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Friday, July 20, 2007

Zimbabwe needs other Africans' help

By Rejoice Ngwenya - Harare, Zimbabwe
EITHER WE AFRICANS are blind, selfish and greedy or something worse is holding us back. As a Zimbabwean I have seen my country turned from bread-basket into basket case and I can tell you that our educated and hard-working people are not fools but victims.

Although we are an extreme case, these oppressive economic and political policies are not exclusive to Zimbabwe.

The fallacy of the African dream of Ghanian founding father Kwame Nkrumah about self-rule as been exposed by the brutal failures of governments with a revolutionary history. Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Milton Obote, and perhaps even such so-called models of excellence as Yoweri Museveni and Thabo Mbeki, all espoused Nkrumaism, meaning state control of the economy and even of society.

Just down the road where I live, there is Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who was not only a student of Nkrumah's but taught and married in his country.

Many Africans believe we should cooperate with each other instead of overseas markets to achieve the economic, political and cultural integration which could raise our continent to the level of Europe or the United States.

The challenge is not cooperation but how we should learn from history.Before Zimbabwe overthrew white rule, in 1980, a pothole on the highway was a disaster. A late train would cause public outcry. Now we have unfinished roads, bulldozed neighbourhoods and hyperinflation, while our dictator blames the West.

Why is it that when the white man handed over Air Rhodesia to a black manager, the airline had 30 airplanes but now there are only three left? Why is it that before 2000 there were only 4,000 white commercial farmers in Zimbabwe and we were the bread-basket of southern Africa, yet now there are 40,000 black commercial farmers and we have to import maize from little, poor Malawi?

I know. There is a fine line between self-criticism and self-loathing. But our problems are not caused by our being black but by authoritarians with incompetent and even urderous policies.

Today, Zimbabwe's health system has collapsed. Our main university once had 1,000 staff, now there are 300. A typical high-school teacher now earns around $20 a month. As you read this, my car is grounded because of lack of petrol. Service-station owners cannot sell it for the paltry controlled price of about 11 U.S. cents a liter when they have to buy it for about $1.
My home has neither running water nor electricity. Mugabe's ZANU-PF government inherited one of the most sophisticated hydro-electric power plants in Africa, Kariba. But because of a gluttonous army, expensive anti-riot gear and military adventures in Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo, Mugabe has failed to maintain Kariba. It is about to stop completely.

Hwange Colliery Mine has some of the richest coal deposits in the world, yet the thermal power station across the road does not have enough coal because the railway has collapsed.

In Harare, raw sewage flows openly in residential areas, contaminating scarce treated water because of pipes that have rotted since they were inherited from the white regime 27 years ago.

No private radio or television station is allowed to operate in Zimbabwe, while it is almost impossible to register a private newspaper. Yet Robert Mugabe masquerades on the regional stage as the spokesperson for the beleaguered citizens of Zimbabwe. He has absolutely no right to speak on our behalf. Those who do are the citizens protesting in the streets and some judges and lawyers struggling valiantly to hold together the shreds of the rule of law.

The lessons of history include the basic principles of good governance. There are plenty of examples for us to emulate but the Mugabes of the world ignored them in favour of ideology.

Africans do need each other to develop but our ability to learn from each other's mistakes is miserable.

Even our neighbor, democratically elected South African President Thabo Mbeki, repeats with nauseating frequency that Zimbabweans have the capacity to solve their own problems. But during Mbeki's protracted struggle against apartheid he had the frontline states backing him, led by Mugabe.

Today, Mbeki and his ilk treat Mugabe like a hero but Zimbabweans like dirt.
South Africa goes on military "peacekeeping" forays to faraway Sudan and Burundi. Why does Mbeki not believe those countries can solve their own problems?

We Africans will remain smothered in self-deceit until this generation of Nkrumaists, the greedy, the corrupt and the accidental democrats, has expired. Then African citizens may become free to cooperate with each other, economically and politically.

The one form of cooperation we need right now is world pressure on Africa's democratically elected leaders, not the avoidance seen at the recent G-8 summit in Heiligendamm. Only then might they face up to their moral, political and economic obligations to embrace freedom and boot the gangsters out.

(Rejoice Ngwenya is a Zimbabwean columnist and campaigner for liberal democracy and a free market economy)

10 comments:

Ark-888 said...

A very good post with lots of very relevant points and observations. Although I think that it is unlikely that South Africa will do anything meaningful to help Zimbabwe. At least in the foreseeable future. Its very sad.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joyce,
I see you have alot of great work going on here. You write well, and the topics you choose are powerful and relevant.
I am one of the editors of a Kenyan communtiy blog, KenyaImagine, available online at http://kenyaimagine.com. You articles would get a lot of debate going there. Do you think you could allow us to re-publish your work there?

sincerely,
emmo

Anonymous said...

Joyce,
We are available online at webmaster@kenyaimagine.com

Thank you.

emmo

branded said...

Hey Emmo,
Sorry took kind of long to respond it was a long weekend. Yes you can repulish anything you like o this blog for as long as you provide a track back link back to the original post or mention the blog i.e http://businessinfocus.blogspot.com
Otherwise thanks for visiting.
PS: My name is not Joyce, Call me Branded.
HAve a great week.

branded said...

Hi Ark-888,
Thanks for the comment, I have just visited the blog link that you have provided (vuvuzela.blog.co.uk), I also like your work, I have one qestion though, what do you think as the main reason why Zimbabwe has been the way it is for such a long time. If guys are blaming Mugabe, what if he steps down will things be any better?

ka-investor said...

@branded: good work going on here. keep it up!

Ark-888 said...

Thanks Branded
I also think your blog is very good, you have some interesting posts.

I think the main reason for the state of Zimbabwe is because of the way Mugabe rules. Mugabe rules through corruption to expand and protect his power base and control over the country. The two books I have read that deal specifically with Mugabe both highlight this method of governorship that he has and has always had since 1980.

One of the books is Stephan Chan's book called "Robert Mugabe," the other one which I cant name now as it is sitting on a book shelf some where in Moscow (Don't ask) was a bit less academic and more readable but also highlights the same thing.

I don't think Mugabe will ever step down, his need for power seems pathological and is also motivated strongly by fear of what will happen to him if he looses power. Mugabe knows that the people hate him and given half a chance will tear him apart. That is why he travels with at least one full platoon (40) of soldiers where ever he goes in Zim. Apparently watching his convoy go buy is quite a sight.

Mugabe is in a tragic cyclical cycle; in order to protect him self he must have power, in order to preserve that power he must oppress the people and destroy the country, the more he does that the more the people hate him and the more he needs to protect him self.

If he does leave however and Zanu-PF takes over from him then I don't think things will get any better. Part of the way Mugabe has structured the system of patronage that keeps him in power, and destroys Zimbabwe, is to rope in and fully implicate those that he relies on for patronage. Its a lock in mechanism, it prevents his supporters, whether they be in the army, judiciary, or in politics, from turning around and betraying him.

Obviously it is more complicated then all that and I have just given a simplified version of what I think is going on but if I write any more I will land up writing a 300 page essay on it, and that might be a bit boring. :)

branded said...

No it's never boring for as long as it has valid issues. Thanks
By the way what do you think of Stephen Wanyama's response below?

Stephen Wanyama said...

Okay ....... now here's reason to be glum. A few facts.
First, in the post world war II period, the whole world was caught in a grip of large government. People really were terrified that the prophesies of Marx would come true. Look at the state of Zimbabwe's colonisers the UK, during that period.
Bring us to the second point. Post-colonial leaders around the world were charged by destiny with the work of educating and transforming large ignorant societies that were in many cases very young unwieldly states. Zimbabwe is one clear example, and the Gukurahundi had a parallel with Kenya's Shifta Wars or Uganda's troubles especially as encaspulated in the attack on Mengo and the Kabaka's ouster.
Now there was no way even the most callous leader could turn a blind eye to the need for more schools, hospitals, teachers and so on. Zimbabweans will hardly appreciate it, but their country was winning awards for the improvement of the lot of its people. Ian Smith had other priorities, as did the National Party. What Mbeki and Mugabe are faced with is a real meltdown, it has its genesis in the workings of the global system much more than it does in local problems.
Need I remind you that the food riots started in the early 1990s? Or that Zimbabwe's small scale farmers were the ones putting the bread into that basket?

Roberto Alvarez-Galloso,CPUR said...

I read your blog after Ark 888 recommended it. What has happened in Zimbabwe is a tragedy.

There is an article in my blog titled: "Mugabe and Press TV" in which a representative of Mugabe's Government refused to talk with Press TV.