The Need for a New Road Map – Eddie Cross

via email by Eddie Cross  3rd December 2013

In 1980 when we came to Independence, one of the first things we did was to join the World Bank and the IMF. Membership of these global financial institutions is accepted as an essential step towards growth and stability. That year two countries were accepted into the club – China and Zimbabwe.

China had a GDP per capita that was half of the GDP per capita of Zimbabwe, did not have a fraction of its natural resources, was half desert and had come out of a long period of political and economic repression that had culminated in the Red Revolution during which tens of millions had died. Agriculture in China was not able to feed its population and millions died of starvation and malnutrition each year. China faced a hostile global community which was determined to isolate the Country and to minimize its influence in the region.

Zimbabwe had 17 PhD graduates in its first Cabinet, virtually no debt, a GDP per capita that was the second highest in Africa, a diverse economy based on agriculture and industry, a small but growing mining sector and a currency that was worth US$2 per Z$1. Its human resource base was excellent with an abundance of skilled and experienced labour. It had just emerged from 15 years of civil war, 13 years of mandatory UN sanctions and over 80 years of settler administration and dominance. It had the unstinting support of the Western world who promptly pledged US$5 billion in aid to the new country.

If this had been the start of a race to see which country would develop, who would you have backed as most likely to succeed? On paper, clearly Zimbabwe had the edge over China.

Today, there simply is no contest, China has the second largest economy in the world and although it is still poor in per capita terms, has lifted half its population out of poverty and created a vast middle class. It has grown steadily at rates that most economists would have said were unobtainable – exceeding 10 per cent each year for over 30 years. It not only feeds itself but has been able to meet growing demand for better foods and a higher quality of life by all its people. Far from being isolated and ignored, China has sound political and economic relations with the whole world and is a highly regarded member in good standing of the IMF and the World Bank.

By contrast Zimbabwe has hardly grown its GDP, GDP per capita has declined to among the lowest in the world, our agriculture has collapsed and a quarter of our population face starvation this year. Our industrial base has shrunk to a quarter of what it was 30 years ago and 70 per cent of our population lives in absolute poverty. When our currency collapsed to trillions to one, we simply abandoned it and adopted the US dollar as our main means of exchange. We could not even manage our Reserve Bank. Millions of our skilled and experienced working class have left the country and made new lives for themselves in other countries.

The political track record is just as damming – we are isolated from the global community, have committed genocide against our people, displaced millions by force under the Murambatsvina programme and the programme to displace the commercial farmers and their staff. We are no longer in good standing with the IMF and the World Bank and no one will lend us money. China lends money to the rest of the world.

What did we do wrong? The answer to that question needs a book, but let’s just say we got just about everything wrong and we have paid the price. Have we learned from these mistakes? Do we have a road map to the future? I am afraid that as we look to 2014 and beyond we have to accept that we do not seem to have learned anything from our past mistakes and it is all about leadership.

In China it was the transition from Mau to Deng Zhou Ping (“it does not matter what colour that cat is, can it catch mice”) that started China on a new road into the future. While they retained the grip on power of the Communist Party and the Red Army, they completely revamped their economic policies and gave their people economic freedom. They gave security and protection to the rural population; they allowed markets to distribute resources and to reward initiative and hard work. The result was an economic and political revolution that has left the Communist Party in charge but lifted the people out of poverty and created an economy that is busy not just reshaping China but the whole world.

The other astonishing transition we celebrate this week is that of South Africa and the death on Thursday night of Nelson Mandela. What an amazing outpouring of global grief we saw – the BBC broadcast nothing else but his life for the next 48 hours. Celebrating the life of a man who rescued his country and its people from 300 years of stupid racial segregation and discrimination; a man who prevented a racial conflagration and started the long process of creating a new society that could carry South Africans into the future. It is all about leadership.

In Mandela’s case we all have our anecdotes: I have a friend in South Africa who runs a large business, he got a call one day from the President who asked him to fund a small rural school in Natal. Two years later he was invited to the opening ceremony by Mandela who had a gift for every child and who introduced the white South African as the man who had made the changes possible. He told me that anytime Mandela called – he would do it again even though it cost him millions of Rand. On another occasion a friend was jogging past State House with his 12 year old son, Mandela was taking a walk with a security detail and stopped to talk to the two of them.

We have a President who is cold and distant, who drives in a motorcade that pushes everyone else off the road with the threat of violence. He will have you locked up if you disparage his name or deface his picture; he demands loyalty from his staff and people with the ever ready threat of retribution and punishment if they do not obey or kow tow. When our President passes on we need to ask how will his passing be celebrated?

For 2014 in Zimbabwe there is no road map into the future. Zim Asset is a wish list that is not based on reality. We are sliding once again into a collapse of our economy and in the lives of our people and we simply do not seem to have the leadership to get us out of our predicament.

Eddie Cross

Bulawayo, 3rd December 2013


  • comment-avatar
    Washumba 10 years ago

    Where have you seen an old man with no gray hair thats a curse

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    Nimrod Mupanesengende 10 years ago

    Why not compare China and the United States, Britain, Japan and even the rest of Europe? During the period under review, China managed to outrun, outfox, outmaneouvre, and overtook many economies and most countries could do nothing but just watch as China flew past them in every sense of the word. The reason is simple. very simple, Mr. Cross!!!! It should have Crossed your mind that China had no shucles of imperialism to slow it down. China had no imperialist-cyphones placated on its economy and therefore could develope at the rate you mentioned. Above all, China had no Eddie Crosses in its country to impede its development!!!!!! I tell you, if we did not have the Coltarts, the Eddie Crosses, the Sam Levis and others, Zimbabwe would have developed much faster than China.

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      OSCAR 10 years ago

      Where do you come from NIMROD it seems to me you are from the Office of the President or the CIO, I have never read such trash in my life. The bottom line is that MUGABE and his thugs have destroyed a beautiful country, murdered its population and those that are still with us are starving. It is mindless fools like you that keep these dreadful people in power, you are a curse on the country and the people and rest assured when the great day comes the people will take their revenge on those who have ruined their lives and their country. People just like YOU

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      Angela Wigmore 10 years ago

      Nimrod’s brain has shrivelled to nothing on his diet of Mugabe propaganda. It would be a kind gesture if someone were to put him out of his hallucinations and misery.

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      Nimrod, I wonder what year it might have been, when you had
      the people, knowhow & Cash to start. 1890 you weren’t
      quite ready. In 1980 you were handed one of the most properous
      ecconmy’s in the world. Now look at it ??? Well done.

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    Nimrod the illiterate puppet. Brilliant Eddie. You call a spade a spade unlike Robertson Hawkins and the multitude of bogus naive armchair self anointed economic ” expert analysts “

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    kenneth R nedziwe 10 years ago

    As long as we dont appreciate our mistakes we are going to remain in this mess forever.

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    Jimbo 10 years ago

    Nimrod, for your info Zimbabwe has been free from imperialism since 1980 and since then Zimbabwe has been looted and destroyed by Zanu PF. Zimbabwe is an example of what crony capitalism, bribery and corruption can do to a country. Zimbabwe cannot even feed itself today and more than half the population face starvation on a daily basis. If the West did not supply food aid etc, Zimbabwe would find itself in an even more precarious position. Your logic and reasoning do not require further comment.

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    Rwendo 10 years ago

    Good article. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. Here in Zimbabwe we had many nationalist leaders imprisoned for years (at least 15 years for Maurice Nyagumbo). Different times pertain now, granted, and it is not entirely fair to compare. But all the same, it is hard not to reflect on how many leaders in modern Zimbabwe would be prepared to pay those kind of costs, so as to overthrow our current oppression…(even if our prisons were first made compatible with life).

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    munzwa 10 years ago

    Good article, the difference is in the commitment of the population and their view of the betterment of the whole Nation.We have the criminals running the place so all their actions undermine the good of a Nation.We must also look at those who are prepared to work with these criminals!!

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    What a sobering article. Not even Nimrod can get away from the truth spoken here. Nimrod, the whites haven’t been in power since 1979 in case you haven’t noticed. And also it is time for us to come together as a nation and stop this petty jibing at each other. Zpf have had 34 years. What have they done with it? Isaiah 14:20 “You have destroyed your nation and slain your people.”This article should be debated in parly and it is time Zimbabwe looked itself in the mirror and saw the truth. And this includes government and each one of us.

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    Good article Eddie, And I guess you looked at the “Nimrods” post and smiled and thank the Lord that the likes of such are in the minority…

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    Dennis 10 years ago

    A bunch of Zimbabweans end up falling in a hole. A differing bunch they were. It does not take long before the sensible ones realise that the only way out is by helping one another, hand in hand, one by one. Sadly, the smallest bunch with their arms folded in defiance and their faces and brains wracked with hatred, jealousy and stubbornness viciously oppose that anyone must help another. They order everyone to wait until someone on the outside of the hole throws down a life line. They tell everyone that this is the only way out. At some point the others don’t buy the theory and overcome the smaller, foolish bunch. Hand in hand most of the Zimbabweans get out but there are still some stuck in the hole and only because they were still squabbling about who to blame for ending up there in the first place. That lot perished in the hole without ever realising how easy it was to get out!

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    Nyoni 10 years ago

    Interesting article. But the truth must be told here. The regime in 1980 had numerous opportunities to excel. The civil servants were experienced in government ways and I can remember they were of all races . And there were those that did not support the previous regime but did the job. Knowledge of the workings of government was tried to be passed on to the new players. This was hard as the revolutionary party had either ideas. They wanted to purge all before them and put their own in place. This was their biggest mistake and we all have seen the collapse of all our institution since 1980. We all now know that politics and economics go hand in glove. In our case compared to our cousins in South Africa who embraced the old regime we went into get even mode. This has backfired drastically and the saying ” Rome wasnot built in a day” runs true in our case. Lessons from South Africa and its great leader Madiba should be learnt by all In Zimbabwe who want a better life.

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    I think it is well and good to have a cabinet full of PhD graduates. But lets be careful when most of these are political scientists, who think every problem on this earth needs a political solution.

    Did you know that the president of China is a scientist? President Hu Jintao was trained as a hydraulic engineer. Likewise his Premier, Wen Jiabao, is a geomechanical engineer. ( I am not sure if these are the current incumbents. But it does take away the point I am trying to make).

    In fact, 8 out of China’s top 9 government officials are scientists. What does the scientific prominence atop China’s ruling body say, if anything, about the role of science and technology in China’s ability to compete against the rest of the world world in terms of innovation and economic might?

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    Mr Mixed Race 10 years ago

    Nimrod Mupanengende you are not as intelligent as you think. Let me educate you a bit about China’s development.Who really made it happen?The west made it happen by their policies of out sourcing which the Chinese abused by copying their technology and then making fake items which found their way to the third world.China cannot compete with the free world thus why they have come to Africa to loot cheap resources.Wake up before its too late.Its matter of time before people in the third world stop buying cheap substandard items from China. The resistance to Chinese items has already started,this is why their economy has slowed down .There is now unemployment in China,so they have to ship most of their people to the third world.The West has now realised their mistakes and have started bringing back their industries eg UK,Germany,France,USA and many others.The good thing about the free world countries is that they learn from their mistakes not like us.

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    Njalo 10 years ago

    Eddie Cross has a CV which is likely to include contributions to some formerly very successful agro-industries in Zimbabwe.

    Does Nimrod have one that he would like to share with us?

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    rudeboy 10 years ago

    nimrod…u take the farms….u want 51% for free…then u say..white world if u lift yor sanctions..and help us we will be successfull…you hypocrite…

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    Manyongori 10 years ago

    Let’s pray for Nimrod for it seems he knows not what he is talking about.Lord have mercy pon him.

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    Twinn 10 years ago

    I predict a riot! Chimurenga III. We are far from being independent!

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    Mr Mixed Race 10 years ago

    Nimrod is a street kid who has been brain washed to cause maximum damage to other races.He has nothing to offer in this civilised world.

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    Charlie Cochrane 10 years ago

    What a lot of rot you all talk.nimrod is the voice of the black african, nimrod is one of the future leaders of your country, nimrod is the verbal equivalent of the unspoken general
    attitude of the black african.zambia is still a broken country under an elected dictator more than 20 years after kaunda was ousted,
    malawi too, congo etc etc.
    You’re all currently focused as ‘one nation’ against the dictator mugabe but when ‘freedom’ eventually arrives with a new ‘leader’, the cycle will begin again.
    And Eddie, you supported this lot at ‘independence’ in 1980 after witnessing the disgraceful behaviour to the north so I wouldn’t trust your judgement mate!

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      ‘Zimbabwe had 17 PhD graduates in its first Cabinet’,what have they done for us.I am surrounded by these overated and so called highly educated brothers.Over the years i’v learnt that their acquired knowledge only serves one purpose – getting high paying jobs.
      Our underated brothers are the best innovators. On the relationship matters they make good husbands too sisters.

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