“As Zimbabweans, we want to live in a country that has freedom of association, where our democratic voices and choices are respected and a government that is responsive to the plight of its people and have security of person and property under the Law.”
Many others have written saying that they do not see any purpose for a country to have a vision. But I think they are so wrong. Look around you at the success stories – the USA and that tiny group of men who drafted the first Constitution – a few more words than one sentence, but not a big document by any means – but it has birthed and moulded the United States and created, in the process, perhaps the most successful economy in the world. Today it is the 200th anniversary of Singapore, how do you turn a tiny Island State into a vibrant hub with one of the highest standards of living in the world?
Look at China, under their first “Liberation Government” tens of millions died of hunger, a billion Chinese were wallowing in poverty. Isolated and deliberately cut off from the global community and markets despite thousands of years of sophisticated leadership, education and culture, almost the birthplace of civilisation. Then Deng. A man with a vision that gripped the country and has created an economy that has been the fastest-growing in world history, lifting a billion people out of poverty and dominating the global economy.
Look at Botswana – largely desert, led by a royal family who had defended their people from both invasions by the Zulu’s and the Europeans and then created and gave vision to the country which has created an island of peace and plenty in what otherwise is a subcontinent haunted by poverty and conflict.
My prayer is that those with power here, and all of us must recognise that this is transitory in every way, will seek to agree on what kind of country do we want to be in 25 years’ time, take that vision to the country and call on all of us to work towards the vision. It will take discipline – China has executed 200 000 people for corruption since 1975. Singapore would be nowhere without the leadership they have had since the British left. This leadership imposed tough rules on the country and were ruthless in protecting those rules and making sure that everyone played their part. China is not a democracy in the western sense, but it is perhaps the first country to establish a real meritocracy. To get to the top in China you have to work hard and make a success of whatever positions you have held at a lower level. Sloganeering and ideology have a lesser role.
Here in Zimbabwe, we have no such consensus – “what is in it for me” dominates, the retention of power is the overwhelming priority – not what we do with the power we have, even for a short while. We have created a monster – one that does not care about the poor who are simply used as democratic ammunition. An economy where perhaps 500 families shop in Dubai and drive Lamborghini’s while the rest of us walk to work because we cannot afford taxi fare. I weep for this country every day and wonder why, despite our prayers, no David or Abraham has emerged from our ranks, just greedy, selfish and power-hungry men and women who have led us down a path that has impoverished our country and driven nearly half our population outside our borders to seek a better standard of life or to support their families at home.
We deserve better and all it needs is vision and commitment to making it happen.
Sam Chimbuya in Harare. Sam is a specialist in Local Government and now sort of retired and producing eggs on a small holding.