Stark Realities by Eddie Cross

Stark Realities by Eddie Cross 15 March 2014

At a seminar this week, a senior Chinese businessman said that in 1979 he had been in charge of the Chinese project to build the TanZam Railway from Dar es Salaam to Ndola in Zambia. He had finished the project that year and was moving back to his base in China. He described how he had packed his bags with sugar, milk powder and baby food; all basic needs that he knew were in short supply at home.

In 1980 the leadership of China changed and Deng Zhou Ping became the leader of the Chinese Communist Party and launched his campaign to bring China into the main stream of the world economy. He stated that “it does not matter that the cat is black or white, what matters is does it catch mice”. Today, 35 years later China has the second largest economy in the world and has brought nearly a billion people out of abject poverty and into relative prosperity. The transformation is breathtaking and the talk of the rest of the world.

The businessman did not have to point out the stark contrast with the history of the past 35 years in Zimbabwe. In 1980 we were a middle income country with a higher GDP per capita than China, we had virtually no debt and a currency that was worth twice the value of the US dollar. We produced 90 per cent of what was sold in our supermarkets and our farmers employed 350 000 people, supplied 60 per cent of the inputs required for our industry, generated half of all exports and provided food at prices that were well below any other country in the region.

Today our GDP per capita is among the lowest in the world with half our population in abject poverty. Only 5 per cent of our population is working in the formal sector, we import 70 per cent of our food and pay higher prices for it than any of our neighbors. Only half of what we buy in our supermarkets is made in Zimbabwe – and even then most local products are produced using imported raw materials. Nearly half our children under 5 years of age are malnourished and we have one of the lowest life expectancies in the world and child and maternal mortality rates that are well above those in all other southern African States.

Our leadership in 1980 included 19 men and women with a PhD or more behind their names. I would have thought that they would have constituted the most highly qualified administration in Africa. Our Prime Minister, soon to be President had 6 degrees, spoke English as if it was his first language and was acknowledged as a very intelligent person. He was also tough and a clever, intuitive politician. Zimbabwe came to life with everything; a good climate, well educated elite, a balanced, mixed economy with abundant mineral resources and the full support of a global community that wanted us to succeed in every way.

As he spoke to the seminar, which was attended by the Vice President, Ministers, Diplomats and nearly all Senators and Members of Parliament, total silence claimed the Conference Center we were in. We all reflected on just what we had done wrong that our two countries – starting out with such hope and ambition in 1980 and yet ending up in such different places.

Two weeks ago I wrote a piece that stated that we did not have to do a great deal to get our country back on track into the future. I was criticized for that comment by people who thought that I was praising the Rhodesians for how they ran the country before Independence and minimizing the difficulties – some claimed it was all about “sanctions”. But the truth is we have to answer for what we have done with what we inherited in 1980. We have to answer to our children if none other because it is their future that we have destroyed.

At the same seminar we heard speaker after speaker, none from the UK or the USA, many from other developing States, all of whom said two things – we would love to invest in your future but sadly, your rules and behavior deny us the opportunity. The Indian Ambassador was blunt, “how can you expect Indian business to invest in Zimbabwe when the Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement signed in 1999, ratified by the Parliament of India in 2000 has not been ratified by Zimbabwe in 14 years?’

The message they all gave was quite clear. We must respect and enforce the rule of law, we must enforce compliance with contracts, we must guarantee investment and protection of private property, must pay full compensation when those rights are violated for whatever reason. We must create an investor friendly and conducive environment where business can expect to make a fair return on their capital and technology. We must guarantee all essential support services – education and health services for staff and management, transport and communications, access to regional and global markets at a reasonable cost. We must curb corruption and the activities of parasitic State agencies that must collect rents from our enterprise to survive.

They all said that our desire to control what goes on in our economy was similar to the position of all their governments. They did not think that indigenisation was a threat in any way – but we had to pay for our equity and respect the needs and requirements of our partners. They asked for strong government that was principled and for consistency and predictability with the ground rules being set out clearly and with guarantees that they will not change once the game is underway. They said that they always took a long term view of the situation into which they were investing time, technology and resources.

A quick review of what we have done to the mining industry (which grew at 35 per cent per annum in the period of the GNU) shows very clearly where we have gone wrong. Not only has the line Ministry been corrupt, demanding large payments for decisions and in the case of the Marange diamond fields, violating, without compensation, the rights of ACR who found the diamonds and had legal rights to a large part of the deposit and then simply taking over and exploiting the largest diamond find in a century. There was no transparency; no accountability and the wealth created found its way to a few politically connected people. Then, without consultation, we imposed massive fees on the industry and then in early 2014 new rates of royalties that are already closing down hundreds of small mines throughout the country.

When three world class mining companies invested billions in the platinum industry, employing thousands of Zimbabweans and virtually no expatriates, instead of being proud of what they had accomplished, we threatened them, made unreasonable demands on them, forced them to enter into share deals that were not in the interests of the company or the communities they work amongst. Now we have imposed heavy royalties and threatened punitive taxes on “unprocessed” platinum being exported, even though the value addition is minimal. The present product being exported is highly processed and concentrated and there is little financial prejudice to the country and in any event we cannot provide the electrical energy needed for such development.

As for agriculture our track record is even worse. We have taken over by force, the assets of over 6000 companies and individuals, we have destroyed the productive infrastructure that had been built up and paid for over the previous 100 years by enterprise and effort. We have not paid compensation or dealt with the human suffering that has resulted. We point to the partial recovery in tobacco production and the increased number of players without recognizing that the same effect could have been achieved without disruption. We have taken more than $10 billion in assets out of the economy and the great majority of these once productive enterprises are now derelict and abandoned.

Right now we cannot pay for even the most basic needs and priorities in Government. The economy is again contracting and State revenues declining. If we want to get out of the hole we are in we have no choice but to harness our business sector and get foreign direct investment in large quantities into our economy. There is no alternative, we have to change the way we are doing things, that is the stark reality facing Zimbabwe.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 15th March 2014

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47 comments on “Stark Realities by Eddie Cross
  1. apolitical says:

    There is no such thing as cant, we just need to get rid on those engaged in political sabotage and fire the looters, then we can have energy.
    In 2007 the CEO closed Harare Power Station said there was a coal problem at Wankie, he lied but the gullible like Cross believed him and promoted the propaganda.
    The power station is fully operational and can run on Sengwa Coal.

    • For once I agree with Apolitical on one point “fire the looters” We now know who they are. Eddie this is a good assessment of what needs to be done. There is a saying that during the time of starvation food is abundant for the Vultures and Hyenas. This country is run by vultures. They are not interested in real investment unless it goes straight to the pocket. I had an insight in the supply of coal from Hwange in the year 2000 as I was right there. Interference by Politicians in the movement of coal and the NRZ was already rife. These corrupt people had brought in haulage trucks to transport the coal. NRZ had been infiltrated by the CIO who were pulling the strings. One of these upstarts was posted to act in the area Managers position. He did not know what he was doing and spent his time womanizing in the Railway guest houses and firing people. How can one person lie and be believed in a company as large as the colliery. I was right there at the colliery when there were instructions from Harare to change the destination of coal going to paying companies to satisfy certain people or companies that had ties with Zanu pf Politicians . That is when I decided to relocate to the city. As long as they continue this rote no amount of investment will help the country. So Apolitical is right Zanu needs to fire the looters in their ranks.

      • apolitical says:

        And MDC ranks as well – they wont get left out as has already been seen.
        looting and corruption is corruption, it doesn’t become a package and entitlement as the previous minister and girlfriend the director seem to think.

      • Parangeta says:

        About the only thing unpolitical had ever been right about, the fool!

    • ZimJim says:

      Erm… Yes, there is such a thing as “cant” (sic). You, “apolitical”, can’t think, see or communicate. I hope you can’t breed because we have enough oxygen-thieves in the world already!

      • apolitical says:

        A person who actually states nothing that is relevanT to anything says others cant think- what a joke, how to illustrate little IQ, you embarrass yourself. No wonder he believes in cant, he cant think or read.

        • Parangeta says:

          Awful syntax, uneducated grammatical construct, with spelling and punctuation, that of a Gorongoza chimp!

    • NBS says:

      Good morning Apolitical. And who might the political saboteurs be? The real one I mean?

    • zim reeper says:

      Apo are you for real???You are clearly in government (zanupf) and living in the lap of luxury while the rest suffer.Typical african in government , totally out of touch with the people.One of the looters I presume.

    • rudeboy says:

      Never in a 1000 years………. someine said…..

  2. Jono Austin says:

    We will never be a colony again!

  3. Roving Ambassador says:

    Yes apoliti, fire the loolterrs ,Mugabe must go first ,the chief looter. He must be charged with treason for taking the wants vibrant Zim ,down the drain.the whole cabal must be paraded in front of the populace and ask for forgiveness for destroying people’s homes. For murder and torture. For sending the army to die in the Congo so the looters can pillage. For total destruction of a nation. For causiu mass migration of nationals and breaking up families.
    Mhondi.
    Mbavha.

    • apolitical says:

      To roving ambassador and other little political minds its all about EVIDENCE not blaming someone else to cover up how stupid we are. if you cant support your statement then save space don’t make it – you cant simply get that disease of blaming Mugabe for everything.
      It like an idiot who had his land taken so that the new airport road can go thought – he’s so stupid he refused to claim from the municipality or Roads – he wanted ,Mr Mugabe to pay this is the mental problem many have.

      • Mena Bona says:

        You blind ignorant lout. Just look around, if you are in Zimbabwe. Infrastructure rotting to such a degree that it would take billions to get it back to what it was! Millions of economic refugees, millions requiring food aid, a country without a currency, hardly any tax payers because the only means of survival for most is the informal sector living on the poverty line. The list of ZANU PF failures would fill many pages. The list of ZANU PF human rights abuse fills volumes. The destructions of Zimbabwe’s flora and fauna is so widespread that it probably can never recover, which will affect Zimbabweans negatively for ever going forward. You must be one of the perpetrators because you CANNOT DEFEND the UNDEFENCABLE. I’m sure your skewered mind is already blaming droughts and the West, which is feeding your starving. Rubbish. The records of rainfall going back does not show drought. Some years of below average rainfall but this goes back more than a hundred years and it is only in the last fourteen years that Zimbabwe has been unable to feed itself, ever. It was always able to feed it population and export food. What happened? An old man petrified of losing power happened and as a result he has made a few very wealthy, those that help him keep his people in a state of terror and to afraid to fight back. This is fact not your made up bull.

      • NBS says:

        The evidence is there for all to see. And the buck always stops with the leader. If the leader can’t take the heat he must get out of the kitchen. Excellent, excellent article Mr Cross.

    • NBS says:

      100% correct Roving Ambassador

    • Parangeta says:

      Why do you think Nikuv rigged the stolen elections, because had ZANU-PF lost, Mugarbage would have been off to the Hague,tried for treason in Zimbabwe and like Saddam Hussein – hanged until he is dead!
      A sight, when Saddam’s head was ripped from his shoulders, by the force!

  4. mwanawevhu says:

    haaa yaaaa

  5. Mlimo says:

    Mr cross has enjoyed not only the fruits of the past smith regime but also the fruits of the post rhodesian era. He did not like the smith regime yet always wants to go back to the good old days. Millions of Zimbabweans have been forced to leave Zimbabwe to find a better life elsewhere. This is in itself a huge challenge. One has to give up home , savings, friends, culture and lifestyle. I say we did it because we were not prepared to continue to support zanupf and Mugabe. I refused to continue to pay taxes to an illicit regime. I took my skill outside. For those who stayed fall into three categories, the people so poor as to not be able to migrate, poor in skills or finance or understanding of the zanupf govt, and I can excuse those poor people, the second lot saw opportunity where the people leaving left vacancies, these are opportunists and will half side on zanupf when it suits them and complain when when it doesn’t, mr cross falls into this category. The third group are zanupf stooges, people we know who feed off Mugabe worship, thugs thieves and the like. To bring down Mugabe all the people have to do is not pay taxes. Not do business there and isolate zanupf. By creating MDC we created an audience for Mugabe to challenge and point fingers at, to blame and use as his escape goat. MDC was the zanupf lifeline they so desperately needed in 2010 ? Why for heavens sake did the MDC go into partnership GNU ? Why did Biti intervene when the sZim dollar collapsed? We who live externally know that Zimbabwe must collapse completely before we can rebuild it from scratch. So the sooner it falls down the better. It’s sad that Zimbabwe has come to that point but we have to blame the likes of MDC and Mr Cross for helping save Zimbabwe. Don’t complain Mr Cross you have been part of the problem by staying on.
    If anyone thinks its hard living inside while as an opposition member of parliament try giving it all up and live on the outside. May my children have the opportunity to go back to Zimbabwe one day and say we are proud of our parents who gave up so much for the sake of our future and for never supporting zanupf. After all Mr Cross knew very very well why the rhodesian fought against Mugabe – not because they were Africans but because they knew Mugabe was a mysterious thug.

    • Doris says:

      This is true. However there is another section of the community – the pensioners. Those who spent their entire lives and capital, building up their farms and businesses only to have them taken away with no compensation whatsoever. These are not few. So many can’t even pay their medical aid subs. They are the ones who have to sit back and watch their lifes work being destroyed by some greedy politician, senator or bigwig. These are the people who were born and raised in this country – true Zimbabweans – who are now told that they have no place here as their ancestors came from another country.

      • john says:

        Amen. The people (white and black alike) who built Rhodesia and Zimbabwe are the real victims. They devoted their lives to the land and trusted. It’s vile that people like Eddie Cross are still running about trying to convince everyone that africans still just need more time. They’ve had 30 freaking years.

        • Reverend says:

          Any different to the rest of Africa? Lets take Zuma who is burning down South Africa… In the West he would be in prison, but Africa he is president, then go through the list, including ours…It speaks for itself. I hate to say this but am I wrong?

    • NBS says:

      You know Mlimo much of what you say is true but I do think you are off course with Eddie cross. I do not know him personally by the way but do know he loves his country and tries to do his best. it is easy to criticise each other but we do not walk in each others shoes and so let us begin to stand together for a change. We have all suffered believe me and it is easy from the outside that Zimbabwe needs to collapse completely, and maybe it does, but what then for the millions who still live here? I wonder what category you would put me in??? Many disadvantaged and needy people have been helped-not by a selfish greedy government who do not care-but by many who have stayed behind and tried to make a difference!

    • Parangeta says:

      What a shame you took so many words to say so little!

      Ed Cross and others CHOSE to stay after the Rhodesian era, because he thought there was a chance the thug would do the right thing..
      He didn’t, Cross is still here because he is holding that filthy simian’s feet to the fire, Muagarbage and ZA NU-PF will be gone by years end, you wait and see.
      So stay in London and comment, or come here and hold fire to feet!

  6. Jimbo says:

    Great article Eddie and you always make so much sense. Unfortunately your words fall on deaf hears and it continues to amaze me how Zimbabwe is held to ransome by such a small minority of the political elite. The sad reality is that you get the government that you voted for and until Zanu PF is voted out of power the status quo remains :
    A LOOTA CONTINUA!!

    • Parangeta says:

      Voted out, while Nikuv is on the payroll, get real!

      We need an massive, armed insurrection, that is all that will do it, and soon!

  7. Nzou says:

    The answer is very Simple Mr Cross. Mobilise the people and evict ZANUPF.

    The problem which stands in the way is your party which is lead by inept incapable people who are just as corrupt and violent as ZANUPF.

    The problem is that your party is being lead by people who refuse to be accountable.

    Your party needs a new broom to sweep it clean and until this happens, ZANUPF will rule and you will keep telling us what we already know.

    China changed its leader and became a leading economy. Therein lies the solution. Tsvangirai has got to be replaced with a better calibre, accountable leader.

    Sticking with “the Brand” has got Zimbabwe nowhere fast.

    You have to get rid of ZANUPF by hook or crook before any change for the better is possible.

  8. john says:

    Mr. Cross should be ashamed of himself. It is his ilk that forced Rhodesia to hand over power before the africans were ready to affectively wield this power. Now look at the disgusting state of this once wonderful country. When everyone said “the africans are not ready to be in charge” they were labeled racists, not realists. I hope Mr. Cross feels the weight of this guilt upon his heart every single day.

    • NBS says:

      John please go back to bed. you haven’t woken up yet!

    • John Thomas says:

      Go to sleep John.

    • Parangeta says:

      Actually, without resorting to racist remarks, I would agree, that like the Land Reform, there needed to be a Power Sharing.

      Not a mass exodus of the whites and subsequent brain drain, brought on by Mugarbage’s policies, and ZANU-PF’s boot-licking, for 35 years!

  9. John Thomas says:

    Let the government collapse, then we can start again

  10. Jack says:

    ZANU, MDC, what’s the difference? The sense of entitlement is strong in our politicians and they will always be so. We have now become a DRC or CAR all that is missing is the violence and that is already on the way.

    Eddie, like all liberals, thinks that in time this will all change and there will evolve an enlightened and accountable political leadership. Unfortunately all of the signs point in the opposite direction. We live in a primitive kingdom and it will become even more primitive because that is what suits us best. It is simple, like us.

  11. Gomogranny says:

    When we Zimbabweans INSIDE the country stop looking to politics for the answer and start making the changes ourselves we will go forwards. What our fathers and our mothers built has been trashed…we WILL rebuild it. Shun the politicians. Everyone of us has a small place to grow some food (even if you once had flowers in that pot)Take every opportunity to delay or not pay anything to do with gvt. (CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE) and get on with it. Give the lot of them the middle finger.

  12. Mixed Race says:

    Degrees mean nothing, what you need to run a country its common sense and wisdom like King Solomon in the bible. He had no useless man made degrees which can be acquired by any fool who can sit and read or cram chapters to reproduce during the examination.
    Check, most of these degrees are theoretical subjects which have little practical works.China realised that they need people with science degrees to transform their economy not political sciences and a lot.

    • Parangeta says:

      Mugabrbage’s degrees were correspondence and probably bought.
      Listen to him talk, he’s an idiot with simian mannerisms!

  13. Funny you say that. It is very true. The big bulk of the skilled people did not have degees. They had work experience and sheer determination to acquire as much practical knowledge in their field.
    During my time in England I worked for a law firms in the UK. I can remember this young lawyer saying to me “all those years in University just to be pushing trolleys with documents up and down to court” I asked him if he thought he was going to walk straight into a court case. He wanted to leave and I explained to him that all those above him had to do the same. He turned out alright after doing this and getting experience watching the big boys. The Degree is beneficial only if it is combined with the practical experience on the job.

  14. Fallenz says:

    Yes, to much of what is said here. If it could all be melted and melded and welded into a single, cohesive train of thought, I believe those here could provide the answer.

    Yes, the evidences regarding looting and corruption must be exposed, and the guilty responsibility dealt with… no matter their station, position, reputation, power, party, tribe, or colour. And, stolen assets, whether money, property, or natural resources must be identified and returned to the owners.

    To pull Zim from the trash heap and begin getting her back on her feet, partisanship, tribalism, racialism, and jealousy must be buried, and all done for Zim’s sake, not for anyone’s personal gain.

    This does not mean some may not fare better than others, but all will benefit. That some might be in better circumstances must not be controlled by their race or tribe or party.

    Elections must be regarded as almost sacred… and reflect the true will of the people, not simply be manipulated results to keep a ruling party in power.

    Checks and balances must be in place, along with audits and oversight committees. Zim must become a nation of laws… laws not just to benefit a few… and enforcement must be equal.

    All-in-all, mind sets must change, and those in power must be there for Zim, not for a lust for power or to loot.

    Perhaps I speak a fantasy, but this is not fantasy… as long as any ruling party is allowed to steal and loot and plunder and rig elections and politize assistance to the people as ZANUPF has consistently proven to do, Zim will continue to smolder on that trash heap.

  15. Don Cox says:

    Most of what was wrong with China in the 1970s and Zimbabwe today can be blamed on Marxism. A Marxist government is guaranteed to destroy any economy, because Marxists regard business as evil.

    Look also at Venezuela today. The destruction is not as complete as in Zimbabwe, but it is going the same way.

  16. I am not the one! says:

    arrogance, entitlement, lazy, rude, unqualified, malleable, condescending, blissfully ignorant, apathetic, racist…some conditions of employment in Zim govt.

  17. Canuck says:

    Very well said Eddie……
    Nail on the head…..
    Who in their right mind would invest money in Zim today ?
    They must be nuts if they did…..
    The Indian Ambassador has it correct…….rule of law gone, rife corruption, pilfering of property, the grabbing of ANYTHING succesful, and on and on……
    No, Zim is going to see a complete economic collapse ( and not too far away ) I am afraid, and in a way that won’t be all bad because once and for all citizens will see the issues and new government will come out of the ashes….
    Hate to see the suffering it will bring, but I can see no other way forward…….the present ruling mass is the leopard, and “leopards don’t change their spots”

  18. mike paterson says:

    There are no chimps in Gorongosa. The closest are in Zambia.

  19. svinurai says:

    Someone, probably from China itself, should tell us how they did it considering that it was western countries who ditched “unhealthy” manufacturing and shipped all their machinery to China where labour was cheap and plentiful (1,3 billion)and able to mass produce for the huge global market, initially for the western conglomerates.How did the Chinese manage to wrestle these western companies for themselves.Was it indigenisation or expropriation,nationalisation or takeover. Where are these western companies now and are they still benefiting from their initial FDIs into China.
    Now can we compare this to Zimbabwe which in 1980 had a mere 10 million people too insignificant to strut on the world stage. China became a dragon that devoured the whole world and now produces foods. clothes. footwear, building materials, farm implements or trinkets etc etc much cheaper than Zimbabwe and hence Zimbabwean manufacturing is inundated by cheap Chinese imports.

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