50 Years Is Enough: The Case against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund

By Kevin Danaher | Go to book overview

17
Zimbabwe: SAP Means "Suffering
for African People"

Michael O'Heaney

Two years after the implementation of structural adjustment in Zimbabwe, it is becoming clearer day by day that the impressive gains made under the government's "growth with equity" program are being reversed. The SAP implemented by the government has acquired another name among the majority of Zimbabweans, "Suffering for African People." One unemployed Zimbabwean claims, "For most of us, SAP has brought all the hardships and none of the benefits expected when it was introduced."

Far from bringing greater democracy and equality in a "second revolution" to wipe out poverty, the SAP in Zimbabwe is driving a wedge between the people and their government, hijacking the goals of liberation and reversing the social advances made following independence in 1980. While the Zimbabwean government, World Bank and IMF blunder ahead in a fog of optimism about the progress of structural adjustment, suspicion is growing about where the SAP is taking Zimbabwe and at what cost.


Structural Adjustment Programs

A cornerstone of the adjustment program is the withdrawal of government from the economy of the country. Zimbabwe has now opened its doors'to external investment and external competition in the hope that these two principles of free market ideology will stimulate its industry and boost its share of exports in world trade. But, as one worker recently dismissed from his job complained, "competition is fine, but if you run a race you have to make sure that everyone starts off from the same place. These industries from abroad are decades ahead of us. How on earth are we supposed to match their resources?"

The IMF and World Bank demanded that the Zimbabwean economy be opened up for competition through the SAP. Some claim it is hypocrisy to ask a poor country like Zimbabwe to open itself up to economic competition when this is not repeated at the global level. They

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