After a series of inexhaustible talks on the question of the political future of the then Rhodesia, colonialist Ian Douglas Smith declared UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) from Britain 1965.
This was such a high-stakes gamble whose polka card only America had previously played against the might of Great Britain. And, as could be expected, Great Britain and her allies, the Commonwealth, the UN and Europe immediately applied comprehensive sanctions to punish the errant boy.
But, contrary to expectations, Rhodesia did not collapse, it grew, exponentially, from strength to strength, like never before. At independence, the Rhodesian currency was stronger than the pound and its economy, despite a war that had raged for years, was strong and robust, to the extent that, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere admonished the then new incoming prime minister thus: “You have inherited the jewel of Africa, please do not destroy it.”
By 2008, there was no economy to talk of in Zimbabwe, with all vestiges of a modern economy gone and an unreadable currency. Inflation had reached such unprecedented, dizzy heights that the office responsible for data collation stopped bringing out the figures, for the figures would change before the ink was dry and before going to print.
Shops were empty, hospitals dysfunctional and local authorities ceased service delivery. At the drop of a hat, all lifetime savings, pensions, and insurance investments were completely obliterated with Zimbabweans who previously led decent standards of living reduced to mere vagabonds with a sudden drop in life expectancy.
People poured into the neighbouring countries to sojourn and escape the man-made disaster.
One thing was clear: the powers-that-be were clueless as to how to get out of the rut they had navigated Zimbabwe into, with their reckless, kamikaze-type politics. There was a palpable dearth in critical political leadership from a bewildered government, if one could call it that, then. All their strength and efforts were focused on self-enrichment and the chanting of revolutionary diatribe, as the nation burnt.
The “jewel of Africa” turned into a hellhole and the powers-that-be had one word to sum it all up — sanctions!
But what is it that Zimbabwe has got wrong, in its version of sanctions?
Why has President Robert Mugabe’s economy fallen through the bottom to such an extent that he had to abandon his currency for a multi-currency regime, despite having the so-called, one of the most educated governments in the world?
Has education got anything to do with it, or it’s simply overrated, when the real active ingredients required are simply a bit of humility and common sense?
The President is on record saying, one could count on one hand, the number of university graduates that were in Smith’s government, as opposed to his, which was pregnant with luminaries of academia.
But, how does he explain the failure?
Is there really a correlation between academia and the ability to run a country? Does this Smith/Mugabe dichotomy tell us anything?
Students of political science and history will have a field day deciphering the pros and cons of this contradiction.
But another thing is also very clear: the powers-that-be and the connected elite have become obscenely, stinking rich in the tumultuous milieu! It’s called fishing in troubled waters, and the catch has been good for them.
Perhaps this explains why they have such a manic resistance to any form of change. Why should they want change when the status quo is a panacea for choice pickings for them?
Thank the Almighty, a semblance of political and economic sanity for the majority was only restored when the African Union and Sadc after having refused to recognize the June 2008 so-called election, pushed for the formation of the GNU.
There was no government to talk of before the GPA and the GNU. All we had was a de facto assemblage of matadors and prize-fighters masquerading as a government.
And now the same characters who deprived Zimbabweans the right to choose are creeping out of the woodwork and clamouring for elections without reforms!
It can only be one thing: the discovery of diamonds! They have partaken to a concoction of diamond-juice and are inebriated by it for, the change in attitude towards the GNU only came after the discovery of diamonds, and now there is a feeling that, with diamond money, the status quo, or old system can be sustained a little longer.
Well, maybe . . . maybe not! The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind!
Let’s wait and see.