On the 4th of July America celebrated its independence day.
In fact in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1776 America made a declaration announcing that the thirteen colonies (which were then at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain) would regard themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states no longer under British rule.
This makes the United States of America 242 years old.
Interestingly, at the time that the American founding fathers made the declaration of independence, the economy was only beginning to industrialize, and this was essentially the process of expanding cottage industries (what we call in Zimbabwe “home-based-industries”) to larger scales.
Historians note that around the time of the American Declaration of Independence, most production in the 13 colonies was agricultural, and at least 90% of eighteenth-century Americans made their living on the land.
Of course, we cannot ignore that black slaves had been working on American plantations since slavery began in in 1619, and undoubtedly African slaves helped build the American nation into an economic powerhouse through the production of lucrative crops such as tobacco and cotton.
Nevertheless, my argument here is centered on the fact that at the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, America had three key economic assets. These are land, minerals, and labour.
Sound similar? Of course! That’s because on a smaller scale, Zimbabwe is also very rich in those three key resources.
However it was the deliberate and focused attitude of the American leadership at the time of the industrial revolution that transformed that country into the giant it is today.
The Industrial Revolution
The industrial revolution was largely characterized by automation based on the establishment of infrastructure, which in the American context were the railway and the steam train.
In our context, this is what President Emmerson Mnangagwa has repeatedly referred to as the mechanization of agriculture and mining and the widening of our infrastructure base.
Also, the industrial revolution saw to the urbanization of America’s rural communities and consequently the expansion of markets for goods. Ultimately this allowed for an increase in the American standard of living.
Furthermore the proliferation of free market capitalism (despite its flaws) incentivized scientific innovation and rewarded hard work.
All in all, one hundred years after its independence, America had become a global force.
In fact, by 1900, the United States had one half of the world’s manufacturing capacity and had overtaken Great Britain both in iron, steel production and in coal production.
I have often heard people speaking negatively about vendors, and how the informal economy in Zimbabwe is nothing more than a nuisance.
I do understand the logic behind those arguments especially when they come from rate paying shop-owners and business-people that have to accommodate vegetable sellers who sometimes urinate at their shop’s door-step.
However, I have argued before and I will state again here that our informal economy in Zimbabwe is a constant reminder of our backslide from an industrialized, advanced middle-income economy to the informal economy we are today.
Yet if we ponder over America’s experience form 1776, we can see that our future is filled with possibilities.
We are rich in land and mineral resources like America was when it began its industrial revolution. We also have an expansive and educated pool of labour.
But more than anything else, we now have the political will to re-industrialize, after years of isolationism and counter-productive politics.
In this light I give credit to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” program.
His efforts have once again put Zimbabwe on the international radar for the right reasons and over the months since November 2017 we have seen delegation after delegation from different parts of the globe coming in to register their interests in the Zimbabwe.
Clearly what we need now is to allow President Emmerson Mnangagwa to serve a full term in office during which Zimbabwe can undergo the process of re-industrialization.
Judging from American History, what is certain is that the re-industrialization of Zimbabwe is a real possibility if we focus as a nation after July 30.
At the end of the day, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” program presents a real opportunity for Zimbabwe to under-go an economic revolution and consequently and economic boom going forward.
For that reason I believe he deserves a full term in office.
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