Zimbabwe’s tipping point – Here’s why it can turn around quickly

Source: Zimbabwe’s tipping point – Here’s why it can turn around quickly – The Zimbabwe Independent July 18, 2016

‘CHANGE seldom occurs until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of change.’ There is a point where this statement proves to be true especially when a nation drops from being the ‘breadbasket to the begging bowl of Africa’ within a single generation.

It’s that point when enough people no longer have anything to lose and hence push forward into a space they have never been before despite the risk. It’s the space where it takes only 3% to 15% of the population moving in the same direction in new levels of unity that results in a tipping point that accelerates the transformational wave to a point of no return.

For the sake of clarity, it’s worthwhile to define the word transformation – ‘It is a process of profound and radical change that orients an individual, organisation, community, city or nation in a new direction and takes them/it to an entirely different level of effectiveness.’

Now that Zimbabwe seems to be drawing closer towards this transformational tipping point, it is a good time to look at some of the elements why this has the potential of being a model case for African national recovery and restoration.

The power of a common ‘unowned’ vision

The momentum for transformation is being stoked by a population drawn into unity around a common vision that is not ‘owned’ by anyone. It’s not owned by a political party, or a particular religion or church denomination or racial group.

It is owned collectively in the hearts of the people, driven by patriotic passion and based on a common desire to see good for every Zimbabwean. Amazingly this momentum was not ignited by a high profile positional leader, but by a humble unknown Christian evangelical Pastor Evan Mawarire who started the #ThisFlag campaign.

Common stripping of prejudice and pride results in joint humility

The time of extreme difficulty has stripped Zimbabweans of all races (especially those locally based) of any racial supremacy and pride towards each other. Both black and white have lost almost everything and it is from this place of collective humility that the rebuilding process will take place. Collective humility is the foundation that builds the trust required to knit together a diverse nation into united action towards a common vision.

A critical ingredient in the future success of Zimbabwe lies in the fact that most prejudice, privilege and arrogance based factors have been eliminated in the mind-sets of the majority of the population and so they are ready to work together to rebuild.

Tough times breed innovation and creativity

Tough times often force people into developing a mind-set of innovation and creativity and that is one of the positive by-products of the ‘dark days’ endured by Zimbabweans.

The combination of having to leave home to scrounge for a living in other nations and losing their local livelihood has led to the elimination of the dependency and victim mentality. The experience of surviving an environment of hyperinflation, lack of access to cash and +80% unemployment levels has resulted in almost every Zimbabwean becoming an entrepreneur of some kind.

The ability to trade in the most adverse conditions has become second nature to the average Zimbabwean. On top of that their work ethic is second to none. All of these factors born out of adversity auger well for the country’s potential of developing into a knowledge based economy that will lead Africa in technological and service based innovation.

Amazing quality of human and non-human assets

For any nation (or business for that matter) to grow it requires that as much of its human intellectual capital be applied to the task of multiplying available resources and converting them into wealth. Zimbabwe already has an abundance in human intellectual capital, resources (mineral reserves, agricultural land, tourism, etc.) and solid financial and services based systems. A massive constraint that has stopped progress is lack of financial capital.

Praise should be given where praise is due. One of the things that the current regime did very well was ensuring that a world class education system was maintained, built upon and expanded to every citizen after 1980. This resulted in Zimbabwe having the highest level of literacy and skills per capita in Africa.

The Zimbabwean case of human intellectual capital (knowledge and expertise) is undisputed as many blue chip companies, start-up and entrepreneurial ventures across all business segments in SA and in many other nations have Zimbabweans at the helm or in strategic leadership positions. Zimbabwe has been a massive exporter of human intellectual capital to Africa and the world – these ‘exports’ have both continental and global insights, expertise and networks to be leveraged in the rebuilding process.

A winning business case?

‘Any organisation (or country) can never move beyond the constraints of its leadership’. With the right leadership in place a strong business case can be put forward that will open up the doors of human and financial capital flow to kick start the recovery process. In fact, with the South Africa’s economic growth projections tending towards 0%, Zimbabwe might just end up being the investors new destination of choice.

Is what we are seeing the start of the greatest national turnaround in Africa?

* Patrick Kuwana is founder and CEO of Crossover Transformation Group. You can contact him at patrick@crossovertransformation.co.za.


  • comment-avatar
    R Judd 6 years ago

    It is nice to dream. I fear that reality will be more frustrating.

    On the plus side even the delinquents in the opposition are better than ZANU

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    Joe Cool 6 years ago

    It’s a sad fact that Zimbabweans are nowhere near the superior beings they have long vaunted themselves to be. Having operated in 5 African countries, I now rate them as bottom in terms of both integrity and productivity.

    Talk less, and try harder, is my advice. A little bit of humility goes a long way.

  • comment-avatar

    Work with people who have the experience, knowledge and experteez.
    The only person who is indigenous is the San.The rest of the population has settled here over time,so pool knowledge to make the best use of the resources

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    Mixed Race 6 years ago

    This is the problem we have in this country, we like to over rate ourselves for political gains.This writer is day dreaming to please his political bosses.There is nothing unique with our education system ,this is why they have now started STEM system to try and improve the current educational system which has produced thousands of useless graduates per year.The so-called highly educated people should also learn to have common sense and wisdom to become real entrepreneurs of any value.

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    Zimbabwe is lead by thieves real thieves Supported by african union if not how can a dictator like mugabe lead african union is blind man leading blind man fools leading fools how can wise people allow an educated fool to lead dont be betrayed Africa has no leader thats why even though america is wrong on other things their help is honest ask uncle bob where are your Chinese friends new african colonisers and russian maffias i dont trust any african leader when rwanda was burning african president who are cowards and most of them thieves hide under deplomacy thousands died the west helped now is Zimbabwe all even this kangaroo gathering called africa union a toothless dog is queit when the west speak they open the big mouth african union are mugabe like minded nothing good will come out of it they are chickens

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    C Frizell 6 years ago

    Most people seem to think that if the country is rid of Arganised Crime and the Ancient Tokoloshe, all will suddenly be well.

    I am not so sure. The greatest destruction these hoodlums have done is to the integrity , morals and ethics of the nation. For 36 years people h ave seen that corruption is the only way to success.

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    former farmer 6 years ago

    Shame on the critics and Joe Cool go and ‘prosper’ in the country’s you see as better people.
    Well done shamwari, I am a disposed farmer (and proud Zimbabwean) and like you I can see the turn around being rapid and Zimbabwe taking the higher ground than South Africa. Africa has to break away from the nationalists cr*p and forge its own way. Botswana is a good example and we must follow their lead.
    Get the farmers back -on a one man one farm deal – and the country will turn around in as little as 18 months. For the simple minds, think about it, the farms will create employment, the suppliers of goods will employ people to serve this , the shops will get busier and employ more and so it goes. All we need is a forward thinking and democratic government and that is where our problem lies as we have to create an environment where new players come to the front and do away with the stagnant and irrelevant Zanu and MDC and all their factions.

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      Joe Cool 6 years ago

      Botswana is a good example of nothing, and is almost as corrupt as Zimbabwe. The West decided that it is not wise (diplomatic?) to criticize every African country, so Botswana has been chosen as the shining example of a good African democratic country. (About to celebrate 50 years of independence on 30th September this year with the same political party in power for FIFTY YEARS). So your ‘former farmer’s’ yearn to become a ‘current farmer’is as transparent as Zanu PF’s yearn to obtain IMF funding.

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        Kevin 6 years ago

        They have done a much better job running their economy than the thieves running Zimbabwe.

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          Joe Cool 6 years ago

          No, Botswana hasn’t. Their entire economy is diamonds and for 35 years they have made no serious attempt to diversify it. Their success in controlling their economy was down to the large number of expatriates they hired and, now they are gone, it’s downhill all the way.

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    madmaster 6 years ago

    I agree with the former farmer and editor of this column. South Africa is milking Zimbabwe of its skills,Resources and blocking investments to Zimbabwe with its negative approach towards its northern neighbor. South Africa knows that Zimbabwe’s gain is South Africa’s loss and vise verso . I do believe a country like Zimbabwe can bounce back in less than 2 years following changes to its political environment.I have visited Zimbabwe once.It is a great country with lots of potential, human resources, friendly and welcoming people . Its heart breaking how our leaders choose wealth accumulation instead of helping their countries grow! Now look at Zuma the worst South African president. Him and Thabo Mbeki are brothers of Mugabe.. The only solution to African problems is Hand Over power to the new Generations to decide which route Africa takes!

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    Whizzo 6 years ago

    ZANU PF must fall, every member of dat party is a thief. Whoever succeds Mugabe will do likewise, take our country to mud. I js dnt trust all these politicians.

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    Kevin 6 years ago

    The majority of South Africans would happily see all the Zimbabweans sent home. They are seen as taking jobs and opportunities from the locals. Every time there is a slight social upheaval in South Africa there are xenophobic attacks. So its clear you have no idea of what you write. It will be years before the international banks and investors will trust any Zimbabwean administration, after all nearly all of the opposition are compromised by having been members and supporters of ZANU PF. Any incoming administration would still be hampered by a destroyed agricultural infrastructure and it will take many years to rebuild it. The expertise that ran the small engineering businesses that supported these farms and helped maintain their infrastructure have left the country, their capital accumulation as vested in equipment has been dispersed. So no it will be generations before the damage wrought by Mugabe is rectified. Recovering from WW2 took Germany a least 2 decades with the Marshall plan and a population of well educated hard working people, take away the Marshall Plan and they might still be trying to rectify the damage notwithstanding all the other factors.

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    Jiros 6 years ago

    All this is talk of dreams. Zimbabweans are a bunch of unethical opportunists whose society has embraced corruption. Unfortunately it’s an African problem from my experience as an African. Nothing is about improvement of equality on the whole continent, hence you can continue to enjoy your misery zimbos.

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    Wilbert Mukori 6 years ago

    “‘Change seldom occurs until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of change.’ There is a point where this statement proves to be true especially when a nation drops from being the ‘breadbasket to the begging bowl of Africa’ within a single generation,” you started off.

    Started off on the wrong foot, for a start! The on-going street protests are not the first time the people of Zimbabwe have staged a revolt; the war of independence was a revolution in its own right. The people’s economic situation then was definitely better than it has ever been since 1980; from the day we attained our independence our national economy has been on stead path of decline. We certainly had our breadbasket status throughout the nation’s fight for independence.

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    jongwe power 6 years ago

    Anyone who claims that a fish rots from its head has never learned how dead animals dscompose. Corruption, lack of morals and lack of empathy are an integral part if our traditional values since time immemorial. We basically have to do a lot more introspection and critical thinking if we are going to turn this country around in 5 years or 18 months or whatever. Unfortunately most Zimbos lack both traits (despite having what passes for education), so expect this country to continue sinking into the Stone Age like Haiti.

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    Nomusa Garikai 6 years ago

    How many tipping points is Zimbabwe going to have and then nothing happens!

    “Praise should be given where praise is due. One of the things that the current regime did very well was ensuring that a world class education system was maintained, built upon and expanded to every citizen after 1980. This resulted in Zimbabwe having the highest level of literacy and skills per capita in Africa,” you said.

    Where have you been because if you have been on planet earth you would know Zimbabwe’s public education system collapsed a long time ago. Teachers are spending more time on strike than in the class-room, if they can get there.

    The only education system still working is private for up to A level then go to a University or College outside the country. Needless to say the majority cannot afford that given the country has 90% out of work and cannot afford one decent meal a day. Locally educated University graduates can read and write their name and very little else after that. What a waste of humanity!

    Zimbabwe is now a country where quantity and no quality rule the roost and complete nincompoops are ministers and CEO whose favourite pass time is to wallow in the country’s mediocrity. What is there to praise in an education system whose students still do not know what a verb is after 11 years at school!

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    Tsotsi 6 years ago

    Zimbabwean Shona men are cowards.