Managing Change – Eddie Cross

Managing Change by Eddie Cross

An issue that every human being has to deal with in today’s world is how to accommodate change in all its different forms. The earth is old – how old is a subject on its own, but the history of mankind on earth is much shorter – perhaps no longer than 10 000 years. What evidence we have suggests that human kind has not changed in a fundamental sense in that time. Early records show that humans had a sophisticated grasp of the key issues that they had to deal with; they had mathematics, science and language.

But one common characteristic of the entire period of 10 000 years has been the need for human beings to adjust to and manage their changing environment.

The one thing that we can say about our world without contradiction is that the pace of change is accelerating. We tend to concentrate on the most visible symbols of change – the cell phones, computers and the instant global communications but the process is affecting everything and all our lives. When my father was born, the airplane was an image on a drawing board. When I first became involved with the Company that I would ultimately lead as the Chief Executive, we did not have a computer in the organisation. Our first machine was purchased from a little known company called IBM, had to be moved by crane, housed in a special building with air conditioning. It used punch cards for processing and when it was turned on, it shook the whole building. When I left the organisation, our main frame was the size of a small fridge, stood in an alcove and ran off a plug. It was many times more powerful than our first machine.

But the pace of change has many faces – money markets, social change, politics, incomes and commerce in all its different forms. In the money market for example, we have a situation where up to $100 trillion in liquid cash is held by millions of firms and individuals all over the world. This sum dwarfs even the largest economies and the largest banks and the collective impact of shifts in perception and confidence can have tidal impact on virtually every company and every country on the globe.

This means that the rules of how countries can manage their affairs have changed. After the Second World War as the world struggled to come to grips with the death of 60 million men and women and the near total destruction of European States, the multilateral institutions established by the Breton Woods agreements – the IMF and the World Bank – set the rules and made the necessary decisions. For a while they had the power and authority to impose macroeconomic policies on countries. Now that role has been taken over by the global integrated financial markets that automatically punish States if they violate these fundamental rules.

At the same time, if a country gets the mix right, they can attract massive resources and the result is the dramatic and unparalleled growth of the Asian Tiger States and China. Historically no country has grown so fast and for such a long time as modern China. This has lifted billions out of abject poverty and created cities almost overnight. This is not new. When gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand in South Africa, the city of Johannesburg was growing so fast that a farmer who delivered a wagon load of food to the city for sale, sold his cattle to feed the population and had to walk home to get a new span of oxen only to discover when he returned, that he could not get his wagon out – it had been built in by the growing City.

People can embrace change, but you cannot stop change, you can delay the process and maybe influence the outcome, but in most cases we are flotsam on the surface being swept first this way and then that by the winds of change that have engulfed the world.

Countries that elect to defy these phenomena are doomed to be left behind, to wallow in poverty and to be unable to meet even the basic needs of their people. North Korea is an example, poor, reclusive, authoritarian and closed.

Zimbabwe has a choice; to continue to deny the winds of change that have taken hold in Africa, as in every other continent, or take up the challenge to use the power of those winds to liberate our society and bring prosperity to the majority of our people. We are isolated politically because we refuse to implement policies that will give our people freedom of expression and association and real democracy. We suffer from a critical shortage of capital for our infrastructure, our industry and our primary industries. We pay crippling interest rates to our banks who despite this are failing. We have destroyed the confidence of our own business class and simply do not appear on the computer screens of those who command global resources. Our industries are museums of yesterday’s technologies and our human skills are no longer relevant.

Because of modern technologies we are connected to the world but can only watch what happens “out there” in the real world.

But what we need to understand is how little we have to do to get back into the mainstream of human development in the new World in which we live. All we need to do is tune this machine so that it is able to draw on the energy and vitality that already exists in the real universe. We need to respect property rights, guarantee the rule of law, enforce contracts; apply the right mix of both macro and micro economic policies on a consistent and trustworthy basis. We need to stop abusing our media and allow media freedom. We need to give our people the freedoms that are described in our Bill of Rights – association, movement, choice and citizen rights that cannot be taken away on a whim or violated at large when it suits us.

We need to welcome investors and then reward them when they decide to back us as a nation with their hard earned resources and knowledge. We need to reward initiative and enterprise and to give our young people the tools to make it in the world that confronts them when they leave school or college. We need to get on top of corruption – perhaps it’s time to emulate the Chinese and to execute a few of the worst offenders. It has been instructive in the past few weeks to see the impact of the limited action taken by the Commissioner of police against corruption in the force.

That’s all that is needed – really. Why are we not doing these things and getting on with our real task which is lifting our country out of the trough of economic stagnation and collapse and our politics out of conflict and dispute? It is simply a question of leadership and I personally am really running out of patience with those who have the responsibility. In the meantime, life goes on around us and the pace of change and development accelerates in all our neighboring States while we stand still and sometimes go backwards.

Eddie Cross
Harare 22nd February 2014


  • comment-avatar
    apolitical 8 years ago

    One of the first changes needed is to hear less from Cross and more substance

  • comment-avatar
    Nick Collis 8 years ago

    Apolitical thinking as voiced in the above email is typical of the Zimbabwean response to your beautiful country’s malaise! What Zimbabwe needs more than anything right now is massive civil resistance similar to the actions which have wrought change in the Ukraine . At least Eddie Cross can nail his colours to the mast!

  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 8 years ago

    This article is accurate. We do not need to do much. The problem is that the ZANU government will never do even the bare minimum. This how it is when your country is controlled by criminals.

  • comment-avatar

    the solution is to have the diasporans to vote in the coming poll, have all citizens to vote, and prepare a militia to attack Mugabe at 96 and zanu should they steal the vote next time. he will be there to contest in 2018 believe me. akamedza hurungudo uya!!! without that forget and smile about any prospects for change as envisaged by cross!!!

    • comment-avatar
      Zombi 8 years ago

      And you don’t think diaspora votes will be manipulated by the same criminals?

  • comment-avatar

    Zanu pf is incapable of change as all kleptocricies are, and change only disables their control of the country. All we are waiting for now is for the implosion created by Zanu of to gather pace. What I would like to hear more of is how Zimbabweans can be more proactive in the face of the evil being perpetrated by our leadership. We see the problem, we have analyzed it to death, we know change is needed and inevitable, but where is the new leadership to take us forward??

  • comment-avatar
    Roving Ambassador 8 years ago

    The story of the baboon and the calabash. The baboon tries to retrieve the nuts in the container,but because the hand is fisted, it cannot now pass through the restrictive neck of the container. The baboon will seat there till death do us part.
    Zanu will not change for anything. They are so dip in ,they cannot let go.
    A total leadership renewal is what we need. The MDC itself has been Zanufied. We cannot ignore the violent reaction to calls for Tsvangirai to step aside.

    • comment-avatar
      Zombi 8 years ago

      What then is the solution? Ukraine style protests? The people of Zimbabwe are too scared to take their destinies into their own hands

  • comment-avatar

    Spot on Rovie!!

  • comment-avatar
    Rock stone 8 years ago

    That’s an eloquent piece of comment Roving Ambassodor.people must be very clear about leadership renewal , we are not saying Morgan Tsvangirai , must quit Mdc , no he must step aside , pave way for another leader , Tsvangirai will still be on the helm of decision making rebranding the new leader evey rally they go he should be there , giving acknowledgements to the supporters , that is if he still want the much awaited change to come to the people of Zimbabwe , & mdc must be very aware that election with zanuppf , is now difficulty & not possible to bring a change. , I swear unless more tangible & vibrant measures are taken , globally .

  • comment-avatar
    maita 8 years ago

    Rock stone, you are right but where in Africa has this ever happened. When Banda went in Malawi the winning party split, and the 2 splits split again and so on so it happens when you see that aleader has refused to quit and you think you are a better leader quit and form your own party without dismantling the other one you may find your party strong but now imagine Mangoma and Biti forming a party now with all what has happened? Obvious with this deed they have removed themselves from the equation come congress their names will read 0 on the ballot and another silent assasin appears. silence is golden kungofugura hapwa pese pese, tsemulas eh.

  • comment-avatar

    Eddie Cross comment as much as you want. You are Zimbabwean. Any fool that wants to here less from you must read the herald or chronicle only. We want to here what you and others have to say. You carry on and do what you do. We wait with anticipation for your next instalment.

  • comment-avatar

    Look on Yahoo today, a night time picture taken by NASA of the Korean Peninsula. There is a dark black gap between South Korea and China. Who could it be that lives there? ” unable to meet even the basic needs of their people. North Korea is an example, poor, reclusive, authoritarian and closed.

  • comment-avatar
    Njalo 8 years ago

    “apolitical” has summed it up all in one sentence.
    The “substance” he is calling for is achievable.
    “GAME ON”.