Zimbabwe A Nation Of Locust
Updated: Jun 1
Very often as Zimbabweans we get caught up in the protracted debate about why Zimbabwe is struggling. Every time we have this debate, we come up with the same myopic conclusions that usually obscure the real reasons why Zimbabwe is stagnant.
And because we are too egotistic to be honest with ourselves. We will always lack the tools to resurrect our nation because we keep deliberately mis-diagnosing the problem.
Passing The Buck
It’s always easier to pass the buck on everyone else when assessing the bane of our problems, rather than locating the blame in ourselves as individuals first.
This, when accompanied by the fact that Zimbabweans find it difficult to understand that neo-colonialism is still a reality plaguing Africa, makes the conversation a greater challenge. Compounding this is the fact that Zimbabweans revere white people far too much to see the threat they pose to our progress.
The People Who Ate The Golden Goose
The reality is, as Zimbabweans we ate our golden goose. This is who we are, shortsighted people who roasted the goose that was laying the golden eggs because we were craving a meaty treat. Too addicted to instant gratification we couldn’t wait for the goose to lay eggs to hatch more golden geese.
It all starts where all conversations on Zimbabwe start, at independence. From independence, our parents were content with being paid a pittance by white companies to exploit their nation.
This small black working class minority [8-10% of the population] were content with being slaves as the nation was sucked dry by white exploitation at the expense of future generations and the majority languishing in rural poverty.
Riding the stuff bus to work and eating lettuce sandwiches in the corporate blue chip canteen was enough to make this elite group of blacks think Rhodesia had left a utopia for them.
Subsidized Education And Food
The new government came in and gave this small percentage of city dwelling black workers subsidized township housing, transport, fuel, healthcare, food and night classes to advance them from colonial bantu education.
Their children were given the best primary, secondary and technical school education on the continent. All at the expense of this endless gift-that-kept-on-giving called the national treasury.
Never did they see the exploitation by their white masters. Nor did they realize that their menial jobs would some day come to an end because of globalization. Neither did they think that their gift-that-kept-on-giving would some day run out of treasure due to supporting their subsidized, healthcare, food, transport and world class education.
Consumption Over Production
With these endowments they [the minority black working class] squandered their earnings on western consumables: clothes, cars, color TVs, and VCRs. It was trips overseas and occasionally the western university education for those who were well endowed with disposable income earned from administering colonial exploitation.
When not squandering they saved a few cents for a rainy day in their savings accounts. Their jobs were rudimentary, repetitive, small parts of a bigger puzzle that never gave them the skill to produce a complete deliverable without the secret finishing formula or supervision of the master.
Such jobs were in many cases held in uncompetitive British companies like Leyland, Bedford and other such that became redundant globally when squeezed by Asian efficiency.
The Day Master Left
Sadly, the day exploitation could no longer be tolerated (in a nation of independent educated natives) came quicker than expected. At its dawn the exploiter packed his bags and left with the knowledge and the largess he built over the ages. He externalized his ill-gotten gains, lobbied for sanctions to be instituted on this native that got too big for his boots and left hoping to return when the native realized that he can’t live without the master.
Our parents were left disillusioned and bitter. Bitter at their loss of jobs and wages. Bitter at being given factors of production that required them to solve problems and produce for themselves.
More critically the privileged working class minority resented that they now had to compete for survival with village peasants [albeit educated peasants] in a competitive free market.
It was now a free for all. Their elitist privilege of staff buses and blue chip canteens was shattered. Now they had to apply for land and claims like everyone else, work the resource and extract the value for themselves to survive. But to them, this was beneath their professionalism.
Given land and minerals to chart their own destiny, they cursed and scorned, making the excuse that they hadn’t been given the capacity to use the land of the land was for the politically connected. They told [us] their children that the nation was doomed and we had to migrate and seek employment else where with our world class education.
What they didn’t realize is that the world was changing: colonialism had ended and globalization had collapsed British industrial dominance. Rhodesia was a bygone era and the machinery in Zimbabwean factories was obsolete and the labor not productive enough to compete with China and Asia.
The era of industries in every jurisdiction was coming to an end as companies contracted their manufacturing to Asia for economies of scale.
The sloven parents soon infused their indolence in us. Instead of learning and teaching us how to use the land or invest money to procure new machines and technology for industry. They chose to throw their hands in the air in despair and sit hopelessly hoping for a savior. Some pushed their children to go into slavery in the diaspora as their retirement pension.
Even at this point it never dawned on them that their savings should be employed to produce the goods and forex they kept consuming. They never thought that their savings needed to be leveraged into production before they lost value sitting in idol savings accounts.
All-the-same they did nothing to change the situation by creating employment for themselves and their children to pay taxes that could maintain the subsidized education, world class healthcare, transport and food they were accustomed to. The gluttons continued to consume like locusts without sowing adequately to ensure more was available in future.
They never realized that they couldn’t keep consuming without producing what they consumed. Nor did they realize the true impact of the sanctions imposed by their slave master, so they never did anything to mitigate the economic warfare. Sooner than later the castle of consumers who couldn’t sowed inevitably came crumbling down.
Twenty years later their children, now grown, have learnt nothing from their visionless parents. Proud and puffed up with an international, western miseducation. Scattered across the world in top global companies doing rudimentary pieces of the bigger puzzle jobs and mundane tasks that don’t enable production.
Our PHD holders are pen pushers in NGOs, in the business of donor administration or social activism -doctors of begging essentially. Meanwhile the MBA graduate is a colonial administrator for global banks and corporates pillaging the continent.
The MSc holder and engineer is a task doer but never a finisher. Doesn’t know how to apply for a patent, create a prototype or register for a mining claim in a nation of vast resources. Devoid of the initiative to self direct independent of white instruction or supervision, we are a nation of slaves and colonial clerks.
Never Returned What We Received
Most of us were privileged to get a subsidized education from primary to tertiary, qualifying us for these great vocations. However, we have never paid a cent in tax in our country to replenish the treasury that educated us. All because no one in the previous generation created the jobs for us.
Even though two generations didn’t create the jobs or pay tax, we still expect our parents to get world-class healthcare at home. We expect functioning schools and to get passports when we apply for them. We even have the gumption to expect to vote in our foreign domiciles on some other “person’s” taxes. Like our bantu educated parents, we still believe in a treasury that miraculously replenishes itself. No wonder we find the gospel of miracle money appealing.
From the amazing subsidized education we benefited from, we fail to create solutions for Zimbabwe’s problems . We don’t build schools or hospitals after making money. We don’t donate to improve those facilities that we used to be where we are. Nevertheless we some how expect a nation with world-class facilities, infrastructure and industry.
Investment From Thin Air
We don’t invest or save in Zimbabwe, even though our nation is under siege [sanctions] and needs more home biased investment than ever before. But somehow we expect jobs for youths and children to miraculously materialize.
The moment we become politicians, we think that national coffers are limitless, personal piggy banks. We consume the little public purse on western luxury vehicles which cannibalize our local industry. We have delusions of grandeur, seeing ourselves as royal monarchs entitled to the largess of the treasury.
This is the nation we are. A nation of ravenous parasites just like our colonizers. We expect to eat where we did not sow. A nation of adults who still think they are children. Everyone waiting for some adult to come from some where and build Zimbabwe for us 30, 40 and 70yr old children who can’t start businesses, register a claims, apply for land or save in our own nation.
Who is to build our nation if adults still think they are children waiting on adults to fix Zimbabwe? Who must create the jobs when we externalize, consume and don’t invest in creating the industry and commerce?
Who must revive the infrastructure, world class schools and subsidies of the past when we don’t pay the taxes? Who must make good policies when we are not contributing to the national debate with books, proposals, research, attendance of public office meetings or participating in politics?
We are the epitome of post colonial Africanness. Always absconding responsibility for someone else to do for us instead of us being active participants in building our own desired reality. This is definitely not how the Mutapa Empire was built. We must change and we must change fast if we are going to build Zimbabwe.
Cecil John Rhodes ran his first business, a cotton farm at the age of 16yrs in Natal, without experience in farming. He bought his first diamond claim at 18 without any experience in diamonds or mining.
Audacity, self-belief, continuous learning (and the benefit of stolen resources of course) is how he developed and what we and our parents have refused to do.......What are you doing to build your nation?
By Rutendo Bereza Matinyarare.