via Mugabe blames the system he created – Nehanda Radio Mar 20, 2014 By Vince Musewe and Professor Louis van der Merwe
President Mugabe continues to blame the system he created. Zimbabwe is now perfectly designed (at a structural, or systemic level) to get the results it now delivers.
Corruption and economic decline are as a result of the structural deficiencies within our society and the institutions that we have created after independence.
Unfortunately the GNU, a side show for fundamental change, failed to address the structural deficiencies which continue to produce our economic and social decline to this day.
This provocative paradigm, deliberately seeks to discourage any denial by leadership about their role in the systems which are delivering the current performance of their organizations be they political parties, private sector companies, state enterprises, or government departments up to the office of the President.
Our politicians are after all, the chief engineers of the structure and therefore create the capacity limits that we now face. These structures and processes which they created are delivering our current realities!
Until our leaders take responsibility and accept this fact, we will continue to see decline and the blaming of imaginary exogenous factors as the main cause of our economic problems.
Our politicians are good at reframing problematic issues and always exclude themselves as the chief architects. It is critical that we intelligently diagnose the root causes of specific problems or dynamics.
This will lead us to durable solutions that will permanently remove capacity limits and other structural problems, thereby enabling sustainable improvement in our socio-economic condition beyond a ‘quick fix’.
Clearly most of today’s problems come from yesterday’s ‘solutions”, but we continue to focus on symptoms thereby missing the deeper causes. Unfortunately, the ‘quick fix’ is what is usually asked for by leadership and the public.
Often we seek to change dysfunctional behaviour quickly, in months or weeks, when the ‘problem’ might have taken years to establish itself. The way most of us typically see the world is at an events level.
The media, for instance, talk of and look for a ‘Who event’ not a ‘What event’ to write on or to broadcast. We all fall into this trap, and we become trapped in a reactive mode, because we see only part of the dynamic and react to counter this.
A clear example is the hurry to “solve” corruption by changing the boards of directors of state enterprises, without looking at the deeper underlying causes of the decline. We are wasting time and resources and assuming that we have addressed the root problem.
It will be only when we start to look below the surface to identify the patterns of behaviour can we begin to better understand the events level information and therefore respond more effectively.
The key to understanding and therefore intervening effectively in all complex dynamics is to observe and understand the structural level of the dynamic. This enables us to change structural aspects so that improvements are generative, permanent, and thus, sustainable.
It takes time and requires patient analysis and contemplation.
The fundamental problem situation we face in Zimbabwe is the lack of the moral authority and political will of the President to profoundly change a system that has worked so well to achieve his singular objective of being a President for life, and to be able to bestow patronage on those whose support he must endear to stay in power.
Everything about Zimbabwe; its institutions, its policies, its values, it management practices and its dialogue have been manipulated or engineered to achieve just that. Small wonder, that these habits are now deeply engrained.
In this context, the freedom that was gained as a result of escaping from under colonial rule has again been lost to the ‘BIG MAN problem in Africa. This seems to have been achieved as unintended consequences rather than by design.
President Mugabe was once a true freedom fighter and liberator! But look what we have now!
We have an inherent limited potential built within our national psyche that continues to arrest our development into a modern state. The logical and apparent solutions to our problems as a nation remain unspoken about, they remain sacrosanct, hidden and yet obvious.
Whenever a specific dynamics becomes ‘undiscussable’ this collusion of undiscussability enables that dynamic to quietly seep into the fabric of society. These undiscussables can also be described as ‘learning disabilities.’
Our political parties naturally promote these “learning disabilities” as their leaders seek to hold onto power and purge dissenters. Leadership development as moral renewal and transformation is the only way out, but I continue to wonder whether we understand what renewal is.
It is the metamorphosis of our society both at personal and institutional level.
It is not the cosmetic change of titles, names or positions that we will no doubt see in our public institutions and political parties, but the complete and irreversible transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly at a moral and ethical level.
Effective sustainable change requires looking with new eyes at complexity as well as developing and using new assumptions.
Rapid disruptive change is now a permanent feature of the leadership landscape and is not an irregular event to be discussed and resolved at one day conferences.
We now need leaders who embrace change and not fight it as we have seen within MDCT-T recently and also within ZANU (PF) for a very long time. The next generation of leadership in Zimbabwe must be fundamentally different from what we have now.
The Zimbabwe we are going to create is profoundly different from the past and must be led by those amongst us who think and act differently and embrace “uncommon thinking”.
We must now begin to have constructive and fearless dialogue in the public arena on the “unofficial” future which we can create. A future far removed from the official political party line peddled incessantly through our state media.
The people come first!
Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. This article was written in partnership with Professor Louis van der Merwe, founder and director of the Centre for Innovative Leadership based in South Africa.
You may contact Vince at firstname.lastname@example.org