Renowned academic and educationist Phineas Makhurane has said Zimbabweans continue to live in abject poverty despite having a good education system and highly-skilled manpower.
Makhurane was addressing delegates at the launch of the Zimbabwe Economics Society (ZES)’s Policy Options for a Pro-Poor Economic Development: Strategies in Zimbabwe report at a local hotel on Tuesday.
The report follows research funded by the United Nations Development Programme.
ZES president Lovemore Kadenge said the research focused mainly on Bulawayo and Harare.
The former National University of Science and Technology vice-chancellor said while the ability of Zimbabweans to acquire knowledge was undoubted, it was shocking that poverty still haunted the country.
“It is clear that in Zimbabwe there is poverty which is increasing and it seems cannot be eradicated completely. Many people here fall below the poverty datum line and all of us are touched by poverty directly or through our extended families.
“We have a big problem here, a big problem of poverty. I have never doubted the ability of Zimbabweans to acquire knowledge or skill even where poverty is concerned. I can testify that ours has been the best system of education in the whole world although we could have done better in fostering an entrepreneurial education.
“The question then is, why in light of this knowledge and skills capacity, are we still poor? As a nation we lack one crucial thing, which is the correct attitude, that is the willingness to implement our know-what and our know-how. Knowledge, skill and the correct attitude do not overlap in our case,” he said.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Donald Khumalo said:
“From a civic society’s point of view, it is important that people own their destiny, drive programmes and decide what they want in their communities. It is important to get to the bottom of the problem with the poor communities than to prescribe solutions from above.”
Bulawayo East MDC-T MP Thabitha Khumalo said from a Matabeleland perspective, there were leaders who relished in the under-development of some regions in the country.
“In Africa, we are rich in natural resources, but we are very poor. Europe has no resources, but their people are living in comfort. Why? The only buildings constructed in Bulawayo after independence are the ones that were built by pension funds.
“There is a deliberate exclusion of Matabeleland in terms of infrastructural development. It’s either they forget we are there or they don’t like us. We have rulers who believe that some parts of this country should not be developed for reasons best known to them,” Khumalo said.