By Reason Wafawarova
Our politicians must come to a fundamental understanding that life must carry a sense of direction, from past to present, and from present to future, otherwise it is simply not worthy the journey of living.
No doubt we Zimbabweans are often given this unprolific present based on our heroic liberation war past, but equally of no doubt is the fact that we are given a bleak present shorn of a future, resulting in many of our bewildered people behaving like schizophrenics.
We cannot hope to build a sound society by entertaining political leaders who believe they can manipulate the past and the present in order to create a false sense of hope in our people. Politicians thrive on manipulating public opinion, and many times they find in the youth a vulnerable component of our society where it is fairly achievable to manipulate mentality, sanity, and the ability to deal with reality.
Our young people are often manipulated wherever and whenever political ills like violence, intolerance, vote buying, and lawlessness are talked about, and even rebel wars are often all centered on the energy of youths, guided or misguided.
Zimbabwe boasts of fairly high standards of intellectual structures and powers, being Africa’s highest literacy; thanks to the post-independence mass education drive. However, these intellectual structures are obviously underdeveloped, restricted, and they are very alienating. We boast of alienated knowledge that can only be used in the interest of aliens, and that is why we believe that without foreign investors flocking in to create employment for us, we are a doomed people, and as things stand, indeed we are.
We are in a country with precious natural wealth, but we are slaves of the unwritten rule that says none but foreigners can develop our natural resources. We have mathematicians, scientists, and all manner of professors who know everything else except who they are, academics with no connection whatsoever with their own people, history and identity.
One of the reasons our politicians bloviate so much about the Western-imposed illegal sanctions as the main stalling factor to the performance of our economy is precisely because we have a huge problem using alienated knowledge for our own benefit, and that is why only the presence of Western investors would make our knowledge useful.
Our fellow countrymen that have left the country for Western “greener pastures” are very useful in advancing the visions and goals of their foreign employers, and there is no doubt that we rank among the most reliable and competent employees in the world.
We are excellent custodians of other people’s business interests and dreams, and we foolishly believe that this kind of expertise can build our nation into an industrialised country.
There is a worrying disconnect between our knowledge and our historical and cultural structure, and that is exactly why we can get so many degrees in business administration but we are totally incapable of building any businesses of our own. We have so many engineers graduating year after year from our local universities and from abroad, but we still have to come to a day when we can celebrate a simple water filter designed by a Zimbabwean engineer.
Our ZANU-PF politicians prattle a lot about wealth creation when they are not at each other’s throats to fill the 245 seats that make up the party’s Central Committee, or ruthlessly fighting in the vainglorious factional wars. They preach vociferously about indigenisation and the land reform policy, but somehow we live in a country where the two biggest companies are a brewery and a mobile network company.
Some of our new farmers have resorted to leasing their land to aliens, even to the former white farmers from whom they acquired that land, and it is sad that the highest talking point of our indigenisation policy has not ben in anyway related to production. Rather it has been the ill-fated Community Share Schemes – themselves a consumerist phenomenon where profit proceeds are ceded to communities, ostensibly for developmental purposes.
One would think that production oriented policy would supersede distributive policy, but we are inherently a consuming people, are we not? We always do our economics the other way around.
We preach economic empowerment to our people, and yet we command no coping skills for the empowerment we sermonise so much about. For years we have heard our politicians talk about value addition to our minerals, but at no time have we heard them talking about using proceeds from our raw diamonds to develop diamond-cutting firms. For all we have heard, the country raucously agrees that the diamond proceeds must be used to hike salaries for our civil servants and our parliamentarians, and of course to feed our starving population.
Our natural wealth is worthy billions of dollars, but we are a people that can only spend money, so hopelessly unable to make it. This is why at our greatest point of need, the best we can do is sustain a company whose core business is supplying beer, and another specialising in talking and gossip.
We are told the theme of the ongoing ZANU-PF conference is “Accelerated Implementation of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.” Zimbabweans would very easily settle for normal pace implementation of the $27 billion dollar economic blue print, and they most surely are not too worried about “acceleration,” at this point in time, for the simple reason that most of us are aware that we have not exactly started walking, and as such we are just incapable of acceleration.
ZimAsset informs us that within the next four years Zimbabwe will seek to achieve food security and adequate nutrition for its people, that the country will embark on a sufficient social services and poverty eradication program, that we are going to see a reformed infrastructure with all basic utilities, and that the country will finally be doing value addition and beneficiation for our raw minerals, and perhaps agricultural products.
We already have a law in place to enforce remittances to the Sovereign Wealth Fund, and we sincerely hope that the government will be informing us on how much the fund holds. Well, little Botswana already has the third largest Sovereign Wealth Fund on the continent, and with the right political will and commitment we could equally come up with something for the future generations.
Our economists tell us that the country is suffering a cash crunch at the moment. But are we really suffering from lack of money? No way!
We are suffering from the absence of an economic system. Money is not a system; money is simply a current medium of exchange. A system involves a systematic and organised way of economic production, a systematised utilisation and distribution of resources. We lack the system, the pattern, the organisation, and as such we barely have an economy in motion, unpatriotic as this may sound.
With an economic system and pattern that has over 80% of the national revenue going to salaries of civil servants, we simply do not have an economic base from which we can expect the generation of money. This is why we have our land in our hands, but we are still poor, why we have so many natural resources, but we still suffer intensive cash crunches.
Every maladjusted characteristic in the black Zimbabwean serves an economic function. Our predicament is not by accident, and neither is it there because white people hate us. Our maladjusted characteristic is there because it maintains imperial domination, and until we change it, we will perpetually be a subjugated people.
Our opposition MDC has since its inception preached donor benevolence and job creation masterminded by aliens, and ZANU-PF preaches indigenisation and economic empowerment ostensibly dependent on alien financial support, if the outcry about the deadly effect of Western sanctions is anything to go by.
An economic system is built on trust, reliability, dependability, and respect for one another. Do we trust ourselves economically? Are our people in business reliable? Is our political leadership trustworthy and reliable? Is our governance system dependable? Do our leaders have respect for our people?
We recently read that one government Minister just walked to a CEO of a public owned company armed with a private bank account number and ordered that money be deposited therein, and we hear the practice was in fact next to normal conduct. Had it not been for the said Minister’s apparent wrong stepping on the political front, we probably would not have ever known of this malfeasance, and yet we pride ourselves as a people headed for a triumphant economic empowerment destiny.
With all this suspiciousness, dishonesty, corruption, ineptitude, laziness, mediocrity, empty ambition, and contempt for the public, we surely cannot start dreaming of challenging European people economically, even though we live on top of vast natural resources.
We are simply a people dismally failing to appreciate the shared experience that our own history represents, and as such we cannot utilise mutual trust and dependability upon which we can build a sound economic social system.
Our ancestors had an economy before whites came into existence in our country, and that economy was developed and maintained prior to colonial ascendancy. Why have our black bank owners failed to sustain their banks? These banks have retarded our economic empowerment instead of advancing it, the reason being that these banks were started more because they made the owners look and feel good, not for the purpose of why banks must exist.
We needed to move first into economic existence and control before we started building banks. Only after building a sound economic base would it make economic sense to start building banks. But we did it the other way around; we did it backwards, because we are a dominated people who hardly know themselves.
We built banks yet we hardly had anything to invest in, ignoring the fact that banks make money by loans and investments, not by mere client deposits. Our bankers spoiled themselves and their cronies with interest free loans, emphatically running down the ill-conceived banking institutions in the process.
We have often put ourselves under the rule of other people, as we are doing now by inviting “experts” from the IMF and the World Bank. They will come and tell us that we can only do this, that and the other thing with our economy, and like we did with ESAP in the early nineties we will blindly concur, plunging ourselves into the deeper ends of the poverty abyss.
The Iranians, Chinese and Cubans have significantly developed their economies independent of Western benevolence, but they do not have the type of politicians we have here, neither do they have the type of intellectual community like ours.
These are people so ideologically devoted to shaping the respective destinies of their countries. They command an unquestionable political will for their domestic economic growth.
We on the other hand have political leaders who believe the purpose of having a country is to have it help you shape your individual destiny at the expense of all others, and that is the calamity of African politics.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!!
- REASON WAFAWAROVA is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.