It is beyond dispute that the Zimbabwean economy has experienced serious shocks over the past decade, most generated from within.
Though Zimbabwe has not been at war since 1979, most experts say it will be appropriate to treat its reconstruction as a post-conflict situation rather than one qualifying simply for traditional development practice and assistance.
The scale and combined effect of the economic collapse, the political violence and social trauma, the breakdown of basic services, the erosion of economic foundations, the de-formalisation of the economy, the mass flight of people and capital experienced resemble the experience of countries that had been at war.
The 33percent contraction of its economy far exceeds the 25percent suffered by Sierra Leone, the 19percent in the DRC and the 7percent in Ivory Coast.
Political conflict in Zimbabwe has produced high levels of suspicion, low levels of trust and a deterioration of social capital. And once-effective social services no longer function properly.
There are no quick fixes. In dealing with the the challenges we must:
l Encourage the emergence of robust, broadly supported economic and political institutions that underpin economic performance and facilitate democratic processes;
lPromote an environment in which private enterprise can again flourish under a high degree of certainty and predictability;
lGenerally suggest a broad conceptual framework within which key strategies could be pursued in a reconstruction phase. But how far should we go?
We should not push for any particular model of private enterprise because these choices lie with Zimbabwe. We must entrench or re-establish the core institutions required to make any version of capitalism work effectively - stable, convertible currencies; liberalised trade and foreign investment; private property rights; corporate control of large enterprises and a social safety net. This basic institutional infrastructure can be adapted to local cultural and social circumstances.
l An edited version of an address by the University of Pretoria's Raymond Parsons and convenor at the National Economic Development and Labour Council. For full address, visit www.sowetan.co.za