Zimbabwe @ 34: We have messed up big time

via Zim @ 34: We have messed up big time 16/04/2014 by Obert Gutu NewZimbabwe

THOUSANDS of gallant sons and daughters of the soil paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that Zimbabwe gained independence from racist colonial rule on April 18, 1980. It would be a monumental betrayal of the supreme sacrifice of these gallant and selfless patriots if we fail to celebrate our hard won independence when Zimbabwe turns 34 on Friday, April 18, 2014. In the same breath, we should take time to reflect and analyse the political and socio-economic trajectory that our mighty nation has navigated over the past 34 years. We should start to ask ourselves some very tough and introspective questions.

Why is it that 34 years after attaining our independence, more than 80% of our 14 million people are classified as living in abject poverty? United Nations standards stipulate that anyone who subsists on less than US$2 per day is defined as living in poverty. Why is it that no less than four (4) million Zimbabweans have sought economic refuge in neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and also overseas in countries such as  the United Kingdom, the United States of America,  Australia and New Zealand?

More than ten (10) years after embarking upon a somewhat controversial and often violent land reform program, why is Zimbabwe still a basket case? Why do we remain a net importer of food?  Why has Zimbabwe been virtually reduced into one huge supermarket for South African produced goods and services? Put simply, why are we so desperately poor yet we are so fabulously rich?

The starting point is to get real and stop playing the blame game. Acres of space have been devoted by some academic writers and political analysts who sought to explain the devastating impact and effect of the restrictive measures that were imposed on Zimbabwe by some Western countries such as Britain and her allies soon after the commencement of the violent land reform program. I have absolutely no brief for Britain and her allies in trying to justify the reason(s) why punitive and stringent restrictive measures were imposed on Zimbabwe particularly soon after the hugely controversial and disputed Presidential elections that were held in 2002.

History will record that from the year 2000 to the present date, virtually all national elections that have been held in Zimbabwe have been marred by some very serious and in most cases, very credible and substantiated allegations of gross electoral abuses such as manipulation of the voters’ roll, rampant physical and psychological violence perpetrated on supporters of opposition political parties, stuffing of ballot boxes etc etc. It is a fact that from the year 2000 to the present day, Zimbabwe’s electoral history is anything but rosy and exemplary.Be that is at may, it is beyond  the scope of this opinion piece to delve into the nitty gritties of  how national elections in Zimbabwe have been manipulated and massaged to meet the whims and fantasies of the political ruling class. Suffice to state that until such a time that Zimbabwe begins to hold free, fair, credible and democratic elections that will easily pass the test of legitimacy, this country shall remain mired in socio-economic and serious political problems. That’s a fact.

My argument is that our biggest challenge is political more than anything else. Alternatively put, it is largely because of bad and retrogressive politics that Zimbabwe finds herself in the present economic and political mess. We have allowed an intolerant and hugely corrupt political trajectory to hold sway in our beloved motherland. We have dismally failed to tolerate opposing political views and most importantly, we have disappointingly failed to produce and regenerate a new breed of political actors as time went by. One of our biggest shortcomings was to nurture and sustain so-called Big Man politics where our whole political spectrum focuses more on personalities rather than on issues. Our politics stinks to high heavens.  In other words, our politics is personality-based and not issues-based. That has been our Archilles’ heel over the past 34 years.

As a nation, we should be ashamed of the fact that 34 years after independence, our country is being run on a paltry annual budget of about US$4 billion. Had we played our politics right, by now in the year 2014, Zimbabwe should be sitting on at least a US$150 billion economy. In 1980, Zimbabwe was the second largest economy in Southern Africa; second only to South Africa. We had a very sophisticated industrial base as well as an advanced commercial agricultural sector. We were a net exporter of goods and services rather than a net importer as we are today.

In 1980, the Zimbabwean dollar was stronger than the US dollar and in fact, it was almost on par with the British pound sterling. In 2014, out of the fifteen (15) countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the size of Zimbabwe’s economy is ranking third from the bottom. If we are not alarmed by these shocking statistics, then nothing will alarm us at all. We shall, forever, remain and languish in dreamland. The long and short of it is that Zimbabwe is fast becoming a failed state. This is not propaganda. These are cold, hard facts.

We now urgently need a Renaissance in Zimbabwe. We need a new focus; a new trajectory. In short, we desperately need new and fresh politics; a re-birth so to speak. The current rot in our politics, across the divide, will take us nowhere. We are on a highway to doom and gloom. We have pressed the self-destruct button. We are in serious trouble.  Readers should stop thinking that I am playing the devil’s advocate. Neither should readers think that I am a pervasive pessimist. I am simply calling a spade a spade. Our politics needs serious and comprehensive cleansing and the time to do so is now!  Time is of the essence. Success has got many fathers whilst failure is an orphan.

As we celebrate 34 years of Uhuru, we shouldn’t forget that we have messed up the country big time. We should repent from our political sins and draw a line in the sand. Never again should brother oppress brother, sister trash sister and sibling rise against sibling. Happy 34 years Zimbabwe!!

Written by Obert Gutu. Gutu is a corporate lawyer and politician based in Harare.



  • comment-avatar
    Senzachena 8 years ago

    A good article, well said and so true. When are all the good people going to join hands and say enough is enough. Quite frankly all the opposition parties are a disgrace and I surely wonder if some of them had got into power, by some miracle, would we be jumping from the frying pan into the fire?

    Take all the good people from these parties, take them from the Trade Unions, take them from the churches, take them from civil organisations, take them from wherever you can find them and weld them into a decent and honest organisation to which the people will flock to give their support. With this type of organisation which the people can see is well organised and with the good of the country at heart you will win the struggle. Stay with the motley crew you have at present and unless there is a total mind change in the hierarchy you are on a hiding to nothing.

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    Rwendo 8 years ago

    The word independence calls to mind words like freedom, liberty, self-determination, self-reliance and so on. One of ZANU’s clarion calls during the struggle was “We are our own liberators.”

    34 years after independence we are truly in a pitiful state as a nation; cowering, fearful, intimidated, divided and dejected. We blame others for our sad condition, a variety of perpetrators, depending on our particular persuasion; Mugabe, ZANU PF, Mbeki, colonialism, Smith, the West, the Chinese, the MDC, SADC, the black man… the list is a long one.

    The words “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” come to mind. Fear has a useful function when it warns us of danger and the need to be prepared. But when fear paralyses us like a mouse confronted by a cobra, we become a nation stuck on ‘Pause.’ When fear drives us to accept and joke about the unacceptable, to run away from the problem or pretend it doesn’t exist, then we descend into failed nation status.

    We are 34 years old. The time for us to accept responsibility – for ourselves and for our condition – is long overdue. Mugabe and ZANU PF are like a dream that became a nightmare. But we created the monster, be it by action or inaction. We can choose to remain fearful and dependent; on personalities, political parties, on time (“zvichanaka…”), on circumstances (“what can we do, honestly?,”), or some future event; forever blaming someone,forever waiting for a saviour. Or we can choose to face our fears; free…independent.

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    John Thomas 8 years ago

    All that has happened was predicted in advance. It is only thanks to donors and sympathizers from the west that it has taken this long to get to where we are now. Without the billions in aid that have been poured into this country the present situation would have been reached before 1990. ZANU was never equipped to run this country.

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    Chiwaridza 8 years ago

    Maybe a well written article Mr. Gutu, but none of you will admit that the accelerated demise of Zimbabwe is a result of the destruction through the land invsasions with in the commercial agricultural sector. To illegally destroy 5000 agribusinesses which employed over one million people, but more importantly was responsible for feeding the nation in two short years is what has created this complete melt down.The Prseidents of Tanzania and Mozambique back in 1980 warned Mugabe about this issue, but typically he refused to listen… the country is now paying the price. You all need to pull your fingers out of your backsides and understand this .. then collectively find a sustainable solution..there is too much talk and no action. Start with trying to form a consolidated opposition.. maybe you all too busy stabbing each other in the back.

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      Ruramai 8 years ago

      Chiwaridza a I totally agree with you. Add to that the first trigger of the meltdown; unbudgeted payouts to those people they call war vets whose numbers seem to grow instead of decreasing and the senseless adventure into the DRC where our soldiers perished in the senseless defence of an unknown buffoon called Kabila.

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    Yes we have messed up big time. We messed up by going to sleep after a euphoric 1980 Independence and allowing an evil, arrogant and selfish dictator to entrench himself in our beautiful land and in allowing his corrupt greedy violent party to literally get away with murder. It is past the time to wake up and say Zvakwana!

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    The atmosphere is not celebratory
    Its depicts sadness,doom and gloom
    The vacant faces of children trudging along to nowhere.
    The youth whose future is bleak and dire
    The men who have been emasculated and striped of all dignity
    and the women who watch their children grow to become nothing more than cheap labour in neighbouring countries.
    This is not independence.
    This is the death of a once vibrant nation.
    Something must give.

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    nyakureva 8 years ago

    we are where we are because a white farmer will be arrested for planting and a black farmer will not be arrested for not planting, therefore we are better off hungry…………that is current reasoning in Zimbabwe’s statutes. need I say more, I arrest my case.

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    Obert Gutu says it would be a monumental betrayal if we fail to celebrate on the 18th. Yes, but we can celebrate anywhere. Why attend a farce of a celebration led by an evil dictator who has destroyed our land. That is the problem with us Zimbo’s. We just cannot say enough! Zvakwana! The Herald trashes us and spews evil and we keep buying it. ZBC/ZTV keeps spewing its rubbish and we keep buying licences. Independence comes around and we go and watch a soccer match with the man who has headed up the utter destruction of Zimbabwe in a ZPF hijacked celebration and say nothing. When are we going to make a statement. The opposition parties and citizens of Zimbabwe should have organised their own celebrations somewhere else and given Bob the middle finger. I for one am sick of seeing him pontificating garbage every 18th April. I can remember the true war vets in the quietness of my heart; some of them disposed of rather mysteriously. Judgment comes! Wake up Zimbabwe!

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    Yes, no matter how much ZANU try to cover it up, the reality and truth is there for all to see. After 34 years of independence, following a dreadful civil war fought at great cost to both black and white Zimbabweans, what have we got to show today for the cost of that liberation.
    Nothing. The people are not free, they remained miserable, oppressed, hungry, unemployed with no future.

    And the really scary thing is that ZANU after all the lessons of 34 years in power have no plan other than to continue to savage Zimbabwe and it’s people.

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    “Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction. But he who regards a rebuke will be honoured.” Prov 13:18 ZPF and Bob have reaped!! Because the word also says that the stripes of a friend are faithful but ZPF cannot see the truth and neither will they listen to the truth. I think that maybe they have entertained their sin, (lying lips are an abomination to the Lord)for so long that they have crossed the Rubicon and now all that is left is God’s righteous judgment.

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    For me this article should be directed at the Politicians, not the people. These questions they must ask themselves.Also I will definitely mark the day but I cannot in all honesty celebrate. With what? What comments can I make? I will always acknowledge all those great people who fought and died for a Ideal. I will morn that their Ideal has never been fulfilled. I will acknowledge the lives that were lost for this cause,but I will morn that because of those that were supposed to carry the mantle have failed they have lost their lives in vain. I will morn that some of the heroes dependants are still living in poverty. I will not celebrate with the thieves that caused the poverty.

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      Well done Doc do little. Is a soccer match more important that the truth and true liberation. It would be good if every one boycotted Bod’s hypocrisy tomorrow and go and remember the true heroes somewhere else. It is clever that the soccer match comes after Bob’s empty speech. It sickens me!

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    Zvakwana 8 years ago

    One needs to remember that in ZPF’s 34 year history they have never ever acknowledged oversight and in my opinion never will.

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    Roving Ambassador 8 years ago

    For as long as Mnangagwa, wakes up in the morning and his bottle of whiskey is there , and the driver says ‘mangwanani Chef’, then he cannot be bothered.

    For as long as the $3million Zim1 car ,that makes him feel like Obama, is there when he wakes up, Mugabe cannot be bothered.

    For as long as Shiri and Chiwenga can seat over a braai, devouring a kudu, a few girlfriends on the side, they cannot be bothered.

    For As long as J Moyo is given a desk and a microphone ,and it makes him feel like a Prime minister, he can not be bothered.

    For as long as Tsvangirayi has the Mugabe issued house and a bunch of praise singers telling him how great he is [just like bob], he cannot be bothered.

    For as long as Joyce’s accumulated wealth is seemingly safe wherever it is , she cannot be bothered.

    For as long as Chihuri is commissioner for life, since Bob is president for life and
    Mudede is registra for life, he cannot be bothered.

    For as long as Obert, Cuthbert, Charamba, Msimrebwa, Chombo, Gono, Kasukuwere, Muchechetere,Chiyangwa, Mliswa,can keep their pillaged proceeds., they cannot be bothered.

    Can anyone tell me who really is out there for the masses?
    Mugabe is president for these these few.

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    Rwendo 8 years ago

    Well said Ambassador. When we the people wake up one day to free ourselves, to say enough is enough, leaders will pop up, clambering all over each other to offer themselves to speak on our behalf.

    But that first step must be taken. This is how true democracy has progressed in all countries.

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    Ruramai 8 years ago

    What is sad is that the talented author of this article, a very good article for that matter, is a senior official in a party that now tolerates violence as its modus operundi. We all remember Mugabe’s eloquent speeches about reconciliation that put him on the global man as a respected statesman. Look where we are now.

    This brilliant writer does believe in violence against anyone who thinks differently from his boss.

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      vovonde 8 years ago

      Gutu has stated the truth to shame the devil. We ordinary Zimbabweans, treated like second class citizens in the country of our birth feel betrayed and defrauded of our freedom and birthright.

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    David Chapman 8 years ago

    A great review of Zimbabwe’s recent history and current economic position. As a former “white” Zimbabwean who grew up in the country, is makes me heart sore to see how low the country has become. All this suffering and pain for the masses to foster the privilege and wealth of the few.
    Happy birthday Zimbabwe, we mourn for you and what you should have become.

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    Buchman-Turner-Overdrive 8 years ago

    You messed up big time because you believe in tribal politics. You are unable to engage across the racial or tribal divide without insults and arrogance. You have yourselves to blame – you are useless, primitive and backward!

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    Petal 8 years ago

    Greed Greed at the top!!