UJ’s Centre for Africa-China Studies re-imagining development in Zimbabwe

​Zimbabwe is beset by a serious crisis of governance. This crisis has given birth to political, economic, social, ideological, and humanitarian problems in the country. While it is true that the colonial legacy bequeathed serious problems to all post-colonial African states, the contribution of African leaders themselves to some of the problems must not be ignored.

These were the sentiments shared on Thursday, 15 August, as the University of Johannesburg Library at the Auckland Park campus hosted a seminar organised by the Centre for Africa-China Studies (CACS), titled ‘A New Dispensation Tackling Accumulated Challenges: Understanding Zimbabwe’s Future Prospects.’ In attendance were high commissions of various countries, academics, students, business and community leaders.

The seminar featured a presentation by His Excellency David Hamadziripi the Ambassador of Zimbabwe to South Africa and the Kingdom of Lesotho, a response by Professor Chris Landsberg (Chair of the SARChI: Foreign Policy and Diplomacy at UJ); Dr Nolitha Vukuza (Senior Director in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, UJ) served as the chair of the session.

“The Southern African region, and the continent as a whole, has undergone major transformations in the past two years on the political and economic realm. Changes of such a magnitude always present opportunity to address and overturn some persistent challenges” said Dr Vukuza in her opening remarks.

“We are also honoured to be joined by the Ambassador to address us on the horizons Zimbabwe is looking towards, including most prominently its goal to become a middle income economy by the year 2030,” as she welcomed the main speaker.

In his presentation, Ambassador Hamadziripi stated that “the new dispensation or the New Zimbabwe inherited a mixed set of circumstances. It inherited a peaceful country and yet a highly polarised society even though the events that ushered in the Second Republic were peaceful and characterised by unprecedented displays of unity and harmony across political, racial and other divides. The fact remains that the Second Republic was born in an environment in which domestic politics had become poisoned, rancorous and polarizing.”

On the way forward, the country propounded a new vision for itself. “This vision and the reforms attendant to it are contained in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme [TSP] which covers the period October 2018 to December 2020 and aspires “Towards a Prosperous and Empowered Upper Middle Income Society by 2030″. In crafting the Programme, the government sought and received inputs from various stakeholders who include business, labour, civic society, development partners, among others.” In closing, the Ambassador stated that “The positive effects of these reforms will not show overnight, they will take time to do so. Rebuilding and building takes time. Zimbabwe is moving in the right direction.”

In his response, Professor Landsberg commended the reforms being touted in Zimbabwe, but also made reference to historical cases of reform processes being frustrated by ingrained interests and corruption. “In the DRC we thought Mobutu Sese Seko was gone, but we quickly saw that Mobutiusm remained,” he said, while warning of the potential of a remaining “Mugabeism” despite the new dispensation. He nevertheless noted the remaining hope and persistence of the Zimbabwean people.

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