By Vince Musewe
- Vince Musewe says greed and corruption has almost become part of the country’s DNA
- The vision of those that sacrificed their lives during the armed struggle has still to be met.
The socio economic system that has resulted from our past actions is not meeting our priority objectives which are; the eradication of poverty and the improvement in the quality of life of a majority of Zimbabweans.
This means that, the vision of those that sacrificed their lives during the armed struggle has still to be met, 33 years later. For me, that should raise serious concerns for all progressive Zimbabweans. We need to comprehend what has gone wrong and begin to do the necessary in order to reengineer Zimbabwe into a modern democratic state. The politics of egos and mammon have not worked.
Zimbabwe has a highly educated population and apparently has the highest per capita resource wealth in the world. The question is; how do we reengineer our socio political system so that we can combine these two competitive advantages to produce meaningful results?
I do not think that democracy alone will be the solution nor will be a highly sophisticated constitution or an intelligent economic blue print. Ask the South Africans on this. In my opinion, it will be more about the establishment of a very strong national vision on where the country should be, a strong ethical leadership and a fearless and collective responsibility by progressive Zimbabweans, to create that future.
Personally, I do not expect a fundamental change in how we think in the short term, even after free and fair elections. We still have to kill the old demons of non accountability, greed, corruption and the pursuit of selfish ambition at the cost of the common good that has almost become part of our DNA. Purging these old destructive habits will take some time.
I worry that we may be expecting too much change too soon and whoever comes into power in Zimbabwe will invariably fail, not because of incompetence, but because the ground is not yet ripe for a new planting season. Our society has suffered immensely and deeply in the last thirty three years and reversing the psychological impact of a self centered dictatorship may take the work of another, albeit a benevolent one.
I think we have rushed the new constitution and we are rushing to get out of the ZANU (PF) quagmire and this is understandable, given its retrogressive nature. However, as a nation with so much going for it, we need to sit back and reflect, so that we do not create another monster in the pretext of getting rid of the one that we know.
I have read the CVs and seen some of the characters that are now competing for seats in parliament and have had rather dull conversations with some about the future. I must say that, I am hardly inspired by their thinking. It appears that the most popular and vocal will be the ones that prevail because of the political leadership talent deficit that the country suffers from.
In addition to that, it also quite evident that a good number of our new political aspirants are motivated more by potential personal gain than by public service. They have hardly been prepared for political office, a huge responsibility that should demand serious thought and virtues. It is therefore likely that we may change the government, but the politics will stay the same.
We have also effectively cut out the Diaspora from the political arena, and yet it possesses significant talent to take this country forward. As a result, the pool from which we continue to draw our future political leadership is limited and quite narrow. Of course here I am not saying that there is no local talent, all I am saying is that it limits our universe and therefore, our conversations about the future.
I doubt that large untapped mineral resources alone can create a sustainable competitive advantage for our country. This can only happen when we deliberately marry this with a much focused human capital development strategy as the Chinese have done. Our development must be accelerated by a very aggressive technology transfer agenda where we can use technology to leap frog ahead. More important, we need a new socio political values system.
I am currently not hearing that conversation from our aspiring future leaders in parliament or government. All I am hearing is how we must replace ZANU (PF) and not what social values or philosophies must replace theirs. This poses a significant danger of possible unmet expectations and a continuing disconnect between our politicians and our aspirations. Our new democracy may not serve our urgent needs. South Africa has woken up to that fact.
One thing that is critical now, is the opening up of the media space so that we can begin to have open and robust debate on what future we desire. I am surprised that having an open media, a critical factor for social change, seems to have now been put on the back burner. Lately, we have actually seen a crackdown of freedom to access alternative media platforms. This is an indication that nothing has fundamentally changed.
Reengineering our country will take some doing and those who have watched and done nothing will be the most difficult. But more important, it will take a complete eradication of apathy, low expectations and a spectator mentality now prevalent amongst Zimbabweans. I guess Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli , the Italian historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer was correct when he stated that:
“There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. The innovator has the enmity of all who profit by the preservation of the old system and only lukewarm defenders by those who would gain by the new system”
The challenge is in our hands.
Vince Musewe is an economic analyst based in Harare. You can contact him on email@example.com
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