All too often we are quick to adore or even worship academics and intellectuals as the panacea for good governance and development — nothing could be further from the truth.
Zimbabwe is a classic example of just that sort of conflation.
Academia as evidence of intellectualism is a myth. In fact, Zimbabwe’s woes are an obvious consequence of overrating academics — or what can aptly be termed invasive or non-productive academics!
There are academics and then there are academics . . ! Academia by itself does not suggest intellectualism, though it may point to the possibility or probability of its existence.
Zimbabwe is full of paper-graduates — broods of impractical megalomaniacs who wouldn’t run a football club and yet end up running government.
They prance around in designer suits, occupying high office while they author the apocalypse of the country.
Doctors, professors and multiple-degree holders in all manner of disciplines and yet their practical application is calamitous.
It is not everyone who has a degree, doctorate or professorship who can rightly be called an intellectual. Many are “counterfeit intellectuals” — people who were merely able to pass an exam on material they had read and now pride themselves as intellectuals, which they are clearly not.
If ever there was a co-relation between academia and intellectualism, few countries in Africa would come anywhere near Zimbabwe.
These “counterfeit intellectuals” are adept at writing impressive doctrinaire treatises to impress, and are also very quick with their tongues, and that’s as far as they often go.
Having failed to make it in their so-called professions, many have found a boon — an El Dorado and an easy road to self-enrichment in politics.
There is also abundant evidence to prove how quickly they have corruptly enriched themselves in very short spaces of time at the expense of the people.
Their avarice has shown that they are more capitalist than the robber barons of the colonial era, who pioneered and carved, out of a jungle, the entire economic superstructure we call Zimbabwe today.
Our “counterfeit intellectuals” create nothing, but trails of destruction in their wake, en route to self-enrichment.
Despite its ills, colonialism left tangible evidence of development — roads, railways, communications, industries, water and sanitation, advanced mining and farming infrastructure, commerce!
One can count on one hand the number of academics during the colonial era, and President Robert Mugabe underscored the point that there were not many academics during that time, save for the likes of David Smith in a speech recently.
But, the sad thing is that the introduction of many academics into government has not been matched by a corresponding increase in productivity, but simply self-enrichment from the fruits of the colonial legacy.
They have not created any new opportunities or new wealth.
Under UN sanctions, the regime then, which didn‘t have that many academics, grew the economy to such heights that the Rhodesian dollar was stronger than the pound and now, here we are, with our floods of academics, now reduced to using a multi-currency regime, and blaming it all on sanctions.
Sanctions have become the scapegoat for failure to perform, even though failure was the order of the day from as far back as the Esap era.
Not a single development programme from these guys has ever succeeded.
If indeed it is sanctions, how come the rulers have become richer than the colonial oppressors were, in record time without creating new wealth?
It’s clear . . . the so-called academics and pretenders to intellectualism are more inclined to politics, rule and enrich themselves rather than serve the people, and they have done a damn good job of it.