The price of bad government in Zimbabwe – Eddie Cross

via The price of bad government in Zimbabwe  Nehanda Radio Apr 13, 2014 By Eddie Cross

Eddie Cross

I was one of a small minority of white Zimbabweans who had fought the fight to secure equal rights and the vote for the majority in Zimbabwe.

I actually joined the political struggle in 1966 and in April 1980 I found myself sitting on the podium at Rufaro Stadium in Mbare behind the Prime Minister of India and just a few metres from the Prince of Wales and the new Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

I was there because I had made a small contribution to that moment in time. It was hugely moving to watch units of the armies that had been involved in the war of Independence, on the Parade Ground in front of us and a capacity crowd in the stands.

Next week it will be 34 years since Zimbabwe was created and the Zanu PF Party took power. Ian Smith governed the country for 16 turbulent years. The whites had controlled the State since 1923 when Rhodesia had been granted Dominion Status; that is just 57 years. I think Zimbabwe is now old enough for us to judge how our leadership has done with the mandate they were given in 1980.

They took over a country with virtually no debt, a small but self sufficient economy which was able to sustain a reasonable standard of living for its people, albeit in a very unequal and skewed manner. The country had received virtually no external assistance in the previous 60 years, had been at war with itself since 1964, with a real war from 1972 and had been operating under the most severe system of United Nations Sanctions ever mounted by the world community, since 1967. Mr. Mugabe took over a country with a small but honest and efficient administration, a well educated minority and a people who, despite all the struggles and conflicts of the past, had the second highest standard of living in the Southern Africa after South Africa.

At the same moment in time China emerged from its long night under Mao tse Tung – its economy was at about the same stage as that of Zimbabwe, 30 per cent urban, the rural poor in a desperate state with millions dying from starvation each year, low incomes – perhaps half that of Zimbabwe and barely able to stand up in the global community. Isolated and shunned.

Had we adopted the approach taken by Deng Zhao Ping in 1980 (“it does not matter whether the cat is black or white, does it catch mice”) and our economy had grown at 10 per cent per annum for 34 years, our GDP today would be sitting at over $200 billion. That is nearly half that of South Africa and Nigeria. Average incomes would be $17 000 a year and we would be approaching developed country status. We had the potential – well educated elite, rich natural resources, good climate and soils and a large regional market, as well as open access to world markets.

Instead we have one of the lowest incomes per capita in the world, all our social indicators are negative in regional terms (infant and maternal mortalities etc) and right now we are unable to pay our Civil Service in any kind of decent way. Our public administration is viewed as one of the most corrupt in the world and is bloated and inefficient.

If we forget what we might have become with different policies to guide our society and just examine what we have done with the resources we did control through the past 34 years then we see an equally dismal story. In the first 20 years of our Independence we borrowed over $10 billion from the International Community and the multilateral financial institutions.

We had an open door to very soft loans and by 2000 we had become a heavily indebted Country. But our record was much worse than that – I estimate that by 2000, we were systematically taking out of our economy a third of GDP in various forms of corruption – this amounted to billions of dollars. Price and exchange controls were used to fleece the private sector and transfer billions of dollars of revenue and income from the private sector to the State. Inflation from 2000 onwards did the rest and by 2008, all savings accumulated from 1896, were wiped out.

All Banks and other financial institutions were virtually bankrupt by 2008 and despite inflows of 30 to 40 per cent of GDP from remittances and foreign aid, the country was unable to feed itself or pay for the most basic services. The productive sector had shrunk to 30 per cent of what it had been in 1980. Zimbabwe was in all economic respects a “Failed State”.

South Africa, concerned about the effect that the collapse in Zimbabwe was having on their own society, moved to try and stop the deterioration in our society and economy. The result after two years of tough negotiations was the GNU in 2009. That brought some sanity and relief with the economy bouncing back strongly from 2009 to 2012, only to grind to a halt again in 2013. The election results of July 2013 put the whole economy into reverse and by the end of the year revenues to the State were in decline and the banking sector was once again in crisis and unable to pay back its depositors.

This situation has not improved and the economic situation in the country is again driving the reform and change agenda. If we do nothing to restore confidence in the State and to engage the International Community and unlock our economic potential very soon, we are going to be in big trouble by the end of May 2014.

Everyone knows that, but they do not know what to do and the people who have the power and the responsibility are basically incapable of doing the job. As we have been so often in the past, we are again in crisis and it is difficult to see how we can get ourselves out of the hole we have dug for ourselves. Radical measures are needed and it’s urgent.

We were all so hopeful that this year, we would have something to celebrate other than empty memories of past liberation war achievements and sacrifice. The reality is that we have nothing to celebrate. We have failed our people and for all those who had so much hope for Zimbabwe, it is a sad day.

Right now the BBC is showing a short clip of Mr. Mugabe speaking about Zimbabwe’s natural resources and saying that we will never again allow foreigners to control our land and our minerals and then being saluted by the Generals. That sums it up for his regime, empty rhetoric and pride. He needs to be reminded that his cat does not catch mice, never did and will not do so in the future. It is time to change the cat; it might be the only way forward.

Eddie Cross is the MDC-T MP for Bulawayo South and writes in his personal capacity.



  • comment-avatar

    You fail Eddie, to mention the intransigence of the whites when approached by the black government on the land issue, good as your article is.

    We had a period of economic growth in the 80’s, sadly brought to a grinding halt by a combination of supremacist behaviour by the whites and gross ineptitude by the Mugabe administration..

    No use crying over spilt milk.

    Zim belongs to “the born-frees” both black and white.
    Unfortunately, I don’t see much interaction between the two groups.

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      Isu Zvedu 9 years ago

      So very quick to point a finger at Cross, who is simply taking you on memory lane, lest you forget who was Commander-In-Thief. When so called white supremacists had their way, Mugabe was busy dining with them in London and never spending a weekend in Zimbabwe. I bet you my much sweated for dollar, Mugabe does not know where Mushonandebvu Road is in Mbare or where Murara Avenue is in Mufakose. Asked he might think these are streets in far away America where he is being denied visits. Why are we so dumb to be led by such evil?

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      Nkiwane (M'kiwa) 9 years ago

      That’s what a “certificate of no interest” was. Farmer’s had to offer the land to the state before selling on the open market. Stop trying to cloud the issue by ALWAYS blaming the whites. The whites had been out of power for 20 years before the first farm invasions and Bob had done squat for the average person. .

      Talking of whites, most whites who have left do not plan to return to Zim. Ever. Trust me, I know. They are all settled abroad with kids, wives, etc. Why would they bring their loved ones into a zone where they could be targeted again in a few years time? That would be insanity.

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      Will the Doctor 9 years ago

      @ Ngoto

      “Zim belongs to “the born-frees” both black and white. Unfortunately, I don’t see much interaction between the two groups.”

      Well, maybe that has something to do with the race-hate that Zanu has preached over the last 20 years.

      Zanu is in no position to comment on ‘racist Rhodies’ – when they are just as racist. The difference is that the British were supremely more competent.

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        just saying 9 years ago

        @will the doctor
        Quite correct regarding race hatred spewed by Mugabe on a regular basis. Contrast this with Zambia under Kaunda who championed ‘One Zambia one nation’ and who don’t have the racial hangups of people like ‘Ngoto Zimbwa’ If anything people from that country are Zambians first with race hardly being mentioned.

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    Canuck 9 years ago

    Just more bloody moaning Eddie……you and Vince both.
    Moan moan moan, and no-one does anything to change or challenge the status quo……
    I left Zim 49 years ago now, but still would like to help the country where I spent many years…….but under the present regime you would need to be MAD to invest funds.

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      I am black and now leaving abroad, and each time I tell my wife I want to invest in Zimbabwe, she remarks” You getting mad! Put money kwaMugabe?” I have since stopped talking about Zimbabwe it brings tensions in the house.

      We had hope of getting home one day setup more businesses and making a difference to our people. Unfortunately my country is now a North Korea, where my 29 Year old nephew with “A” Level Science subjects , has never seen the door of a job, and now sells tomatoes under Youth Empowerment Programme. His cousin(my son) who was less intelligent, but was fortunate to go to the “imperialist” world, is now a practicing radiographer. Poor Tonderai(my Muzukuru) despite his brilliance has gone for nine road tests without success, but my son passed once.

      How cruel is Mugabe to condemn his people to such poverty hiding behind the sanctions story.

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      Zombi 9 years ago

      Canuck… What have YOU done, that you would like Vince and Eddie to emulate you on? Its easy to shout from the terraces. Let us also see what you have done.

      Cheap skate.

      • comment-avatar

        Yes! Canuck, you left. We are still here. Whilst we appreciate your concern for our nation it is easy to sit in ivory towers and tell us lot in the trenches what to do. yes! something has to be done. I for one am not idle. Nor are Vince and Eddie. We are working for a better Zimbabwe each in his/her own way. I will admit that we do have a leadership crisis tho! And ZPF have messed up big time. they must just do the decent thing and confess. bob should retire forthwith and ZPF need to humble themselves and begin to start acting like the liberators they claim to be. They fiddled the elections (not for the first time) and they have dug for themselves a deep dark pit which they will fall into. repent!

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      Zombi 9 years ago

      Since you have so much money and you love your country so much…. Find a charity in Zimbabwe and pay school fees for one child. Let’s actually do something with what you have. Eddie and Vince are armed with words. They are using them to the best of their ability. Ko iwe? Its easy to judge others and deniunce their efforts, especially when all YOU are focussing on is yourself and wanting others to do for yiu those things which you are too chicken to do.

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    Matanzima nkomo 9 years ago

    It’s very rich for Eddie Cross to say what he says. This is the man who vowed that if country should crash and burn it was something he would rejoice in. The country has fortunately not crashed let alone burn. If it had, would that not have been the result he desired? Pointing out all the silly things he does without spelling out why each and every turn taken by the country since its formation is dishonest to say the least. I for one can confess to have once dressed in a loin cloth for lack of shorts and for nearly starving to death as late in the seventies because my father was poor. There was no such thing as social grants for blacks whilst the already rich farmers received subsidies. Eddie Cross just go away and walk your dog!

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      Bitterness will not only destroy you but all around you. we cannot go forward without forgivness. how can you blame Eddie? All of us must stop painting with a broad brush.

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    Frankie Laine 9 years ago

    They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. When will anyone admit that Ian Smith was right. He had the intellegince to see that once Zimbabwe attained so called liberation it was the beginning of the end of the road. Welcome to the cold facts of life comrades.

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    All that matters is the hatred for the whites. It doesn’t matter how much damage is done to black Zimbabweans as long as the whites have whatever they have removed. As Mugabe told us many times the economy didn’t matter because it was a white mans economy. Once it is completely destroyed it can be replaced with a truly indigenous one based on traditional values and processes.

    People like Eddie, the surviving white and foreign businessmen, the hand wringing do good ears in the west, are all simply delaying the final solution. Once you wake up to this fact your course of action becomes clear.

    • comment-avatar
      Will the Doctor 9 years ago

      @ Jack

      Except that Zambia and Mocambique are actively courting ‘whites’ – and Zimbabwe will too in the future.

  • comment-avatar

    Mr Mugabe must resign today, this morning, before lunch.

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    Zim Patriot 9 years ago

    Why the hatred? Why the hatred and vitriol, why don’t you concentrate on love rather than hate? By the way many farms were bought after independence my friends with a certificate of “No interest” frm government which was a condition for buying, these “businesses” were bought with hard earned cash my friends. After all contrary to the new , cell phone farmers, farming is actually a business and hence the idle land throughout Zimbabwe and the need to import all wheat, maize, soya etc…Anyway the Lord does not honour people who steal and reap where they did not sow…..lets pray for our beloved Zimbabwe and lets forget the past and look to the future for our childrens sake comrades

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    Kevin Watson 9 years ago

    Eddie, you are wanting in your knowledge of history. Rhodesia was never granted Dominion status by the British Government. It was granted self governing status. It was fortuitous because at the time the British Government was almost bankrupt thanks to the First World War. Had Rhodesia been granted Dominion status then Britain would have had no legal mandate to place Lord Soames in charge of the transition and de jure independence. Dominion Status was in fact independence as was the case with South Africa Canada and Australia.

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      Parangeta 9 years ago

      Just the facts, Sir, just the facts!

      Southern Rhodesia (renamed Zimbabwe in 1980) was a special case in the British Empire. Although it was never a dominion, it was treated as a dominion in many respects. Southern Rhodesia was formed in 1923 out of territories of the British South Africa Company and established as a self-governing colony with substantial autonomy on the model of the dominions. The imperial authorities in London retained direct powers over foreign affairs, constitutional alterations, native administration and bills regarding mining revenues, railways and the governor’s salary.[46]
      Southern Rhodesia was not one of the territories were mentioned in the 1931 Statute of Westminster although relations with Southern Rhodesia were administered in London through the Dominion Office, not the Colonial Office. When the dominions were first treated as foreign countries by London for the purposes of diplomatic immunity in 1952, Southern Rhodesia was included in the list of territories concerned. This “semi-dominion status” continued in Southern Rhodesia between 1953 and 1963″

      So you see, you are both correct and incorrect!

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    Mixed Race 9 years ago

    Stop making silly apologies for things which are no longer relavent to the current situation.How many white people are still here to make any difference even if they try hard to interact.These are comments being made by people who try to hide facts using the long gone past events to justify their current failures.
    Mr Cross you failed when you were in the GNU,so your long articles will not change things because you were misguided as a party to give your opponents easy bail out from their misery at our expense.You failed the masses ,so you can try to justify your conscience but this does not change the facts that you sold the masses for a cup of tea every Friday afternoon.I suggest you examine your conscience deeply.

    • comment-avatar

      Mixed race I also think that to a large extent the GNU failed. It gave ZPF time to regroup for more skulduggery and the opposition became too comfortable. Maybe there were exceptions! To this day I battle to understand how MDC did not press for ALL the changes that should have been made and tea with Bob and cheesecake: well that just took the cake for me. They were lulled into a false sense of security. or where they already being wooed. How many sold their souls for worldly things???? I wonder!

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        Parangeta 9 years ago

        Plus, don’t forget that M’Garbage refused, at every turn,
        to co-operate with Tsvangarai.

        You can blame the entire failure of the GNU,
        squarely on that Thief and Murderer!

      • comment-avatar
        Fallenz 9 years ago

        NBS, good questions. I wonder, as well.

        Perhaps the lesson is, when handling a snake, there’s no reason to mistreat it, but always, ALWAYS, remember what you’re handling, and that a snake never has a benevolent thought toward you no matter how you treat it. If ever you think it does, and relax your position, consider yourself bitten.

        Persistent vigilance, and a healthy dose if constant caution, always remaining suspicious and on guard, are required… otherwise, stay out of the snake pit and go do something else with your life because you’re unfit for Zim politics.

  • comment-avatar
    Daniel 9 years ago

    A lot of truth in what you say Eddie but when the MDC cat was given a chance to play an important role it turned out they did not even know what a mouse looks like!!!!Sadly you guys dont deserve another chance.

    • comment-avatar
      Parangeta 9 years ago

      M’Garbage and Mbeki made sure there was no toy
      for the MDC cat to play with, as you refer to them!

  • comment-avatar
    Turdson Minor 9 years ago


    The facts show that Smith was right. The country is destroyed and there is no way back. It is finished.

  • comment-avatar
    Reverend 9 years ago

    I know Eddie, and he is a Christian man of ethics and accountability and though I do not agree with him on certain issues I really highly respect him for being out there for us and keeping in contact with us through his repots and articles trying by all means to encourage us through this hollacaust of evil. Thanks Eddie, The Lord bless you Pal.

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    I personally think that Eddie should continue with his contributions. They make good reading and also as a people whilst we should learn to forgive we must never forget. If Eddies articles are touching on their failures then it is good lest we forget. Zanu PF are the biggest failures of the lot. Whilst I do think that MDC got complacent and comfortable in their role during the GNU I would tend to find their blameworthiness a lot less than the ruling party who have been at it forever it would seem. That anyone on this forum would want to think that Zanu pf will ever be a better option that anyone else would be a folly. They were been checked by two partys that were winning seats. This has to some extent slowed down (not stopped) the downward spiral. Even at this moment the fights in the opposition are finding more significance newsworthiness than the fights in Zanu pf simply because the Zanu would want it so. We have seen those that go for Zanu on this forum choose the articles they comment on and ignore the numerous thefts committed by Cadres of the ruling party. That is Zanu pf’s Modus Operandi and let no one for get it. MDC’s failures must be highlighted but ZANU’s failure are a lot worse..

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    Roger Zulu 9 years ago

    Dear Mr Robert Mugabe,

    When you do eventually retire, I am not sure how we will do with out you, but we will try! LOL

  • comment-avatar
    madlinduna 9 years ago

    Denial is always a recipe for disaster fellow countrymen and women.Lets be principled and pragmatically here.Let’s deal with zanu pf first on a summarized version of their anecdote.As Africans we believe that if one spills a lot of blood wantonly or through their reasons,acceptance,exorcism&penance must be done for an uncursed future.Zanu has never done that.Zimbabwe never emerged from a desert with no history,values,cultures&customs.Our country is cursed and smouldering underneath and above because of ends that were and still continue to be met at any cost.zim is what she is today because of wrong hands and decisions.i will never forget the DRC resource squandering war,the 50thous of WarVets turned sole beneficiaries of our collective dark past and the ill-unleashment of farm invassions as a way of clinging into power contrary to the no vote on the issue by the masses through a referendum.

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    nesbert majoni 9 years ago

    Where in the world have you ever heard of foreign policy which is as stupid as the ZANU pf one. How can a developing country grow economically when she harbours a racist attitude to potential investers. This Mugabe regime must just do us favour and step down. They have just failed us

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    Fallenz 9 years ago

    If the government is a democracy, it is right for the majority to rule. (The only thing better is a righteous and benevolent king.) But, there are ways for transitions to win and for them to fail. Thoughtful cautions were heard and ignored. I wonder if those who failed to consider the cautions, and went headlong into the disaster, have ever recalled those voices and acknowledged, even within themselves, a regret for not heeding, rather than patting themselves on the back. Things could have been different, you know. The majority of Zim could be in control, and Zim still employ the thriving economy it once enjoyed. (Is Botswanna only imagination?)

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    Wilbert Mukori 9 years ago

    This is a great article Eddie except for one thing; it talks about historic problems we have already dealt with and gloss over the problems that have held us back these last few years and still doing so today.

    We know Ian Smith was a racist and have dealt with that in the bitter war of independence. Ian Smith is dead and buried.

    We know Mugabe is a corrupt and murderous tyrant we elected Tsvangirai, you Ed-die Cross and the rest of your MDC friends to implement the democratic reforms so we could have free and fair elections and thus put an end to this repressive Zanu PF dictatorship. You lot had five years to implement the reforms and failed to have even one reform implemented.

    “The election results of July 2013 put the whole economy into reverse and by the end of the year revenues to the State were in decline and the banking sector was once again in crisis and unable to pay back its depositors” you write. This is great!

    You have said nothing about Mugabe being able to blatantly rig the elections be-cause none of the reforms have been implemented and it is all your fault. You did not implement the reforms necessary for free and fair elections.

    In the 2008 elections the national economy was in such a mess and the people were so desperate for change they were ready to vote for anyone as long as he/she was not Mugabe. You are right Eddie “the economic situation in the country is again driving the reform and change agenda.” Instead of looking closely at why the nation failed to bring about meaningful change these last five years the people are being driven into Tsvangirai’s hands again.

    Zimbabweans should stop wasting time on historic heroic achievements of no con-sequence whilst glossing over the real important issues. Zimbabwe is not going to get out of this political and economic mess until we implement meaningful democratic reforms. Tsvangirai and MDC did not implement even one reform throughout the five years of the GNU and they will not implement any in the future because they really do not have the foggiest idea what these reforms are about!

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    To Eddie, columnists and the commenters etc that fill these fora with fact, fiction, hyperbole, half truths, assumptions etc…..What is the solution to this inert staus quo?