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From land to industrial revolution: A call for Zimbabwe to embrace sweatshops?

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  • It is time for another renaissance in Zimbabwe. The land reform is almost water under the bridge. The trajectory now should be on transitioning through the pain to an industrial revolution. Once this becomes the norm, even Vision 2030 would be attained within the set next 8 years.

By Witness Muronzi

NOW that the dust on Zimbabwe’s land reform program, which created ructions between her and the West is settling down and with new farmers, specifically young people awakening to the fact that agriculture is a sustainable business coupled with the New Dispensation led by His Excellency, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s timeous distribution of inputs through various schemes, the country is certainly undergoing an agricultural revolution.

Judging by the 2020-2021 agricultural season’s produce, the availability of good rains has shown that indeed, Zimbabweans are good farmers who can compete, and even surpass the former white commercial farmers.

The same can be noted in the mining sector, which is also undergoing a rigorous transition to an extent that the country is targeting a US$12 billion dollar mining industry by the year 2023. The discovery of rare minerals such as lithium is excited to every ear that is interested in green politics as electric cars are slowly but surely replacing the ones that burn gas in order to preserve the environment and reduce carbon emissions, which are contributing towards depletion of the ozone layer.

However, Zimbabwe’s bane lies in the export of raw materials without beneficiating them. Raw materials are exported for a song hence reduction in values therefrom. It becomes imperative for the country to halt export of raw minerals and other agricultural products that can be beneficiated and be exported as finished products.

There is need to enact laws that protect Zimbabwe’s industry from ‘vampire capitalists’ who like Dracula are sucking the life out of Zimbabwe’s natural resources, which are by the way not expandable. Be they from the East or from the West, international relations has taught students of politics that all states pursue self-interests.

There is no state that wishes Zimbabwe well unless it wants to benefit from that relationship. Thus, the country should now move from a horse-rider relationship and start to retain control over its territorial integrity and start to guard jealously its sovereign wealth, which by the way is not expandable as resources get depleted.

Embracing the Chinese fourth 5year plan, which promoted rapid industrialization into our five year National Development Strategy (NDS), a driver towards Vision 2030, which aims to make Zimbabwe an upper middle income economy by 2030 becomes imperative.

In the late 1970s, China set up special economic zones to attract foreign capital and boost exports as the means to integrate regional and global economies. Thus, there is need to import new skills set instead of having foreigners opening tuck-shops in the country. What the country needs are foreigners who bring required machinery, experts that imparts skills to locals and setting up of refineries by mining companies in order to stop the export of raw minerals.

It is time for another renaissance in Zimbabwe. The land reform is almost water under the bridge. The trajectory now should be on transitioning through the pain to an industrial revolution. Once this becomes the norm, even Vision 2030 would be attained within the set next 8 years.

The questions that comes to the fore then is how? The answer is simple! Zimbabwe has to embrace and promote sweatshops?

Sweatshops are generally characterized as places of employment that are motivated by production more than worker welfare. There is no forced labour but only voluntary work based on signed contracts. The goal behind the rise of sweatshops is production as business is concerned with making profits.

At the same time, the emergence of sweatshops has contributed to employment creation in Third World countries as well as advancement of their economies. What only needs to be done is to improve on the minimum working standards in order to reduce work related injuries and deaths.

Thus, Zimbabwe can provide transnational corporations with a huge potential reserve for low-paid and disciplined workers thereby transforming from being a mere supplier of raw materials in the capitalist world economy to being a site for manufacturing industries and producing goods that are competitive in the world market. [to be continued].

Witness Muronzi
  • About the author: Witness Muronzi is a student of Politics and a social commentator.
  • Witness can be contacted via email: muronziwitness@gmail.com

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