By Rumbidzai Dube
As the era of the MDGs draws to a close-(2000-2015) – one of the things that need paying attention to is; why did we fail to achieve the milestones? Why did Zimbabwe fall short on so many of the indicators? Central to these questions, is the issue of resources. This is because no policy, however brilliant, cannot be successfully implemented without the required financial and human resources. These resources can be attained where there is a clear fundraising strategy. Usually states fundraise through sustained economic growth in areas such as taxation, trade and consequently decreasing debt.
Zimbabwe has seen a steady growth of the GDP since 2009 recovering from the terrible 2007-2009 period of economic decline. However this growth has not translated into increased income in the home. External debt remains high, pegged at 113 % of the GDP. Overall availability of vital medicines has increased although there is low production of drugs, with CAPS-the leading pharmaceutical company- almost shutting down. There is general improvement in access to cellular networks and internet with about 20% coverage. 65 in every 1000 people have access to a laptop. However the uptake of ICT’s remains largely centralised to the young and urban population. The lack of ICT legislation continues to hamper access.
What have we done well?
- The Economic Recovery Programme implemented by former Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, emphasised economic and governance reforms which brought stability and recovery to the economy
- Overall availability of vital medicines has remained stable because of the local production of drugs, enough to actually export some of the drugs.
- Our creation and use of technology continues to improve; both mobile penetration and internet usage have significantly increased.
- We are linked to both the Seacom and the EASSy undersea fibre optic cables, developments that have significantly improved our country’s internet connectivity.
What have we not done well?
- We have no industry to talk of. Our manufacturing sector is still underproductive because of the many challenges it faces such as electricity load shedding and the liquidity crunch.
- Domestic policy such as indigenisation and land reform, whose implementation is unclear continue to pose a threat to investment resulting in low foreign direct investment
- Our proud and arrogant stance in our engagement with the international community continues to alienate possible allies in spearheading economic recovery.
- The health sector still relies heavily on foreign funding, with our main donors being the Unites States, the European Commission, the United Kingdom and Australia. Our own government has not dedicated enough money to fund our health system.
- We have not taken full advantage of our membership to regional integration initiatives such as COMESA, SADC and EU-ACP; for instance, we have not utilised the fact that SADC is a Free Trade Area which represents a large market to our goods and produce.
- Although we are producing and exporting vital medicines, they are still expensive for the average person on the ground; as there is a leaning towards protecting the interests of the pharmaceuticals above those of the patients who are just ordinary citizens
- We do not have an ICT policy to regulate the ICT industry resulting in stunted growth in that area.
What more can we do?
- We need to re-engage the international community understanding that we live in a global village where we need allies and partners. Re-engagement should not mean begging, we do not need donations- we need good trade relations in which we bargain for the true value of our goods, both processed and raw.
- We need an ICT policy to cater to the needs of a constantly changing technology landscape
- We must learn lessons from the region. Rwanda is a good example, especially where the health system is concerned. In just 19 years Rwanda;
- increased its life expectancy from 28 years to 56 years;
- decreased the size of its population living below the poverty line from 77.8% to 44.9%;
- decreased child deaths from 18% to 6%;
- increased the size of the population with health insurance from almost 0% to 90.6%;
- maternal mortality dropped by 60%;
- HIV,TB and Malaria deaths decreased by close to 80%;
- The poorest pay nothing to access health care.
We have so much potential as a nation. We do not need aid! We have enough resources. If we deal with corruption, work to redistribute our resources equitably ad ensure that everyone, and not just the big fat-fatty cats continue to benefit, the challenge of failing to implement the MDG’s will cease to exist and be another old archive in the history books.