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Leadership is about embracing change

By Vince Musewe

We have seen in Zimbabwe that our political leadership would rather have social conditions deteriorate than to usher in substantive changes both on the political and economic fronts.

Government’s stated objectives in the Lima strategy document of September 2015 remain a pipe dream as our economy hurtles to nowhere and our people bear the brunt of a non-productive, illiquid and deteriorating economy.

The battle in our country is clearly about the new replacing the old and yet, the old continues to dominate simply because of its access to arms of war and control of the security sector and therefore they will always pose a potential threat to destroy or expunge those of us who wish for substantive change.

That does not mean we should give up or cower at the first sign of intimidation, but rather we should be strengthened by their resistance knowing that all we want, and all we aspire for is a better society and better conditions of living for all. That is not impossible.

Resistance to change seems to be a common factor in Africa and in our society in particular; whether in government, where we have old dogs who really have no capacity to create the modern Zimbabwe we want; or in our private sector, which has become less competitive and internally focused and can hardly compete; or in our public institutions where we have seen old style leadership that is arresting progress and social development.

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We even have resistance to change in our opposition political parties, in our community and social organisations where leaders claim positions for life, despite the lack of visible and tangible performance.

Because of our political leadership, Zimbabwe is stuck in a time bubble of the past. We can hardly progress when we are continually reminded that the past matters more than the future. That is indeed a tragedy. Societies that are concerned more about the future are fast progressing while we remain stuck in the past that has very little benefit to our people.

Zimbabwe is at least 30 years behind in the way it does business, its systems, technology and more. This is, of course, not out of choice, but more a consequence of bad leadership and a lack of a progressive and compelling inclusive vision, which seeks to build a new vibrant society. We have enough resources in our country to feed, clothe and gainfully employ everyone. We have numerous land assets, numerous minerals and an incredible population that has a strong work ethic.

As citizens and emerging leaders, our responsibility must now be to change this narrative. We have to renew everything that we are about so that we may see social progress and unlock destinies and potentials. We cannot afford not to change or continually renew how we operate and how we seek to change our circumstances. If we do that we will regress as a society as we have done in the last 37 years.

Everything in Zimbabwe needs renewal, starting first at the political level; there is no doubt about that. That is where our only hope for positive and substantive recovery lies, anything else will be us merely postponing the inevitable; our challenge is, therefore, to be proactive fearless change agents, who embrace the new and avoid complacency and the false comfort that comes with it.

As regards the coalition between the country’s many political parties, I think it is time we look at it as a change agent from the old to a new inclusive and progressive democratic Zimbabwe. The coalition can usher in a new era of political and economic transformation as from 2018 to 2023. It is important that we focus on what it seeks to achieve as opposed to who will lead it.

For goodness sake, let those who wish to lead it, based on their numbers, do so; but let them be aware that the agenda will not be about them, but about the country. We are all spending too much time on personalities and not the what. Even after the coalition, change will be a constant as we re-invent our country and there is plenty of work for all of us. We must all try to suspend our personal political ambitions for the sake of the country.

Change, change, change should be our mantra and it is only after political change and substantive transformation of our public and private institutions and value systems that we can begin to build the Zimbabwe we all imagine.