The call is made out of the realisation that its only Zimbabweans who can sustainably build their nation
By Dr Eddie Mahembe
Today’s article in the Zimbabwe Digital Express is a continuation of the previous three articles on the call for Zimbabwe and African countries in general to consider establishing Public-Private-Community Partnership (PPCP) model as a panacea for building unity, improve access to quality infrastructure, and addressing development challenges such as unemployment, low economic growth, poverty, and inequality.
We have argued that a PPCP model does not only offer opportunities for citizen empowerment, but also ensures that the government’s policies are pro-poor, inclusive and sustainable.
As a refresher, let me briefly define some key terms.
Public–private partnership (PPP or 3P), which refers to the involvement of the private sector in the development and provision of public services, has been used in Zimbabwe and other jurisdictions.
PPCP is an extension of the PPP model, through incorporating the community (citizen) sector.
Our definition of community is very broad, and includes community affected by the project, Zimbabweans currently residing in the country and those in the diaspora.
The community/citizens can also include a group of Zimbabweans such as an association, society, non-governmental organisation or any other grouping with investment or socio-economic development of Zimbabwe as part of its objectives.
I would want to emphasise that the call for the establishment of the PPCP framework in Zimbabwe is not a call for donations from the government. Rather, it is a call for direct inclusion of Zimbabwean citizens in the development of their country.
The call is made out of the realisation that its only Zimbabweans who can sustainably build their nation.
Yes, other countries such as South Africa, China, America, Britain, etc. can help, but ultimately, we are responsible for the development of our nation! The call should is an innovative suggestion to the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ).
It’s my argument that the GoZ cannot successfully deliver sustainable socio-economic development without the active participation of the citizens.
For example, the Zimbabwean diaspora community is estimated to have sent personal remittances averaging around US$2 billion per annum over the last few years.
Word Remit estimated that Zimbabwe was one of the top five beneficiaries of international remittances in Africa in 2019. Imagine if part of this money could be used for infrastructure development through a build-operate-and-transfer (BOT) arrangement.
Thus, Zimbabwean citizens would not only directly fund infrastructure development but benefit from the use of the same infrastructure over an agreed period.
Let me illustrate this point further. The GoZ recently announced the envisaged modernisation of the Beitbridge Border post, estimated to cost around US$300 million, through a PPP under the BOT arrangement. All the four South African major banks will be part of this project.
It is estimated that there are around 3-4 million Zimbabweans in South Africa. Assuming that one million Zimbabweans in diaspora each contribute R2 000 during the two years of the Beitbridge Border post construction, this will translate to ZAR 2 billion (around US$100 million).
We have argued that many Zimbabweans will be proud to be part of building this strategic infrastructure.
Furthermore, within the next 17 and half years, part of the proceeds from this key infrastructure will go directly into the pockets of citizens. That is real empowerment.
The Urgency of Public-Private-Community Partnerships in Zimbabwe
This week I was in Zimbabwe during the Easter Holiday. I was in Harare for two days, briefly visited Masvingo town and spent the greater portion of my holiday in Zaka, our rural home.
Though not representative of the entire nation, I got a glimpse of the capital city, a small town and life in the rural areas.
This visit convinced me of the urgency of the provision of quality infrastructure, which facilitates trade, migration, and overall economic growth.
I saw with my own eyes the dilapidation of municipal flats in Mucheke and Mbare. In Glen View, like other suburbs, sewage was flowing inside houses.
Potholes were the order of the day in towns and even highways. Network coverage was extremely poor. I could hardly open Facebook or email applications while in Zaka.
Occasionally, I would receive some WhatsApp messages, but I could not upload pictures or short videos of my exploits in the fields. It was like I had gone back in time!
There is no doubt that the gap between the current infrastructure and where the country needs to be for the realisation Vision 2030 is huge.
It is well documented that GoZ has limited fiscal space due to its international debt and the decades long economic crisis, now worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Though the GoZ is currently busy repairing roads and attending to other infrastructure needs, the PPCP model can allow it to refocus its resources towards critical sectors such as education, health and social security.
Starting with the Beitbridge Border post project, the PPCP model can be deployed in the development and delivery of roads, railway lines, airports, electricity, water and sanitation, hospitals, schools, ICT infrastructure, etc. There are endless possibilities.
Author: Dr Eddie Mahembe is an Interim Chairperson of the Zimbabweans United for Progress (ZUFP). He holds a PhD in (Development) Economics, MCom in Economics, BCom Honours in Econometrics and BSc. Honours in Economics. He can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org
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