Source: ACTUARIAL LENSE:God loves Zimbabwe | The Financial Gazette June 23, 2016
I KNOW you probably read that title above and thought to yourself; “what has this got to do with actuarial issues? “The conclusion that God loves Zimbabwe is one that I reached after a day’s worth of intense thought and reflection into why exactly Zimbabwe is in its current socio-economic mess. I confess that due to my line of work, I am more comfortable with mathematical and factual analyses as opposed to theology and philosophical viewpoints but please take the time to follow through my reasoning process below.
If you follow the global news, you have to concur with me that the world seems to have gone wild. People are getting their heads cut off; some are living under constant threat of terrorism and attacks from radical elements of society. In certain parts of Africa, albinos cannot walk alone in secluded areas. A simple trip to the department store or a musical concert can land you in a hostage situation. Drug lords in other parts of the world are sponsoring wars, you hear of children disappearing in Mexico and a whole school being kidnapped in broad daylight in Nigeria. I can’t help but wonder what would become of Zimbabwe if these things were to take place in our country. The fact that we couldn’t account for $15bn in diamonds just speaks volumes on our incapacity to deal with such societal rot.
The Ebola epidemic is another issue that really convinced me that we owe a lot to the Heavens above. Take a look at how our health system went on its knees over a cholera outbreak – a disease that just requires you to wash your hands before eating and exercise basic levels of hygiene in order to curb it. We have monkeys and bats here in Zimbabwe and I am sure that someone somewhere out there is being driven to eat those creatures in light of the hunger in our country. We also have lots of mosquitoes and yet we are spared from the ones which spread the Zika virus. Is it luck or is this divine intervention?
The magnitude and frequency of natural disasters in the world seems to have increased dramatically. We learn of new earthquakes, major cyclones, severe heat waves and all those CNN type of events almost on a fortnightly basis but somehow our country is spared. Take a look at the skyline of Harare for the past 2 decades (today, 2006 and 1996) and you will appreciate that if an earthquake had struck our capital city say in 1996, Harare would have just been a pile of rubble today. Close to zero infrastructural development and yet the nation keeps ticking. We only have God to thank for not occupying the geographical position of a state like California where earthquakes are as common an occurrence as is the sun rising in the east for us.
Coal reserves that can last for over 100 years, the second largest platinum deposits in the whole world and a great dyke riddled with many other mineral deposits. Compare the amount of arable agricultural land that we have versus that of a very developed country like Japan. By some luck, our Manicaland diamond deposits were not discovered by Cecil Rhodes when he colonised this land in the 1890s meaning that they were spared from being exploited and shipped offshore. But sadly, this God given wealth has never benefitted the ordinary man on the street – not even the villagers who had to be moved off the diamond fields to facilitate mining. At least Rhodes had some sense not to take everything to Britain but built roads and bridges.
Why then are we in this economic mess? Some will say that economists have just been unlucky as opposed to engineers and doctors who have not yet seen catastrophic events in their respective professions. The answer is that our troubles are purely man made. The capitalist desire for self-gain and profit is what has led to most of our demise. Things such as externalisation and liquidity challenges are traceable to a Zimbo’s desire to accumulate individual wealth. Lack of infrastructural development is not due to a lack of money but actually greed that directs any excess revenue towards salaries. It is a pity that when measures to mitigate these economic problems are introduced e.g. bond notes, they affect everyone including those living on less than a dollar a day (who do not have the money to externalise in the first place).
We seem to have inherited a colonised mind-set that tells each and every one of us that we cannot be a self-sufficient country. In today’s world, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have all the minerals in the world, some countries don’t have a single mineral but they specialise in refining and processing our wealth, which they sell back to us. The daily price of gold for example, is set by five bankers in London at 10.30am and 3pm, ours is to set targets for producing 50tonnes by 2020 without regard to the pricing or enhancement in value of our ever depleting gold resource.
Some of you reading this article are in the diaspora not out of choice but due to necessity. As you look back at your motherland, I am sure that you agree with me that Zimbabwe is such a beautiful place to live in. I think that God has already blessed our country beyond measure – our cup is surely overflowing. It just remains to be seen whether we can remove the deep desire for personal gain that has affected our nation and use the wealth that God has given us to our benefit.
About Author: Thomas Sithole is an actuarial analyst specialising in Enterprise Risk Management. You can contact him via his twitter handle @ZimboActuary or his corporate website: thomas.bluecroftsolutions.com