbing to the minds of national leaders to learn through the media recently that the late General Solomon Mujuru is survived by an upwards of about 90 children?

That figure translates to two primary school classes of 45 pupils each, or three secondary school classes of 30 students each. How many Solomon Mujurus does Zimbabwe have? If there are 10, that translates to 900 children who are desperate for jobs, accommodation, medical services and school places.

MPs and councillors are under an obligation to create employment in the areas they represent. If they cannot, voters would be advised to reject them for much more employment creative representatives.

Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu is a retired, Bulawayo – based journalist. He can be contacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email. sgwakuba@gmail.com <mailto:sgwakuba@gmail.com>

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