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 Temba Nolutshungu of The Free Market Foundation, Commissioner of The Zimbabwe Papers, points out:
"Zimbabwe has turned from Africa’s breadbasket into a basket case in less than a generation and we, as Africans, must recognise that the reason for this is the Government’s failed policies. Once we understand the reason, we can implement solutions – which are clearly laid out in this policy-makers’ manual."
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
Franklin Cudjoe of IMANI: The Centre for Policy & Education, Ghana, another Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Papers 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 ZANU-PF 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 Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF 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."