Zimbabwe At The Millennium Crossroads


                                      Dr Duncan Clarke

                                Global Pacific & Partners



What would it take to manage a country with a high-success potential in the Old World of the 20th Century in such a way as to royally and perhaps permanently disadvantage it in multi-dimensional ways for the 21st Century of competition and globalisation ?

What is required to position a diversified economy in a manner so as to guarantee that it loses, perhaps forever ?

Do not ask Mr Mugabe: he would not even understand this strategy, although the Zimbabwe Government has been the unwitting Architect of its conception, design and execution.

So examine the superb work Mugabe’s Government has made of  “Success in Failure”, in a landmark experience over 20 years that will in time stand out as an art form and prove to be a Harvard Case Study: in Managing the Art of Deconstruction.

The Strategy


There are a number of steps. So follow carefully.

Inherit the past without experience, and rapidly re-write its history and policies indiscriminately, especially in terms of economic realities. This way, success does not stand in your way, and a free hand is ensured. Let not the “facts of the market” stand in the way of a good theory, and if they do then change the facts not the theory or its application.

Inflate a large inherited State system and radically expand your Public Service, and their salary costs, to the point of excess just when the Rest-of-World is doing the opposite to ensure competitive governance.

And do not require any improvement in State productivity, upgrading of basic work practices and the like – especially in Government (whether in Cabinet, Ministries, Parastatals or Local Government).

Take your under-indebted status and borrow massively, to the limit. And likewise, convert your investment-driven economic structure to an aid dependent entity.

Offset the tyranny of geography and your landlocked situation with further self-imposed economic isolation, just to add extra pressure to the historical autarchy that had been framed within rigid sanctions.

Compound matters, and create a progressive lack of confidence, by demonstrating an increasing and erratic degree of mis-understanding of global economic changes, shifting world markets, and international standards – preferably in as many spheres as possible.

Make not friends but hostile parties of global economic dynamos which fome the source of investment funds, trade relations, and multi-bilateral loans and aid: especially United States, Britain, Western Europe – and notably those benign Donors who had been for strange reasons pre-disposed to throw funds at your increasingly “soft” projects.

Encourage a rampant cronyism and lack of accountability in Government and in its allied business relationships – with foreign investors, local players and others – and never admit by your actions that there is any need for transparency in Presidential accounts, State-Owned companies (of which you must build as many inefficient ones as possible), and Parliamentary or political affairs. This will help discourage investors, which are basically a nuisance anyhow for the proper execution of the strategy of deconstruction.

For new investors, ask them to give perhaps a 30-50% equity stake to your favourite charities, associates or “business” friends.  While they will be less than delighted, you will probably not then have to deal with them again.

Impoverish your people in employment and those without jobs, as well as rural folk, in a systematic manner, and across all social indicators (unemployment, health, education), and ensure that income per head after inflation falls sharply on a downward trend.

Borrow wherever worldwide, and in hard currencies, while you mismanage the local currency – just to ensure that structural damage is embedded in the financial system. Encourage and bail out with public funds “shaky banking” institutions.

Make the fiscus the first claim on available local net funds and borrowings, and spend these randomly and without acuity or wisdom – in such a way that there is little net return, and if you can manage it, then do not act to fix mega accumulated losses in State-Owned entities.

At this point, enter into public and irresoluble disputes with IMF and World Bank – just to make it more difficult to entice stray investors into the country, and to encourage local companies to collapse under the weight of  accelerated implosion.

Allow your State-Owned National Oil Company to continue to be grossly inefficient and corrupt, and a major loss-leader. And make sure that many Parastatals follow this shining example.

“Borrow” from your neighbours to pay for electricity, by allowing a payment arrears to accumulate, and regularly shut down the power system to prejudice industry and consumers.

Disconnect your citizens from the rest of humanity: inter alia, then control the Media, harass the independent Press, and discourage all criticism. Give those intellectuals at University and in Civil Society a tough time, as they can be rather bothersome.

Make sure that your Party only receives regular funds from the Treasury, and no-one else qualifies for the same. Conduct less than equal Election campaigns, in an incoherent and anti-constitutional manner. You would not want to be mistaken for a Democrat.

Take your best export-generating and labour-intensive industries and find as many policies as feasible to undermine their success: they may spoil the model you wish to have installed.

Follow the stellar North Korean economic experience, and other dubious economic models, that have also failed with transparent success. Call this Smart Partnership: some may even believe you.

Appoint a Minister of Finance without Finance, so that he too is guaranteed to follow the Path to Penury. When the time it ripe, you can always blame him.

Control the currency and exchange rate as much as possible, and never allow it to reach real market value: such an untoward achievement might by chance enable long-run recovery, and that is not inside the domain strategy.

Try to put regulations and controls on entrepreneurs, markets and commodities, as flexible markets may create jobs and tax receipts: you will not need the latter as you can forcibly borrow with impunity.

And if inflation goes ballistic, do not worry since you are after all wholly immunized.

Change your Constitution at will, primarily to serve political purposes, and preferably each year: this will tell the world and investors that your regime is unreliable.

Grant whole-scale Presidential pardons to serious lawbreakers that inadvertently, and with unconstrained violence, support your own strategies.

Do not be concerned about property rights, as these inhibit your freedom of action, and when taken to Court, ignore the Judiciary’s edicts, as you can always blame someone else – preferably the long lost and probably confused Colonial Masters, their shrinking numbers of assumed offspring, and even your Official Opposition.

Never allow failure and evidence thereof to affect your Government and its related business interests, but ensure that the failure of your strategies affects everyone else and their interests.

Encourage at the outset the maximal exodus of brains, talent and persons from communities that do not vote for you. This will induce the form of stability you desire.

Make sure that as much as possible is centralized in your hands, and do not stay at home that much to deal with the consequences, as you might then be required to fix what others (wrongly of course) perceive as problematic.

Entrench bureaucracy and incompetence in your Government and anywhere else that can make a difference. Tax tourists for instance, and make it more difficult for them to spend money in your country. Make sure that the cost of doing business is on the rise – preferably forever.

Start a little war, and grow it to the maximum. Do not heed any advice tendered. This is good for the ego, and the regional risks and instability borne by others.

Proclaim this adventure to be in your country’s strategic interest, and ignore popular hostility to this “democratic military mission”, and the mounting costs it imposes on taxpayers. If it bankrupts your Government, then that is for the better.

Indeed, shrink the tax base as much as you can, and allow the infrastructure to decline. This will reduce the need to maintain it.

Stand aloof from privatization for as long as possible, slow it down, execute it with calculated incompetence, and swell the public debt.

Provide disincentives to investment and encourage negative rates of return as much as possible.

Applying the Strategy


These are but a few of the lessons to learn, and apply with intensity.

And if you can manage to do all of these at the same time, then you will have mastered the fine but complex Art of Deconstruction.

If you can do all this for long enough, then it might prove impossible to rebuild earlier constructs. They only form an integral part of the Neo-Colonial conspiracy anyhow, and so do not really matter that much.

Congratulations. You are a world-class winner, and will have no need of the globalised world - just as it will have no further need of you.