In John Robertson’s passing (1937-2022), Zimbabwe has lost one of its most eminent economists. Throughout his professional life, he remained a voice of conscience while bearing witness to the best and worst moments of Zimbabwe’s economic journey. Having experienced an era when the economy was thriving and supportive of business, legitimate wealth creation and citizen well-being, John Robertson consistently questioned the ineffective and detrimental economic policies that have led Zimbabwe’s economy to its collapse. On his passing, his sobering observations on the cost of bad governance, 41 years after Zimbabwe’s independence, remain crucial to consider:
We have built thousands, millions of very poor people in this country today…and this is a tragedy because this should be a relatively wealthy country. This was one of the most developed countries in the whole of Africa, until 1980…and now we are right at the bottom of the list.
Yet he was not without solutions. In spite of operating within a socio-political and economic environment that was not receptive to reform, he tirelessly raised his voice in charting a path towards recovery, calling for new, investor-friendly, progressive policies. He spoke truth to power and carried an undying hope that Zimbabwe’s economy could still be set on a recovery trajectory if sound economic governance principles were upheld and implemented. He believed that within an appropriate governance framework, Zimbabwe’s vast mineral, agricultural and human resources provided an ideal launchpad towards its recovery.
As Good Governance Africa, we join the rest of the world in celebrating an economics giant and good governance advocate, whose visionary insights should serve to guide Zimbabwe to a more prosperous future. May his dear soul rest peace.