via Zimbabwe @ 34, a sad introspection 17/04/2014 by Chronicle from NewZimbabwe
FORMAL sector unemployment is very high, companies are closing down, the economy is teetering on the brink, we don’t have a national currency and corruption is running riot in high offices. That is the state of Zimbabwe on Independence Day.
Are we independent? From what? To do what? What is there to celebrate on Independence Day? Thirty-four years on, are we in any way different from the rest of Africa or are we the worst of the lot?
In short, is there hope for ordinary Zimbabweans? What mark would those who paid the ultimate price to liberate this country give us for what we have become?
Let me state plainly that corruption and general mismanagement in Government-linked enterprises and local authorities have done a lot to discredit the image of our liberation war heroes. This is quite separate from deliberate distortions and misinformation about the motives for the land reform and economic empowerment programmes which seek to directly benefit the poor.
Beyond the short-term, I should proudly say we have tried to be different and more inclusive economically.
The general narrative about Africa is that the continent has regressed since the advent of independence. It is not unusual to hear some disillusioned Zimbabweans shouting that we were better off under Smith. GDP figures are always readily available to buttress these often misleading claims.
Sadly, a majority of those who revel in this researched nostalgia have no clue of whose welfare is covered under those glowing GDP figures. They can’t explain why it would then have been necessary for someone with a university degree to opt to go to war than simply get a job, buy a house in the suburbs, buy a car and marry.
All said, these protest messages reflect our current lived reality: the impatience to enjoy, the self-indulgence about what we don’t own or produce, the love for the transient, lack of appreciation for the spirit of sacrifice for the greater good and our search for the elusive glamour of Hollywood as gleaned through the flat screen.
It reflects the life of greedy and ostentatious opulence we see around us, much of it unaccounted for.
Yet it is arguable that as Africans we have generally been like apologetic about their independence, often treating it as if it were a gift, more an accident of history than a call of destiny. We have refused to make a clean break with colonialism, imperialism and its capitalist tentacles which make it nearly impossible for an independent African state to act as such: standards, norms and best practice are established for us, so that anything different is sinful deviance. We have to tow the line.
The result has been predictable since Ghana’s independence in 1957. We all repeat the same development formula and expect a different result. We remain forever beholden to the mother country on how things should be done, even where it’s clear it’s not working.
We are a rich continent with the poorest people on earth. Our resources are not ours, our economic policies are not ours, what we produce in our mines and fields is not ours; we are only good as employees of companies owned by sons and daughters of the former colonial power. We can’t manage ourselves, hence the need always for “international best practice”, international protocols and conventions to be adhered to; instruments drafted by Europeans to address specific, immediate, practical circumstances but are being hawked as universal truths for adoption. We have to be told who and how to define our own heroes even.
To a certain degree, Zimbabwe has dared to be different – being able to assert its independence against mighty odds, although still unsure and not curious enough to know what we are worth. We have bucked the trend, the given, the accepted – development models which measure national progress and prosperity only in terms of GDP growth rather than the overall income distribution and the wellbeing of people.
Zimbabwe decided to throw away the whiteman’s independence “jewel” which shorn in Harare and Bulawayo’s CBDs and lush commercial farmers, and has opted to have a majority of its people as direct creators and owners of an envisioned new jewel.
Thousands of our people didn’t go to war to return to be mere labourers in a free Zimbabwe!
Zimbabwe’s historic break came with the land reform programme. That on its own should be a source of immense pride, having been the motive force for the liberation war. And that decision courted swift retribution. It was unprecedented and likely to set a bad example. It had to be punished as a warning, never mind that the bitterness came cloaked in the garb of human rights, rule of law and property rights and the penalty as “targeted sanctions”. Indigenization just rubs it in.
We would be supremely naive to lower our guard yet. The masters of this colour-coded universe don’t forgive and never forget. Never mind that our sins are of their own invention: that we can’t own even that which is God-given within the geographical boundaries which colonialism demarcated for us.
Beyond the idea of taking back land, Zimbabwe’s other break was the madness of the methodology. Many attempts at land reform in most countries have foundered on this. Zimbabwe decided the best methodology was one which won the war, after losing patience with the willing seller, willing buyer approach which made it almost impossible for our people to ever get the best arable land.
What is needed now is to raise productivity so that we are food self-sufficient. It might take time; our farmers still require “massive handholding” by government. Rome was not build in a day.
Reports indicate that we are backward by way of mechanization. About 30 000 tractors are needed and we currently have less than half of that. People are always short on seed, fertilizer, irrigation and chemicals. Those who abuse government assistance must be severely punished, including losing the farms. It’s part of the war.
The main source of bitterness among our people is lack of employment opportunities, poor service delivery in water and electricity. Resources have been a key limiting factor in the implementation of Zim Asset although it is downright malicious for anybody to expect a Government policy which requires resource mobilization to start manifesting results just eight months after adoption. But then people lose faith when they see rampant corruption going unpunished while they are told their plight has to do with sanctions. Why should sanctions affect only the poorest in society?
Government’s community share ownership schemes are an initiative which is beginning to be appreciated where the policy is being implemented like the Zimplats’ Mondoro-Ngezi-Chegutu-Zvimba. There will always be sceptics, cynics and political naysayers as was the case with the land reform. The cynicism is justified when the share ownership schemes are launched with fanfare by the president only to be followed by endless controversy such as the Zimunya-Marange share ownership project.
People have reason to suspect that somebody is eating on their behalf without their authority. Communities must benefit directly from their natural resources.
In the urban areas, capitalism’s “lost decade” has yielded a lot of opportunities for enterprising and resourceful retrenchees, most of whom have set up shop in most high density suburbs producing a variety of furniture items, some of which is sold in major shops in town. They are the core of SMEs where reputedly about $7,4 billion is in circulation. Reports indicate that there are 2,8 million small businesses in the informal sector employing about 5,7 million people.
I think it is however premature for Government to start thinking about taxation. These little industries are the future and need to be nurtured, given support and appropriate infrastructure to grow. Their owners need to be organized and trained in marketing and managerial skills to leapfrog them into the formal sector. They need time to grow, improve their products. Government should help them find markets.
I don’t believe individually there is more tax to be made there than what is siphoned from the formal sector through corruption.
While our bookish economists are full of admiration for the size of the South African and Nigerian economies, just like they were of Rhodesia’s enclave economy, what is obfuscated are the staggering levels of poverty. Whose economy are we admiring when black South Africans don’t own the resources which fuel that economy and don’t benefit from it? Can we read anything from the rolling strikes which have crippled the gold and platinum mines?
What’s the import of Nigeria’s economy overtaking South Africa’s if 112 million Nigerians out of a population of 168 million live in squalor? Are we not better with a broader economy where rural and A1 farmers make more money per tobacco selling season than some urban employees earn in a year?
The economic models which post-colonial Africa has pursued have the hallmark of structural adjustment programmes without the IMF and have all failed to alleviate poverty.
No doubt we have huge blotches in the quality of education, health, housing delivery and there is massive urban decay in infrastructure consistent with unplanned post-independence migration and increased traffic. However, for me the biggest failure is our inability to forge a shared vision, to end unnecessary political polarization which has served to create a negative sentiment of political instability and a high country risk for would-be investors. The opposition has been totally anti-people on this, opposing every pro-poor policy just to get western financial backing.
As Zimbabwe celebrates 34 years of Independence, we need to ask ourselves whether the current wave of corruption cases spurred on by a spirit of heartless gluttony are consistent and consonant with the selfless sacrifices for which so many lost their youthful lives. While government has embarked on a number of policies to improve the welfare of ordinary Zimbabweans, is this the best we could have done? Do our actions, individually and as a collective, do honour or discredit the virtues which inspired the liberation struggle for this country?
Can we justify to our departed heroes why we can’t enjoy the pride of having a national currency?
This is a time for reflection, soul-searching and personal introspection. There is a Shona saying; nyadzi dzino kunda rufu, but it looks like Zimbabwe is the only country where that saying doesn’t apply. Thieves, murderers, rapists, crooks and the corrupt can be exposed and still refuse to die. Politicians can sell off their birthright for political power and still relevant.
We dared to be different about our independence; we need virtues which go with that trajectory.
and the trajectory is downward and ever downward. But hey you’re not alone in this-Africa is the backward continent despite at every independence jewels being handed over. Let’s look at Zimbabwe and what the wicked white man handed over. A country formed from bushland where mud huts prevailed to a modern functioning infrastructurally developed going concern. A network of roads and railways, towns and cities, lakes, forest plantations, mines, highly developed and sophisticated agriculture,viable and profitable heavy and light industry, hospitals, schools, a magnificent University, need I go on?-You get the picture. All in a short 90 years. In 34 years what has Mugabe and independence brought? Unbridled corruption and destruction! Way to go you clowns!
Thirty-fours of shameless plunder in the name of false independence. Like it or not, evidence suggests that when Ian Smith said ‘never in a thousand years’ his words were prophetic! After 34years of penury Zimbabweans might have to wait for (1000-34)to realize genuine social transformation of the right order. Some of us saw what Rhodesia was like and are now experiencing the excesses of this banana republic, and it seems like a nightmare. There was suffering but not on an industrial scale like this!
Where you get it wrong is in calling us all Zimbos, clowns.
Its Mugabe and his lot who are worse than clowns.
Given the way your brain works, I think we can safely put you in that category.
And if there is a silver lining to all BOBO and his henchmen have wrought on our country, its getting rid of the likes of you.
I agree with your first paragraph, but the second one not
You read what you want to read don’t you Mr Log on his shoulder’ You obviously have a closed and blinkered mind. I never referred to all Zimbos as clowns. I have absolutely no doubt that you voted for your hero in 1980. I think we can also safely put you in that category. Just because you can’t stomach home truths doesn’t mean they are not true. Give yourself an uppercut-maybe that will wake you up!
The same old sad story of Africa.Destroy and steal all what the marungus put in place for what could hav been a real success story but is now just a heap of shyte begging bowl.
Peace unto the land of Zimbabwe for the lord giveth it unto us so it shall be ours. We must love our country and toil on its its fertile soils until its prosperous once again. My fellow country men in Jesus Christ our lord i appeal for tolerance to all of us Zimbabweans firstly. All of us ar sinners by virtue of being human beings. So these politicians are meer human beings . When they got those positions they had the conviction to unselfishlessly serve their country but they gave in to temptation like what Adam and Eve did in the garden of Eden. These pple need deliverance from this obsession they now have of stealing , corruption, arrogance, lying to the mass, pretending nd even killing to eliminate evidence. Denouncing them won’t solve anything. U dnt put out fire with fire. What should happen now is to comeup with an organisation of real intellectuals, engines, economists , lawyers, doctors who are patriotic and not selfish so that they comeup wth a framework, models on how to run our countries as Africans . Its high tym Africa must rise and comeup wth its own ways of running their abundant resources rather than being exploited by Asians and Europeans. We need them of coz but not to exploit us coz they are responsible for the poverty, misery, hunger, political instability in Africa today. These European systems don’t work they ar only designed to exploit Africa. The political systems have resulted in lots of conflicts in our continent and countries. We need wise men who are humble, God fearing to lead us to map the way forward not the current leadership which actually is deriving its powers from the devil. In Zimbabwe Grace is Eve and is influencing Adam who is Mugabe the serpent is wealth. They ar being used by the devil coz its mind boggling how 1 can b so selfish accumulating lots of wealth at the expense of millions of masses. Tht kind of heartlessness can only be for the devil .
The disturbing nature with which this author rails against facts in favour of fiction is simply audacious.
Many things about the Rhodesian system deserved amendment, but it was civilised to say the very least.
This article does a good job of showing us the alternative reality in which the rulers of this country live. There is nothing that happens in the real world that can puncture this bubble. The author has it that all the failures of independence era are actually successes. This is simply wonderful.
The wanton destruction of the economy. The rampant abuse of power. We are to understand these are good things. Signs of progress.
The oft repeated mantra about Africa being the slave of the international economic order developed in Europe is so self serving. It excuses every failure. There seems to be no room for the idea that when Africa and Africans are at the leading edge of human progress they will set the pace.
Inherent in the article above is racism. This author and those who think like him are racists. As racist as any pro apartheid or pro Rhodesian Front supporter. Independent Zimbabwe, in spite of all promises to the contrary, has been built as a racist state. In the modern world racism and failure are the same thing. Racists are always going backward. Always failing, always becoming poorer.
The downward trajectory shows the world something is terribly wrong in Zimbabwe. We are a mess and ZPF fool themselves every day and bring untold suffering upon the people of this nation. How they sleep at night I do not know. The church needs to catch a big wake up and be what it is supposed to be. What part are we playing in our nations downfall?
The author claims: “”…the land reform and economic empowerment programmes …. seek to directly benefit the poor”.
Hogwash. However it might have been packaged and presented, the land invasions were an ever evolving strategy that sought initially to: 1. Entice “Yes” votes by adding no compensation for land to the proposed constitution when it became apparent people were going to vote “No.” When that failed,land invasions were used to 2. Punish the white farmers for ferrying their workers by the thousands to vote “No” in the 2000 referendum, thereby handing Mugabe an embarrassing (very first) defeat (the urban black population in the townships was subsequently violently punished too). 3. Punish the white farmers for waking from their political slumber after independence to becoming active in supporting the birth of the MDC. Thereafter to 4. Drive a wedge between the avalanche of growing new MDC supporters and the rural population during campaigning and elections.
After those first elections in the new millennium, many Zimbabweans assumed the land invaders would be sent back home. Indeed, some did leave when the funding and administrative support from ZANU stopped. But then ZANU PF realized 5. The sensitive subject of land was a wonderful justification to the outside world for why Zimbabwe’s leadership was being “”persecuted” by the West (as opposed to the lawless, chaotic and violent manner in which it was conducted). Finally, once the “spontaneous” invasions were better organized into a government program, 6. A patronage system could now also be designed, targeting figures key to maintaining ZANU PF in power – senior judges, police chiefs, senior military leaders etc.
For sure, the land question had remained unresolved after Independence but when it arose again, it was used by Mugabe as a political tool and weapon against his opponents, not to benefit the poor. To what extent have the poor benefited? Try asking them. And how did Mugabe deal with truly spontaneous invasion earlier on in our history; were these poor people not called “squatters” and summarily evicted by government?
Rwendo-very accurate summation. I can remember at the time the Government portrayed it as a spontaneous uprising of the landless over which they had no control. WITHOUT DOUBT it was directed from the top and as a direct consequence of the massive anger felt by Mugabe at the referendum result.
A Jonathan Moyo mimicry, if not the grand wizard himself. What a load of human manure. “Let me state plainly that corruption and general mismanagement in Government -linked enterprises and local authorities have done a lot to discredit the image of our liberation war heroes.” What an understatement and a lame attempt to fool the gullible. The writer even throws in “our liberation war heroes” to sound very patriotic, and “Government-linked enterprises and local authorities” to sound as if he is genuine about the obvious corruption evident in these establishment. The real stench of corruption comes from the national government itself. But he makes sure he does not say so because he is a government mouth piece and the Mugabe machine has formulated a narrative and talking points which they will force down our throats. “It is these government linked enterprises and local governments that are corrupt and we are doing everything to rid ourselves of the rot”,they will preach. They successfully did this with the sanctions and they sure believe they will succeed with this nonsense of absolving themselves of any wrong doing. Mugabe started the narrative in his address. At best a few of the corrupt individuals within these entities will be questioned by the police and time will be left to do the rest. Nothing. But we know the corruption will continue at the highest level of the national government structure and this kind of propaganda will come in handy. I can poke a lot of holes in this piece of nonsense but I can’t afford time to waste. I have wasted enough time already reading through this baloney. Suffice it to say GDP means the value of goods and services produced within a given country. Rhodesia produced more goods and services than Zimbabwe for the benefit of its citizens even though the distribution of the wealth realised was racially biased against blacks.
Thanks Pati, This Moyo clone is even stating that we should not look at the economic statistics because the maths was created by the west.
How can Zanu stoop so low in covering up their mismanagement of the economy.
The writer is trying cry hard to put a bit of chocolate over the corruption issue, lipstick on pig .
Zanu are pillagers and thugs ,.
nothing will change that.
The revolution betrayed.
The true heroes know the revolution was highjacked by a band of robbers.
The country sold out to the lowest bidder.
A pair of chinese flip-flops and a house in borrowdale built in chinese style will give you a whole country.
Shame on Zanu
Pasi ne Zanu
Crying your pardon Mr J O.
I can only but imagine the anguish of losing one’s lifetime endeavors to the likes of the Chinotimbas of this world.
They have made us the laughing stock of the world and left us open to all manner of ridicule, us Zimbos.
Not going into semantics, it was implied in your post that all zimbos like whats happening to their country.
I haven’t once, heard you criticize this BTO person who thinks there is still something called rhodesia.
As for the big tree on my shoulder, someone called Ian Smith put it there.
I grew up in a country where there were only two high schools for 7 mill blacks and more than that for the whites just in the then Salisbury, where a black man had to remove himself come 19:00 hrs unless he was serving the white man.
Zim is in dire straits right now but I wouldn’t go back to that time.
It would be going from Mugabe’s oppression to Smith’s, though, admittedly, bob’s is worse.
Because I believe there is more to us Zimbabweans.
Phew!! A bit of a mouthful or arsefull?
…and how many high schools were there in 1890? How many hospitals, how many schools, how many universities? How many libraries? Oh yes I forgot the indigenous had no written language, no wheel. What I am sick to death about is that there is NEVER acknowledgement of the good the settlers did to the country. They moved it literally from 2000BC to the modern era in 90 years. They taught the indigenous to read and write. They gave them so much relative to what they found and all they got/get in return is castigation. NEVER a word of acknowledgement. And not only that, the settler progeny are punished to the extent of being marginalised by a racist deluded Government. And you Mr log on his shoulder cannot face the truth because to do so would undermine your culture’s paucity of achievement. Far easier to excuse it. The truth hurts and it takes a real man to be honest with the truth. And another thing-how many unarmed missionaries were butchered by the gloriously brave ‘freedomfighters’ when all they wanted was to educate the 7m whose lack of education/opportunity you so decry?
Here’s a comparative to measure Zimbabwe’s success versus Rhodesia- Air Rhodesia employed black air hostesses, how many white air hostesses work for Air Zimbabwe and very soon how many air hostesses of any colour will be working for the national airline.
The article seeks to excuse Zimbabwe’s problems by suggesting that every failure is only such because it is viewed from a European perspective. If so then the author should ask why Zimbabwe has adopted the US$ in favour of the Kenyan shilling or other currency of Africa.
..AND how many Oxfords/Cambridges were there before the Romans came to teach the BIG BWANA in Britain?
See how farcical your thinking is?
Civilization started way back in Mesopotamia, present day Middle East, whilst you guys were cave dwellers, just like us in Africa.
Of course we are thankful that you guys brought light to our dark world but that you should steal our innocence, that we are not at all happy with.
As always, the ‘comments’ are much more interesting and informative than the underlying articles (Pieces?). For me, a student and supporter of Africa from afar I never fail to be amazed at how Africans can screw things up. Indeed they have a certain genius for it. And not only in Africa, but in Europe, the Caribbean, and the America’s. Look at Haiti who gained independence from the French in the time of Napoleon. If there is a country in the world worse off, it is probably somewhere in Africa. In the recent past a rather mild earthquake there caused widespread destruction. Even the presidential palace collapsed because someone had stolen most of the money for cement and reinforcing steel thus making the structures weak. Will Zimbabwe be like Haiti 200 years from now? I hope not, but those living 8-9 generations from now will probably do as I, and shed a tear because their genius somehow cannot be turned positive. And to paraphrase someone who recently observed: Alas they have no totems!
Really?Jono Austin makes it seem like the white colonizers came to do us a favor by bringing education and civilization.In reality thier comming to Africa and Zimbabwe was to take steal from and dominate an indiginous population. They came to extend the British empire at the expense of African people, dominating the locals and taking thier birthright. There is nothing to aknowledge about the settlers, they were villains in that perspective. It is not right to come to a land and rob the people of thier land and livestock at gunpoint and enslave them in thier own country.No sir, we have nothing to acknowledge about white settlers who came in 1890. They robbed Africa and Zimbabwe under the auspice of civilization. Whatever “roads, schools and infrastructure” was built for thier convenience, they were certainly not built for Africans to enjoy,lets not lose sight of this. The pre independence governments were dictators to the black people, thier ability to run economies efficiently does not exonerate them from the oppression they imposed on black indeginous people of Africa (forgive my spelling). Mugabe removing them from power was EXTREMELY RIGHT.Mugabe was extremely right in offering an olive branch in 1980 to white people after winning the bush war.However, Mugabe and his ZANU cronies have messed up big time.They inherited an efficiently running country on the cusp of being Africas greatest country and took it on a downward spiral over 34 years. The motives of the land reform were extremely wrong, but it had to happen. Zimbabwe has enough land to accommodate the “white Zimbabweans” and indigenous people, there was no reason (besides political ones) to chase away white farmers. That being said, white farmers had to be cede vast swatches of prime land to black people, uncompromisingly, because the bulk of that land (if not all) was forcibly taken from blacks at the onset of colonization. Mugabe was right in refusing to “bargain” for our land with Tony Blair as per Lancaster House agreements because the land was originally black land, I dont know if the white people on this forum can understand black indignation at having to negotiate for something taken by force from you. I’m not racist, I was priviledged to grow up in a multi racial Zim environment and went to school with white kids, and many of them are my friends to date, but the fact is there was a serious imbalance concerning land that had to be addressed. In a nutshell, 1.)
Ian Smith and the white settlers are no saints, they were brutal colonizers.
2.)Mugabe is no better despite a few miniscule successes in his early years, which have been overshadowed by his mountain of failures.
3.)Land reform which results in a massive land cessation from the white farmers to blacks HAD TO HAPPEN, its justice, no matter how bitter a taste it brings to anyones mouth, especially given that several white farmers had multiple farms on prime land
4.)Mugabe failed to realize the importance of white farmers who had vast farming experience, they should have been strategically retained for thier farming prowess, to help the new black farmers and to maintain the image of the country to foreign investors etc, but Mugabe went the race route and messed it all up.
Just my opinion, what do you think?
Ngoto – you obviously were mentally backward if you could only go to two high schools for Africans, in my area alone there were three and the schooling was as good as the whites if you paid attention and weren’t induced to run away to Mozambique for terrorist training. Today I have a master s degree because I paid attention to school work and not politics. And I went to Salisbury University all before 1980 under the terrible racist Smith era.
This is the typical Shona gukurahundi Zimbabwe Republic – the president started it all.
He speaks in Shona and expects every Zimbabwean to understand – for him to hell with the constitutional rights of other ethnic groups. He is President only to his Shona tribesmen.
The whole Shona tribe took a cue from this, their beloved tribalist thug. You have seen it for yourselves, they just go around behaving as if each and every Zimbabwean is Shona.
Even in foreign countries; once they know you are from Zim, they switch to Shona. Pieces of shiiit, if you ask me!!
This name of the country “ZIMBABWE” is one of the main causes of the tribal arrogance of the Shonas.
This name has to be changed and the people of Zimbabwe need to fight to change it to a more inclusive name.
I would rather we go back to the name RHODESIA, than sticking it out with this tribalistic name.
I just dont know what had become of the old nationalists, that they agreed to such a tribalistically, one-sided name for our country.
It is what gives the Shona people so much tibalistic arrogance!!
Not sure I follow you.
A person who can manage to go to one of only two high schools is backward mentally?
And you call those who sacrificed their all to liberate us terrorists?
By the way, how do you know I didn’t go to UR before 1970?
One has to wonder what your master’s degree is in.
You have got the rights of it there John Chisangano.
Couldn’t have expressed it better meself!
With the disaster that is the tribalistic Shona gukurahundi Republic of Zimbabwe – I say, give me the Republic of Rhodesia any time.
In Rodesia we never felt oppressed as uMthwakazi by the Shona people as we are today.
Nothing pains one as being oppressed by a non-achiever; a failure of monumental propotions!!
Ngoto you said you grew up in a place where there were two high schools for 7 million. That’s not true.