We must seek world class solutions

via We must seek world class solutions | The Zimbabwean by Vince Musewe

African solutions to African problems – this term denies Africa world class solutions to its social problems and creates an excuse for substandard leadership and solutions.

I am amazed at how the full Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tanzania, Bernard Membe, can keep his dignity after concluding that despite the absence of a voter’s roll, a critical factor to transparent and fair elections, our recent elections were credible. How can a flawed process result in an output that is credible? Even engineers will tell you that an outcome not dependent on process or input is impossible.

The above continues to reflect how we as Africans tend to be selective in the application of logic – especially when it comes to possible outcomes that may not be politically convenient.

We have had this problem in Zimbabwe since 2000, where a government acts and is then surprised by the obvious logical outcome of its action, but then claims exogenous factors as the reasons for those outcomes and not their misinformed actions.

The reason why we face starvation today is because we have under-utilised land “owned” by those with limited competence in growing food for the country. Most would rather grow tobacco and not food. The reason why we had hyperinflation in 2008 was because Gideon Gono printed money like newspapers, which was not used to increase our productive capacity.

The reason why we face drinking water problems today is because our water works were built in 1956 for a population of 300,000 and not the 2 million people living in Harare today. The reason why we face a liquidity crunch today is because our elections were not credible and therefore money will not flow into the system.

The list goes on and yet we continue to hide under the myth of “African solutions to African problems”. This phrase reflects the limited thinking of Africa’s leadership. It is a term that denies Africa the best solutions to its social problems and creates an excuse for substandard leadership and solutions; be they political or social. We must reject this thinking and continually seek world class solutions if we are to accelerate the economic emancipation of African masses. We need new thinkers.

Zimbabwe today faces unnecessary socio-economic problems because our politicians have refused to think of the logical consequences of the lack of democracy and how this will continue to arrest our development as a country. For me, politics is indeed an overrated career.

Solutions to our water problems are quite obvious, we need to ensure that every second home in Zimbabwe has a borehole and we also need to ensure increasing water reserves through water harvesting and preserving our wetlands – and not letting the Chinese build on them.

Solutions to our energy problems are as simple as using solar energy – given that we get an average of nine hours of sunshine every day throughout the year. We really need not pay the exorbitant ZESA charges for energy. A solar power industry would create millions of jobs and cheap energy.

We should never experience food shortages – given the vast amount of under-utilised fertile land in this country. If the issue is about ownership, for goodness sake let us issue new land leases and allow our experienced framers to grow food for the nation.

The “African solutions to African problems” mentality has clearly not provided us with the appropriate solutions that we require to accelerate our development. Instead, our so-called African solutions continue to take us backwards. Does it therefore mean that as Africans we are naturally backward? I don’t think so, I think that this term has been abused by Africa’s leaders to avoid scrutiny, to hide corruption and protect political vested interests – as is the case in Zimbabwe.

Our education has taken us nowhere and today we have millions of smart Zimbabweans using their skills to build other countries. There is an African solution for you: spend millions on educating your people and then as soon as they are ready to contribute, create political conditions that force them to go elsewhere so that they cease to be a threat to your hold on power. Import maize from farmers you expelled – except this time, you pay 10 times more than if you had produced the maize yourself. Hide the voters roll, so that the fairness of elections cannot be scrutinized.

At times I just have to pinch myself to check whether I am dreaming or not when I see what is happening in Zimbabwe. We are an embarrassment.

We must create a new narrative that says we will adopt world class solutions to our problems because we are educated and informed. We really should not care where the solution comes from, especially in this information age. We can bridge the gap between the developed and developing countries quite quickly because information on solutions is freely available.

What frightens me is that we are becoming backward compared to those other African countries that were behind us not so long ago. The world will not wait; progress and development will not stop as we dither and have to entertain political greed.

Action, action, action is the only solution. We cannot afford the continued application of African solutions that deliberately regress our society. The myth must now be destroyed.

Vince Musewe is an economist based in Harare. You may contact him on vtmusewe@gmail.com



  • comment-avatar
    Phyllis 9 years ago

    Vince Musewe for President. Plain and simple is how you have put it – brilliant article.

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    masvukupete 9 years ago

    Besides we have iron, nickel, chrome for making steel that builds turbines. We have the coal that fires the power plants. All we need is to put these things together to produce more electricity. We do not have oil in Zimbabwe but the same coal can be used to produce the different fuels. We do not have petrol but we keep importing billions worth of petrol to use for transportation. We should be using electricity for public transport. Buses can be electrified. The importation of almost everything is Africa’s downfall. Lets make our own inefficient turbines so that they can become efficient overtime. As long as we do not make them ourselves we will never improve our own machinery. I do not buy into the theory that we need the sanctions removed for us to be able to move forward. That is just an excuse. The sanctions should have been a blessing for us to do our own thing but our leadership is so stuck into the white supremacy that we cannot do anything if the west does not help. What hogwash.

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    And in reality there is nothing called African solution. Why then do we say let us now look to the east? What were our soldiers and police officers doing in Kosovo? And just why are we crying for the removal of sanctions instead of ignoring the West and move on within our own Africa? It means we accept that we cant just live by ourselves. We belong to the world at large.

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    I do agree with the writer. However, with regards to the implied so called new farmers I believe there is a misconception of the generalisation that these farmers are inexperienced and largely incomqetent. Most of us went into this really intending to be a successful small scale commercial farmers as it should be notwithstanding being on an A1 plot. I for one went on a voluntary retrenchment in 2007 after having worked out that pension proceeds from 35yrs of working in the private sector in supervisory and middle management jobs for highly reputable companies would be adequate to set me up in terms of financing my farming venture. Immediately after completion of retrenchment proceedings the zim doller nose dived to nothingness. All my quintilions were suddenly nothing according to Old Mutual. All my 35yrs of toilling in the private sector making a significant contribution to the development of my country culminates to an insulting 24 dollas from Old Mutual 60 dollas from nssa per month. I had hoped to build infrastructure such as a bore hole etc as well as buy equipment which are the real solutions to helping the so called new farmers, not these presidental yearly donations of seeds and fertilisers which really are ad hoc short term solutions.

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    Mabasa 9 years ago

    For the first time my hero (Vince) is wrong about something:
    Solutions to our water problems are quite obvious, we need to ensure that every second home in Zimbabwe has a borehole

    Dont you know that the water table is getting lower due to too many bore holes? or do you care about the dersetification that comes from depletion of trees and grass. A man who considers building on wetland a misnorma should also ambrace other environmental issues.
    For the rest you are dead right

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    Changamire Leo 9 years ago

    A very good article indeed.Keep posting more articles.Zimbabwe needs more people like you.Thank you.

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    Macon Pane 9 years ago

    Yes, world-class ideas are needed. But, world-class ideas from a jungle mindset results in the classic “African solution to an African problem”. Zim leadership must mature to join the world community to lift Zim out of its current state, but that won’t happen… too many skeletons in too many ZANU-PF closets.

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    Boss MyAss 9 years ago

    The same reason that makes us wrangle with a neighbour causes a war betwixt princes. It is well to know something of the manners of various peoples, in order more sanely to judge our own, and that we do not think that everything against our modes is ridiculous, and against reason, as those who have seen nothing are accustomed to think. Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn’t do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today. People are pretty much alike. It’s only that our differences are more susceptible to definition than our similarities. While there is a lower class I am in it, while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free. Whatever you may be sure of, be sure of this: That you are dreadfully like other people. There is no saint without a past, and no sinner without a future. At the end of this journey, we go back from where we came. Regardless of our apparent differences, we are all the same.

    Equal distribution of wealth does not mean we all should be millionaires – it only means no one should die of hunger. Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box. In the democracy of the dead all men at last are equal. There is neither rank nor station nor prerogative in the republic of the grave. We didn’t all come over on the same ship, but we’re all in the same boat. Wouldn’t life be easier if we just stopped comparing ourselves to others? We are all the same; no one is higher or lower than you. We continuously try to trip our brothers but we forget that we are chained ankle to ankle with them and when we hurt them, their pain reflects back to us. Think outside of the box, create your own path in life. You laugh at me because I am different; I laugh because you are all the same.

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    taah sharp chawora 6 years ago

    Your facts are a reality of our current Zimbabwe situation.We need someone like you for better solution.

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    morebie madzikatire 5 years ago

    lets no forget that we have been controlled by the invisible hand in our economy . there are two living animals called neo-colonialism and coloniality and as long as these two animals are alive we wont progress