By Hopewell Chin’ono
A good idea is like a brilliant song, once you hear it for the first time, you won’t be able to get it out of your head.
Are our political leaders capable of listening to a brilliant melody, are they able to tell whether it is sweet or not and can this be said of them when it comes to ideas?
The country today is up in flames, fuel queues, 90 percent unemployment rate, empty hospital medicine cupboards, food insecurity, the list goes on and yet they daily push rhetoric without any logical rigour.
We are made to engage with secondary issues like sanctions and not primary issues like what caused them and what needs to be done to get them removed.
This is not surprising because only 5,6 percent of our people have above Ordinary Level education, we turn to focus on the chorus aspects of our discourse instead of asking the inconvenient questions.
This is clearly self-evident when people are happy with food handouts instead of getting the primary instruments for eradicating poverty.
Politicians have no interest in removing poverty because it makes people independent and financially secure.
This has been proved in the Ngezi area where investment in that area has resulted in undesired electoral outcomes for the ruling party.
We should be arguing with facts and perhaps differ in interpretation of political and economic issues, but unfortunately most people do not ask for facts and evidence, instead they become locked into insults or unrestrained emotional praises.
There is now a conflation of facts and opinions and we have locked our-selves into the Donald Trump world of repeating something enough times for it to become fact, alternative facts they are called!
We are ignoring the self imposed sanctions and repeatedly being made to parrot rehearsed spin doctoring lines by the deceitful political elites and their paid and at times genuinely misinformed surrogates.
Ministers and senior civil servants taking three brand new cars home makes the sanctions argument look as foolish and stupid as it should be to anyone sane, but alas.
This has perpetuated a manifestly corrupt relationship between the poor and the weak, and in between lies those who help anchor this corrupt arrangement in the form of discredited intellectuals and paid pied pipers.
They do so by spreading lies on behalf of the political elites in exchange for bread crumps and at times painfully cheap things from the wickedly corrupt enterprises driven by the political elites!
This clearly defines Zimbabwe’s crisis today, a crisis that has been ongoing for two straight uninterrupted decades leaving the country battered and bruised not for lack of ideas, but lack of a political will, not for lack of natural resources, but lack of honesty and political and economic probity.
Those with and in power are helped by their shameless surrogates not to answer the key questions of the day through the use of what now is evidently comical propaganda used since 2000, kids born in that year are now voters and in university.
The actions of our political elites have resulted in many people dying needlessly, stuck in hospitals without medicines or professionally motivated doctors.
Many if not all of these people are today nameless in our discourse, only their graves denote the unfortunate crimes against our very own weak and vulnerable people.
This year alone we have between 5 and 8 million Zimbabweans threatened with hunger, and yet our political elites and government fail to understand that abject poverty and the crisis it brings to the fore will ultimately become a threat to our national security.
Giving people a compromised vote with a contested election outcome is not democracy when they go to bed hungry and fail to send their children to school.
Democracy includes having food on your table and being able to send your kids to school and more importantly having a job to underpin that security in order to provide those human necessity basics.
On that account alone how democratic are we, and why are we lagging behind other countries that were once war zones not so long ago, countries like Rwanda and Ethiopia?
Just like all these former war torn countries, Zimbabwe has an opportunity to join the age of unprecedented prosperity if its leaders put country first and do the right things.
With 101 advisors by his side, President Emmerson Mnangagwa hasn’t taken that turn yet by creating a point of departure with his former boss Robert Mugabe.
When slightly cornered, he has reverted to form confirming that it is not Robert Mugabe alone who was the problem, but the entire system of governance.
President Mnangagwa’s rule has been a continuation of the old and the talk about a New Dispensation and Second Republic is all comical mumbo jumbo for anyone with a discerning mind capable of critical thinking.
Only those that are directly or indirectly benefiting from the proceeds of corruption, incompetence and nepotistic behaviour or those that are genuinely ignorant and clueless will shamelessly advance such weak and embarrassing narratives.
These people refuse to engage with the economic possibilities that can change the nation’s fortunes because such a thought makes them imagine the receding of their individual proceeds from proximity to power.
They selfishly articulate positions contrary to reason and they turn their backs to solutions that can unlock the country’s full potential as long as they don’t individually benefit from them.
As a result the whole country has been turned into a giant prison where progressive ideas to advance the national question are frowned upon by the political elites and their surrogates, together with their borrowed intellectuals because they are on the feeding trough.
Futile and pathetic arguments about sovereignty, ideology and a liberation war won 40 years ago are thrown into the mix to confuse and defend the self-evident rampant corruption, and unprecedented gross incompetence and also use of naked state sanctioned military violence.
Whilst all this is happening, the country is caught up in a painful downward spiral of poverty, unemployment and lack of policy direction, and yet raising these pertinent issues can result in one being labeled all sorts of nasty things.
It amazes me that our leaders do not see the relatedness of a successful economy to the need to implement the required overdue political and economic reforms.
Those in power chose to treat symptoms with skewed instruments like the recently announced monetary policy that was not based on economic fundamentals like productivity and good governance.
It is the equivalence of giving a tuberculosis patient half a dose of the required medication hoping that the bacterial disease will go away.
Half a dose of medicine will only make them feel better for two weeks, but when the disease is not fully cured, it will reemerge with a much stronger strain!
Nobody can claim to have the silver bullet to resolving our varied problems today, but we know where we should start from and we also know that there are many of our people who can mobilize their capacities and global connections to get our country going again.
For instance the central bank has argued that it is resisting the full devaluation of the local currency unit now called the RTGS Dollar because they want to protect pensions.
But how do you protect pensions and impoverish the whole country and eventually the pensioners themselves by pretending that a phantom currency is equivalent to the greenback?
If the banking system is holding a billion dollars worth of pension funds, it will need to find a billion American dollars in order to protect pensions.
Where will the US$1 billion come from when the economy is moribund and when allowing the comical exchange rate to carry on is resulting in investors staying away?
A lot of the little American dollars we have at the central bank are being corruptly given to the powerful and connected using that comical one to one exchange rate.
The key is in knowing what our real problems are and how we can fix them, and more importantly in understanding why we are oblivious to our people’s glaring economic induced pain and suffering.
Why are we not implementing our very own reform program called the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), which was given the nod by government during Patrick Chinamasa’s days and passed on to Mthuli Ncube?
Do those that parrot the sanctions mantra realize that TSP is exactly like a reproduced Zimbabwean Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA)?
If you haven’t read it yet find it here: https://t792ae.c2.acecdn.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Abridged_TRANSITIONAL-STABILISATION-PROGRAMME.pdf
You can then compare it to the Zimbabwean Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) which you can access here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/2779/text?fbclid=IwAR3-lxRDWMpN47mw2kpjLdVLTyL06y75qUIC0z0iupQNABvbAQ0jdcb-57o
Five pillars of Governance, Macro-Economic Stability and Financial Re-Engagement, Inclusive Growth, Infrastructure and Utilities and Social Development anchor TSP.
It agrees to pay former white farmers compensation, something that is inked in our very own constitution making the land issue argument bogus and an excuse to justify monumental failure through incompetence, corruption, nepotism and embezzlement.
Instead of attending to the documents and principles that we have agreed on and asking why they have not been implemented, the deceitful among us focus on acquiring a conspiratorial mindset where anyone who asks the inconvenient questions is labeled a Western pawn or a sanctions lover.
We must attend to facts and ask ourselves whether we are of a significant strategic position to the world to warranty the US and EU giving us a pass for our truancy.
The clear and unequivocal answer to that fundamental question is that we hold NO sway and the last 20 years should have taught us that lesson but unfortunately we seem to be bad students of history!
The elites continue to misgovern and share the little available loot in programs like Command Agriculture instead of deploying such economic assets to the poorest to help them become self sufficient and build national grain reserves.
Robert Mugabe got away with being charismatic, holding enormous global clout, being the founding father of our country, initiating his rule at an exciting point in our nation’s history, President Emmerson Mnangagwa only has the economy to secure any consequential legacy.
Unlike former president Robert Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa is leading a nation with 70 percent of its populace below the age of 30, and they are progressively relying on alternative sources for news something that makes state media crude and thoughtless propaganda pointless and useless.
A friend mentioned elsewhere that our attention has cleverly been directed to the area that are not the first causes of our problems, especially on social media where the Trumpian “repeat until they believe” method is in use.
Therefore we are thoughtlessly engaging in these arguments as we do on sanctions without also engaging the first causes.
Wake up and live, Bob Marley said in his classic song, it is as relevant today as it was in 1979 on his last album Survival, today you live big, tomorrow you will be buried in a casket.
Ok, so today you are a sycophant or a political thief or a surrogate, what do you leave behind for the future generations of this country in whose trust you are a custodian for their future other than the stolen loot you want to pass on to your immediate children?
Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean international Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker. He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a CNN African Journalist of the year.
He is also a Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Africa Leadership Institute.
Hopewell has a new documentary film looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind, which was launched to critical acclaim.
The recently departed music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi wrote the sound track for State of Mind.
It was recently nominated for a big award at the Festival International du Film Pan-Africain de Cannes in France and in the UK at the Heart of England International Film Festival.
You can watch the documentary trailer below.*