BY BRIAN SEDZE
ZIMBABWE’S decline is not an inevitability; it is a choice we are making to violate the ingredients of success (or at least we are not stopping those who are).
It is hard for anyone with an open mind to look at the policies, presidential orders and statutory instruments promulgated by the present government, contrast and compare them with those of nations that are making progress, and not see the total, unrestricted, all-out war on progress. It is a total disrespect of Zimbabwe — what she is, who we are and how we live.
You can see the attacks accelerating, the condescension and the threats turning into action. If they cannot bring us to heel with laws, rules and regulations, if they cannot make every single one of us a beggar for vaccines, maize, ambulances, medications and so forth, they make our savings worthless.
Begging really is tantamount to discarding the sense of self-worth as a nation, especially for things like maize.
I proposed in earlier articles that the most successful civilisations in history are based on five common characteristics and that the loss of any one of the five results in decline, loss of more than one results in the fall of civilisation.
In successful civilisations, the overwhelming majority of its members share:
- A common theism
- A common ideology
- A common culture
- A love of the aforementioned and
- A willingness to defend all the above (with deadly force and to the death, if necessary)
A common theism is important — to be unified and survive challenges from other, competing civilisations, there must be unity at the spiritual level. Contrary to our academia and opposition politicians’ belief, statues are not supposed to be driven by economic and political considerations. It is the same with rainmaking ceremonies, national dress, traditional leaders and other recent overtures in theism.
As Zimbabweans, we have a deep religious and spiritual genesis. If we do not organise behind a single, motivating, spiritual organising principle, our civilisation will fall. It is obvious Zimbabwe can no longer agree on this spirituality because the message has to come from the right and or preferred messenger.
On common ideology — I wrote in a previous article that Zimbabwe is a country, not a nation.
We have diverse interpretations of concepts like economic models, liberty, freedom, governance, culture, history, language, tribe (and even village) and education.
Most of these interpretations are not based on any truth but political preferences.
A common understanding requires an investment in human capital, systems and procedures, common governing structures, a predictable legal environment, a robust Constitution, and political processes.
As an example, I was part of the Institute of Directors team that consulted to come up with a national corporate governance code, and made input on parastatal reform, board procedures and appointments.
Today we do not even believe, implement or respect the adopted code in governance structure of our State enterprises with appointments premised on the same old homeboy network.
The procedures are still free for all. The point is we can’t even agree on corporate governance which should be apolitical.
To avoid the arbitrary and capricious nature of savagery, people must be able to predict how their interactions will affect others. Commonality of people must be simple and clear enough.
I can’t fathom which of the two, the demise of Morgan Tsvangirai or former President Robert Mugabe has brought such grave toxicity that we witness today.
Everything President Emmerson Mnangagwa says or does is wrong in the eyes of the Nelson Chamisa camp irrespective of intentions or outcomes. Everything Chamisa does and say is nonsense to the Mnangagwa camp.
These two are now the country’s pulse instead of the people. People can even hate how MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora walks or even the frivolity of Chamisa’s ox-drawn plough.
We actually celebrate our failure oblivious of the fact that it’s affecting us as individuals and time has been wasted. We seem to celebrate the country’s failure as that of Mnangagwa, yet it drags us all down.
Like ideology, a common culture is required and this does not mean that it is unchanging or without variation, just that it is shared across the civilisation as new and enhancing our commonality while assimilating diversity.
It is about common bonds, something Swiss-born philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau called social compact or contract. It is mutual understanding on how things are going to work in society and expectations.
The rising of separatist movements — Zimbabweans who go out of their way to punish the country’s economic interests, diasporans with no umbilical code to business and investment in the country, mantras such as “wezhira”, “wasu”, “Zezuru unconquerable”, Shurugwisation of power” and so forth are a manifestation that we believe in our villages of origin more than the country.
Given the chance, most of us will promote our own just like Mugabe promoted his Zezuru tribe more.
If a Tonga or Manyika assumes power today I have no doubt in my mind they will promote more of their own. It’s because we are not yet at a level of mental development to be Zimbabweans.
It goes without saying that as Zimbabweans we must be totally and completely devoted to the country. We must value our liberty, the systems to protect it, the culture that drives it, and the spirituality that preserves it.
Our economic system must be driven by the desire for a better Zimbabwe first, rather than a better Zimbabwe only under so and so.
The kudira jecha syndrome leading to sanctions is not for Zimbabwe. Internal sanctions imposed by the ruling class on its people is not the Zimbabwe we want.
Commitment to Zimbabwe includes registering to vote, participating in political processes, voting for ideas and principles, taking action in the economy, refusing all that is not Zimbabwean and resisting rot.
For better or for worse Zimbabwe must be developed on the understanding that we believe in Christianity in equal measure with belief in our ancestors, that our Constitution is faulty and was not people driven, our diversity in culture and tribes has a common ubuntu element, patriotism should not be defined by either Zanu PF or MDC, and that we have to take a cue from our liberation icons who treasured independence to the extent of fighting for it, not some of us who think leaders are the only ones who must fight for a better Zimbabwe.
Our decline is not inevitability, but the choices we make.
- Brian Sedze is a strategy consultant and acting president of Free Enterprise Initiative, an advocacy initiative in public policy. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org