Accra, May 19, 2009– The Zimbabwe Papers, a major report released today by 9 of Africa's most respected think-tanks, examines the causes of Zimbabwe's social and economic problems and offers a blueprint for urgent and practical reform that will enable the country to become a thriving, peaceful and prosperous country.
Over the past decade, average incomes in Zimbabwe have declined by more than two-thirds and life expectancy has fallen by 20 years. The cause is clear: policies implemented by Zimbabwe's government. As Franklin CUDJOE, Executive Director of Ghanaian think tank, IMANI and editor of www.AfricanLiberty.org and a Commissioner of The Zimbabwe Papers, points out:
“Zimbabwe is the epitome of how a typical African breadbasket could easily slip into a chaotic basket case in less than a generation and we, as Africans, must recognise that the reason for this is the Government's failed policies. We have attempted to proffer policy solutions-which are clearly laid out in this policy-makers' manual to make Zimbabwe shine again.”
The Zimbabwe Papers addresses the main problems facing the people of Zimbabwe, from the constant threat of violence, to the crumbling health care system, to one of the worst cases of hyperinflation in World history. It describes the main policy errors that have led to these problems and emphasises the need to take urgent action to reverse them.
The top priority is simultaneously to provide reliable money and reduce government expenditure. Transactions are now being conducted in US dollars and South African rands, which has greatly increased business activity and stabilised prices. Re-establishing a local currency would require adopting a currency board or pegging the currency to a major stable currency. Other urgent actions advocated by The Zimbabwe Papers include:
• Ending the arbitrary violence inflicted by the military and police on Zimbabwean citizens.
• Reducing and simplifying taxes and tariffs, in order to reduce corruption, improve the climate for entrepreneurs, and increase government revenue
• Reducing the burden of regulations, which currently prohibit entrepreneurs from creating formal businesses, drive economic activity underground and reduce government revenue
• Supporting the rule of law – essential for a peaceful, well functioning liberal democracy
Rejoice Ngwenya of Coalition for Liberal Market Solutions, a think tank based in Harare says, “Zimbabweans have been persecuted by continuous state violence and destabilising, destructive economic policies that made the country one of the least hospitable business environments on earth. Zimbabweans must be able to live and work in an environment conducive to entrepreneurship; that means, sound money, simplified regulations, and low taxes. Only then will Zimbabwe get back to work.”
The Commissioners of the Zimbabwe Papers conclude, “We believe that Zimbabwe's leadership must look in the mirror and accept that most of their problems are the result of their own misguided policies. If Zimbabwe is to reverse course and become a thriving economy once again, it must stop blaming outside forces and focus on reforming its domestic situation.”
“At some point, the dominance of state-sponsored plunder will evaporate and make way for sustainable reform. When this opportunity comes, Zimbabweans will have to move quickly to rediscover the rule of law, constrain government, and grant their citizens important economic and political rights. The Zimbabwe Papers provides Zimbabwean reformers with a plan for their renewal and the brave Zimbabwean citizens, who dared to stand up against illegitimate, immoral leadership, the information they need to put their country back on a path to peace and prosperity.”
*The Zimbabwe Papers: A Positive Agenda for Zimbabwean Renewal http://zimbabwepapers.wordpress.com .