There was a time where there was a very successful instrument like that in the Zimbabwe market and it needs to be restored. Because at times without the counterpart domestic investors, foreign investors cannot come in because they don’t see who else is there and who has something to lose they could partner with in order to protect everyone’s interests.
There is the issue of getting strong, sustained growth on the right trajectory and move Zimbabwe to middle income status; that should be the aim and that should generate collectable and taxable revenues from across the economy.
Revenue collection systems vastly improved but the informal sector has not been part of the equation. For that I advocate that we look at technology but I don’t think we should spend time doing that. I think the important thing to do with the informal sector is to provide the infrastructure that allows them to do what they do. If it is about electricity provision, or stores where they sell their wares make sure those are provided, special spaces are provided then we find clever ways to collect revenue from them.
I think the attitude for Zimbabwe should be to invest in understanding innovations and often central banks are too slow in investing in these technologies. But there are other countries which are moving faster. If you look at the Swiss central bank they are investing in and understanding bitcoin. One can pay for travel using bitcoin in Switzerland.
So if these countries can see value in this and where it’s headed, we should also pay attention. We have innovative youngsters so the idea shouldn’t be to stop it and say don’t do this but rather the regulators should invest in catching up with them and find ways to understand it, then you regulate it because you now understand it. I would actually encourage the central bank to create a unit to try and understand cryptocurrency.
In terms of trade deals, we should look everywhere; not East, not West. Secondly, because the relationship with the West has not been very good maybe more emphasis should be placed there now so that we restore that relationship.
For example with Brexit in the UK, I think if UK people ask me what they really need now is friends within the Commonwealth and my view is Zimbabwe must join the family of the Commonwealth and let’s have trade agreements with the UK because they also need that because of their own fractures in terms of the Brexit process.
So let’s look everywhere but again don’t ignore China because that’s where the money is. Everyone is looking to China, it’s not just us even the whole of Europe, this idea of the Chinese, of the global silk road is real and we have to make sure we don’t lose out and we should benefit as much as we can. But let’s negotiate well and fairer deals and maybe there is something to learn about the Chinese.
Why is it you go into the middle of some country in Africa where maybe you and I are not even comfortable but you find Chinese people there, they can’t even speak the local language but you find they are doing business and trading. Maybe they understand risk differently, maybe there’s something to learn.
By Mthuli Ncube for The Source