Zimbabwe’s and perhaps much of Africa’s fundamental problems lie in the fact that politicians are trying to solve problems caused by politicians which results in the symptoms constantly being treated without removing the cause.
It’s not about printing bond notes, who pinched the US$15 billion diamond revenue or who re-stole an already stolen farm or any other, in the overall scheme of things, petty misdemeanours.
Calling losing your farm petty is not intended as playing down the effect of losing your livelihood just to re-iterate the point that it is just another symptom created by previous unresolved symptoms, and not the cause.
Police road blocks that were so much an unwelcome part of peoples lives are a symptom, the police had to do it because they were not paid, which is the cause of why they do it but also in itself a symptom, they are not paid because there is no money which again is a symptom.
The riots and brother on brother fighting where both sides need the same end result but continue to fight and indeed kill each other is a symptom, a sad symptom brought about by many problems being misdiagnosed and mishandled by incompetent politicians, again.
The solution is to correctly identify the cause and not just the symptoms, and then find the cure.
Aid is not a cure, giving monetary aid to a country that has the proven wherewithal to produce a surplus but is too incompetent to do so would be the equivalent of giving an alcoholic a case of vodka, no long term, or even short term benefit.
Would anyone donate money to an organisation or company that was rich in assets and skills but was non functioning because of incompetent management blighted by cronyism and nepotism?
Actually the answer to that in the past was yes but more because of misplaced guilt than any sound economic reasoning and is one of the problems.
Not long ago the headlines in a Mozambique paper stated that foreign aid suspension will have a severe impact on the poor. This is now 42 years after the country won its independence from the yokes of colonialism?
Mozambique may not be the best example to follow as its infrastructure was never fully developed as it was in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is just a new name given to a geographically determined piece of land, a piece of land that in 1975 ranked the second highest in the World in terms of yields of maize, wheat, soybeans and ground nuts and third for cotton. In the combined ranking of all these crops this geographical region ranked first in the World.
The country’s Virginia tobacco was considered the best in the World in terms of yield and quality.
The country’s agricultural sector contributed more to the gross domestic product than any other sector, it was also the biggest employee providing employment for over a third of the total labour force in the country.
For those less agri minded the currency in 1975 was stronger that the British Pound.
Clinic and schools were a normal part of life for the majority of the population with both very often being within at least walking distance of most.
The clinics were stocked and staffed with competent people as were the schools which saw the emergence of an educated middle class of people in the latter years of the then Rhodesia and should have served to see the new Zimbabwe through it’s transition into something different to the rest of the collapsed economies in post colonial Africa.
The problem with post colonial Africa is the belief that political power and economic power are one and the same and controlled by the same body of people and this then coupled with the failure to understand the concept of individual rights is a formula for disaster that can only be changed by a complete change of attitude and by taking responsibility for your own actions at any level.
The Government’s failure to accept their own incompetence and blame external issues and the western powers as the reason for the economic collapse is only half the problem, the other half is that the majority of the population believes them.
With this blind faith in those in power it is difficult to see a way forward without major changes in grassroots thinking and understanding. A paradigm shift more that a political shift.
Starting with a belief in and a return to individual rights.
Individual rights start with right to life without which any other rights can not exist, this is followed by the right to property, again without which no other rights can exist.
The Southern African indigenous population are predominantly, by nature, tribalistic which by and large requires a level of subservience and a greater degree of loyalty to its leaders than would be expected from a more democratic form of existence or culture.
This form of existence is not unlike communism with all people being equal but some more equal than others which has the effect of creating a situation where the leaders, elected fairly or otherwise are given an unjustifiably elevated status and every action or decision no matter how detrimental is not questioned.
It is therefore not surprising that Communism fitted into post colonial Africa far more effortlessly than did the christian and capitalistic way that was introduced by the colonist of the past where the rights of individuals was accepted and expected as part of a western ethos.
This thinking has somehow become the basis of the anti white movements gaining strength throughout Southern Africa and would be more understandable if those demanding the removal of everything western were not benefiting from the very infrastructure, and accepting, that which the west has over the last two hundred odd years, brought to the continent.
The reality is that the colonists, for want of a better word, did not colonise an under developed continent but rather an undeveloped one.
If one looks at the Great Zimbabwe ruins it might be correct to assume that this was in fact the second time around?
The colonisation of Zimbabwe is now looked on as a form of exploitation of the people and resources and is possibly one of the biggest obstacle to economic recovery and perhaps an understanding of this may lead to an eventual overall recovery.
Zimbabwe does not need aid it needs a paradigm shift of monumental proportions.
It is difficult if not impossible, if you are culturally different, to understand what drives someone to take something that is not theirs to take, something that is productive and a benefit to them, and then destroy it, and even more frightening, find justification in doing so.
If time could be encapsulated and revisited and viewed as a precis in fast forward and you were able to look at the sequence of events in Zimbabwe starting at independence and what was then and leading up to the total destruction of a country and it’s economy as it is now would the black youths of today still be so insistent in getting rid of the very entity that created that which they have destroyed?
Education was to be the saving grace of Zimbabwe and a educated middle class was created before Zimbabwe was born but it is this same middle class who have by and large become the diaspora, it is this class who lived through both periods of economic stability and growth and the collapse of the same and can see the benefits of a competent Government.
Hopes had to be pinned on the the post independence multi racial society that was created and created from a grass root level at school and in the sports arenas, and for a time this looked possible.
Unfortunately history will always prove to be able to repeat itself time and time again. .
It’s always the snowball effect, incite a small group of people to act in a particular way and pretty soon it has become the norm and the next generation lives it.
What age are the people advocating the removal of anything white? What age are the people trying to get rid of the very foundation of an education system that they belong to?
Zimbabwe has been in meltdown for for eighteen years, although arguably the cauldron was lit thirty six years ago, but the point being that anyone in their twenties and still living in Zimbabwe know no other existence, have nothing to compare the current economic situation against and above all have all their formative years been subjected to propaganda of an unprecedented scale and because of the nature of the beast and the belief in the powers that be, fully believe that the west and the white man are the sole cause of the situation in Zimbabwe and more recently South Africa.
What this means is that the educated youth of today who were to be the mainstay of the “rainbow” continent are in fact the very antithesis of this ideal.
Will it change under present condition? How can it? The basic condition needs to change and unfortunately only time will then bring about change, time needed for the next generation to see the faults in their predecessors thinking and do something about it.
It is possible that this will happen naturally as history has shown repeatedly.
You need only look at post Roman Britain, everything Roman was destroyed and Britain reverted back a century or two and recovered, but recovered as a people, a multi cultured people by themselves for themselves.
It took many decades just to get back to the standards lived by the occupying Romans but it did get back and continue to a state where some might say it is able to decline again, though hardly the point here.
For Africa to recover it must not be given monetary aid or any convertible aid in any form.
The post Winds of Change guilt ladened donations to the personal coffers of the few did not work.
Like the recovering alcoholic Zimbabwe needs to reach a level where it knows there is no other recourse but to help themselves.
Why should a country rich in mineral, agricultural and tourism potential need donations.
It does not, it just just needs the economic empowerment to go forward.
Not Government or political empowerment!
“Economic power is the power to produce based on a need and supply and demand and it’s full potential can only be realised by the voluntary participation of all parties involved.and it is, or should, be this law of supply and demand that determines the price of goods, not the dictates of any political governing body.” (Ann Rand)
In Africa many Governments have in the past, and some still do, utilised their monopoly on legal physical violence to dictate what and from whom people must purchase their goods regardless of quality or the lack there of which is the interference of political power in the economy and can not ever work.
Is there a solution? I’m sure there are many qualified people out there working towards one, actually I don’t believe that for one minute, if a solution can not be found in eighteen years of anarchy then it’s hardly likely that without some radical re-thinking that one will be found.
Everyone waited for Mugabe to go, he did, and then what happened?
Did Mugabe single handedly influence the minds of every Zimbabwean whose lack of action and individual thought led to their own inadvertent complicity in the downfall of a once vibrant country?
Hardly likely in a physical sense, but very likely if you realise that he had reduced people to such an abject state of living that they are forced to do things that the average Zimbabwean would never contemplate in a different situation that offered an acceptable lifestyle.
It’s now a way of life in Zimbabwe and Mugabe leaving may bring back a little investor confidence but then one quick look southwards over the border and it’s quite obvious that the serious investment, not donations, that Zimbabwe needs will probably not be forthcoming until Zimbabwe can prove to be helping itself.
The answer is simple, Zimbabwe was once an economic powerhouse as was Rhodesia, even under sanctions.
Zimbabwe’s economy self imploded the minute individual rights and the rights to own property was removed.
It’s not a secret that Zimbabwe is an agro based economy, yes there is vast mineral wealth and huge tourism potential, all contributors to an overall vibrant economy but its the agricultural industry that was the country’s biggest employer ergo the one industry that can give back an acceptable lifestyle to the most amount Zimbabweans.
Another idiom unfortunately.. “It’s easier said than done!”
An economic meritocracy would be the easiest solution, the country needs to go backwards to go forwards, back to the mid 80’s when empowerment, outside of the Government, was based on merit not on favours owed and nepotism.
The country needs an elected President who was not heavily indebted and beholden to the politically powerful but also incompetent and corrupt.
Go back to when the economy was strong enough for the Government’s corruption and theft to be sustainable, because that will never change but a happy thieving Government interferes less in things they know nothing about… like the economy.
Confidence will once again bring about prosperity which will in turn stop rampant corruption and lawlessness. The judiciary system will fix itself, the police force would be paid and the need for constant fines and harassment would disappear, there would be money in the system and taxes paid which in turn would allow the infrastructure to re-build, slowly perhaps without foreign aid but at least this way it would be a building rather than a destruction.
And all it would take would be a little less Governance.