Let’s blame it on the settlers

via Let’s blame it on the settlers 7 August 2014 by Vince Musewe

We must take full responsibility of our problems and have ministers in government who think beyond being driven in a Mercedes-Benz.

Don’t you just love it! Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo is at it again and truly believes that Harare’s water problems are because the colonialists settled in the wrong place and should have put the city in Mt Hampden.

A friend of mine remarked the other day that if Chombo believes that Harare should have been built in Mt Hampden, why not build another city there instead of blaming the settlers?

I guess the fact that two million people who were formerly employed in the agricultural sector have had to migrate to the urban areas because of a decimated rural economy has nothing to with it.

The fact that we have not done any serious infrastructure projects since independence also has nothing to do with it. The graft and corruption within the city councils is, of course, also a non-issue for Chombo when it comes to service delivery and the maintenance of our infrastructure.

I think we have a problem: Our ministers are not accountable at all and they just couldn’t be bothered. Imagine a whole Minister of Mines who runs Zimbabwe Minerals Development Corporation and does not keep any records and becomes angry when asked why not.

These guys are just too old to run this country. They have failed to move with the times when it comes to management and so we are effectively stuck with incompetents.

Politicians have an irritating habit of reframing problems and denying answerability. This is a universal problem. According to the wisdom of Zanu PF, our problems either come from outside our borders or the past; they, therefore, have played absolutely no role in creating the current conditions; how ridiculous!
When talking to a Zanu PF member the other day, I was amazed at how everyone has adapted this style of blaming everything on the past. The sad reality is that they actually believe the lie because it has been repeated so many times.

Of course, a major issue is that, after the struggle, our comrades never received counselling and they are, therefore, still suffering from post-traumatic stress and the past still looms large in their psyche. That is an issue that has never been addressed.

True, colonial structures were designed to entrench minority interests and control of both politics and the economy.

What has happened is that post-colonial liberation struggle political parties inherited these structures with pleasure and have used them just as the colonialists did. So institutions created by the settler regime are the same institutions that continue to benefit Zanu PF-entrenched political and economic hegemony. They are extractive and are designed to benefit a few politicians and not the masses.

In the Zimbabwe we want, government ministers will be evaluated by Parliament and must be answerable to the people of Zimbabwe. Those who do not perform must be fired with no remorse. We will also whittle down the political power of ministers to avoid abuse and corruption.

I am told that in Ian Smith’s government, for example, ministers and high-ranking officials had to agree not to do business with government or have conflicts of interest.

Now this term does not exist in Zanu PF’s vocabulary. So we have ministers who run their businesses while drawing salaries and benefits from our taxes. That is not acceptable.

It is obvious that running a political party or an armed struggle is completely different from running a government. All I hear is that Transport minister Obert Mpofu bans kombis and wants to replace them with a State monopoly that went broke; Finance minister Patrick Chinamisa bans exports of raw hides and forgot that our tanneries don’t have the capacity, now we have a glut and a collapsing raw hide market where prices have tumbled; Agriculture minister Joseph Made bans imports of maize and creates a parallel market, causing mispricing of the finished product.

Also the Grain Marketing Board has no money to buy maize from farmers so they simply don’t sell it, but would rather store it, creating another artificial market shortage.

You see, you can never run a competent government by decree without considering the cost of unintended negative consequences first.

This government does that all the time and we end up with inconsistent government policies that have cost the economy a fortune. We will need to restructure our institutions significantly to get different results and behaviours.

We cannot continue this silo mentality, where each minister operates on his own without looking at or understanding how things are interrelated; the latter is called systems thinking; a necessarily thinking tool that is used to understand and manage complex social systems.

That is the thinking methodology we will use in creating a new Zimbabwe where people, especially ministers, are expected to think before they act by looking at things in a holistic manner.

This must apply to all sectors of the economy. By doing that, you make better policy decisions; you anticipate potential problems and avoid them. As a result, you also reduce delay factors and, therefore, the costs of running the economy as a whole.

We certainly have a long way to go, but I want to believe that it shall come to pass, where we take full responsibility of our problems and have ministers in government who think beyond being driven in a Mercedes-Benz.


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    Zimbali 7 years ago

    Vince, I want to challenge you on your comment “True, colonial structures were designed to entrench minority interests and control of both politics and the economy”. This comment is absolute nonsense. I have commented in this forum before that all Rhodesians of whatever colour or creed had the vote, albeit a qualified vote. The main qualification was education. If the likes of ZANU and ZAPU had not chosen to fight a war, it would only have been a matter of time before a black government would have come in to power. It follows therefore, that the structures were not designed to entrench minority interests.

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      Kevin Watson 7 years ago

      Zimbali you are quite incorrect about “all Rhodesians” having had a qualified vote. I suggest you read the 1961 constitution as regards what the qualifications were. The main qualifications were education and land ownership. My late Mother won the parliamentary seat in Hillside Bulawayo at the 1962 election and there were only 2 black voters on the A roll and about 10 white voters on the B roll (including one of my cousins). I then suggest you read the changes to that constitution imposed by Ian Smiths RF party in 1966 which then basically separated the votes into “black seats” and “white seats”, and limited the number of black seats so that blacks could never attain power. Had Zapu not boycotted the 1962 election the Rhodesian Front may not have come to power and a different outcome might have been negotiated but once the Rhodesian Front came to power there was only one outcome possible. The late Mark Partridge (a cabinet minister in the RF government) had the temerity or stupidity to tell the British House of Lords that the Rhodesian Front Government would last a 1000 years, that comment had the old codgers rocking in the aisles with laughter as the last person to make that statement was Adolph Hitler.

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    You make a lot of good points but I have to say that you are just a little incorrect when you say “colonial structures were designed to entrench minority interests” Although the playing fields were uneven the interests of the Majority were not altogether ignored. The accommodation of the Majority in the construction of houses (although not of the size that people would have liked) went a long way to provide employment to everybody in the construction industry. Companies like Monarch steel were major employers of the black Majority. The Railways were booming transporting door frames, bricks, coal and other products to service the local industry. All these products were manufactured locally and the black majority were instrumental in this, thus the low unemployment rate. If a country is to be successful those that run the countries have to be aware that services must always play a part in employment and keeping the economy afloat. This is where the Governing departments are supposed to be looking instead of interfering with farming activities and the Manufacturing areas. These should be monitored by regulators with no political affiliations. I think this Government has got to a point of no return. They have lit fires that they cannot erase. If at all this last invasion was sanctioned by the Government it would stand to reason that some sort of a court order accompanied by a notice of eviction would have been issued to the farmer.

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      Kevin Watson 7 years ago

      Colonial municipal structures and the services they provided were for the benefit of the whites who developed the country into a farming and mining powerhouse, with associated manufacture of needed goods, rather than the subsistence pastoralist and farming economy that was Zimbabwe when they arrived in 1890. Those blacks who were, through the iniquitous “hut tax”, forced into the cash economy were given limited services in townships in the urban areas. Were those structures designed to entrench white hegemony, no they were there so that the whites enjoy life in the manner they might have had they stayed home.

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    revenger-avenger 7 years ago

    Seems Vince may be slowly seeing the light !!!!???

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    just saying 7 years ago

    Actually Vince we are no better as we spend much of our time blaming ZPF & their leaders but dont do much about them raping this country. I suggest you read Chika Onyeani’s book ‘Capitalist Nigger’ about the constant blame game we play here in Africa.

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    Charles Frizell 7 years ago

    And if I dare say “Armed struggle” I am sure to provoke a major storm.

    But, get it into your heads, ZPF will NEVER let go voluntarily. You could say that they have made a vivil war in the future inevitable, between the haves and the have-nots.

    Now, doesn’t that sound rather familiar?

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    Mlimo 7 years ago

    colonial structures entrench minority interests – so what do you have with mugabe? One man one vote entrenching minority interests as well? and with zanupoff its one man at the top entrenching his own interests?

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    Charles Frizell 7 years ago

    Indeed, a fire is needed

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    Mandevu 7 years ago

    Good article again Vince. I agree with Charles – for as long as we try to effect change through the political system, we will fall short. ZPF have total control in that area and can do what they like and not be held accountable. However, they do not control civil society, and that is where we can institute change. It might not be pretty, but it will work particularly in the current and disastrous economic climate

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    John Thomas 7 years ago

    Sounds to me like Vince would be no different if he were minister

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    Chiwaridza 7 years ago

    There is still too much talk, no action ! The bottom line,like Charles says, ZANU -PF is going nowhere voluntarily. Therefore in order to effect the changes Vince alludes to the people need to rise up and physically remove this pathetic excuse for a Govt. When will that take place ?? Is this not the question you need to answer Vince !

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    Yes well what can we say? A guilty man always blames it on everyone else. It is quite pathetic really. A mature politician/person will always be ready to accept where they are wrong or have gone wrong. I have NEVER seen that in ZPF.

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    mike paterson 7 years ago

    Who are the settlers? What about the San whose existence over much of Zimbabwe is very evident in the Kopjes and rocky outcrops. Where are they now?

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      Kevin Watson 7 years ago

      They were chased out and forced to the west by first by the Kalanga and then later by the Zezuru who pushed the Kalanga further west and finally by the Ndebele under Mzilikazi. All of these movements were done by force, much as the white settlers in 1890 to 1893. The geo-political difference between these white settlers as compared with their kith and kin in Australia was to engage with the indigenous population instead of exterminating them. The Missionary Societies were responsible of extending medical and education services to the indigenous population. In countries where the missionaries were most active such as Zimbabwe and Malawi have much higher populations (and the resulting land pressure) than for example Zambia. What is instructive is that in 1949 Zimbabwe had a population of approximately 2.5m as did Malawi and Zambia only had a population of 2.2m people. In 2012 Zambia had an estimated 13m people, Zimbabwe a census of 13m people which would have excluded all those in the diaspora (an estimated 2m in South Africa) and Malawi an estimated 15m people. Zambia is nearly twice the size of Zimbabwe which in turn is over 3 times the size of Malawi. The Scottish Missionary Society was very active and still is in Malawi. It is this population explosion that has caused the problems in Southern Africa because there has been no significant change in the technology of agriculture since the 19th century, except where western companies and white farmers have farmed on a commercial scale.

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    simbi 7 years ago

    WHY did everything work perfectly when it was called Salisbury